07. September 2016

To mark the “Pioneers of the Comic Strip” exhibition, the SCHIRN MAG is travelling to ten comic stores on three continents.

By Teresa Koester

Comics – colorful drawings with an incisive touch. As they gradually conquered the American newspaper world from 1897 onwards, they must have had both a provocative and captivating effect on their readers. As the first pictorial mass media, the comic strips told stories and even today remain a medium that is ambitious not only in what it aims to be – from political to simply entertaining – but also in what it aims to achieve. Today we can clearly see that it has succeeded from the countless comic shops and stores all over the world, the spectrum of which ranges from strictly specialized to broadly diversified. 

To mark the Pioneers of the Comic Strip exhibition, the SCHIRN MAG is travelling to ten comic shops on three continents.

01. MODERN GRAPHICS IN BERLIN

The year 1991 marked the opening of “Modern Graphics” on Oranienstraße in Berlin. Since then, this veritable institution has not only witnessed the transformation of the Kreuzberg into the hip district it is today, but also established itself as a full-range specialist comic store considered one of the best in Germany. Alongside common series and publishing houses, also available from the two branches and online store are unusual books and magazines from smaller and more unusual publishing houses.

02. MANDARAKE IN TOKIO

Mandarake Nakano – opened in 1987 and the biggest second-hand manga store in Tokyo – actually consists of 26 shops on Nakano Broadway that specialize in different products from the world of manga. Mandarake now has further branches in Shibuya, Osaka and Fukoka.

03. STRIPS & STORIES IN HAMBURG

Just a short hop from the Reeperbahn, comics, graphic novels and books at Strips & Stories tell they very own tales. Customers can get recommendations not only on the ground in St. Pauli but also from the website, which is regularly updated with tips, new releases and event recommendations.

04. SECRET HEADQUARTERS IN LOS ANGELES

A comic store to match the neighborhood, you might think in the case of “Secret Headquarters”, since this shop located in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake area offers a well curated selection of indie alternatives and underground comics, coupled with superhero comics and here and there a different type of magazine.

05. MAMA SAYS COMICS ROCK IN NEW YORK

If most comic stores aim to appeal more thanks to their selection than their appearance, then the idea at Mama Says Comics Rock in Brooklyn is “less is more”. Hence this small store contains little more than a long wooden bench, one shelf and one table, all surrounded by a curated selection of comic books and graphic novels.

06. FORBIDDEN PLANET IN NEW YORK

Forbidden Planet near Union Square in New York forms a sharp contrast with Mama Says Comics Rock, and is considered one of the world’s biggest sellers of comics, science fiction, graphic novels and toys, all beautifully arranged. The store is regularly used as a venue for release events and book-signings with well-known personalities from the world of comics.

07. X-TRA-BOOX IN FRANKFURT

This comic store can look back over an almost 35-year history of supplying the residents of Frankfurt with comics, manga and animes.

Image via fnp.de

08. LIBRAIRIE LES SUPER HÉROS IN PARIS

The store has far more than its name suggests: In a floor-to-ceiling arrangement reminiscent of a record store, it stocks not only superhero comics but also collector’s items from the comic world.

Image via hello-paris17.fr

09. ISOTOPE IN SAN FRANCISCO

Isotope has discovered and filled a gap in the market: The comic store doubles up as a comic art gallery and an active workshop space and meeting point for creative types who not only buy books, but are also able to learn how to create their own comics here.

Image via eventseeker.com

10. AKIHABARA GAMERS IN TOKIO

There’s another chance to immerse oneself in the illustrated world of Tokyo at Gamers in Akihabara, where there is a huge selection of animes and manga as well as thematic video games, DVDs, CDs and merchandise.

Image via mcha-jp.com