If You’re Hunting In Pennsylvania…
Yesterday was a nice, cool, and sunny day to go hunting for comic books in the fine state of Pennsylvania, and it got me thinking as to which LCS should be my next feature shop. Not just that, but having gone into more than five comic book stores yesterday, I thought I would do a brief review of comic book stores that are within an hour and a half of each other, and ones which I’m familiar with. Some of these are not my cup of tea at all, and though I won’t overly bash an LCS, I will give my honest thought and opinion on the business. As a comic collector/seller that has walked into well over 200 different comic book stores and over 100 major comic book conventions, I think it’s only apropos that I try to give the distinguished readers of CBSI a strong opinion the business of comic books.
Don’t get me wrong, I am partial to a particular shop. Most of us have a preference of the type of business we want to spend our hard earned dollars in, and that’s 100% our right to have. I prefer a comic book store to have a friendly owner. One who has knowledge and is open to listening to knowledge you may have. I like a store that is clean, organized, and doesn’t smell like the bog of eternal stench. And lastly I like fair prices, deal making, and possible surprises. By surprises I’m not asking to find an Action Comics #1 in a dollar bin. I just like to find a $5 to $10 book in those bins from time to time. Dealers who spend too much time pricing back issues at $2.99 and $11.99 aren’t my kind of guys. I’m a huge fan of a store that has $1, $2, $5, and $10 boxes as well as everyone’s favorite “wall books”, and cover priced new releases.
What I can’t stand are people who pretend to know things about the subject matter. I’m sorry but I don’t want to hear the opinion of a pop culture fanboy or fangirl, who just saw Deadpool, and believes that they now have the secrets to the comic-verse. But my all-time biggest pet peeve; gamers. Not all gamers, but a specific legion of gamers. The people with zero shopping agenda. The ones that just hang out all day spewing filth and nonsense, while stinking the place up. Yes…gaming stores break me, but I digress.
All of the shops listed below are in Pennsylvania. I’ll list the city/town which they reside, and a very brief summary of what to expect when hunting these particular stores. Comic Masters in Whitehall, Pennsylvania will be my next deep dive into a LCS. I realize that to some I’ll come off as a comic book snob, and that’s okay. I also understand that many people completely agree with what I’m saying as well, and that’s cool too.
JAF Comics -Bethlehem, PA and Easton, PA
-JAF was my first feature LCS on CBSI and I stand by my thinking that it’s a quality shop. It boasts two locations, and both stores are extremely clean, and the staff are very friendly. You can read my entire review of it in my article archives. One critic was not happy with my personal review, so the best bet is to go to a store and experience it yourself.
White Dragon Comics -Tannersville, PA
-This shop has every new book from every publisher each week. A major downside is that it rarely gets “B” variants and doesn’t order enough to get any ratio variants. It also has only about six long boxes of back issues or “premium comics”. All are overpriced and most don’t belong in a priced accordingly box. The owner is a super nice guy though. One of my partners, who ranked these with me gave it a 2 ½ out of 5…I’ll have to agree.
Comics on the Green -Scranton, PA
-A fun shop in Scranton, PA. The owner is a great guy that really knows his stuff and will engage with his customers. New books; check. Back issues; check. Fair prices and some big boy books graded on the walls, and this is a shop that you should definitely check out. The shop also boasts a nice section of action figures and toys. My guys says 4 ½…I’d give it 4 beers.
The Portal Comics and Gaming -Bethlehem, PA
-Not much of a comic shop. No back issues, and only books that have come out in the past year or so. Caters much more to gaming, so much so that they have board games on top of their comic boxes. The staff doesn’t know much about comic books and the music is of, ugh, an acquired taste? My partner gave it a 2, I’m giving it 1 ½ and heading out. This is a shop that by no means should have “comics” in the title.
Steel City Comics and Games -Bethlehem, PA
-Clean shop. Well organized. Friendly owners. This shop took over Dreamscape Comics business. No easy task. Another shop that is much more of a gaming store. They do have some quality wall books, but the rest of the books are either overpriced, or just not worth it. I could see them dropping the comics from their title in the next year, which would be a shame, because the owners are former collectors. I’m giving it 3 out 5 beers. My buddy gave it 2.
