Saturday June 8th 2013 08:30 (also known as yesterday morning); the morning started pretty well, the sun had started poking it’s head out of the horizon and there was a nice light breeze. Around about this time, I was sitting outside my friends house so we could begin our epic (and I’m sure many will say completely unnecessary) journey from Birmingham to Croydon, all for the sake of a comic shop. I know that I constantly bang on about how much I like Nostalgia & Comics but I wanted more, I wanted to go out and see how my local comic shop stacks up against their counterparts from around the country. My first choice for this was A Place In Space in Croydon which, I’d like to point out, is about 122 miles from where I live. The reality, though, is that the route I took was more like 140(ish) miles so that I could skip around those London congestion charges and the generally ridiculous amount of traffic in central London (Google maps, where I planned the route and got the above distance from, seemed determined to take us through central London for some bizarre reason.). It was a good day to do it too, the weather was absolutely beautiful, words do not do it justice and driving in the sun, especially on motorways, is one of my all time favourite things to do. I love it.
A Place In Space was decided upon for two simple reasons; they were at London Super Comic Con in February of this year and the stand was filled with great priced books and manned by really cool people. The second reason was that I have made multiple orders from their eBay store and had been very impressed with their pricing and service. It seemed logical, given the positive experiences I’ve had with them, to pick them first to visit.
Funny thing with this comic shop is it’s actually two shops, well, kind of anyway. Essentially, they have two units, one that has all of their trade paperbacks and graphic novels, and has all of their new releases along the entire wall of one side of the shop. The second unit (and by far my favourite) has all of their back issues and ridiculously cheap comics. This was where I had the most fun, especially the area with “25p comics or 25 for £5” signs stuck on the long boxes. I managed to dig out a huge amount of Cyber Force from the nineties from them along with a few New 52 titles and some other Image stuff (funnily enough, most of it from the nineties). By far my biggest win of the excursion, however, happened as I wandered around the main back issue section. You see, about a month ago or so I picked up Gotham City Sirens #1 and while that set me back a bit more than I had previously though I was comfortable paying, it’s not that easy to find and very highly rated. It also features three of my favourite Gotham based characters; Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Anyway, I digress, that series suddenly popped into my head as I headed through and I scanned around for “G” and to my surprise (and excitement) I found thirteen issues all for £2 each! Granted, they’re not 2-14 so I still can’t read further than #1 still, but it was a massive boost to my collection and that’s less that I now need to look for. And they were cheap! I also found a couple of Witchblade and Darkness comics I’d been struggling to locate so, all in all, it was a huge success and well worth the journey.
Just as a side note, both of the individual stores were very clean and tidy, really well organized and staffed by friendly people. The cleanliness is quite a big thing for me, I hate walking around shops that are caked in dust and crap and in the case of comics the grime can seriously affect the condition of the comics you’re about to buy. Because of this you’ll normally find that comic shops are very clean and well maintained, as is the case with my beloved Nostalgia but I felt it was worth pointing out anyway. The graphic novel shop sells the trades and graphic novels at 20% off the cover price at all times and the singles shop sells all back issues, except New 52 back issues, at half price and as I said earlier, has the real bargain boxes too. I was really impressed with the shops and can say with complete confidence that I will go back there again.
The road that the shops are on, Church Street, is a bit of a nerd haven to be honest. Just down the road from A Place In Space (literally 2 minutes down the road) is Forbidden Planet. I’ll be completely honest and say that I don’t have a huge amount of faith in Forbidden Planet on the whole, but that’s mostly down to the ridiculous amount of time it takes subscriptions to arrive through the post and the lack of back issues the stores tend to carry. The same could be said for this one too, but only to a certain point since they had two shelves of a bookcase dedicated to £1 grab bags. Each bag came with three seemingly random comics in, the front and back ones could be seen but the middle one was a bit of a gamble. I picked a few of these up for either one or two of the front and back comics I could see that I wanted, and at £1 you really can’t go wrong. As with other stores, they have a fairly large area dedicated to toys, t-shirts and other collectibles and comic related paraphernalia. This is an area that A Place In Space doesn’t cater for, so if it’s that sort of thing you are after, a short walk down the road can cure that itch.
Even though I said that I’d be going back there at some point, I will be heading to as many different comic shops as I can around the UK on a mission for cheap comics and awesome shops. It should be a fun trek around the country (not all done at once, of course) it’s always nice to visit different cities and towns anyway and as I said earlier, I do really enjoy driving long journeys, especially in the sun. If anyone out there has any suggestions for great, British comic shops please let me know, I don’t want to miss one.
I think that’s about all from me for now, thanks for swinging by and reading!