These shops and museums are the heroes the comic book industry deserves.
It’s safe to say that comic books have taken over. An insane portion of Hollywood’s blockbusters have been inspired by them, comic book sales are on the rise, and TV is catching with up such adaptations as Marvel’s/Netflix series Daredevil and Hulu’s The Runaways. What you might not be so familiar with is the establishments that distribute and pay tribute to the comic book industry. So, let me introduce you to some of the best of the best.
WHERE: London, England
Founded in 1978 on London’s Denmark Street, the little-comics-shop-that-could has now expanded, with locations in Wales, Ireland, and New York City (which it reached in the early 1980s.) Not only does the store offer a wide selection of comics are graphic novels, but Forbidden Planet loves their movies, games, and toys. Eat your nerd heart out.
The Secret Headquarters
WHERE: Los Angeles, California
The Secret Headquarters. Name a more appropriate (awesome) title for a comics shop. This Los Angeles staple is very well-curated and sports a beautiful aesthetic complete with hardwood floors and comfy chairs.
Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash
WHERE: Red Bank, New Jersey
Filmmaker/actor Kevin Smith’s shop has become low-key iconic. Smith’s AMC show Comic Book Men complements it nicely, and the fact that Smith is a graphic novelist himself probably doesn’t hurt.
WHERE: Paris, France
This French museum has a couple of tricks up its sleeve–while it does feature a permanent collection of European and American comics for you to peruse, there are comic strips/drawings that are selected and replaced every three months (to ensure conservation), so depending on when you visit, the museum could be very different. A comic creation process is also on display, so you can see how a work comes together, from pencil to coloring to digitizing.
Cartoon Art Museum
WHERE: San Francisco, California
Don’t let its new modern home in San Francisco fool you–The Cartoon Art Museum has been around since 1984, and its building is home to 7,000 original pieces. They’ve hosted around 200 exhibitions and produced over 20 publications on what they’re passionate about–comics, graphic novels, animation and illustration. They encourage others to be passionate about the industry, and you can even schedule a customized class on their site to learn more about it!
Hall of Heroes Museum
WHERE: Elkhart, Indiana
Elkhart, Indiana–an unexpected location for one of the greatest superhero museums in the world, huh? Well, buckle up because they have a replica of the Batcave from the 1960s Batman TV series, and the building itself is a replica of The Hall of Justice from Super Friends cartoon. Inside, you’re looking at a collection of more than 60,000 comic books and over 100 original art comic pages, so there are all kinds of heroes to see in this hall.
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
WHERE: Baltimore, Maryland
Comic book characters are important and Geppi’s in Baltimore knows that. With its comic collections, Geppi’s invites you to see the history of our country and our culture and how these fictional characters have influenced our everyday lives. The museum’s founder, Steve Geppi, also launched a comic distribution company, so you know this place is the real deal.
The Super Museum
WHERE: Metropolis, Illinois
Metropolis, Illinois–OF COURSE THERE WAS GOING TO BE SOMETHING HERE, ARE YOU KIDDING ME. The Super Museum first opened its doors in 1993 and, according to its website, “features 20,000+ items from the life’s work of longtime Superman enthusiast and collector, Jim Hambrick,” including virtually every Superman toy ever created. This place has to be seen to be believed and how cool is it that you can say you’ve been to the official “Home of Superman”?!
WHERE: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A small independent non-profit museum in Pittsburgh, the ToonSeum prides itself on educating visitors on the history of the comic book industry and the impact cartoon arts have on us. The establishment also offers classes and workshops for aspiring cartoonists. If you’re in the area (and love comics and cartoons), stop by!
Vault of Midnight
WHERE: Detroit, Michigan
Sporting locations in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, Michigan, Vault of Midnight claims their mission is “to act as ambassadors for all things geeky and to present our wares as the awesome, fun, and universally accessible pieces of entertainment that they are.” The company runs a weekly podcast on all things comics and also regularly hosts exhibits and movie nights. Oh, and the business received a coveted Will Eisner “Spirit of Comics Retailer Award” at 2010’s San Diego Comic-Con, which is kind of a big deal.
Brainstorm Comics and Gaming
WHERE: Frederick, Maryland
Frederick, Maryland’s best comic book shop is something to write home about. It was established in 1984, and its current location served as a mortuary/funeral home in the 19th century. Aside from that, a comic-book related “Question of the Day” is posted every day to their site, where you’ll also find a list of upcoming releases, which lets you know what to look out for!