Comic Book Guys
Address: 130 Great Victoria St, Belfast BT2 7BG
Comic Book Guys are my local comic book store. They have recently moved premises out of a shopping centre and I decided to take a long overdue look at why they are my favourite place in Belfast to spend my comic related cash and zero in why they far outreach their competition in my homes capitol city.
As mentioned above Comic Book Guys recently moved from their old premises to brand new ones on Great Victoria Street one of Belfast’s most famous Avenues. Their old shop had charm in buckets, was beautifully laid out & had a generous amount of space but it was located in a small shopping mall owned by a church that had restrictive opening hours ( no Sundays ) and limited what Comic Book Guys could sell ( No Manga ).
The new shop has no such restrictions. They are now free to open Sunday and sell whatever the hell they like. It’s located half way between the popular Botanic area of Belfast & the Europa Hotel/Grand Opera House areas. Therefore it’s halfway between two easily accessible train stops via Botanic and Great Victoria Street street stations. Buses regularly service the area too. Parking is now available RIGHT outside the store. Not much use during the day as its still Belfast city centre and the spaces will be gone from early morning but late nights and weekends this will be an absolute godsend as parking cheaply, was damn near impossible at the previous location. From the city centre the walk is a little bit of a hike, but not that much further than the last store was and it’s a lot closer to the residential student areas of Belfast.
The immediate surrounding area is a little barren. This particular part of Belfast is in the middle of a regeneration and a lot of the buildings right nearby are boarded up. Easy walking distance to Botanic Avenue though with its shops, bars , cafes and restaurants for that all important coffee fix with your comics.
Atmosphere and layout:
Straight off the bat Comic Book Guys is a beautiful space. No expense has been spared in the fitting out of the shop. Daylight effect lighting in conjunction with the huge window gives a bright airy feel to the store. It looks nothing like your average dark dingy dungeon of dusty old books. Well laid out, classic books, new books and graphic novels all getting their own display areas along with long boxes in bespoke racks at the perfect height to browse through. This is no museum though, it feels like a comic store. That’s important. Sometimes stores try too hard and they lose all the heart of a place. Not so here, it feels like you are at your posh mates house: Looks amazing, a lot better than your own place ever will but you still feel at home. Prints adorn the walls and the custom neon light above the counter, the Joker breaking through the wall and Ghostbusters Slimer who greets you as you come through the door are really beautiful touches
Comic Book Guys is the only store in Northern Ireland that sells classic comics. Silver age, bronze age and even the occasional golden age book are all available. Key issues in particular are a bit of a speciality of theirs. Really important to mention that they are the only people in the country to grade and submit books to CGC a service that has been sorely missing. They also have a small selection of current books for sale and operate a pull list service for current titles. A small section is dedicated to graphic novels. This isn’t as extensive as I’d like it to be. I’d like to see it extended to carry the staples of Comics such as The Killing Joke, Watchmen, Batman Hush etc constantly, as these books consistently fly off shelves and have kept the lights on in many a comic shop down through the years. What they do have though is varied and well presented. Generally modern back issues are kept in Longboxes that are stored at waist height making it really easy to browse as are £1 comics. They also stock busts, figures, pops, statues and a great range of original T-shirts.
The pricing in store is set so there is something for everyone. From the serious collector to the kid with his pocket money the store has a price point for them. Classic, CGC and Key books are always priced at the lower end of the current market value. They price to sell. The T-shirt range is also really well priced and are of the highest quality materials. Modern issues are competitive, especially if you take into account their loyalty scheme where you get a stamp for every comic you buy and once you have ten stamps you get a free comic up to the value of £5.00. It’s a stroke of genius. What kid doesn’t love the thought of a free comic? Also discounts are available for students all the time.
The staff of Comic Book Guys are what make the place MY Local. Anyone can throw a book across a counter at me and take my money ( I’ve had this happen. ) Comic Book Guys make me feel like a valued customer. They know my name, they know my likes – they’ve kept books over for me I didn’t even know I wanted, all with no pressure and no hardcore sales techniques. It’s a real family run store, with all generations of the Flanagan family kicking about the place at one time or the other and talking to them all is one of the highlights of any visit for me.
Comic Book Guys have had some amazing signings in the last few years. Glenn Fabry, Pj Holden & John McCrea, Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire , Ryan Brown & Gary Erskine have all signed in store. No one else in the country is doing this. The ability to walk in off the street and pick up a Preacher #1 or Amazing Spider-man 300 graded at 9.0 is pretty jaw dropping. The novelty of having classic books on demand never grows old.
Above all else the real wow factor with Comic Book Guys is it feels like going home every single time I visit their store.
Call in, gawp at the beautiful new store, pick up a bargain and tell the Comic Book Guys Stevie sent you.