What I love about small comic shops isn’t the smell of ink that permeates the air, nor is it the multi-colored shelves packed with stories of daring and adventure. What I love most about local comic book shops are the people. Knowing that you are surrounded by individuals who care just as much as you about DC Comic’s new “Rebirth” series, or have strong opinions on Marvel’s new path in “Marvel NOW!” is a feeling unlike any other.
This weekend some friends and I were able to visit New England Comics, a local business based in Boston that sells more comic books than you could ever read in a lifetime. As soon as we walked inside, we were surrounded with everything one could hope for in a comic book shop.
They were selling movie posters on the left wall, Pop! figures on the right, and straight ahead were shelves upon shelves of graphic novels. Each row had at least one person leafing through a new issue of a series. From deeper inside the store, we could hear a group laughing, so we painstakingly tore our eyes away from the glossy covers on the shelves and walked down some wooden stairs to the basement of the shop. In there, we found people playing in a weekly Magic: the Gathering tournament that the store hosts, and running along the walls were cardboard boxes full to the brim with classic, uncoated paper comics on sale for a dollar each. Further inside, we found posters printed with cover art from the Golden and Silver Age comics and boxes of indie comic books. We had an amazing time, and since the store is in Coolidge Corner, we had the added bonus of eating ice cream while reading the books we bought from the store.
Unfortunately, many local businesses in Boston are dying due to large franchises moving into the city. As much as I love the comic sections in Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million, they can’t hold a candle to the personal experience that a local store provides. It’s not just comic book stores either; many family-owned restaurants and small book stores are closing down because national chains are moving in.
Not only is this detrimental to Boston’s economy, as it funnels money out of the city, but it also contributes to the loss of our culture and identity. Boston is an incredible, unique city, and we need to stop it from transforming into another cookie cutter place that has the same businesses as every other city. Next time you are looking for a bite to eat or another comic book for your shelf, use your phone to find a locally run business and experience everything this city has to offer. Don’t just be someone that lives in Boston. Be a Bostonian.