Root and Branch Overhaul for the downthetubes UK and Ireland Comic Shop Map

Scorch Comics Eastbourne #DalekDez

Success story: Scorch Comics, in Eastbourne

We’ve given the downthetubes.net British and Irish Comic Shop Map a major overhaul this week, updating a lot of Comic Shop details and, sadly, removing a large number of stores that have closed but also highlighting those battling on – and, in some cases, expanding, despite the state of the wider high street economy.

Support Your Local Comic Shop. Art by Nick Miller

Art by Nick Miller. We’ve got a range of merchandise featuring this art on sale via CafePress

While many downthetubes readers have very kindly updated us about store closures and changes, casualties whose loss had previously gone unreported to us include Book Lover in Oxford which has in fact been closed for several years now, the building redeveloped into an upmarket hotel. Inky Fingers, also in Oxford, closed in July 2019.

Rising rents, the exchange rate affecting comic prices (noted for example in reports of the closure of Melksham’s KomiX in 2017), and customer buying habits moving online have all been regularly cited as reasons for closure or downsizing, with some shops ceasing to sell new comics entirely.

The good news is that some shops have also opened, too, while others have moved, some into larger premises, such as Eastbourne’s Scorch Comics, which also offers an extensive mail order service, like many other stores. So it’s not all bad news, although there’s no pretending things are tough for retail right now.

One of the most depressing announcements of closure uncovered was from Watford’s Geek’s Retreat, via Facebook video, the store’s footfall reduced to near non existence as redevelopment in the town transformed shopper habits, as was a the sadly overlooked closure of Time Trek in Bromley, way back in 2016, reported by News Shopper.

Geeks, Watford - sadly, a casualty of a tough retail market, which closed last year,. Image: Google Streetview

Geeks, Watford – sadly, a casualty of a tough retail market, which closed last year,. Image: Google Streetview

The team at Chelmsford’s Dark Side Comics were equally shattered by the closure of that store, announced last August on Facebook and picked up by Essex Live. The shop had been trading for six years and the closure prompted notes of sympathy from comic creators such as Emma Vieceli, Annie Parkhouse and Lee Townsend, among others.

If there is any good to come from such a closure, it’s that the team continues to promote comics through The Dark Side Family comics community, with regular meet ups and more.

Support Your Local Comic Shop PosterWe’ve also tried to identify comic shops happy to stock small press comics, an addition brought to you thanks to help from Lew Stringer, thanks to a list he began on his Blimey blog in 2016. Those shops known to stock small press titles have grey icons on the Map.

As part of this, at the suggestion of comic creator Rob Marland, author of the first ever graphic novel about Oscar Wilde, we’ve added two general bookshops to the map – Glasgow’s Category is Books and Liverpool’s News from Nowhere. Both sell more than comics, but they do sell comics/ graphic novels and have agreed to stock Rob’s small press comics.

Our dedicated UK and Ireland Comic Shop Map is here; please note, despite the ever-improving accuracy of search engines, it’s worth checking a shop is still open, or its opening times, before you make a trip.

• Please do share this map. The short link to the Google Map is http://bit.ly/dtt-uk-comic-shops

We’ve got a range of Support Your Local Comic Shop merchandise featuring art by Nick Miller on sale via CafePress

You may also be interested in my Twitter List of UK and Ireland Comic Shops who use that service – subscribe here

Our thanks to everyone who has contributed information to the Map – please use the Feedback Form on the Comic Shop Map page to send us any updates, thank you

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Site Announcements

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