Encounter -Allentown, PA
-Ahhh…this is a tough shop to grade. It has been in business for over 20 years, and the owner is one of the most knowledgeable guys that I know. The downside; he’s never there. I can’t deny this stores success. It has mastered the art of comic book/gaming store, but the minions run the asylum on this one. Two of the main staff there, know their stuff. I mean these cats have knowledge. Unfortunately, the shop is over run with gamers who come off as lackeys and drones. It has all of the new books each week, but they always up-charge or pull the “hot” covers. There are always some great comics in the store, but the quality of back issues has regressed over the last few years. My biggest issue is with the mass amount of people that are just there to hang out and BS. I can say that when I was younger this was my LCS. I moved away for a while, and when I came back, it was no longer my comic shop. It reeks of an odor that will stick to your clothes, and the staff are more concerned with talking to their friends then engaging with customers. The owner is a shark of the comic game and an awesome guy in the comic business. It’s just sad that he is rarely ever there. My guy says 3 ½ but I’m going to have to give it a 2 ½.
Comic Masters -Whitehall, PA
-Excellent shop with a knowledgeable owner. It’s been in the business a very long time and you instantly get a cool old school comic vibe when you walk in. The shop is in a dying mall, but it somehow manages to survive with loyalty of customers and a good clean atmosphere. You’ll read more on this shop in my next article.
Beachead Comics -Allentown, PA
-UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP. I say that because former did not have the greatest reputation. On the other hand, the new owner is AWESOME! What a good guy. He’s super friendly and really cares about what his customers think. The shop has a ton of back issues, albeit some are overpriced. He always orders a sound amount of new issues, and the shop is big and clean. A big downsize is the neighborhood. Very inner city and not particularly welcoming. It’s not ideal for a comic book store. I give this shop a stone cold 3 out of 5, my buddy agrees. We both think that it will only get better. I hope to dive deeper into this store in the future, as this is the type of owner, that really cares about your business.
Jaw-Dropping Collectibles -Allentown, PA
-This shop boasts some of the most beautiful busts and statues around. It also has some high grade comic books as well. The big problem; it’s stupidly overpriced. These prices don’t even make sense. Honestly, I’m still trying to understand it. You could literally go on ebay and find books the same condition but for a quarter of the price. Madness! Mix that with staff who aren’t very friendly or engaging, and I’m giving it 2 out of 5 beers. The other guy says 3.
Cloud City Games -Emmaus PA
-Decent shop. Big and clean. More gaming, but a ton of comic books. A lot of back issues, new issues, and graded comic books as well. It’s almost a 50/50 split, which leans towards gaming. Sadly, you can’t help but get the fanboy type feel from its staff. It’s a very hipster vibe, and the staff have strong opinions. The problem with those opinions is that they don’t coincide with comic book fact. Many occasions I’ve overheard them talking about “things that happened” in the comic books, which never ever happened. It’s a solid store…it just needs to figure out what its identity is. 3 out of 5 for both. A more knowledgeable and less nonchalant staff, and this is a real contender.
The Gamers Edge Comics and Games -Stroudsburg, PA
-Wow, what to say about this shop. No organization and only the smallest section of unorganized and overpriced comic books. Another one of those shops that should drop the “comics” in the name. I’m saying 1 out of 5…my associate says 1 ½.
Tales of Adventure Comics and Games -Coopersburg, PA
-Fairly certain this shop was opened by an employee that left the Encounter, but I could be mistaken. Another shop that has a great mix of comics/gaming. The staff aren’t very friendly and there aren’t many “deals” to be had as far as wall books are concerned. That being said, it’s a huge space that has a ton of comic books. Dozens and dozens of $2 comics and everything is organized really nicely. Back issues galore and all of the new books you need. This is what the Encounter use to be…and I look forward to possibly diving into this one deeper. It gets two 3 ½ out of 5 beers. Hell, you put those together and ya get yourself a solid buzz. If you’re 21 or older.
Classic Collections -Pottstown, PA
-This shop is unique. I believe it is run out of the owner’s home. Don’t let that scare you though. The owner is a great guy. This shop has the ultimate old school vibe to it. It’s just an awesome small town collectible shop that you have to stop at if you drive past it. Wall books, dozens and dozens of well-organized long boxes of back stock. It lacks new comics, and for me that’s about it. The owner has been around the block and met many of the greats. I was able to snag an awesome Dawn print right off of his wall. This is another shop I have on my “hunt again” list. The other guy gave it a 3 ½. I’m drinking 4 out of 5 beers, and hope to drink more soon.
Thanks for reading. I realize that some of us will have a difference of opinion, and that’s OK. As a long time comic buyer, I feel it’s fair for me to give my honest opinion. As I’ve stated before though, go to a shop and experience it yourself. Maybe you’ll find some treasure that I did not. As always, happy hunting and thanks for stopping by the City Supreme.