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The top 5 shops to buy local comics in Toronto

Posted by Robert Iveniuk / December 7, 2013

local comics shops torontoThe top stores to buy local comics in Toronto recall a Yann Martel line I once read: "If we citizens do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams." While on the dramatic side, this sentiment should be taken seriously, as artists of all types influence our culture and make cities the interesting places they are. Comics in particular are a lucrative and popular art form, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that Toronto has its own thriving community for independent comics, and that many stores make it their mandate to endorse such works however they can.

Where to start, though? Well, here's a list of some spots I recommend!

The Comic Lounge and Gallery
Born from the ashes of Dragon Lady Comics, The Comic Lounge and Gallery has worked to promote local talents since its creation almost two years ago. Right beside the major releases is a special shelf for underground comics. This is unsurprising for many locations, but the Lounge and Gallery stands out in particular for sharing its space with Guerilla Printing, which provides the store with a good one third of its stock. Plus, thanks to the amount of space the Lounge and Gallery has to offer, the venue can hold launch parties on a regular basis for local books like Ninja Reform School and Low Society, and twelve-to-twenty-four hour comic challenges.

The Beguiling
Since 1987, The Beguiling has been the go-to place for independent comics. Rows of shelves and forests of racks fill both floors of the old store. Here, one can find a menagerie of titles, whether professionally made or assembled in a basement using duct tape and a prayer. Comics of the latter can be found on a corner shelf by the steps, while the rest are distributed throughout the store. Probably The Beguiling's biggest contribution to Toronto's indie comics scene, however, is TCAF. Held annually at the Toronto Reference Library, the Toronto Comics Arts Festival is a massive weekend-long event were local and international talents get a chance to shine. This gives creators the opportunity to rub elbows with one another and be introduced to the public in a venue that is free to enter.

Dr. Comics
Originally known as Kensington Comics before undergoing a change in management, Dr. Comics remains a quaint but major staple in Kensington Market. Though the stock of local books is currently small, it is spread out among the rest. Some more family-friendly titles share the Children's Section of books located near the front, while others are located in rows normally occupied by Spider-Man and Rocketeer back-issues. Creators shouldn't go rushing to drop off stacks of books, though. Presently, local comics are being brought in at a slow but steady pace, with restocks only being requested for more popular titles. Still, shelves are constantly reorganized to accommodate new titles as the shop accepts walk-ins and occasionally seeks out talents to represent.

Paradise Comics
Paradise Comics stands out because of its effort to get up-close and personal with Toronto's talent. Originally involved with the Paradise Comic Convention, the shop currently focuses on attending smaller events with larger artist alleys, meeting and building a rapport with new artists in order to bring in fresh stock. Such opportunities allow for Paradise Comics to connect with a wide range of artists in both the mainstream and the underground. Paradise has recently hosted launch parties, signings, and meet-and-greets for big-name creators like Leonard Kirk, but also for the creators of True Patriot and the anthology Monstrosity.

The Silver Snail
The Silver Snail is a major landmark for Toronto's comic enthusiasts. Like Paradise and Dr. Comics, the Snail does not segregate its books. Rows are set aside for local titles, for certain, but they do share the same shelf space as Detective Comics single-issues and Rocketeer collections. Sadly, the massive section the Silver Snail had at its former location had to be pared down to a select few titles due to a lack of space. That said, one can still find works here like D.A. Bishop's Of Stone, though the space issues unfortunately mean that the Silver Snail will not be able to accommodate as many local titles as they would like. Plans to install a spinner-rack are in the works.

MAP

Photo from our review of the Comic Book Lounge and Gallery

Discussion

19 Comments

W. K. Lis / December 7, 2013 at 01:00 pm
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I find the new location for the Silver Snail sadly too small. But then, they were lucky in leaving their old location when their neighbour caught fire.
tyler / December 8, 2013 at 01:09 pm
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Personally I like One Million Comix (They have the best deals) and Red Nails more than Silver snail
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from tyler / December 8, 2013 at 01:15 pm
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Same here about One Million Comix-and it's even better if you become a member, because you get a discount.
Kevin Boyd / December 9, 2013 at 02:36 pm
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While we split the space at 587A College Street with Guerilla Printing (as well as Temple of Toys as of Nov 1, 2013), GP doesn't provide the Comic Book Lounge with 1/3 of our stock, they do have their own retail area at the back of the retail area for tshirts and sketchbooks. Aside from the titles from local creators, all of our stock comes from Diamond and/or from back issue collections.

