NYC may be known as the East Coast’s geek mecca because of New York Comic Con, but comic book store die-hards have been flocking to Gotham to find their favorite superhero and indie titles for years. So whether you’re looking for the works that inspired some of the best superhero movies or you’re trying to find burgeoning series that even the best bookstore in NYC doesn't carry, look no further: We’ve rounded up the best independent comic book stores in NYC for your browsing pleasure.
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Best comic book stores in NYC
For visiting geeks, Midtown Comics is as iconic a destination as the Empire State Building. And for regular residents, it’s the only reason to come to Times Square on Wednesdays. With two locations (Midtown and Downtown), an undeniable bastion of back issues, a stacked website and an unbeatable discount on books for members, Midtown remains the biggest name in the game for a reason. When it comes to books in NYC, you go to Strand; when it comes to comics, you hit Midtown.
Any Union Square regular can point you to Forbidden Planet, the wacky comics store with life-size Terminators, aliens and Iron Man standing sentry in the window. The NYC branch of this beloved UK cult megastore always has fantastic jams blasting (from Journey to the Power Rangers theme song) and is designed to send you through a marvelous selection of T-shirts, bags, toys and tchotchkes before you reach the broad back wall of comics. If you’re looking for a gift for the geek in your life, you’re bound to pick up some unique gems at Forbidden Planet.
With two jumbo-size locations (a cavernous Kips Bay shop and a well-stocked Staten Island store), a notoriously chipper staff and a track record of pretty stellar comics celebrities stopping by and signing books, JHU (formerly Jim Hanley’s Universe) is a lovely spot for your regular Wednesday pickup. Besides its regular comics-reading community, JHU is a favorite among gamers, who frequently throw down epic tournaments in the store’s open space.
Sure, Desert Island probably adheres to your exact assumption of what a Williamsburg comic book store looks like, but when it comes to zines, indie books, up-and-coming artists and kids’ comics, this charming little shop proves to be quite the contender. As the organizer of Comic Arts Brooklyn, the annual indie comics extravaganza, this packed store has plenty to offer fans looking for an alternative to the Comic Con behemoth.
Beyond its selection of Japanese and English books, gorgeous stationary, gifts and coloring books, this massive creative outlet also features a grand assortment of manga and comics. If an extended stroll through the third floor’s aisles of trades proves too saturating, grab a seat and a bento box at Café Kaiya and get back to the hunt once you’re well fed.
Freshly opened in March 2016, this tiny Cobble Hill spot may not have a wide selection, but its specially curated kids’ offerings should make the city’s youngest fans (and their parents) very happy. With the 2015 closing of Bergen Street Comics, Brooklyn comics fans can turn to Mama’s for a sweet shopping experience.
Carrying both records and comic books, this Bushwick shop really can’t go wrong. Browse your favorite books, then find a record to enhance your reading experience. (Might we suggest pairing Rat Queens with Garbage?) The helpful staff will help you find your favorites and may even lead you to a unique print or two to take home.