One of the things the Internet has brought with it is the facility to deliver a seamless comic reading experience from purchase and subscription to titles and series through to reading them on a tablet like an iPad, Kindle Fire, or Surface. Services like the Amazon-owned Comixology and Kindle Unlimited, Marvel Unlimited, DC Universe online service, and ComicBlitz are all good, but often they don’t have a publisher you want or you can’t get full service or subscription if you live outside of the US. I have a bunch of stuff I’ve purchased from various online services and I’m happy with them – especially if they provide DRM-free downloads to back up your purchases.
Sometimes though you want something else. Perhaps the personal touch of a retailer who knows you and what you’re interested in or comics from publishers not available digitally, such as locally produced comics. The visceral feel of a comic or graphic novel is not quite achieved digitally, and it’s hard to lend a friend a copy of something you’ve got in digital format (at least, legally). Also, you might want to browse through comics that you wouldn’t find doing the same in online catalogues or talk to the retailer about what he or she might recommend, and even pick up comic-related merchandise.
To do these things you really need access to a good comic book shop, and we’re blessed in New Zealand to have a number of these. I’ve listed the stores I visit whenever I’m in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch. Each of them is helpful, carry good extra material (like board games, comics merch, figures, etc.), and are worth a visit.
Heroes for Sale
- 582 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland
Heroes for Sale is my go-to store for most comic-related material. Stu, Sue, Jordan, and team provide an excellent shopping experience, with good back catalogues, and everything organized in a clear, easy to find formal (sorted by genre!). This is my closest shop, and it has its own car parking which is a bonus in Auckland and good opening hours. I’ve found ordering things through them prompt and trouble-free, either by email or in person. They also have a great video of the new releases each Wednesday on the Facebook feed, organize premier screenings of upcoming comic-related films, as well as reading groups.
Stu has also developed an online comic retailing system for both web and mobile which is a great way to order comics, as well as track your rewards and get receipts if you need them. It’s called Comic Hub and you can find the details here:
- Article on the system here: https://www.bleedingcool.com/2019/03/08/comichub-readers-collectors-buy/
Arkham City Comics
- 2/885 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak, Auckland
Arkham City Comics is my other place to get comics from, though much less regularly (though I frequented its previous incarnation as Gotham Comics because of good parking and it being on the way to the airport). Jeremy and Michel run a nice shop, often with specials running at weekends (e.g. the 1kg of comics), and a good range of other merchandise. They promote local talent and community engagement (esp. with schools and libraries), and I’ve found that they are good at sourcing some hard to find stuff.
- Running a comic book store a great caper (Stuff, 2014)
- Calling south Auckland youth interested in animation and the arts (Stuff, 2017)
- Comic timing for debut novel (Stuff, 2014)
Mark One (MK1)
When I moved to Hamilton in July 1993, Mark One was one of the first shops I went to, and some 26 years on it’s still going strong in the same location. As well as buying comics from them, I still have the Star Trek mug I purchased all those years ago and use it on a daily basis at work. (I also got some Star Trek Enterprise model kits from them at some point). They have a good selection of comics and comic-related merch, an excellent selection of role-playing game material, as well as other pop culture stuff and board games. With my tripping back and forth between Auckland and Hamilton over the past 8 months or so, I’ve popped in a few times and picked up some comics for my Theology and Media course. Worth a visit.
- Love of comics from childhood (NZ Herald, 2015)
- 106 Cuba Street, Wellington
Trips to the (heavenly) city of Wellington are few and far between at the moment, but if I’m in the inner city then I try to drop by Graphic Comics in Cuba St. The shop has a distinct Cuba St vibe to it, and it’s the kind of place where you’ll stumble across an old treasure while rummaging around back issues (e.g. Religion and comics in the new year). And then you can go and read your purchases at any one of innumerable cafés selling amazing Wellington coffee. (And as a bonus you can visit the Bucket Fountain).
- 58 Main North Road, Papanui, Christchurch
Back in the day, when I was at the University of Canterbury, I’d occasionally visit a comic shop near Cashel St and Oxford Tce met and some 20 years on I’d visit the old Comics Compulsion comic and game shop that was on Manchester St pre-earthquakes. Now, if I’m in Christchurch I visit Comics Compulsion in Papanui (under new management) if I have time because (a) it’s about 5 minutes drive from our Christchurch campus, and (b) I often stay in Papanui for work. This is a smaller shop than the others here and focuses on both comics and games, with some in-house game element development. I’ve picked up some NZ comics from there (e.g. Aotearoa Whispers) as well as some items for the Theology and Media area. If you’re passing by, it’s worth a look in.
There are some other folk who I’ve also bought comics from around the place, often from a pop-up store they’ve had for a while, as well as stalls at markets around the place. You don’t get the selection of a store on a long-term established site, but you can pick up some good finds as well as have some interesting conversations. Also, I don’t have any recent experience with comics stores in Dunedin and other towns and cities. Any suggestions?
Astroman (AKA Geek Gifts)
I’ve bought a few things from them – mostly from when they had a pop-up store at the WestCity Mall in Henderson. (They also came to the Waitakere Night Markets fairly regularly). One of their distinctives is a range of wood-based comic book and pop culture merchandise.
Retrospace Sci-Fi Collectables
- 22 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Auckland
To be honest, I rarely get to Takapuna so have only every dropped in here a couple of times. But they have a good selection of pop culture merchandise alongside some comics and books.
- Pulsar Max (102 Manners St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011). I’ve been here once. A few comics, but mostly card games, manga, and pop vinyl collectibles if I recall correctly. (No web site. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pulsar-Max-160379030701211/)
- King of Cards (Queens Arcade, 34 Queen Street Auckland Central Auckland 1010). I used to visit here regularly as it was on the way home from work at Auckland University. I did pick up some graphic novels on sale here at different times, but the focus is particularly on games of all varieties. (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yourlocalgameshop/)
The following might also be of interest:
New Zealand Comics: Nga Pakiwaituhi o Aotearoa
A non-profit organization to promote New Zealand comics artists
NZ Comic Collectors/ Traders/ Swappers
Facebook group for buying, selling and trading comic-related material, as well as some other pop culture merchandise. Some of the vendors above post in this too.