I didn’t think London would be a particularly (hip hop) happening place for comics, alas I was wrong. In many instances I was pleasantly surprised at what was going on in the comics world overseas. During a leisurely excursion into the land of royalty and great pub food and drink, I was treated to a variety of specialty shops complete with a wonderful sense of style and tone all their own. These places had Free Comic Book Day events, special bundles and sales, exclusive art prints and more. One of the only downsides period; was the exchange rate on each sale. There is no sales tax on books in the United Kingdom (I’m pretty sure,) which lessened the blow of getting hit with the currency dilemma. Without further ado, here’s an assessment of my trip so far:
1) Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet is a well documented dose of nerd surprises. What struck me is the sheer amount of toys waiting on the first floor. The comics were hidden in the basement below, allowing me to believe that the retailer makes most their income based on the amount of toys they sell in front. The comic book selection was still completely overwhelming. With the high prices, I was searching for something that would be out of print, or on the small press side of the industry. With a limited knowledge of small press and knowing what was in print at the moment, I chickened out of buying anything. The Death of Captain Marvel was the only thing tempting me but it was in a weird hardcover format that would have probably been heavy in a suitcase. This is a side note, but I still would like to say that DC has done an extraordinary job with their newest set of packaging for their figures. All of the packages contain a simple and clean white background with some comics panels lurking in the background now it’s time for Marvel to catch up.
Harrods (think black tie Costco) was mostly devoid of comics content. Even their bookstore contained no comics. Still, I was determined to find something and I did…eventually. I found a painting by Roy Lichtenstein for over £30,000. Not exactly comics, but something that the comics community feels strongly about.
You know…comics can be found in some funny places even the Stonehenge museum? Inside the museum lie a couple of comics inside bearing the representation of the signature landmark. Recently London has spent a considerable amount of capital updating the landmark with an expanded lobby area. As seen in the image below, representations of the figure in comics work can be seen in Thor, Rip Hunter, Action Comics and more.
2) American Dreams Comics
Bath, close to Stonehenge is a truly lovely City and one place that also contained some hidden comic book treasures. Hidden may not be the correct word, because Batwoman and Captain America cosplay teams were handing out DC and Marvel issues for Free Comic Book Day and leading foreigners towards their shop known as American Dreams Comics. I was ecstatic because I was able to get everything I wanted from FCBD without having to wait in the lines of Forbidden Planet on the way back home. The cashier had instructed me to look out for long lines, but told me that they did have a lot of product in store at Forbidden Planet. This was a perfect solution and convenient for the people that I was traveling with. A healthy amount of youth were enjoying themselves in the store scouting out some of the posters that the retailer probably had leftover. It’s really cool that Secret Wars #0 took a spotlight on the Future Foundation for the duration of the comic. This makes the tale much more accessible for the youth that may have populated this shop.
2.1) Doctor Who Experience
I Really quick just wanted to mention that the Doctor Who Experience had a few of the loose Doctor Who issues in the store. Unfortunately, they were all way ahead of what I’ve read as the first trade of Al Ewing’s Matt Smith Who title has been really good so far. That’s it! No more Doctor Who. Promise!
3) Blackwell’s Art & Poster Shop
Oxford was home to a lovely art store entitled Blackwell’s Art & Poster Shop. The store had everything from posters, books, and fine art as well. Everything in the store had a mostly independent vibe (making it a very Beat friendly store.) Speaking of friendly, the staff was more than willing to help out customers. I saw one of the employees actively evangelizing Maus (which I still haven’t read) and burst into an immediate smile. My haul was once again fruitless, but the temptation for me here was the Boxers & Saints slipcase edition that I haven’t seen before. Lately I have seen the comics split in two (not sure what that is about?)
4) Mega City Comics
Last but not least in my time in London was Mega City Comics. This store (which had a logo from Shaky Kane) had some incredible bundles. Even my jaded comic book heart couldn’t deny the fine assortment of deals here. My traveling companions had to talk me off the cliff off buying issues #6-68 of X-O Manowar (the first series from the original Valiant.) they talked me off of that cliff…eventually. I did end up sealing my fate (and suitcase space) with the full #38 issues of Marc Andreyko’s Manhunter. I made out of the store like bandit paying less than a dollar an issue.
Next week: Scotland!