Continuing my selective tour of comic book stores in the East while I'm chillaxing here!
Back in the day, when I lived in Pennsylvania, I used to drive down to Feasterville every once in a while and go to Comic Collection, which has sat, crammed onto a tiny plot of land on the southeastern corner of Street Road (yes, we know) and Bustleton Pike, since 1985. It was there I paid the most money I've ever spent for a single issue, $20 for New Mutants #87 (don't look at me like that!) and where I found Trident #1, which is the only issue of that sadly lamented series I've ever been able to find. Now that I'm back in the area for an extended time, I decided to drive down and check it out after 20 years have passed. What would it be like?
The first time I went in, I didn't have my camera, so I just searched for back issues. Every so often I think I'm done with back issues, but then I discover or remember some titles that have never been collected in trade and I missed them when they came out, so it's good to have stores that still sell back issues. I have never bought back issues on-line, not because I'm a Luddite (although I sort of am), but because I don't trust the condition of the issues. I don't care if my back issues are in perfect shape, but I would like them to have all their pages, for instance. I know you can't guarantee that if you buy them in a comic book store, but at least you can shame the owner if he sells you a crappy copy. At least that's my theory. Plus, as I've mentioned before, I love digging through back issue boxes. So there! I found a bunch of stuff I wanted, including a collected version of "St. Swithin's Day" by The God of All Comics and Paul Grist, which Oni put out in 1998 and which began in that very issue of Trident to which I referred above. It's all about kismet, people! I also got a bunch of Supergirl issues, because for some reason I skipped it back in the 1990s even though I like Peter David. I'm silly! Finally, I picked up some of Starslayer: The Director's Cut, which Mike Grell released through Acclaim Comics back in 1995. But here's where the fun began!
The employee who was there (not the owner) told me the store had a "vault" with a bunch of other back issues, and if I told him what I needed, he could go and get them. I'd have to come back because he had to make a special trip, but that was fine - what else am I doing that takes up so much time? So I told him what I needed. A few days later, they were ready for me. Back I went to the store, this time with my camera!
Yes, this is the interior of the store. Isn't it beautiful? The owner, Dave Schwartz, was there this time, so I got to talk to him. Despite the mess, the store is actually very organized, and it's not hard to find anything, as Dave pointed out (and I had already sussed out from my previous visit). It's been remodeled several times since I was last there, so I didn't recognize the interior, but it's packed with comics, which is all that really matters, isn't it?
The new comics of the week are at the very end of this wall, meaning everyone has to go past a bunch of other comics to get to them (Dave isn't dumb when it comes to marketing!). He has a huge selection of odder stuff - the first upper shelf is filled with porn comics, for instance, which are ... well, something, I'll tell you that much. But he orders quite a lot of independent comics, and there's a lot on his shelf that you're just not going to find in comic book stores devoted to superheroes. For such a tiny shop, it's impressive.
He has a lot of figures, as you can see, and a ton of other comics-related merchandise. He also sells CDs from all eras, even though those punk kids today don't even know what a CD is, dagumit. He was playing Kraftwerk's record Autobahn from 1974 while I was talking to him. Because he can, man! He also has a bunch of trades, of course:
He had managed to find the rest of Starslayer and a bunch of Supergirls for me, which was awfully swell. I was also able to complete my epic collection of Young Heroes in Love, because it's motherfucking awesome!!!!! I spoke to Dave about his business briefly but didn't get into it too much. He's owned the place for over 25 years, so he knows what he's doing!
Dave actually put the T-shirt on over his other shirt to advertise the store. That's commitment!
I've always loved stores (not just comic book stores) like Comic Collection. They feel so old-school and mysterious, like you could find some kind of mystical talisman in the back that no one has noticed for years. Just the fact that I found that Morrison comic made the trip worth it, although I was totally jazzed about getting all the other comics. Dave let me know that he is very happy to ship anywhere (I didn't ask about overseas, because I forgot) and he's very keen on customer service (which is, surprisingly, not always the case with comic book stores, which is odd), so if you are looking for something elusive, he'd be happy to search his archives for you. He has a lot of old comics (I mean pre-1970), and of course he has a bunch of more modern stuff that he'd be happy to sell to you. Comic Collection is a wonderful little store packed with comics for all readers, so if you're interested in finding something, give him a call! (I didn't realize they had a web site; here it is!)
As always, if you're interested in writing about your own comic book store, send me an e-mail at email@example.com. I will be happy to post your tales of your own comic book shoppe!