They Walk Among Us is a small comic book shop in Richmond, which means it’s quite a distance from the previous four comic book shops in central London I’ve talked about so far. I would have thought that the location would be a negative ‒ the central London shops can always guarantee a lot of passing trade, in addition to the regulars who work locally ‒ but the website says they’ve been going for 21 years, so it must be okay, and Richmond is a lovely place with lots of other little boutique shops that seem to be surviving.
Richmond is at the end of one branch of the District line (or a train journey from Waterloo), so I had never been to They Walk Among Us before. The name meant something to me because, according to the DVD commentary, it is the shop used as the location for The Fantasy Bazaar, the comic book shop run by Bilbo Baggins and where Tim works in Spaced, the greatest geek sitcom ever. However, when you enter the store, it looks nothing like the interiors filmed for the television show; therefore, either someone has got things mixed up, the shop has moved since filming, or there’s been a lot of interior decorating.
[EDIT: Philip Ayres informs me in the comments that They Walk Among Us has had three locations in Richmond: the first two were in Union Court opposite Waitrose, with the second site acting as The Fantasy Bazaar, which is why it didn’t look like it did in Spaced. He also tells me that the third location was used in Red Dwarf: Back To Earth.]
The shop is nicely presented ‒ you could mistake it for any of the other high-price little shops that Richmond can support due to its affluence ‒ but is quite small. The windows are very packed (see some of the photos on the website) with lots of different merchandise, not just comic books, such as statues of Wolverine. This gives the impression that merchandise is the focus, not comic books, and you’d be right: memorabilia and odd geek culture objects fill the shelves, such as a John Lennon statue/action figure, Mario figurines, Gorillaz merchandise and tiny Japanese toylets.
At the back left corner of the shop are lots of trades, mostly DC and Marvel, and in the far right corner is the small rack of new comics, at a price 10% more expensive than found in the central London shops. The range of different new books is limited ‒ I can’t imagine that the locals want to read the full diversity of comic books available ‒ but at least they are there. The areas at the front of the shop, going into the windows from the large till area, are full of the film-related, geek-related, Dr Who-related merchandise that lure in the rest of the shoppers, but it feels a little cramped. A strange little shop, a little out of the way, with plenty to offer just with comic books lower down the agenda.
[EDIT: They Walk Among Us closed down in the summer of 2009. The shop was replaced by Ace Comics, but is now the site of the Richmond branch of Raygun Comics.]