Comic book stores – what they are, what to expect and where to find them

So you want to find out what one of these legendary comic book stores really looks like. Like record stores and game stores, comic book stores are all over the world – offering the latest Marvel and DC comics, popular manga releases, beloved Dog Man graphic novels, and more. Again. In many cases, comic book stores stock decades of old comics and products related to your favorite characters.

(Image credit: Skottie Young (Free Comic Book Day))

According to industry estimates, there are over 2,500 comic book stores in North America alone. It is a network of independent companies which is sometimes referred to as the “direct market”. It’s more than Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Millions and independent bookstores put together. Although in some cases there are regional comic book chains, local comic book stores are mostly owned by people like you – people who love comics.

In an age when digital comics have become as readily available as printed comics (and in some cases more so), comic book stores allow a more personalized experience and direct contact with fans and comic book experts. (while respecting local COVID-19 safety ordinances, of course). Find out what makes each local store unique and be a part of the local comic book fan community in your area.

Here’s what you need to know – some you might not even know you need!

Are comic book stores friendly for new comic book fans?

Flying color comics

Inside Concord, the Flying Colors comics of California (Image credit: Joe Field)

Despite the myths propagated by The Simpsons and Big Bang Theory that comic book stores are not welcoming, they are on average the opposite – an inclusive place with a wide array of comics from all genres and eras.

One of the most unique facets of this informal network of comic book stores is that, in general, no two comic book stores are the same. Beyond the name, each comic book store decides its own goal, sometimes catering exclusively to comic book fans, while in other cases, catering to RPG enthusiasts and card collectors – good blood, there are even a few comic book stores that have working cafes!

When are the new comics on sale in comic book stores?

Comics and Arena games

Inside Panama City, Florida Comics & Gaming Arena (Image credit: Arena Comics & Gaming)

Comic book stores normally go on sale for new comics on Tuesday and Wednesday – Tuesday for DC products and Wednesday for Marvel, Image Comics and the rest of the comic book industry. Sometimes there are exceptions to this rule, so check with your local comic book store to find out how they handle release dates.

Where can I find a comic book store?

The Dragon

Inside Guelph, the Ontario Dragon (Image credit: Jenn Haines)

One of North America’s largest comic book distributors, Diamond, has created a user-friendly website called ComicShopLocator.com to help people find nearby comic book stores. There’s even a separate feature for finding comic book stores outside of North America.

And if all else fails, there’s always Google.

Do comic book stores make in-store pickup online?

(Image credit: Jeffrey Brown (Free Comic Book Day))

In some cases, comic book stores will offer this option – it depends on the store and the item. Increasingly, some stores are using third-party services such as Draw box Where ComicHub to offer online ordering.

Do comic book stores ship comics by post?

Some comic book stores offer this service, where you can receive your comics and graphic novels by mail weekly, monthly, or on your own schedule. Again, these services can be offered on a case-by-case basis, however, some comic book stores like Downtown comics and Mile High Comics have robust mail order services – which include shipping back issues, collectible comics, and comic book related merchandise as well as updated versions.

If you’re only looking for comics by mail, these stores – as well as Discount comic book services – can handle almost all your comic book needs.

Do comic book stores have seasonal events?

Free Comic Day

(Image credit: Jeffrey Brown (Free Comic Book Day))

Comic book stores have become such a community that they actually have their own vacations.

While Hallmark has yet to come up with a greeting card for any of these celebrations, the first Saturday in May is traditionally Free Comic Day – a day hosted by Diamond Comic Distributors where participating publishers produce comics. Free comics for comic book stores to offer to encourage reading. The next Free Comic Book Day is scheduled for May 7, 2022.

Meanwhile, Halloween has become a comic-centric party thanks to Halloween Comic Fest. The 2021 event has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but when the going is safe, expect free Halloween and horror-themed comics in stores across Canada. comics participating in the month of October.

The year usually ends with local Comic Book Day at the end of November. Like Record Store Day, Local Comic Shop Day is for comic book stores. This year’s event takes place on November 24 and will feature exclusive items from Marvel Comics, Brian Michael Bendis, and even rapper Chuck D.

Are you looking for the comic book fan of your life? Discover Newsarama gift guide.

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About Octavia A. Dorr

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