Mega-City Comics! There's a comic shop blast from the past. Now in its 23rd year, Mega-City is one of the capital's more established comic shops and a must visit for any comics fan who finds themselves in Camden Town.
Given that it was the closest comic shop to my school, it should come as no surprise that I wasted a fair chunk of my youth in this place. I have vague memories of turning up for the opening day back in 1987 and have continued to stick my head round the door ever since. As far as I can see, little has changed in twenty years, which is no bad thing as it remains one of the better shops in London.
A stone's throw from Camden Tube station, Mega-City is located at the far end of Inverness Street, one of the capital's historic markets and a street made famous in recent years as the home of Britpop landmark The Good Mixer. In an effort to clean it up and draw the tourists in, the street has been pedestrianised and given a shiny sign, but it will probably always attract the alchies from the Arlington Road doss house round the corner and, however many undercover cops patrol it, you're still going to get drug dealers whispering offers at you as you make your way towards Mega City.
Brightly lit, with a nice high ceiling, the shop is well laid out. New comics are neatly arranged on the wall to your left, while back issues and new trades are collected in the centre. At the far end there is a decent selection of well priced 2000AD back issues and a wall full of expensive X-Men which seem to have been there for years.
Given that Camden has a long tradition as a goth and punk magnet, it seems entirely appropriate that the shop should carry a large selection of alternative books and magazines...
Not my thing, but I like that section a lot. It roots Mega-City in Camden and suggests to me that the owners are switched on to their potential customer base - something which probably helps explain the shop's longevity.
The rest of the right-hand wall is taken up with Mega-City's extensive collection of trades. It's a well ordered and diverse selection which covers everything you might expect to find from the big two as well as a decent amount of manga and some of the more prestigious archive style publications from the likes of Gemstone and Disney.
The staff are a pleasant, knowledgeable bunch, and I enjoyed a good yarn about the state of comics retail with the chap in the picture below...
Being the div that I am, I didn't ask his name, but he's been at Mega-City for as long as I can remember and probably owns the place. Anyway, nice chap who had some interesting tales to tell of the capital's now defunct comic shops and his days of working the marts back when they were huge events held at Westminster Central Hall.
He acknowledged that price increases and the efforts of Amazon to squeeze comic shops out of business on trades is making it harder than ever to keep things profitable, but he was generally positive about the future. The fact that he runs an excellent, clean and welcoming shop should stand him in good stead. Mega-City has managed 20 odd years already and, on current evidence, can look to the future with confidence.