Best Of, Stories, Wander
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10 Best Comic Book Stores in the US

Comic books aren’t just for shy and bookish kids anymore. Thanks in part to Hollywood and to the upsurge of counterculturalism, the world of fantasy, superheroes and villains that once only belonged to introverts is now a cool thing. Just look at the crowds that swarm ComicCon in San Diego every year.

One of the best things about comic books – aside, of course, from the fact that they promote heroism and assert that good guys always triumph in the end – is that they’re easily the most accessible and the most effective way to distract the kids, especially on long flights or drives.

So if you happen to be visiting one of these cities with the kids and they’re getting somewhat antsy, a pit stop at these awesome comic book stores might just be what your vacation needs:

 

Austin, TX – Austin Books & Comics

Austin Books & Comics in Austin, TXAustin Books & Comics in Austin, TX (Google Maps)

Opened in 1977, Austin Books & Comics is one of Texas’ biggest and longest running comic book stores. Taking your comic book fans and young collectors here is a must while in the Texan capital. Not only do they sell the latest issues and lines, they also carry many first editions and back issues as well as an entire department dedicated to collectibles, which means that you might have to discuss their shopping allowance before your visit. (5002 N Lamar Blvd, 512-454-4197)

Baltimore, MD – Atomic Books

Founded in 1992 in downtown Baltimore, this independent Hampden comic book store sells alternative and underground comic books as well as zines and books. If the young comic book fans in your family are ready to upgrade from the usual superhero stories to the more experimental or unconventional titles and comic lines, they’ll definitely enjoy a visit or two. This store is so radical, in fact, that director John Waters actually picks up his fan mail there regularly. (3620 Falls Rd, 410-662-4444)

Charlotte, NC – Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find

What’s in a name? Well, with an epic one like “Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find,” this North Carolina comic book store, owned by HeroesCon founder Shelton Drum, impressively lives up to expectations. It’s not only one of the largest comic book retailers in the US, it also has an impressive collection of back issues as well as prides itself in the diversity of its comics, carrying lines from virtually every genre. (1957 E 7th St, 704-375-7462)

Chicago, IL – Quimby’s Bookstore

Quimby’s Bookstore in ChicagoQuimby’s Bookstore in Chicago (Flickr: Pat Loika)

An independent bookstore in Chicago’s Wicker Park, Quimby’s is more for those with a taste for the avant garde. They specialize in underground comics, unusual publications and independent zines. If your teen is tired of the usual superhero in spandex tale and is looking for less mainstream reads, this bookstore is definitely a necessary stop while in the Windy City. (1854 W. North Ave, 773-342-0910)

Los Angeles, CA – Meltdown Comics

Located on the famous Sunset Boulevard, this 14,000-square-foot comic book store is frequented by comic book fans visiting Los Angeles. And its massive collection of not just the latest, but also the best comic books is but a tip of the iceberg. Meltdown Comics also has a lot of cool collectibles, merch and toys for your young collectors and an art gallery for the artists in your family. (7522 Sunset Blvd, 323-851-7223)

New Orleans, LA – Crescent City Comics

With their friendly and knowledgeable staff who are more than willing to offer recommendations and a treasure trove of comic book goodies – from comic books and graphic novels, some staff-curated, to action figures and other toys and memorabilia – this Big Easy comic book store is a sure hit with the locals, young and old. (4916 Freret St, 504- 891-3796)

New York City, NY – JHU Comic Books

JHU Comic Books in New York CityJHU Comic Books in New York City (Flickr: Joey)

NYC has a number of impressive comic book stores, including fan favorites Midtown Comics and Forbidden Planet, but JHU Comic Books is more of a purist’s paradise. While other comic book stores in the city fill their shelves with other products like cards and board games, JHU focuses more on the comics themselves, with shelves filled with great selections of the latest releases and back issues from wall to wall. Plus, the staff is very friendly. (32 East 32nd St, 212-268-7088)

Portland, OR – Floating World Comics

Floating World Comics in Portland, ORFloating World Comics in Portland, OR (Floating World Comics)

A true Portland establishment, Floating World Comics is more than just a comic book store. It’s a hip community, hosting art shows and a tiny vinyl department. Priding itself on cool aesthetics and style, this is a comic book mecca with a vinyl store feel where independent works, art books and zines fill shelves just as much as the more mainstream comics, graphic novels and mangas. Both the future artists and the comic book lovers in your family will more than appreciate a stopover during your Portland vacation. (400 NW Couch St, 503- 241-0227)

San Francisco, CA – Cartoon Art Museum Bookstore

What can you expect from a store that is attached to the only comics and cartoon museum in the West Coast? Where do we even begin? To start with, comic books and cartoons vie for shelf space with history, how-to and art books. Then there are the DVDs, toys, postcards, and other comics and cartoon-related merch. And just because this bookstore in San Francisco’s Financial District is packed to the brim with virtually anything you’re looking for in a comic book store, doesn’t mean they don’t have space for other things. They also support local young artists and regularly host hip community events. (Cartoon Art Museum has temporarily closed its doors to prepare for a move to a new location, and have temporarily moved to the Renaissance Entrepreneur Center (275 5th Street). Keep checking their site for updates on their new home.)

