As a comic store, L.A. Mood is pretty light. There’s a limited selection of graphic novels and comics in the back.
The store is more concerned with gaming, particularly Magic the Gathering. I can’t speak to it’s selection on that front, as games aren’t really my thing. But the store seems like a great place to go if you like Magic, it frequently holds tournaments and events for the game.
Address: 350 Richmond St, London, ON
Heroes is an awesome store. First, it’s really big. It’s thin, but really long (that’s what she said). Plus it has a second floor. It’s quite possibly the biggest comic store I’ve ever been to (bigger than Paradise Comics, or Beguiling). Its manga selection is fairly light, but for mainstream comics, it has a bit of everything; and a wide assortment of toys, too.
But what makes the store truly special is its huge selection of discount books. The entire length of the store is lined with comic boxes filled with 50% off books; that’s in addition to the whole second floor devoted to the same (along with piles of books for $3.99). It’s the only store that can rival BMV for deals.
Address: 186 Dundas St, London, ON
It’s a bit of a cheat to call J & J a comic book store. All they have in the way of comics is a couple long boxes on the floor of one aisle with some single issues and old trades. But if you like the other stuff that comic books stores sell, namely toys and board games, you might find something here. Board games in particular seem to be their specialty. They have a really impressive selection and pretty good pricing.
I like that they gave the outside the facade of a castle, along with a cartoonish blue and red paint job – it certainly lets you know what you’ll find inside.
Address:230 Weber St N, Waterloo, ON
Conspiracy Comics is Burlington’s premiere comic book store. It’s the one I went to all through high school (it being one of the only sources of anime and manga around at the time). The store managed to outlive all its competition and now, around 20 years later, it’s not only still standing, it has even expanded to four locations.
The store keeps a wide selection of comics, trades and manga, along with toys, anime, and merchandise (though the non-books are fairly expensive). It’s a dependable store for new releases.
Address: 2388 Fairview St, Burlington, ON
Aardvark comics feels a lot like someone’s personal collection turned into a store. They have a table of new releases and a handful of toys, but the real draw is the back issue assortment. It’s worth going just to browse the old comics on the wall; there’s some really neat stuff there.
If you’re mostly a trade reader, or if you refuse to look at anything made in the 1900s, there are better options; but if you’re a singles collector, or just someone who appreciates classics, this is a very cool store.
Address:516 Plains Rd E, Burlington, ON
Retrorare Comics feels like what would happen if someone with a personal collection tossed it all into a store and opened the doors. There are some new releases, some back issues, and some trades; but the selection is random. The store is actually pretty big, but most of the floor space is empty.
The best thing about the store is probably the toy collection. A lot of items, including some interesting antiques.
Address: 5200 Dixie Road, #5, Mississauga, ON
Comic Warehouse lives up to it’s name. It’s a big store with items stacked up to the roof. As far as comics go, the selection is about as good as the bigger stores in the area. All TBPs are bagged, which makes browsing difficult. There’s a small section for discount books in the back. In addition to comics, they also have a vast selection of toys (especially Pops) and boardgames.
The cafe section is a seating area with some vending machines. There were a few people hanging out there during my visit. It’s a neat extra for people that like to linger in comic stores.
Address: 20 Strathearn Ave #15, Brampton, ON
Carry-On Comics is located in downtown Waterloo, which is also home to the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurie University.
The selection isn’t bad, though it is a smaller store. It’s a great option for comic fans going to one of the universities. In addition to new releases and a respectable assortment of trades, they also have a number of used books available for pretty good prices.
Address:32 King Street North Waterloo, ON
Lookin’ For Heroes has been been in operation for about 30 years; though only 6 years at its current location, a few doors down from its old one.
The floor space is small, but it manages to pack in a pretty good selection. There aren’t many stores brave enough to carry Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, but this one is.
The store is well organized, neat, and the owner is nice. All in all, it’s a great store.
