I used to walk into a hobby shop called 'Dex and Mae', attracted by a wall of comics hung in rows. When asked, the saleslady would lift a huge stack of comics from under the counter. I still remember buying Fantastic Four 210 featuring the foursome's unforgettable trip to Galactus' solar system-sized space base. I can
Specialized comics retailers started showing up, most of them offering new releases only. I remember only one shop that specialized in back issues. Those times you could still find comics being sold with magazines - I remember finding the odd Flash, Warlock or Archie in the racks, and Scalphunter, and Jonah Hex. I bought them all from everywhere I could find them. I inundated my life with comics; and my mind. Graphic novels and trade paperbacks lay in the future, the closest things were these large format Treasury Editions from Marvel. I also remember a huge white 'Best of Superman' book that I dipped into for years till it all but fell apart. No big Superman fan myself, I credit that book with familiarizing me with huge swathes of Superman lore. The origin, Lori Lemaris, Kandor, Kryptonite, Bizarro, and Flamebird.
The number of shops kept increasing as we all moved towards and through the age of comicbook speculation (early to mid-90s). And then the bubble burst. Even mighty Marvel began to totter. I was among those who cheered when its greatest hero Spider-Man, swung in to save it with a well timed blockbuster of a movie.
Most specialty shops were shuttered but some survived. Old comics reader that I am, when I walk into one of these shops with their wall to wall comics I can't help but think back to my youth, when I was new to the hobby. I would have been intimidated and not a little confused at the vastness of the current selection in comics. The big two: Marvel and DC, would be well represented but so would a small army of independents. Graphic novels and collected trades are a huge part of the inventory now. These collected works or book length originals must enjoy greater exposure than single issue 'floppies' since bookstores also carry them.
Aside from brick-and-mortar stores, it is also possible to source comics from the internet. There are many retailers online specializing in comics. Two of the bigger ones are Mile High Comics and Lone Star Comics (known online as mycomicshop.com). Amazon sells nearly everything, comics included.
It is also possible to obtain digital comics. You can get a subscription from Marvel.com that will allow you to browse and read an ever-expanding online digital library. DC also sells digital copies of their books. Outside the big two, try Drive Thru Comics, Indy Planet, Manga Fox and Comixology. These sites sell digital copies for download. Comics are being auctioned at eBay and I have heard of entire collections being sold en masse at Craigslist.
For investment-grade comics the aforementioned Mile High and mycomicshop.com carry lots of those with mycomicshop.com holding monthly auctions on select pieces. There are also shops that specialize in investment-grade comics such as Esquire Comics and Heritage Auctions. And shops that focus on protecting this investments like CGC.
It's ironic that with all these sources for comics, that they are less common than they were. I notice that the average kid or potential adult reader have fewer opportunities to get their hands on comics compared to when I was growing up. Maybe its the price point or the specialized distribution or the competition from movies or games. Maybe its all of these things. Too bad, really. If I had a button that would erase all my experiences with comics and all the comics I own in exchange for all the money I ever spent on the things I wouldn't punch it. The hobby has enriched my life and I built this site so that it can do that for others as well.
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