The Beguiling is one of Toronto’s most venerable and arguably best-stocked comic book stores. What was once two ramshackle floors of comics ranging from manga, Canadian, French Canadian, superhero, art, and other genres, has moved from Mirvish Village to College Street following the shutdown of Honest Ed’s.
The Beguiling has been hosting comics, art and literary based events for the decades it’s been open, and is frequented by comics fans and local comic artists alike.
The shop is run by local legend Peter Birkemoe, a pillar of the Toronto comics community. As such, he says one of the things that makes him happiest about the College space is the lack of barriers to accessibility. While the previous shop was divided into two floors, this shop is one level from front to back.
One of the most painstaking parts of the process of moving such a shop from one location to another isn’t just hauling thousands of books up and down stairs. It’s also transferring the numerous art pieces that have hung on the walls of The Beguiling for so long, giving it character and a gallery quality.
This place has always been known for stocking the little guys, and what I’m inclined to call comic “chapbooks,” some only a few pages long, adorn display carousels, like this one for under $10 where a version of German artist Michael Jordan enters a labyrinth through a coffee cup.
It’s not just books here either, though Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree is an exception to so many rules about comics, having snagged an Eisner Award. Full box sets detailing the formative years of hip hop are available at The Beguiling, along with the action figures to go with them! Books are around $25, and box sets around $40.
Books range from the very tiny This No Place to Stay to humungous tomes like this Mad Artist’s Edition, which can go for hundreds. As you can see from the adjacent copy of Paris Soirees, however, they take pity on us poor book lovers and have tons of sales all the time.
From what I can tell, in the new place there are some discernable sections, but a lot of the books are organized simply by author last name. I’m told it’s the kind of place that invites questions and conversation, however: never be afraid to ask for something in The Beguiling.
They haven’t forgotten about you, Comic Book Man, licking cheese dust off your fingers before touching your mint condition collections: old school action hero comics in plastic run around $20 to $35 dollars.
The brighter, cleaner, and more level space seems to say a lot about the ways Toronto is changing, and the direction the arts in this city are headed.