Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Review: A more detailed comparison of Perth CBD's comic shops

So I had a lot more free time today as it is my last day in Perth and I didn't have anything concrete planned for the day. So I decided to revisit all the comic and pop culture shops in Perth again, except Tokyo Underground.

Spent more time at Empire Toys, browsing through the racks of graphic novels and manga in greater detail. Afterwhich I went to Quality Comics quickly, then visited Fantastic Planet for the first time. My last stop, later in the afternoon, was at Comiczone, before coming back to the hotel to rest and relax before heading off to the airport to catch the flight back to Melbourne.

Now that I've visted the four shops that sell graphic novels, here are my opinions and comparisons between the shops.

Please note, before anyone gets heated up arguing for or against one shop, this is entirely MY opinion based on the products that were available in each shop, shop space, variety of products, etc. Even though I returned to most shops for a second day, I've really only spent perhaps half an hour tops in each shop. Also, apart from the "hi/bye" greetings, I've only really interacted with the person working at Quality Comics, chatting about comics.

Quality Comics has easily the largest shop space. It had a huge variety of graphic novels and single issues, and also sold a number of different manga and DVDs. Not enough manga that I'd go back to purchase specific titles I'd be after because there wasn't enough variety. The shop assistant who engaged me in conversation was extremely helpful, friendly and knowledgeable, which is always a plus!

Quality Comics seemed to have best and lowest prices. There were heaps of back issues and I really liked the fact that the displayed single issues and graphic novels were all coverface-up, that is, you could see the front covers displayed as opposed to having to tilt your head to one side to check out what graphic novel it was from the book's spine. This makes it really easy to see if there was something that one is particuarly after; perhaps the comics can be displayed this way because of the huge amount of space in the shop.

Comiczone, while having a smaller space size, certainly used it very well. The majority of the shelved graphic novels couldn't be displayed coverface-up and you had to identify graphic novels by the book spine, but the latest and most popular graphic novels were all displayed so that you can see the front cover. It works well this way too because not only does it save space, but it's not always very often that someone would be looking for an old graphic novel...and if they were, they could always ask the people working in the shop, who appeared extremely friendly just like I remembered the last time!

The single issues were also displayed coverface-up. The difference between Comiczone and the rest, and this is a really good thing that I like, was the fact that they didn't put barcode pricetags on the graphic novel/single issue (or protective sleeve); the pricetag is actually on the shelf itself, keeping the comic free from blemishes! As you can imagine, this would mean that they would need a very organised and tidy shelving system, which they had. The other shops also had a very good shelving system, but I think Comiczone's stands out.

They also had quite a number of single back issues, though not as many as Quality Comics. And they were still giving out free button-badges! I didn't grab any this time around though. And Comiczone certainly seems to also support local comics and local comic creators; from memory I believe Ben Templesmith is an avid supporter of Comiczone (he buys his comics here too, perhaps, if Mr Templesmith DOES indeed purchase comics?) and I saw the business card of a Paul Spencer, who I believe is a local comics letterer.

Empire Toys had about the same shop space as Comiczone but a lot more product. Everything was organised neatly into product type; there was an aisle specifically for toys and action figures, another for graphic novels and one more for manga. They even had a specific section for anime/Japanese merchandise and products and one for DVDs!

Empire Toys had the most variety of manga titles and I know if I were to look for a specific manga title or back issue, that would be the first place I would start as it would be more likely that I'd find it at Empire Toys. They also sold a variety of animated/comic-related/pop culture-related DVDs, the most of all the shops that I'm comparing.

They didn't have a lot of single issues though; those that were available were of titles by "mainstream" creators like My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way's Umbrella Academy, Stephen King's Dark Tower and Joe Hill's Locke and Key. It also seemed that the graphic novels here were the most expensive of the shops compared.

Fantastic Planet specialises in selling science fiction novels, so as you can imagine, it had the smallest shop space and most of the product were novels. They did have a small graphic novel section though, and there was a table in the middle of the shop space with some of the more famous graphic novels displayed on the table.

Most of the graphic novels they had were by acclaimed comic authors like Alan Moore; Watchmen, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, Top 10; Frank Miller; Daredevil, Sin City; and Neil Gaiman; Sandman. They also sold acclaimed series like Preacher. So not a lot of variety if you're after graphic novels, but it certainly catered to those sci-fi lovers who wanted to dabble in the graphic novel medium.

So which is the best shop? Well, that's the beauty of it...there IS no best shop. Each shop had its own key strengths and would appeal to different demographics. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

If I were after manga or toys/action figures, I'd go to Empire Toys.

If I were after science fiction novels, I'd go to Fantastic Planet.

And I'd be happy to go to either Quality Comics or Comiczone for my single issues and graphic novels; probably Quality Comics if I'm looking for old back issues/graphic novels, and Comiczone for comic-related products such as busts.

If you're living in Perth and are a comic book fan, you're certainly spoilt for choice! It's good being a comic book fan in Perth.


Yummi Ching said...

Why you delete all you comment bad boy?

Blankie said...

Eh? No comments were deleted by me...yours is the first as far as I can tell.

If you are referring to all the previous comments left about Perth CBD's comic shops, they would be located in my very first blog entry about the matter, way back in 2006.

All the comments should still be there.