I don’t know when I was first exposed to comic books. Sometime in the early 80’s, I ended up with a box of mixed comics. I dog-eared issues of Conan, The Fantastic Four, Archie, The Uncanny X-Men, and who knows what else.
I can’t recall what happened to that box of comics. It disappeared along with my interest in comics until I was a sophomore in high school, when a buddy loaned me several X-Men related issues. This sparked a 10-year comic buying spree. Then I quit again.
Fast forward to 2010. My habit got another jump start, thanks to my good buddy Bryan, my fiancé’s son, and Austin Books and Comics.
Three Decades of History
Here’s the deal: Austin Books and Comics turns 36 this year. How do I know? Because – like me – it was born in 1977.
It hasn’t moved from its Lamar and 51st St. location. It has, however, spawned two other stores. Guzu Gallary is located next door to Austin Books and Comics. It features pop art and cool imported collectibles. The Sidekick Store is located further north in the Goodwill shopping center, at the corner of Lamar and 2222. Sidekick features discounted comics, graphic novels and toys.
The Eisner Award Winning Austin Books and Comics has consistently won awards from Austin Chronicle’s yearly “Best Of” poll and has earned its place in the “Best Of” Hall of Fame.
Longevity isn’t easy to come by, considering how fickle the economy can be, the ever-changing city landscape, and local competition. But Austin Books and Comics remains steadfastly planted on Lamar, just north of the Triangle, with no intentions of moving.
New to Comics? No Worries.
Austin Books and Comics may seem intimidating at first. When I walked in two years ago, I was overwhelmed. The size of the store is remarkable. As soon as I entered, I encountered a display of new comics recommended by staff members. Directly to my left was a display of rare and collectible back issues. These are the gems of the comic book world.
The rest of the store is broken down by genre. They have a kids section, manga, reprinted older books and media, new releases by each publisher like Marvel, DC and Image, back issues that are $20.00 or less, and a huge section of trade paperbacks and graphic novels. These comics are guarded by a life size stature of the Incredible Hulk.
Don’t forget the toy section either, which has both new and older toys. You know, from back when I was a kid.
My original intimidation was unwarranted. The store is staffed with people who love their job, and their job is to create an interest in comics. I spoke to store manager Brandon Zuern and sales clerk Angelica Brenner. They informed me that all anyone has to do is ask. “If a new customer wants a recommendation, I’ll ask them what they’re interested in. What shows do they like to watch? Do they like fantasy, sci-fi, action? This helps me make an educated suggestion for them,” Brandon explained.
With somewhere around 500,000 back issues – not counting new issues and the trade paperbacks – there are plenty of options. Angelica nodded in agreement as she rang up my DMZ Volume 11 and Wolverine issues 1-3.
If you like comics, think you may like them, or know someone who does, go give Austin Books and Comics a visit and tell them Dave from the Austinot sent you.
When was the last time you stopped by Austin Books and Comics?
Cover photo via Flickr by Blausky.