5 Must-See Comic Book Stores in the UK
Whether you start your journey in the north or head out from the south, these small, independently owned comic shops are worthy of a cross-country pilgrimage.
Escape the tie-dyed tank tops and the white men with dreadlocks by ducking into Dave’s Comics, the best comic shop on the south coast and the only one in the North Laines. They stock the usual suspects – comics, graphic novels, and manga – plus a bunch of weird, Brighton-based boardgames if you want to prove you went to Brighton. It’s essential to have a bag of something to hold while simultaneously trying to eat an ice cream in the wind, and you’ll definitely find something here even if it’s just a Nightmare Before Christmas figure.
Gosh! is a glass fishbowl in the middle of Soho, wedged between coffee shops and juice bars and, in the brief period remaining before gentrification pushes them out, sex toys and prostitutes. The staff know what they’re talking about, so if you have no idea what you want, they will. They also have regular deliveries of the kind of self-published rare stuff — both British and American — that you’d have to go out of your way to find yourself. Here they’re just handed to you on a carefully curated platter. Cartoonist Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) once said Gosh! had the cleanest bathroom he’d ever seen in a comic shop, and if that’s not a five-star review, nothing is.
Page 45 keeps the stuff about humans and heartbreak and real life up front, and sticks the superheroes and spandex down the back. They’re not judging you, they just think you can do better. This is where you take people if they think they don’t like comics, if you want to subtly let them change their own minds. It’s a trap. A small, carefully thought-out, straight-from-the-heart-of-people-who-have-devoted-their-lives-to-comics trap. Enter at your peril.
OK Comics is your proper old-school comic shop with old back-issues in boxes and the smell of old paper, except it looks like the exact opposite of that. Wood floors, an old red leather sofa, brightly lit, an actual plant: if you’re travelling with someone who doesn’t want to be in another comic book shop because you’ve just made them go to three across England, they will happily sit here without complaining. If you love it so much you don’t want to leave, you can set up a postal order. They’re good at those and it’s easier than hiding behind the OK Comics sofa for the rest of your life.
If you want to visit the extremities of geekiness, if the nice bookshops weren’t enough for you, if you just want to do some hardcore gaming with some fellow shortsighted nerds and their painted tiny figures: Travelling Man in Newcastle is renowned for its tabletop gaming. Knock yourself out.
Top image courtesy of JAREED