Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Mega-City Comics

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.


pulpsfromthebothy said...

Did you buy anything on this visit?

Dom Sutton said...

just my weekly shop

Latest issues of Cap, Wolf-Man, Northlanders, Fan 4, last Final Crisis and (since I was in Mega-City) 2000AD (which was predictably pants)

Jared said...

I like Mega-City as well. They've got a weird pricing strategy - occasionally some graphic novels are ludicrously cheap.

I did have a few problems with uncommunicative staff ("Ok, you don't have that title... can you tell me when it'll come in? Or can you get it?!" - poke, poke), but then I find their stacks of 50p back issues, and will forgive them anything.

Dom Sutton said...

Anon - I wouldn't know about that I'm afraid.

Jared - sorry you had a bad experience with the staff, I've always found them to be very pleasant.

mr wheatley said...

haha youve changed your tune sutton. back when we were at school mega city were known for their snooty attitudes to da kids. not as bad as those bastards at comic showcase though.

Dom Sutton said...

I really don't remember that at all. Mind you, you have a better memory than me for these things! All I can say is that I've always found them to be alright since I've been an adult.

Anonymous said...

Mega City? Mega Cunts more like!
Grumpy tit fuckers who I sold my sold to many moons ago.
Thats how I remember Mega City. Their still there? Damn! Id hoped theyd been killed in a crossfire between the recent influx of junkies and drug dealers in Camden Town.
Goli Mar,

Anonymous said...

I can't really comment on the staff, but it's nice to see an independent comic store with such a long history thriving in London, plus, I love Camden.