I’ve just about run out of comic book stores in MA to discuss, and in the next few weeks I’ll be moving into stores in other states. Exciting! However, before I can leave my home state and begin the chronicles of my travels, there was one article I had to write first.
This is something that I’ve been looking rather forward to writing. A while ago I noticed that there was a rather large misconception about the store, and of course I am that guy who likes to stand atop a soap box and preach preach preach until the guys come home when it comes to comic book related things. Newbury Comics then poses a threat to my natural comic nerdery when people suggest visiting this store rather than any other number of stores in New England for comic related needs. And this is why, right here and right now, I will knock down Newbury Comics a peg or two from the comic book realm of the world.
So let me start by saying this: Newbury Comics is not a comic book store. Newbury Comics was a comic book store. That’s the important thing to keep in mind here. When NC first started out, it was a comic book store run by two kids from MIT here in Boston in 1978. However, as time went on the store lost it’s focus on comic books and switched over to music, becoming a record shop that had a small amount of comic books in the back corner. Time goes on further and Newbury Comics became somewhat of a hipster emporium, selling limited amounts of clothing as well as books, DVDs, and toys. Today the stores are also known to have limited statues as well as various “scene” items. It has since evolved into the single most successful indie-related store chain in all of New England, with stores New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
And, in a back corner? The store has comics.
When I take a look at all the other elements that I’ve been judging the other stores on, Newbury Comics gets a resounding F. The store employees know NOTHING about comics. Some of you might know or have heard about a running gag on this website. The gag is one quote: “Deadpool is the best thing in comics right now.” The phrase was first overheard by me in a real comic book store by someone I knew, at which point I put my face in my palm and sighed. The phrase was then heard again while in a Newbury Comics when someone asked the guy putting comics on the shelf what he’d recommend, and when I heard this I just left. You see, I have nothing against Deadpool. Deadpool was actually one of my favorite comic books for a long time. I grew up reading his first real ongoing, and it’s one of the older collections I still have all of. However, modern day Deadpool is incredibly over saturated, and I think everyone on this site would uniformly agree with me that, outside of Fred Van Lente’s issue of Deadpool Team-Up, there hasn’t been a good Deadpool comic in quite a while. So the fact that this guy is standing next to a bookshelf of graphic novels and the best he can recommend is the latest issue of Deadpool? That should tell you something. I have never met a single employee of Newbury Comics that knew anything about comic books, and at one point I saw a sign on the door of one of the stores in search of a “comic book guy.” If I’d lived any closer, I would have applied.
As far as actual content, I have only ever seen two out of the twenty-eight worth visiting for comic books: the store at Fanueil Hall and the store in Norwood, both of which have their own awesome little comic corners. You see, I wasn’t exaggerating at all when I said that the comics got moved into a corner. At all Newbury Comics locations, the comic books have taken a second rate purpose. They’re there because of the title of the store. Out of the twenty-eight that exist, I have visited fifteen stores, and I think it says something about the comic selection that I would only travel to two if I needed something. The Norwood store in general is absolutely phenomenal, but their comic selection is pretty awesome. They even have a little spot for you to sit and peruse. It’s wonderful. But all the other stores? I can never find much of anything. Newbury Comics is only really good for new release day, which I will occasionally stop by for if I can’t make it to a real comic book store that day, and for Wednesday’s they have pretty much everything. Don’t expect any variants though, because they get them very rarely. But if no one you know sells something amazing like Atomic Robo? Well, then Newbury is your deal. And graphic novels? Forget about it. I showed up one morning an hour after they had opened and asked for Sleeper Season 2, which had just come out that day. The guy had no idea what I was talking about, and when I spelled the word “sleeper” out for him, he told me that they were sold out. No, you weren’t. You just never got any. That’s fine, but come on. You’re working at a store. Know what you have. No one is going to buy Sleeper Season 2 an hour after the store opens at Newbury Comics.Continued below
Without going too much into it (because as you can see I’m ranting), the extra selections aren’t much of anything. They have bags and boards, and they all have toys, but for the most part the comic related toys are few and far between. They’ll have every other toy you can think of at the other end of the store, but if you’re looking for something random that only a normal comic store would have, such as an Infinite Crisis action figure of Super-Boy Prime (it does exist), then you’re out of luck. They will have popularized action figures, as the store nearest me has an over abundance of Watchmen action figures from when the movie came out, but anything that isn’t overly popularized is a no go I’m afraid.
Now don’t get me wrong: I love Newbury Comics. As far as stores go, it’s my favorite. I’ll take people who are visiting MA for the first time to the store and let them get lost in the possibilities of what they could go home with. There is A LOT there. But for the comic nerd? No sir. I’d be very surprised if you could really find anything at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that you can’t get anything. You can get lots of things. But if you have a specific need and want besides what has come out this week, you’ll need to go somewhere else. Newbury Comics is a great store in it’s own right, but as far as the Comic part of it’s name goes, you’re better off looking elsewhere for your needs.