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Comic Book Shops: Comic Showcase (RIP)

(Photo taken from Rich Johnston’s Lying In The Gutters column containing his rundown of central London comic book shops)

The other comic book shops that I have talked about in the central London area are still operating; Comic Showcase is no longer with us, which is a great shame.

The photo above shows the fourth site of the shop [EDIT: Paul in the comments detailed all locations: Catherine Street 1980–1982; Monmouth Street 1982–1987; Neal Street 1987–1999; Charing Cross Road 1999–2006], on Charing Cross Road, near Leicester Square tube station. I’m not sure exactly when it moved there, but it used to be located the Shaftesbury Avenue end of Neal Street, a funky, pedestrianised street off Covent Garden. It was a lovely, old-fashioned comic book shop: a little bit of merchandise near the till, but for the most part it was comics, a long set of shelves down the left side carrying all the new books, with the long boxes of back issues at the back of the shop (and they had a great selection). They also had original art downstairs, but I never really ventured down there because it was well out of my price range. It was always nice to visit, with friendly staff and a very pleasant atmosphere. I loved their shop bags – they had the Joker dealing cards to you, with one of them not being an ordinary card …

When I used to work in South Kensington in the late 1990s, I couldn’t decide between Comic Showcase and Gosh!, so I would alternate weekly between them in order to not show favouritism and maintain balance. I am very odd.

I’m not sure when they moved to the new site (it could have been when I worked in the USA for a few years), but it never captured the same atmosphere as the old location. The main floor was an open space with shelves around the walls for a wide selection of comics, from mainstream to independents. The back issues were now downstairs, to allow more room for trades and merchandise, and this left things a little sterile for my tastes. I can understand the choice of the move, with the high visibility of the busy road it was on, but it didn’t help in the end; they unfortunately went out of business in the middle of 2006 (as disclosed by Rich in this Lying in the Gutters). This was a great shame, as I always felt that the shop was very central to the London comic book scene. The only person who I found to disagree is Dom Sutton, who writes a comic book blog called London Loves Comics: in a single post here, he talks about the London comic book shops in a more concise manner than I am with this series of posts. However, he also recalls not being allowed to buy a page of original Watchmen art when he was young, being told he was too young to appreciate it. I think I can understand his feelings.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. theagingfanboy

    I loved that shop in Neal Street, for just the reasons you say. I’d moved out of London before it moved and also found the new shop sterile. I brought a page of Alan Davis Captain Britain art as a present for my brohter’s 40th there. When I worked in London every Thursday night I’d go to CS for the week’s comics afer work, and then meet my mate Bruce in The Anchor (with his comics) and shoot the breeze for hours. Thanks for all that Comic Showcase.

  2. David

    Thanks for sharing your memories of Comic Showcase; always nice to hear that other people enjoyed the store too. Also, I’d like to commend you on your excellent choice of original art 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    I remember the store when it was at Neal St. I think I preferred it to the 2nd location. I believe I bought Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar (SLG) from the Charing Cross site. I wanted to read the Metamophosis story that had originally appeared in Epic magazine.

  4. David

    I definitely preferred Neal Street – it had more character and charm, a feeling of community. My memory of a purchase is quite vivid – I bought the trade of Watchmen there, which is a nice memento.

  5. Fred

    Neal Street was the second location. The first which I preferred was nearby in Monmouth Street.

    Having been away from the scene for a few years I was in the last shop, near the end and was quite shocked by how things had diminished.

  6. David Norman

    I didn't know that the shop was originally in Monmouth Street; that must have been before my time. Thanks for the history (which I couldn't find on the internet).

  7. Michel Maillot

    I had more in mind Comic Showcase in Catherine Street in 1980.
    Loved to get there in in 1982-1983.

    1. Michel Maillot

      In fact Catherine Street was the first location, then Monmouth and so on…

  8. Paul

    Catherine Street 1980-1982
    Monmouth Street 1982-1987
    Neal Street 1987-1999
    Charing Cross Road 1999-2006

    1. David Norman

      Thanks for the detailed knowledge, Paul – one of the wonderful things about the internet is the sharing of information, so much appreciated.

  9. Ash Charlton

    I only really knew them in the Charing Cross location, but I really loved the store. The main attraction was the staff who were always really lovely and helpful and a good laugh: they really made the place. The demise of the store helped hasten the demise of my intense interest in comics – I still read them, but no longer collect them avidly. They transferred my account to Gosh Comics, who were nice enough but it wasn’t the same! God, I was so awful to the poor guys in Comic Showcase: I would go weekly for my reserved comics and abuse them camply, like Dr Frank-N-Furter on his day off! I was SO radical gay in those days! Outgrew that too, sadly…

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