Whether you're looking for an energetic atmosphere filled with caffeinated gamers and superhero mannequins, or a quiet vault filled with endless boxes of meticulously slabbed back issues, there's a place for you in Phoenix.
Here are five of our favorite Phoenix-area comic book stores, with a few honorable mentions.
This is the comic book geek's comic book shop. The store's laid out like a dork hoarder's garage sale -- packed with rows and rows of long boxes, with very little wiggle room. But there's a bounty of back issues in those boxes, at fairly cheap prices, and best of all, mini-series are bundled together and sold at a discount.
You won't find any anime or manga here, however -- Greg's Comics caters mostly to Marvel and DC fans, many of whom are walking encyclopedias of comic knowledge who engage in intense discussions and debates about everything from characters to artists to publishers' blunders (damn you, DC Comics, for changing Superman's costume on the
Justice League No. 1
2722 S. Alma School Road, Suite #8, Mesa. Call 480-752-1881.
Ash Avenue Comics & Books
Ash Avenue Comics' big strength is their selection of indie comics. They have an abundance of issues of classic indie favorites like Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve, plus local comics like Russ Kazmierczak Jr.'s Amazing Arizona Comics, back issues of defunct indie hits like The Fart Party, and hardcovers from publishers like Fantagraphics. The store also carries new mainstream releases, but sometimes not enough, as they tend to sell out of the latest hot title not long after national new comic release day (Wednesdays). 810 S. Ash Avenue, Tempe. Call 480-858-9447 or visit www.ashavecomics.com.
Samurai Comics stepped up to fill customers' orders when Atomic Comics closed, and that's fitting, because Samurai is similar to Atomic in many ways: it's a locally-owned chain that carries new, mainstream comics and graphic novels, with a sizable selection of back issues and comic-related toys. Although Samurai's selection is nowhere near as large as Atomic Comics' was, they have a loyal customer base because they host many community events and fundraisers (from comic book signings to appearances by local costuming groups), their prices are fair, and their staff is friendly.Multiple Valley locations. Visit www.samuraicomics.com.
Gotham City Comics & Coffee
This is the place to go if you want to drink some caffeine (either the store's potent house blend coffee or an energy drink), chat with fellow comic fans, and play some video games. Yes, there's a decent selection of comic books, graphic novels, action figures, and comic-themed paintings by local artists, but this is primarily a hangout place. There are plenty of couches, chairs, and tables in which to sit and read your latest purchase, or watch some anime on the televisions. The gaming room in the back features rows of comfy black leather chairs, flat screen TVs, and X-Box gaming systems, and there's a wide selection of games to choose from, too. Oh, and did we mention there's a big Batman mannequin? 46 W. Main Street, Mesa. Call 480-649-3065 or visit www.facebook.com/gothamcitycomics.
All About Books & Comics The selection here is staggering. New titles fill half a dozen racks near the entrance of the store, as well as most of the store's south wall. Graphic novels take up most of the north wall, and the rest of the store is shelf after shelf filled with box after box of back issues. We've had to use a step ladder more than once to reach some of those back issue boxes, but it's always worth it, because we usually find what we're looking for -- or something else equally interesting. 5060 N. Central Avenue. Call 602-277-0757 or visit allaboutbooksandcomics.com.
Niki has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and PHOENIX magazine, and is now a full-time freelancer.