This is a new feature I’d been meaning to implement for a while now, and with our site hits picking up, I believe it’s definitely time to bring it out! The single most important thing to any comic book nerd anywhere on the planet is his LCBS, or Local Comic Book Shop/Store. Without these, there is nowhere to go to on Wednesdays (unless you use online distributors which we will get into later) in order to pick up your favorite anti-drug. But how do you know where to go? Don’t you wish there was somewhere you could read comprehensive reviews about shops to help you decide where to shop? Well, then welcome to the new feature, the LCBS Spotlight.
Now, keep in mind, we can only review based on the states we live in as well as where we’ve traveled, so if you have a comic book store near us that you’d like us to visit and review, let us know and we’ll stop by! OR, if you’d like to personally have a shout out about your LCBS on the site, you can also contact us and let us know and we can work out a way that you can get your review up here for all the world to see! Neat, huh? Just send an e-mail to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll work out a deal!
With that, I’d like to talk about the place I go to every Wednesday: New England Comics.
New England Comics is the biggest chain (that I’m aware of) of comic book stores in Massachusetts. The first store opened in 1997 in Norwood and has since expanded to Quincy, Allston, Brookline, Brockton, Cambridge, Malden, and New Bedford. I’ve personally been to only been to four of them (New Bedford, Brookline, Cambridge, Allston), but I’m willing to guess that you’ve probably heard of the stores. Why, you might ask? Because without New England Comics, the world would never have been introduced to the wonderful character known as The Tick. That’s right – the Jolly Blue Giant Bug. Remember him from Fox Cartoons on Saturday Mornings? And Patrick Warburton? Well, the Tick, best known for his comedic timing and general stupidity (despite being a very capable hero at the end of the day) was invented for the NEC newsletter and had evolved since then into his own series! All the comics were distributed by New England Comics and have since been collected into various graphic novels, with a special display at the Brookline store always on display.
So how do the stores measure up? Very well, actually. I often go here to pick up hard to find comics, and I can always count on them to have the trade paperbacks I want on New Comic Day. The staff is very friendly (and from what I have tested, fairly knowledgeable), and are more than willing to lend a hand or at least have discussions about any given comic related topic. The other day I had an extended dialogue with one of the clerks as we discussed how Geoff Johns, Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, and Robert Kirkman all need to team up to make a comic mini-series together, and if they did, then comics as we know it would just end. They also have various great rewards programs, such as VIP membership (which gets you special discounts on various items in all the stores), as well as many deals in which you can buy the first trade of a series for 50% off, and if you the next 7, you’ll get the last one for free! I used this deal in order to catch up on Fables, and it worked out great for me.
You can also find a great selection of extra comic book paraphernalia. There are plenty of toys (including a box of $5 toys which I’ve picked out several of), t-shirts and hoodies, posters, and more. All of the stores combined add up to my second favorite collection of graphic novels in Massachusetts. I’ve found MANY great books there that I couldn’t find elsewhere, including a lot of Grant Morrison trades and Captain Carrot and the Final Ark (by the OTHER Morrison). I will often go in and just browse through trades for a while, picking up random things to add to my collection. I’ve had to make a very large list of all the things I see that I want that I haven’t bought the day of, and as I said, they always deliver on New Comic Book Day with the latest and greatest trades. I don’t care if I have to make special time out of my given schedule to visit their store, I’ll find a way to get there at least once a week to make sure I get what I need because they’re sure to have it, and with 8 stores, one only a ten minute walk from my home, I can find the time.Continued below
The only thing I would ever complain about is the back issue selection, because it’s very hit or miss. On the one hand, I did manage to find the one Sinestro Corps War tie-in I didn’t have (the Blue Beetle tie-in), but on the other hand, I can’t often find what I’m looking for. So it’s a sporadic mix of good and bad, but for the most part I have to travel elsewhere for back issues. It really just depends on the individual store rather than the chain as a whole, because while I think the Allston collection of back issues is good, I’m not a huge fan of the Cambridge collection. Also, the store often provides packaged deals where you can buy whole runs of comics at a time. This is something I’ve seen quite a few stores starting to do, but this one definitely has some of the best. Old Hawkman comics, super old Teen Titans… I’ve had many a nerd moments at the Allston store where I had to debate what was more important to me: money in my bank account, or more comics (guess which one often wins?). But even that can be hit or miss because, while the Allston selection is great, the Brookline one isn’t so hot. Each store really has their strengths and weaknesses, I suppose.
I put a lot of spotlight on the store in Brookline and Allston and not a lot on Cambridge or New Bedford, but really it’s because the first two are the ones I visit most often. The store in Cambridge has been really good to me, all things considered. It’s the smallest out of all the ones I’ve visited, but it’s a great resource, especially for new releases and graphic novels. I’ve only ever been to the New Bedford store once (I used to go to school there), but I found everything I wanted there and more. I still can’t believe I actually found a Planetary t-shirt (although, I regret to admit, I didn’t buy it). The New Bedford store was definitely the most out of the way for me, but the trip there was very worth it. I was absolutely astonished at some of the older books I could find there, and if you’re ever in that area, I’d suggest going by.
So if you’re ever in the Boston city area and you need a place to go by, New England Comics is a great choice. They’re very convenient (did I mention there are 8 locations?) and the staff is incredibly friendly, always willing to help and answer questions. Definitely check it out if you’re searching for a graphic novel or just need someone nerdy to chat with for a bit. I definitely recommend this store.
For more information, please check out their website.