I first got into comics during the 90's. Going into my local independent newsagent and eyeing the cover art standing out from the usual magazines and other comics on the racks. It was never the big, shiny and colourful superhero comics but the dark and mysterious characters and worlds of titles such as 'The Sandman', 'Swamp Thing', 'John Constantine: Hellblazer' and 'Preacher' that caught my attention. With the lure of the superb cover art by the likes of Dave McKean, Charles Vess, and Glenn Fabry, reeling me in, the stories and artwork inside got me forever hooked.
Back then, the chance of finding issues regularly were very rare, especially as most of the titles I was reading, usually from Vertigo Comics, Epic Comics or from a new imprint that had recently just started called Image Comics, were classed as for 'Mature Readers' (if you read any of those issues then you'll understand) and not always on the racks. Otherwise, seeing as there wasn't a local comic shop in town, you had to get your copies through subscription mailorder (no ordering through the internet back then) or wait for bookshops to stock the collected editions.
Flash-forward a few years and these days it's a lot easier. Plenty of places online and Comic Cons to pick up issues from. Until recently, there was never a dedicated place for me to locally get my favourite monthly titles and other comics goodies from without having to travel to Banbury, Birmingham or further afield. But thanks to the success of the inaugural Leamington Comic Con in 2014, it showed that there was demand for comics and geekiness in a middle class town in the middle of England.
And from the seeds planted at the Comic Con, the next Leamington Comic Con is March 25, a pop up comic shop, Spa Town Comics, has now planted roots firmly in the town.
Run by Dan Mallier and Lisa-Marie Nelson, the collective brains behind the award winning Leamington Comic Con, the pop up store, situated on a stall in the Royal Priors Shopping Centre, in less than a year has already become a one stop shop for avid comic fans, including myself. Instead of the sometimes sterile atmosphere at larger stores, Spa Town Comics is anything but! Whether it's Dan, Lisa or whoever else is attending the store, they are more than willing to talk comics and geekiness with you. And they certainly know their stuff!! The friendliness of the staff and the comics banter is very welcoming and just one of the reasons to visit. They will only be too happy to help recommend titles that they think you might enjoy based on what you initially buy from them.
I've since cancelled subscriptions I've had elsewhere and re-continued the titles with Spa Town Comics to purposely support my local comic shop. I now have several titles listed with them, and they will include the variant covers, if you ask for them and if they can get them. The subscription service they have is brilliant, and a cinch to set up.
Despite only having a stall, they hope to have a more permanent store, they have packed it full of comics, merchandise from T shirts to Funkos, and more. They have a great selection of current and older comics, they even have a few signed ones too! And if it's back issues you're after, their collaboration with Comic Connections in Banbury, means that if they don't have an issue at hand they will try and get hold of it for you. Always ones to champion the small press comics scene, they also stock a growing range of small press titles and prints from local artists.
But they don't just sell comics either, Spa Town Comics also promote literacy and support local talent, and work with the local library to promote reading, host drawing events, appear at local comic cons, and put on other events to allow others to celebrate and share their hobbies and interests and make new friends.
All in all it's the comic shop we've been needing in the town for years! And what better way to celebrate New Comic Book Day than to big up my local comic shop!
For more head to their website; spatowncomics.co.uk, visit facebook.com/spatowncomics or follow them on Twitter @SpaTownComics and Instagram @spatowncomics.