(Apologies for the unprofessional photo – you can see my reflection in the shop door. Scratch off ‘photojournalist’ for the list of potential careers.)
In the previous posts in this series, I’ve talked about comic book shops mostly situated in central London; these are shops that are some distance from my home and require a trip on the tube to get there. Avalon Comics, on the other hand, is the shop closest to me as the crow flies, but, because it’s a bit more of a pain to get to, I don’t go there, and this makes me feel bad.
Unlike Forbidden Planet or They Walk Among Us, Avalon Comics is a comic book shop that sells comic books (as you can see by the words ‘COMIC SHOP’ in bold letters in the window) and pretty much nothing else. About an 8-minute walk from Clapham Junction station, with not many other shops nearby (unlike the shop-heavy area immediately around the station), Avalon Comics is a small shop full to the brim with comic books. On the walls, on the shelves, in boxes in the centre, everywhere; you get the feeling that the owners care about comic books and set up a shop to share that enthusiasm with the world.
There was only one gentleman behind the till, taking a phone call during the time I was perusing, so I didn’t find out if he was the ‘Can I help you?’ type, but he seemed a serious chap and I can guess why – selling comic books (and not without the help of a lot of merchandise either) is a difficult business, and the Clapham location, away from other comic book shops, probably doesn’t help. It must be tricky to manage a profit margin, especially now, and with the trend towards the trade paperback impinging on the selling of singles.
Avalon Comics has a wide range of trades, Essentials, and back issues, but I do wonder for its profitability. As with They Walk Among Us, the prices of new comic books are 10% higher than the central London shops (which I still can’t work out – surely rents are cheaper out of central London? Or is it just the amount of books sold?), but the back issues aren’t excessively expensive, so there must be a balance. There is a good selection of comics, independent and mainstream, as would be expected from a shop that sells itself as a comic book shop, and the website (although basic) suggests that they will get anything you would like to buy. I just hope that they continue to operate and be successful; I feel guilty for not buying my comics from them, but I can’t be responsible for keeping a store in business, can I?
[EDIT: as of May 2011, Avalon Comics the physical shop has closed down; it is now an online-only shop.]