One of the series of posts I have written is about comic book shops – I’m very lucky, living in London, to have a lot of comic book shops in relatively close proximity, even though I mention other comic book shops that a particular resonance in my development as a comic book fan. In this post, I wanted to revisit one of those shops because they had the temerity to move to new premises, thus invalidating one of my blog posts.
Orbital Comics now matches Forbidden Planet in central London in the number of times it has moved the shop within a mile radius of previous locations, having both moved twice to bigger floor space each time. Orbital has moved to a side road off Charing Cross Road near Leicester Square tube station; it’s not a grubby area, although the photo suggests otherwise. However, the interior is another matter.
The shops is now in what was a former photo gallery, as it a long and thin space with high ceilings and a lot of shelf space. In fact, they have so much space that there is room for a film poster shop off to the left about halfway down, and there is a separate space where they exhibit original comic book art (thus keeping the original gallery concept alive). The exhibit space has seen art by Brendan McCarthy and John McCrea, as well as some original Watchmen pages (at the time when the film came out) by Dave Gibbons. This certainly makes for a different comic book experience compared with other shops I have visited.
The new comics fill a huge wall of shelves on the left as you come in, with a huge selection of different comic books; to the right, there is the till and then the latest hardback collections and trade paperbacks, as well as any special offers on these new books. Going further into the narrow but far-reaching space, there are more book shelves filled with a lot of trade paperbacks, again of a wide selection of independents as well as the mainstream books. The last third of the shop contains the longboxes of back issues – there is a huge number, with an island in the middle and the rest packed around the walls, filed by publisher and then alphabetically by character/team. You can see why they had to move to a bigger space, because they’ve got a LOT of comic books.
The new premises are very nice – the space is very pleasant, creating a relaxed atmosphere, and it makes the comic books seem more like art (I don’t know if that’s the vibe of the original use). I just hope they stay there so I don’t have to write about them again …