NOTE: This shop closed in October 2009
To Finsbury Park to check out Fantastic Realm, a comic shop which I had heard some good things about...
view through the front window of Fantastic Realm
Tucked away on a side street behind the tube station, Fantastic Realm is a relatively new shop which is worth checking out if you're ever in the area. They do the bulk of their business online, but also maintain a bright, clean and well organised B&M store.
The focus here is firmly on mainstream American comics. There's no small press, manga or books for children, and you'll probably be out of luck if you're after some of the more leftfield non-spandex stuff from the States. If however the big two are your bag, you'll be well catered for here.
To your left as you enter the shop is a HUGE wall of new and recent releases...
while in the white bin in the middle of the shop there is a small, but well priced selection of older back issues.
On the right, behind the till, the shop keeps a good sized collection of variant covers (not my bag, but if you like that sort of thing they seem reasonably priced) and a few nice looking silver age books...
The back of the shop is taken up by a healthy selection of super-hero trades. For anyone interested, there are also trading cards and a small selection of toys and statues to be had.
The staff are extremely friendly and very keen to ensure repeated custom. They dug me out a couple of recent books I'd missed, found me a signed copy of another book I was looking for and, after just one visit, offered me the chance to take out a weekly subscription with the promise of a 10% discount. Setting aside the fact that I'm slightly put off by the lack of Indie books in the shop, I have to admit that this is quite a tempting offer which would probably net me 5 or 6 free comics every month.
For those living outside London without easy access to a comic shop, the mail order service (which also offers a 10% discount) could be an option. The shop's website isn't very impressive, but if you root around you'll find all the info you need to start a postal subscription. It can be accessed through THIS LINK