When you come to know the historic town of Glastonbury, there are certain things you expect, the incense and healing shops, crystals and medicines, a plethora of cheeses and ciders and the colourful individuals that populate the various benches along its main, promade. Nestled amongst the spiritual and the supernatural is the fantastical, a small store dedicated to nerd culture in the form of The Comic Store. Situated in the small shopping precinct of Abbey Mews, this refuge for those looking for answers and inspiration beyond the mystical arts, or even including those, is a nivana for comic book and popular culture fans with a wealth of treasures from across the broad spectrum of the so called geek culture that exists today. It’s presence and location is a refreshing change from the predominant array of healing stores that make up the majority of Glastonbury’s main high street, and serves as a nice juxtaposition for those looking for answers on the ley lines that run through this town and its customers who enjoy the escapism from the fictional universes on show at this store.
Stepping inside, to use an oft worn adage, is a literal cave of treasures and wonders with a variety of merchandise and items from a plethora of shows and genres. The Comic Store is a physical front for an online shop and thus serves to provide an outlet and source of contact for its owner Paul who seems to enjoy talking about the various items in the shop and has a good grasp of this hobby. I’ve looked inside a couple of times previously having visited Glastonbury on a number of occasions over the last two years but this was my first opportunity to actually explore the store in more detail, perhaps and probably no different to many other Comic Stores in the country, none-the-less it’s an enjoyable shop to search the rows of comics or compendiums that line its shelves, the array of action figures and Funko’s, even some pretty cool art prints which I may pick up one or two. I am a sucker for original prints of Geek Culture and front and centre they had a pretty great Game of Thrones print for sale.
I was surprised at the variety and range of items on sale, clocking a pack of Booty O’s, the cereal for Wrestling aficionado’s of the WWE to a wooden carved Judge Dredd statue sitting hidden beneath a cabinet. Arguably, perhaps there is ‘too much’ of a good thing, with items situated and placed wherever there is a space, new additions added as they come in for sale before being listed on the shops ebay page. Still, half the fun of these types of stores is looking for those hidden forgotten treasures, coming across a rare find or rough gem that has some personal meaning and value to it. And of course, buying it at an amazing price. For me, given my general weakness for shiny things that was a double header of the Resident Evil CGI films, the continuation of the franchise from the games I adore in their canonical animated form. I watched these ages ago on Netflix when they were going through their Resident Evil appreciation phase, I still feel the live action films are an abomination but at least these films feel in the spirit of the franchise before the disaster that was the sixth game.
You do take for granted living in London the ease to which merchandise and items are available on your doorstep, a short train ride away from where I live is Forbidden Planet one of the greatest sci-fi and fantasy chains in the country. The recent conventions and Pokemon Store during the year providing a gluttony of treasures and exclusives I can call my own. There is still an enjoyment to be had from visiting these smaller Comic stores in the country that serve a dedicated fanbase who may not have the same opportunities or availability of conventions and exclusive events you find in the capital. And as noted, you are more likely to find a couple of films you’ve given thought to buying, an exclusive art print, a long forgotten toy or statue to add to your personal collection. It’s a cliched sentiment but one that holds true, stores such as these provide a gateway in this part of the world which is more limited in its options and scope but thanks to the open nature of the internet is readily connected. With an enthusiastic and knowledgeable owner, it does go to show the best aspects of an inclusive and open fandom.
There are a few charity shops that line the parade of independent eateries and spiritual stores, often a handful of DVDs and older games are to be found on the bookshelves from donated items. There’s always a tacit thrill from a discovering a hidden gem in somewhere like The Comic Store which perhaps you may take for granted living in the city. I know Amy at Writing into the Ether posts a great deal of regional content from outside the London centric viewpoint I tend to focus on including a great piece on a D&D game hosted at an abandoned prison not to long ago. Also Dan at nowisgames posted a fun piece on visit to the Bristol Gaming Market in September which is only a short drive away from Glastonbury. It’s clear to see a thriving community outside of London that proves these fictional spaces hold a universal appeal across the gender and age divide and with the use of online stores and marketplaces an ability to acquire collectables from the national and international market places. So really, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw the colourful cereal of the New Day tucked away on the floor of The Comic Store, afterall, why wouldn’t it be there.
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