We're definitely honoured to have been selected for this list and to be among some of TO's great stores like The Beguiling, the Snail and Paradise.

(Note the headline photo is of the Lounge from 3/2012 just after we opened - looks a lot different now! That space is currently filled with an amazing section of vintage and collector toys)

Kevin Boyd / December 9, 2013 at 02:44 pm
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Also note that the author's focus was on comics created by GTA creators, not mainstream comics. If the focus was on where to get comics from Marvel and DC the list might be a little different.
Jane / December 9, 2013 at 03:36 pm
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Curious is there a such thing as a gaming lounge? where you can have a coffee/tea & play retro gen/current generation consoles or PC games, fused in with comics/cards? does anything like this exist. I see a few places with hordes of people sitting down playing card games & whenever Microsoft/sony/Nintendo rent out a building it's usually always packed...so was wondering if anyone had the idea of fusing all this together?
Bill / December 9, 2013 at 04:03 pm
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Correction - Silver Snail WAS a major landmark until they sold the building and moved to Yonge. Now it's just another geek-related shop trying to rip off Snakes and Latte's ideas.
Sixteen Hectares / December 9, 2013 at 04:39 pm
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This is a nice list. My first-ever comic book is coming out in the late spring from Action Lab and these are the kind of retailer I'll be counting on to help get the word out and get the book into people's hands.
Wayne / December 9, 2013 at 05:07 pm
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I'd recommend The Comic Pile at Kensington Market. It's a new comic book store with the very friendly owner Dale. Dale is very nice and you can stop by and discuss about comic book with him.
I'm a regular there and I have to say Comic Pile is my favourite spot to hang out and get comic books in Toronto.
Andrew replying to a comment from Bill / December 9, 2013 at 06:52 pm
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You act like snakes and lattes invented the board game cafe concept.
Justin replying to a comment from Andrew / December 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm
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He also seems to think they invented the concept of selling books and coffee in the same building, since that's way closer to what the Snail is doing.

Nerds just aren't' happy unless they're defensive about something.
Eric / December 10, 2013 at 02:38 am
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Wow, kk The hairy Tarantula north is my favorite. Super customer service for once and cool peeps behind the counters. Preferred them over silver snail.
D.A. Bishop / December 10, 2013 at 08:34 am
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These are ALL great shops and the GTA is FULL of so many shops like them I imagine it was a difficult top 5 to put together. Also, what an amazing surprise to see my name there so thank you for the mention, Robert!
LeeLau / December 10, 2013 at 03:13 pm
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I really feel like BMV off Bloor should have been on here. They have always been helpful and had a great selection of new and used comics and trades.
If you need one in Burlington or Oakville you should check out Conspiracy Comics. They are so friendly even to noobs and SO knowledgeable. Chris could talk to you for hours about comics and what to look for if your looking for something new! He is my go to for anything comic related and I do make the trip from Toronto to Burlington just for that store!
Adam K / December 10, 2013 at 07:24 pm
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Honestly... Toronto`s local comic stores are fairly horrid, everything is way over priced with the exception of recent releases.
Silver snail - Store is just a land mark
Comic book lounge - Owner is a dinosaur HORRENDOUS guy to deal with, the skinny guy behind the counter is just a talking head.
Comic pile - Dave comes off as more of a skeet then a business man, lacks knowledge of what he`s doing.
1 million comix - Does many things right but also too many things wrong. But still the best store on the list.
BMV - Pretty much in & out no community, normal priced books
Paradise Comics - OVERPRICED
Matt / December 11, 2013 at 05:40 pm
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I'm interested how Paradise Comics is overpriced. Their graphic novels and their new releases are cover price. Seems reasonable to me. They also have hundreds of quarter bins, dollar bins, 2 and 3 dollar bins. All in all a pretty cheap place to buy comics.
Kevin A. Boyd / December 12, 2013 at 10:53 am
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Each of the stores mentioned and many of the ones mentioned by others in the comments section all have something to offer, but ultimately the best comic store for you is the one where you decide to make your "home" base for comics. The article focused on stores that sell self-published comics by local creators, not the best shops overall (that's a different and also very subjective list). I was not aware that I was a dinosaur and horrendous to deal with before reading the comments section here, so this has been enlightening.
D.A. Bishop / December 13, 2013 at 08:23 am
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I was curious about the whole "over-priced" bit too, but meh, people's opinions are people's opinions.
John Silva / March 10, 2014 at 09:11 am
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Chris Claremont will be signing at Dr.Comics on May 3 Free Comic Book Day, get the details here: http://www.drcomics.ca

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