Washington D.C. – Big Planet Comics

If the cool aesthetics of their blue-and-yellow exterior doesn’t get the kids dragging you through the doors, then Big Planet Comics’ impressive collection inside will. This store, originally from Georgetown, prefers the more independent, small-press titles as well as stuff from Europe and Japan that your kids probably haven’t even heard of, but they also carry the more popular ones. True to its name, BPC has established its own comic book world, with podcasts, book signing and meet-and-greet events, and their very own, albeit tiny, comic book publishing house. (1520 U St NW, 202-342-1961)

 

(Originally published on MiniTime.com)

all rights reserved. no part of this blog post may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.

This entry was posted in: Best Of, Stories, Wander

by

Michelle Rae is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor and photographer with a bad case of Wanderlust. She writes for a number of websites, including Huffington Post, Paste Magazine, Travelage West and The Phoblographer. She is the Head of Content and Editor for family travel site, MiniTime.com.

20 Comments

  1. Might I recommend for the next iteration of this list, Famous Faces & Funnies in Melbourne, Florida:

    These guys have been hocking pages and panels for more than 20 years with buy back guarantees, waylaying of selling out of desired books, recognizing talent in the industry, and just good all around community and customer service.

    They’ve just upgraded to a massive facility (11,000+ square feet) that’s worth the effort of a visit.

  2. I’m surprised the Atomic Books made it onto the list of Top Ten Comic Book shops. Its a great shop but it is more of a boutique store. Their comic book inventory is pretty small and they cherry pick titles, leaning towards more independent and creator owned books and imprints. Its as great shop without a doubt but its equal parts bookstore and comic shop and bar. It’s a hip place to go and hangout but not a great comic shop. Within thirty miles of Atomics books is Chucks Comics in Essex MD and also Third Eye Comics located in Annapolis MD. Both of those stores while both wildly different, trump Atomic Books in a Best Comic Shop race.

  3. Really not that impressed with Floating World when I visited them in February when ComicsPRO held their convention in Portland.
    1) Staff aloof and more interested in being “Hot Topic Cool” than in being friendly or welcoming to customers.
    2) They wouldn’t let me –a paying customer — use the toilet.

    Bridge City comics is a much better store.

    • Hi Katherine, definitely well aware of that fact. This post was actually published in 2014 on MiniTime.com, and I simply reposted on my site. I’ll make sure to add a note. xo

  4. The HS Gossip says

    Don’t forget about Cornelius, NC – Parker, Banner, Kent & Wayne Comics and Games

  5. gene armstrong says

    and don’t forget Rob at Borderlands in Greenville SC who hosts the SC Comicon each year

  6. Barbara says

    I recently ran into Tony Davis of Million Year Picnic in Harvard Sq. In business a few decades at the same location as chain stores and banks inundate the area.

  7. Janel says

    I’ll take Rebel Base Comics in Charlotte over Heroes Arent Hard to find any day of the week…

  8. If you have not been to Jesse James Comics in Glendale, AZ. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Also one factor I look at a ton is whether or not the shop sells indy comics and local artists comics. If they don’t…they are pretty much just like every other store and have to rely on other factors.

  9. Let me give a shout out to the folks at Green Brain Comics outside of Detroit in Dearborn, Michigan. The spouses who have run the store for close to 20 years now are some of the best folks around to know and they really support indy comics and local comics talent. They have done numerous tie-ins with the local colleges nearby and have been a haven to the comics community in Metro Detroit. Worthy of a visit.

    And if you want to hit up for nearly any back issue you can find, megastores like Big Ben’s Comix Oasis in Allen Park, Michigan (downriver of Detroit) and Time Travelers in Berkley, Michigan (in Northern ‘burbs of Detroit) are the places to go (and if you are looking for cheap reads, both have huge dollar bins (or less) to buy all sorts of goodies.

  10. Let me give a shout out to Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. The spouses who have run the store for close to 20 years now are some of the best folks around to know and they really support indy comics and local comics talent. They have done numerous tie-ins with the local colleges nearby and have been a haven to the comics community in Metro Detroit. Always a great place to shop.

  11. Willphase1 says

    I’m surprised tates comics in south Florida isn’t on there

  12. tony ottati says

    Have ever been to SOUTH FLORIDA. One of the best comic shops is there TATE”S COMICS. It is 10000 sq ft and 22ft from floor to ceiling Check the web site tatescomic.com. they have everything that you can think of. In business for 22 years. Also winner of the EISNER You must check it out

  13. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 4/23/16 A Scrolling Class Hero Is Something To Be | File 770

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