Living in London, I’m lucky to have my choice of comic book shops. However, for as long as I can remember buying comic books on a regular basis, the shop that I have had the longest association with is Gosh!, on Great Russell Street, just across from the British Museum. Therefore, it was a surprise to discover that it only opened in 1986, which is just after I became a four-colour addict.
I have a subscription list with Gosh!, so I’m slightly biased towards them, but I’ve always thought of them the best comic shop in London (I’m not the only one: Graham Linehan agrees). It’s not a big shop, but it packs a lot into its space. When you enter, the cash register is on your left. On the right are shelves of trade paperbacks; on the other side are the shelves of new comics. There is a lot space, so you don’t feel crowded, and everything is clean and tidy. There is some merchandise on sale (action figures and t-shirts) but that’s not what the shop is about – they are all about comic books. They have a wide selection on the shelves, but there’s even more downstairs.
At the back of the shop is the spiral stairs that lead to the basement, where they have European books, manga, art books and back issues (including specially priced packages of recent old books). Again, it’s small in there, but not cramped or messy. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, able to talk about books and creators (even setting aside books you may have missed). It’s got to a stage where the long-serving guys know my name, which shows I’ve been buying comics there too long.
Gosh! is everything a good comic book shop should be, which is the reason I choose to buy my comics there instead of the other comic shops within the 200-yard radius that makes the centre of comic book shops in Central London. I’ll be talking about the other shops in the remainder of this series of posts.