Comics

Published on July 31st, 2015 | by Holly Ringsell

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The Importance Of Indie Comic Stores

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With the gargantuan business of online shopping, it takes a considerable effort to leave your house, especially when you’re on the hunt for comic books, graphic novels and related merchandise. Us nerdy folk are generally pretty insular types, and whilst it may initially seem easier to simply click through to Amazon, theres a whole bunch of reasons why popping down to your local comic shop is a much better idea.

Cave Of Wonders“Whooo disturbs my slumberrrr?”

There isn’t a single other shop on the planet, that matches the experience of entering a comic book store. They’re usually small, tucked away and hard to find… But they’re so worth it. Walls packed with all the things you love, an Aladdin’s cave of treasures, geeky and nerdy and wonderful. Each different independent store tends to have different areas of expertise — some will stock years and years worth of back issues, others focus on the new and current, some specialise in indie publishers. Some have merchandise and collectables, others have statues, or sometimes just the odd t-shirt. Each independent comic shop is guaranteed to give you a unique experience, as well as offering something you may not have seen before. They’re also often hotspots for like-minded individuals, which leads me to my next point…

Comic shops are like an extra home for the nerdy. They’re a safe place for people to discuss their passions with like-minded others, not to mention they house an awesome place to make new friends. Most comic stores also run events, be it tabletop gaming, card games, contests, book clubs and in the case of my shop, even Ladies Nights! These events are a perfect place to make friends with the people you might often run into in the store on a weekday. There’s an amazing sense of community within comics — most people are friendly, kind and super passionate about their geekisms.

Sad DoctorYou don’t have to geek it out alone!

Personally, it’s important that my store is a friendly place for others. We’ve all been there — talking passionately about something we love, be it a movie, a comic book, a video game, and been told to “be quiet”, or have been ridiculed for seemingly being ‘obsessed’. It sucks. I endeavour to create a space people feel comfortable entering, regardless of age, gender or otherwise, and somewhere they can come to discuss the latest trailer or comic book storyline, with either myself, or the other customers present. The tabletop events that I host each Saturday are full of people who were initially strangers, now bonded by their love of tabletop gaming and other geekery. My Ladies Nights have been a resounding success, again offering a safe space for women to discuss geekery at their leisure. Daily, I make sure to greet every customer that enters the shop, and engage in friendly conversation if they’re so inclined. Creating a relaxed atmosphere is important — it means people feel comfortable and welcome, in an industry that can sometimes seem intimidating… We’re all very friendly really!

Aside from the awesome community aspects, there’s also the unique chance to browse items in person. Online shopping, while convenient, doesn’t offer much in the way of browsing. If you visit a comic shop, not only will you get to physically browse the item you’re intending on buying, but theres a huge chance you’ll also get some exceptional customer service alongside it. Plenty of independent shops will offer suggestions and recommendations based on what the employees have been reading — it means you might check something out that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about! Indie shops are largely opened by fans, for fans. We read comics as much as you guys, and it’s our absolute pleasure to be able to pass on a recommendation of a particularly amazing book.

SagaI’m pretty sure no-one would have read Saga, if it wasn’t for over-excited comic shop workers aggressively recommending it to everyone who entered the store.

Lastly, you also support independent business. The world is overrun by corporations and multi-national companies, and comic book stores have the looming threat of those over their heads. High street supermarkets and bookstores, (and bafflingly, music stores,) have begun selling graphic novels and nerdy merchandise, and while this is fine to a degree, it’s also troubling for little indie stores. This stuff is our bread and butter, so to have supermarkets and high street bookstores undercutting us to make a buck, is damaging. It’s a constant threat.

NerdsAnd who would want to threaten these gorgeous people!? 

Thankfully, most people have the sense to visit an indie comic store when its time to make their purchase — and every single one of your purchases directly helps us, and the comic industry. The comic industry runs on pre-orders, something comic stores put in monthly (but supermarkets, etc. do not.) Without us paving the way, there’d be no comics in your lovely hands. Every penny you spend in an independent store goes right back into bringing you more awesomeness! Not to mention, we’re always abundantly grateful. The fact you’ve taken the time to come to our stores, and spend your own hard-earned money, well, it’s like a personal compliment. Every penny that goes into my till is a compliment to me, and my store, and I appreciate it so much. You keep us here and thriving, you help us bring you not only comics and merchandise, but exceptional customer service and an awesome, friendly atmosphere. We bring you a shop where you can feel at home, where you can discuss exactly who’d win in a fight between Iron Man and Batman, you can ponder every little flicker of a smile that Steve Rogers directs at Bucky Barnes, and you can, without fear, talk passionately about stories and artwork that you love with all your soul. We vow to do our best to bring you the latest in comic books, graphic novels and more, to offer personalised orders where we can, and to absolutely do our utmost to bring you a service unrivalled by anywhere else… But we need your help. We need you to support us, tell your friends about us and visit when you can. We don’t expect you to spend money with us every time you visit but know that when you do, it’s appreciated more than anywhere else, and used to keep bringing you wonderful things.

DREAMWEAAAVERYeah. “Straight.”

If you’d like to visit my store, we’re located under the viaducts by the train/bus station in Chelmsford. You can also find us rife on the following social media platforms. Come and say hi, and be sure to support your local independent comic store!

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Website, YouTube

Dark Side Comics

Holly Ringsell

Holly Ringsell

Pink and purple. Owner of Dark Side Comics. I have a lot of feelings about Steve Rogers.
Holly Ringsell

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  • SgtKaiju

    I’m with you until the last point. Whilst I’m happy to support the local businesses I care about, I do baulk at the idea of blanket support for independent traders.

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