Thursday, August 5, 2010

KA-POW! The best comic book stores in Brooklyn

By Stephen Brown, Andy Campbell and Ben Kochman

Last week, Brooklyn fanboys lost one of their stomping grounds, when Rocketship closed up shop after five years in Cobble Hill.

Luckily for fans of Hulk action figures, Manga and indie graphic novels, the Smith Street store wasn’t the only game in town.

“I think the [Brooklyn scene] is really specialized — where we don’t have a lot of walk-ins we have a lot of regulars,” said Matthew Acevedo, worker at Galaxy Comics on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. “When movies come out based on a comic, that’s usually when people start rolling in.”

Here, a list of the best Brooklyn has to offer, for the avid collector to the casual reader.

Bergen Street Comics

This stylish store opened last year, but has already established a welcoming, artsy environment that is distinct from many other shops in the borough. From the outset, owner Tom Adams wanted to focus on graphic novels — collections of comics that are most appealing to first-time readers. Adams also wanted a no-frills approach that shunned all the merchandise, action figures, DVDs and other junk that distracts from quality storytelling.

“We focus solely on comics,” Adams said. “We want the space to be inviting to people, so they can come in and spend some time.”

The owner added that many of his customers have an interest in indie comics — especially by local creators — but that doesn’t mean he neglects the superhero tales.

Bergen Street Comics [470 Bergen St. between Flatbush and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 230-5600].

Galaxy Comics

With locations in both Park Slope and Bay Ridge, Galaxy Comics offers a bit of everything — from statues, trading cards and T-shirts to a respectable collection of back-stock should you be on the hunt for that one missing issue of Action Comics.

Park Slope co-owner Mohammed Nashir said his store focuses on the five major comic publishing houses, though he also orders indie titles that locals tend to favor.

His most popular seller as of late has been the latest universe-shattering crossover in DC Comics — a story that he is happy to share with any newcomer who rolls into his store, which has been open for 11 years.

In Bay Ridge, comic-gone-movie titles like “Scott Pilgrim” are flying off the shelves — and of course, both shops take orders.

“A lot of people walk in and the comics bring back memories,” Nashir said. “That’s how we jump into a conversation, and sometimes people get completely back into comics.”

Galaxy Comics [429 Fifth Ave. between Eighth and Ninth streets in Park Slope, (718) 499-3222 and 6823 Fifth Ave. near 68th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 921-1236].

Desert Island

This shop in Williamsburg is tiny — but where it lacks in volume, it makes up for in quality and rarity.

Owner Gabriel Fowler moved around the country working on his indie comic expertise before he moved to Brooklyn and opened the shop four years ago — it’s small, but packed with the fare of a seasoned fanboy.

The stock focuses heavily on illustration and graphic novels, and plenty of zines and comics on the rac

ks are from Brooklyn authors and artists. The titles range from the classics like “The Walking Dead” to more obscure (and local) titles like the shop’s own “Smoke Signals,” an open submission newspaper dedicated to local comics.

Desert Island [540 Metropolitan Ave. near Union Street in Williamsburg, (718) 388-5087].

Bulletproof Comix

Owner Hank Kwon opened his store near Brooklyn College 18 years ago, and the laid-back rapport he has with his customers proves it. People of all ages walk into Bulletproof to get their comics, video games, and manga fix — and Kwon knows a lot of them by name.

Bulletproof features an extensive backstock, but don’t expect to do a lot of perusing while you’re there: even new releases are bagged up. But Bulletproof’s extensive manga collection — perhaps the best in Brooklyn — makes it worth a visit.

“We’re known for manga,” said Kwon. “We were one of the first to bring it over to Brooklyn.”

Bulletproof Comix [2178 Nostrand Ave. between Avenue H and Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush, (718) 434-1800].

Pinocchio Discounts

The name is no lie — Pinocchio Discounts brings the old-school entertainment for bargain prices. The store’s extensive collection makes it a real pleasure for anyone familiar with comics over the years — especially since the cover price hasn’t changed that much.

“We’ve been here for 30 years, but we have comics dating back to the ’60s,” owner Bella Gaba said. “And everything goes for one or two dollars.”

Pinocchio doesn’t have many expensive, coveted comics. Instead, the collection is, as Gaba says, “a bunch of average comics from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s.”

Maybe average to Gaba — but pure gold to any kid looking for a good superhero story.

Pinocchio Discounts [1814 McDonald Ave. between Avenue P and Quentin Road in Midwood, (718) 645-2573].


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