The Need for Local Comic Shops


Local comic shops are one of the most important things to comics. I searched high and low to find some of the best LCS in the world. The ones mentioned in this list have hit the heart of their patrons in some way.

Local Comic Shops

Comics need local comic shops, without these small businesses, comics would die. Not only do they bring the newest issues to cities everywhere, they often have deep back logs for collectors, like me. Comic shops are a safe haven for those grounded in the fandom. They act as a place to talk about topics near to our heart with people who share the same interest. Firstly, comic staffs typically have extensive knowledge making them a great resource for those who want a deep conversation, to increase comic knowledge, or to start in comics. Secondly, without an LCS, many new fans would never get into comics. Thirdly, friendly staff members help newbies pick out what to read first and find books that they’d enjoy.

I was able to get in contact with the owners of a few shops. Wanting to learn more about them and their shops, I came up with ten questions that I asked each. Here’s what I found out:

Comic Alley

Sitting within the heart of Lake Geneva, Comic Alley serves as a great stop for locals and tourists. With an average of 4.5 stars out of 5 across sixty Google reviews, many agree Comic Alley is a great place to learn and explore.

Starting as a video store in 1992, comics didn’t come along till a bit later. Tryke Kemnitz now operates the store, being in store six days a week, excited to share his knowledge and help find the perfect book for you!


Super Hero Junky: When and how did you first get into comics?

Tryke: I read everything, EXCEPT comics as a child. When I turned 13, my Dad’s friend gifted me the Secret Wars series and I’ve been hooked ever since!

SHJ: What’s your favourite comic?

T: Fantastic Four! Big Thing fan, LOVE team books, and the way they interact is just great!

SHJ: How many comics do you have in your inventory?

T:  At least 100,000… but somebody keeps making these things!

Comic Alley

SHJ: On average, how many people do you think come into your shop weekly?

T: In a summer week, hundreds! In the winter… dropping into the tens.

SHJ: What’s the hardest thing about owning a Local Comic Shop?

T: Besides the slow times, it’s the unrelenting amount of product that comes out.

SHJ: Awesome! Thanks for your time. What is the best way to find out more about you?

T: Just ask me – I’m easy! Comic Alley Page on Facebook

First Aid Comics

Just north of the University of Chicago, First Aid Comics sits in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Clocking in with 4.8/5 on Google, 4.8/5 on Facebook, and 8.5/10 on Squarespace, First Aid stands as a one stop shop for anyone’s comic needs.

They opened in November of 2008, though the business existed in prior years just doing conventions. They just past their 10th Anniversary in Hyde Park and will be having a delayed celebration in February of 2019.

James Nurss grew up in the comic business. As a young teenager he started working for his local comic shop. “The owner would send me for Burger King in exchange for a comic book and that grew into processing backing issues (bagging, boarding, and filing issues).” Wearing a lab coat and a smile, James will be there to help find you your comic!


Super Hero Junky: Why did you want to have a comic shop?
James: It is what I know best, and I saw a great opportunity in Hyde Park for a store. Chicago is unusual in the large number of comic stores and conventions that exist. Most cities do not have the quality and quantity of stores that Chicago has for comics.

SHJ: What is your favourite comic

J: Captain America #100. It was my first “Holy Grail” of collecting as a beginner collector and it started my first series.

SHJ: How many comics do you have in your inventory?
J: Well, we are a full service comic store selling all comics (Silver, Bronze, Copper, and Modern ages), along with graphic novels and local creators books. So, a lot! And if we don’t have it, we’ll do our best to find it!
SHJ: On average, how many people are coming into your shop?
J:  We have had a steady growth of customers each year. We grew from our original 500 square foot location after two and half years, to our current location that is more than twice that size (1617 East 55th Street).  Then just a few years ago, we doubled our size, again, by taking over the store next door.

First Aid Comics

SHJ: What’s the hardest thing about owning a Local Comic Shop?
J: Building a customer base. There is so much competition and the uneven playing field that the internet creates, it can be very difficult to establish a brick and mortar location.
SHJ: Cool. Thanks for talking with me! What is the best way to find out more about you?
J: Check out our web site (www.firstaidcomics.com) and our Facebook page (firstaidhydepark). But the best way is to come visit the shop at 1617 East 55th Street

All Star Comics Melbourne

Going down under, shining in the CBD of Melbourne, Australia is All Star Comics. With nearly 500 reviews on Google, All Star Comics maintains a 4.8/5 rating.

After 11 years of working together at an already well established shop, Troy and Mitch decided it was time take the next step. They opened there shop on a stormy night in February of 2011. Despite the flooding in Melbourne a decent crowd still showed up in support. They’ve since doubled in size, moving to a bigger store in 2015.

I talked to Mitch about their store.


Super Hero Junky: How and when did you first get into comics?

Mitch: I kind of remember always having comics around as a kid, from the age of five onwards. I really started collecting at age 11-12, however. I started around the early 90’s with the Marvel Transformers book and the Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures series. This was followed by an intro into Marvel superhero books a year later when I started high school. This also happened to be the start of the 90’s comic explosion. I was also going to school right around the corner from two comic stores, so that definitely helped feed my new found addiction!

SHJ: What’s your favourite comic series?

M: My favourite series was a Vertigo book called 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. It’s a crime odyssey that spans from the founding fathers of America to modern day and spins out of the moralistic question of “what would you do when presented with consequence free revenge”. It is a masterpiece of long form storytelling (100 issues), with some of the most engaging and beautiful artwork and storytelling that you’ll ever find. I love this book and have toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo based on it to show my love, but have always wussed out.

All Star Comics Melbourne

SHJ: How many comics do you have in your inventory?

M: Too many to count!

SHJ: On average, how many people are coming into your shop a week?

M: We’d have anywhere from 500 to 600 customers a week.

SHJ: What’s the hardest thing about owning a Local Comic Shop?

M: Everything. It’s impossible to narrow down. It is constantly hard work in all areas of running the store. The industry as a whole, from publishers, to creators, to distributors, to stores, to customers is in a real point of flux currently and has been for the last couple of years. This has basically resulted in us working harder than we ever had before. But that’s comics, and we knew it was a volatile market going in, so we know we just have to stick with it.

SHJ: What makes your store different than others?

M: Opening a new store in a market that had 3 stores already long established, we realized we would have to try our hardest to offer a different shopping experience to get people interested in our shop. We focused on things that would make it a place that Troy and I would like to shop at ourselves. It had to be a place that felt welcoming despite your level of knowledge or interest in comics and be more community minded with an interest in promoting the local comic scene.

All Star Comics Melbourne

M: These were things we felt had been missing from a Melbourne store for the 10 years before we opened and people warmly embraced it. We were also one of the first local stores to utilize (then, new) social media platforms, to help foster the community feeling we were building at the store. This gave our regulars the chance to feel as if they have a higher level of involvement with the day to day running of the store.

SHJ: Fantastic! Thanks for letting me into your world. What’s the best way to learn more about you?

M: Best way to find out about All Star is a quick Google search. “Comic book store Melbourne” should yield some good results, but if you look up “All Star Comics Melbourne” on Google you see how active we’ve been the last 8 years, doing our best to bring the world of comics to the people of Melbourne.

All these shops are doing a great job. If you are ever in the area, please stop by and show support. Without shops like these, the superheroes that we all love would cease to exist.

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