Address: 83 Ontario St S, Kitchener, ON
Silver Snail is one of the oldest surviving comic book stores in Toronto. It’s currently location is above a Five Guys just off of Dundas Square.
As far as comic book stores go, Silver Snail is pretty average. They have a decent selection of common titles, new releases, and toys; though it feels like the product offerings have been shrinking in the last few years. Sales are uncommon, and their discount section is made up mostly of G.I. Joe trades. It’s not a bad store, but for something with the Snail’s cache, it’s a bit unremarkable.
The one thing that does set Silver Snail apart is their cafe, which offers coffee and backed goods.
Address: 329 Yonge St, Toronto, ON
Thunderstruck Books took over the location formally held by Labyrinth Books and Games when the later closed its Toronto location.
The selection took a hit with the turnover, but Thunder Stuck has spent the time since its opening re-stocking and now has a good selection of mainstream comics, manga, and pops. One thing that sets this store (and its predecessor) is its selection of art books; a category ignored by most comic stores.
Make sure to follow them on facebook, as they have an occasional (and really good) store wide sale.
Address: 386 Bloor St. W. Toronto, Ontario
Nerdvana is a small comic store in a small town.
Midland is most famous for its annual butter tart festival, which is how I first found out about Nerdvana. The store carries a selection of new releases (all pre-bagged and boarded), and few trades, and some toys. You’re not likely to find your holy grail here; you probably won’t even find all the regular new titles you’re looking for. The selection is very limited (which isn’t surprising considering the size of the market).
Website: Nerdvana Facebook
Address:231 King St, Midland, ON
Yokai Girls is one of the first titles to be released by Seven Sea’s mature imprint, Ghost Ship. ‘Mature’ in this case means a lot of nudity and revealing outfits. It’s essentially a harem series; one guy plus many women. The women, however, are yokai (monster) girls; a set up which has become just as cliche in recent years as the harem itself.
That said, Yokai Girls manages to be a bit better than the average monster girl series. The characters are more likeable, and the world they inhabit is more interesting. The Yokai have a backstory (somewhat reminiscent of American Gods); and each of the yokai girls has their own motivation that extends a bit beyond a one-dimensional character trait. As an added bonus, it’s set in Akihabara, which is cool to see since it reminds me of my visit there.
With most harem series, it feels like characters are added to check off a list of romantic archetypes – the serious woman, the drunk woman, the ninja woman, etc. The characters in Yokai Girls, while still being archetypes to some extent, at least help to drive the plot and change the course of the protagonist’s life in material ways.
The art is above average as well. While not stylistic or unique, it’s highly refined and easy to follow.
If you like standard manga harem comedies, and want a step up from Monster Musume, Yokai Girls might be what you’re looking for. It doesn’t break new ground, but it does what it does pretty well.
Excalibur Comics is a little store located on the second floor of a building, above a bar and beside a movie theatre. Up the narrow stairs, you’ll find the main store to the right. Here you’ll find new releases, some toys, graphic novels, and the comic book store guy. It’s about what you’d expect from a average comic shop. It doesn’t carry the esoteric stock that the bigger stores do, but it has all the basics.
Across the hall is a second room that houses discount books. It’s a small room that can barely fit two people, but it’s filled with stuff on sale, so it might be worth squeezing in. In addition to the typical discount titles, there’s a few really old and rare things mixed in to the selection.
Address: 3030 Bloor St W. Toronto, ON
Atomic Age is a small comic book store built in to a house that shares space with a pet grooming business.
What it lacks in square footage, it makes up for in product. There’s so much packed into the shop that it’s hard to move around. Atomic Age carries new release comics, graphic novels, and toys. At the centre of the store is a table with long boxes where you’ll find books for 50% off (including a few rare titles).
It can’t really compete with the bigger stores in Toronto, but it’s a nice place to drop by if you’re in the area. If nothing else, you can check out the Doctor Who mural on the front wall.
Address: 497 Pape Ave. Toronto, ON