There's a new shop here ih Toronto called Kensington Comics. It's far from your conventional comics retailer. For starters, there's no new comics, it's all back issues, and those back issues, well, they're dispersed throughout the store in no particular order.
The store is located in what must have been at one time an apartment space or at least a rented pair of rooms. It's accessed from the building's side entrance in an alleyway, and you have to walk up a narrow, creaky, twisty stairwell to get to the rooms. Once at the top of the stairs one sees a narrow hallway literally lined with comics. Thin plastic slats mounted to the wall hold comics about 10 deep and they coat the hallway from floor to ceiling with funnybooks. In the room immediately to the right are some vintage comic book store tiered fixtures overstuffed with comics. As well there's three custom made (a nice way of putting it) shelving units newly built and (at time of writing) awaiting stock, although one shelf puzzlingly is well stocked with used denim. Above all the racks, more slats bursting with comics.
The room at the end of the hall will find the shopkeep, (edit: his name's George) as exceptionally friendIy man (he'Il call you ''Brother" Hulk Hogan style within minutes) watching Movies or TV on his Mac. This room has more adequate custom shelving, wall to wall, 100 deep with freestanding comics. Above them, more slats filling the wall space up to the ceiling. Stepladders are everpresent to get at the high staff (or to hold your finds). Tens of thousands of comics, completely disorganised. The owner even has no idea what is there or where anything might be. It's like a comic nerd's fantasy -or nightmare - come to life.
Why would anyone shop there I hear you ask? 50 cents a book, or 50 for $20. That's why. The owner started buying comics in bulk off collectors for cheap to sell to the kids in his shop. Then his OCD kicked in and he kept buying. He's estimated he's got over a million comics now and he really has no interest in them personally. He likes buying them and selling them.
The experience is addictive, like digging through the 50 cent bins at a comic convention only more cozy. It's easy to spend 90 minutes there digging and not notice the time pass. The place is constantly restocking (check the facebook page for updates) so its already in a few short months built a loyal customer base of diggers, and at $0.50 or 50-for-$20 there's next to no risk buying a random book like Heroes For Hire #15.
It's a terrible book (mostly because its the end of a story that relies heavily on understanding the characters, their relationships with one another, and in knowing what came before, but also because it has four different artists within its 20 pages). It was not a fun Random Read.
But I like that skull cover. That's $0.50 worth right there.