Many blogs have alluded to this Ben Towle post as evidence that MacGuffin, a graphic-novel heavy comics shop in Newport News, has closed down:

I received news earlier today from Newport News based illustrator Wade Mickley that MacGuffin: The Graphic Novel Bookshop, the amazing…uh, well… graphic novel bookshop–also in Newport News–is now closed. You can find my post from this holiday season about the store here, along with Wade’s comment from today.

While I’m saddened by this news (which I’m assuming is true, although obviously I’m just going on this one comment) because it means that a really great comics shop has closed, I find myself attaching a greater significance to this because MacGuffin–despite its 5 hour distance from me–represented a sort of “litmus test” of the idea that there really was an audience of “civilians” out there who could sustain a retail store specializing in graphic novels of interest to the same sort of general readership that sustains, for example, one’s local Borders store, as opposed to the specialized collector/fanboy clientele that supports the typical comic book store.

This news hasn’t been confirmed but the fact that owner Sam Hobart has not updated his blog in a month is not a good sign. Hopefully he’ll get back online and at least tell us what happened — Hobart’s voice was one of reason, and his observations are needed.


  1. First R!OT Comics, now MacGuffin. What is going on? These stores are doing things that comic fans say they want out of their LCS. They are marching to a new drummer’s beat and yet they are disappearing.

    Do they old shop’s have a better formula? Is it too tough for a new LCS to financially survive nowadays? Are online shops taking away too many of the Brick and Mortar shop’s “big spender” customers?

    If the new shops aren’t making it… does it mean that our hobby is dying? I hope not.


  2. Speaking as a Newport News native, I’d have to say compitetion has a lot to do with macguffins busness, or lack thereof. I shop for my comics at Heros & Villians in hampton (the next town over), but there are also at least 4 or 5 other comic shops within a 20 mile radius, not to mention the Barnes & Noble and Borders about 5 miles from MacGuffin’s site.

  3. >I find myself attaching a greater significance to this because MacGuffin represented a sort of “litmus test” of the idea that there really was an audience of “civilians” out there who could sustain a retail store specializing in graphic novels

  4. Civilians don’t like independent stores. When i moved here ten years ago, there were four nice independent bookstores in town. Now there are none. There are two chain stores (maybe a third in the mall). Lots of people just won’t shop at non-chain stores, regardless of what they’re selling. It’s only niche markets (comics, scrapbooking, etc.) where independent retailers have any chance, and even that’s slim. It’s a rough environment for small businesses right now.

  5. I can also speak to the point that Jesse made.

    I lived in Newport News for 7 years and it was, hands down, the best area for comic shops that I have ever lived in. In fact, this year for FCBD I drove down from D.C. to spend time at three different shops, including MacGuffin. Why? Because all of the comic shops near my new apartment are the classic comic shop caves. Not so in newport News, where most of the shops (and there are a lot of them) are clean, well stocked and staffed by knowledgeable, friendly people. So yes, competition is fierce in that area.

    Sam’s shop was truly unique, a beautiful little place to buy comics and graphic novels. If it really is closing, it’s a sad day.


  6. I’ve been calling him all day and I’m not getting an answer so my guess is that it’s true. I’m going to drive by on my way home from work for confirmation, but if it’s true, it’s extremely sad for me because his shop was THE place for me to go. Gorgeous shop with a great atmosphere and it didn’t stink of action figures. It was a rea bastion of hope for great comic shops all over and everyone I sent there loved it. EMAIL ME SAM!!

  7. That’s a deep shame. I’m a Hampton Roads native now living in New York. I made a point of visiting the store early last month when I was in the area and was blown away. I complemented the store highly, but the owner seemed less than enthusiastic, which led me to believe that he was suffering from troubles of this sort.

    Again, it’s a shame.

  8. yeah
    I’m bummed.
    Have not gone to another shop since he closed. I Worked w/ him on his blogs masthaead and really wanted to see him succeed w/ his business.
    It truly was unique and will be missed. I’d love to hear what happened.

  9. I’ve tried to reach out to Sam a few times since the closing. He responded the first few days after, but not since. I offered to cover his shop for a major comic site in hopes to coordinate to help him relaunch somewhere or to maybe bring attention to his plight as a news story AND drive some sympathetic customers his way. I mean…he was a new breed of shop…his success or lack of success (because I refuse to call it a failure) with such a shop has a newsworthy story in there somewhere.

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