Blackhorse Road tube station, the penultimate stop at the northern end of the Victoria line, is one of those tube stops where there is nothing of note. It’s on the corner of a large and busy crossroads, with a pub and a few shops but no sign of anything else. If it hadn’t been for Krypton Komics, I would never have come here. After travelling nearly the entire length of the Victoria line, it had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, as its website says, the shop is a 2-minute walk from the station, so that helps.
I visited the shop’s original location – it used to be in Tottenham, up from Seven Sisters tube station – at some point in my past (possibly the late 1990s), but I don’t know when it moved to its current location. It seems out of place where it is now – if you use the street view on Google Maps, you’ll see that it is on a mainly residential road that has a fair amount of traffic passing it by. However, in some ways it adds to the charm of this little shop tucked away in a quiet spot.
The first notable aspect is gaining access to the shop – I have visited many comic book shops and this is the first time I’ve had to push an entry bell to be buzzed in to the shop. The man behind the till was a friendly chap (he blessed me when I sneezed) but he didn’t hassle me, probably because Krypton Komics is a back-issue haven, where the serious collector comes with his/her list to forage through the many boxes of old comics for a missing book in the collection. This is highlighted by the fact that you enter the shop into the middle of the back issues – the new comics are on shelves at the back of the shop. There are three tiers of comic book boxes all around the walls and in an aisle in the centre of the shop, although only the top box (at just above waist height) has labelled separators to indicate the alphabetical storage system. The only slight difference is the immediate right as you enter the shop – there are several boxes of 25p comics, some manga and then a couple of boxes of cheap second-hand trade paperbacks.
The cataloguing system of Krypton Komics has to be praised – the website calls it ‘the latest bar-coded inventory control system’ and I’d have to agree. Each comic has an identifying sticker: the name and number of the comics (with the volume number if applicable), the condition of the book, the price clearly marked, as well as details of the shop and a bar code. Compared with the small price sticker seen on books in other shops, it’s impressive and certainly the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen. I thought the prices seemed a little high – perhaps based on a price guide – but I’m not running the business, so my opinions don’t matter that much.
There are some trades on the walls and some select old comics (there are also a few boxes specifically marked ‘Silver Age’) but no merchandise that I could see. There was a large selection of new books when you finally get into the back area, showing no particular preference for the big two, but I can only imagine that they are for the regulars and locals because the shop isn’t going to get any passers-by popping in unexpectedly. It’s an achievement that this shop can survive in the current economic climate, but I’m glad that it does – it is obviously a labour of love for the owner and the people who work there.