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.
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.
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.
We’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
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