Comic Book Shops: Comic Showcase (RIP)

(Photo taken from Rich Johnston’s Lying In The Gutters: specifically this post containing his rundown of the central London comic book shops)

The other comic book shops that I have talked about in the central London area are still operating; Comic Showcase is no longer with us, which is a great shame.

The photo above shows the second site of the shop, on Charing Cross Road, near Leicester Square tube station. I’m not sure exactly when it moved there, but it used to be located the Shaftesbury Avenue end of Neal Street, a funky, pedestrianised street off Covent Garden. It was a lovely, old-fashioned comic book shop: a little bit of merchandise near the till, but for the most part it was comics, a long set of shelves down the left side carrying all the new books, with the long boxes of back issues at the back of the shop (and they had a great selection). They also had original art downstairs, but I never really ventured down there because it was well out of my price range. It was always nice to visit, with friendly staff and a very pleasant atmosphere. I loved their shop bags – they had the Joker dealing cards to you, with one of them not being an ordinary card …

When I used to work in South Kensington in the late ’90s, I couldn’t decide between Comic Showcase and Gosh!, so I would alternate weekly between them in order to not show favouritism and maintain balance. I am very sad.

I’m not sure when they moved to the new site (it could have been when I worked in the US for a few years), but it never captured the same atmosphere as the old location. The main floor was an open space with shelves around the walls for a wide selection of comics, from mainstream to independents. The back issues were now downstairs, to allow more room for trades and merchandise, and this left things a little sterile for my tastes. I can understand the choice of the move, with the high visibility of the busy road it was on, but it didn’t help in the end; they unfortunately went out of business in the middle of 2006 (as disclosed by Rich in this Lying in the Gutters). This was a great shame, as I always felt that the shop was very central to the London comic book scene. The only person who I found to disagree is Dom Sutton, who writes a comic book blog called London Loves Comics: in a single post here, he talks about the London comic book shops in a more concise manner than I am with this series of posts. However, he also recalls not being allowed to buy a page of original Watchmen art when he was young, being told he was too young to appreciate it. I think I can understand his feelings.

8 Comments

  • theagingfanboy 6 August 2008 at 10:38 am

    I loved that shop in Neal Street, for just the reasons you say. I’d moved out of London before it moved and also found the new shop sterile. I brought a page of Alan Davis Captain Britain art as a present for my brohter’s 40th there. When I worked in London every Thursday night I’d go to CS for the week’s comics afer work, and then meet my mate Bruce in The Anchor (with his comics) and shoot the breeze for hours. Thanks for all that Comic Showcase.

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  • David 10 August 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing your memories of Comic Showcase; always nice to hear that other people enjoyed the store too. Also, I’d like to commend you on your excellent choice of original art 🙂

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  • Anonymous 27 January 2009 at 4:29 am

    I remember the store when it was at Neal St. I think I preferred it to the 2nd location. I believe I bought Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar (SLG) from the Charing Cross site. I wanted to read the Metamophosis story that had originally appeared in Epic magazine.

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  • David 27 January 2009 at 9:40 am

    I definitely preferred Neal Street – it had more character and charm, a feeling of community. My memory of a purchase is quite vivid – I bought the trade of Watchmen there, which is a nice memento.

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  • Fred 19 September 2011 at 11:11 am

    Neal Street was the second location. The first which I preferred was nearby in Monmouth Street.

    Having been away from the scene for a few years I was in the last shop, near the end and was quite shocked by how things had diminished.

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  • David Norman 19 September 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I didn't know that the shop was originally in Monmouth Street; that must have been before my time. Thanks for the history (which I couldn't find on the internet).

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  • Michel Maillot 3 November 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I had more in mind Comic Showcase in Catherine Street in 1980.
    Loved to get there in in 1982-1983.

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    • Michel Maillot 3 November 2017 at 7:46 pm

      In fact Catherine Street was the first location, then Monmouth and so on…

      Reply

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