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Good selection of large, indie and small press comics.
Forget the comic-book store clichés, so perfectly captured on The Simpsons--shoddy storefronts, cluttered aisles, clientele of sweaty, nervous dudes afraid to speak to one another, the whole enterprise overseen by corpulent hucksters rooking 12-year-old boys out of their allowance money. The industry crash in the 1990s, coupled with the economic catastrophes of today, have thinned the herd. The survivors are smarter, sleeker, more inclusive shops that cater not only to stalwart... More »
With a spacious, well-lit storefront along a strip of prime real estate just a stone's throw from the Guthrie, Big Brain Comics is a shining example of prospering nerdery. Whether you're coming to grab a trade paperback of Optic Nerve, the newest issue of Kick-Ass, or an armful of Swamp Thing and Spidey, Big Brain has you covered, and it can throw in enough Chris Ware collectibles to put you in the poorhouse. It's thrifty, it's exhaustive, and it's welcoming to the newcomer and the diehard... More »
We know a comic book fan who once sent a girlfriend into a local comic shop. No, it wasn't a practical joke; he was sure she'd be impressed by its selection of offbeat magazines. Big mistake. His friend returned verifiably creeped out. See, girly-bombs like her rarely make appearances in comic book shops, and apparently the hobbits couldn't stop themselves from leering. This was discouraging news indeed. Happily, recent visits to various comic shops have restored faith in the deportment of... More »
Support your neighborhood comic book shop, including the ones with the best selection (Dreamhaven) and the most experience (Nostalgia Zone). But go out of your way for the smaller, brighter, more compact Big Brain, that rare comics store in which obsession mingles with a flair for retail. Shelves are lovingly stocked with new product and organized like a good wine shop (with "new this week" and "recommended" cards dividing stacks of Japanese manga, Marvel superhero, and alternative comics).... More »
Dreamhaven has the most stuff (including a world-class selection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror books), while Nostalgia Zone offers vintage comics galore. But Big Brain's bright, cheery ambience and cultural relevance would have it in the catbird seat, even if the place's intelligent layout weren't so apparent. The temple of graphically enhanced narrative's resident proprietor, Michael Drivas, simply has the kind of mind given to organizing and displaying product--including a... More »
There's not a comic book collector alive who doesn't think the virginal, sublimely condescending comic shop owner on The Simpsons is funny--and sure enough, there's a cardboard cutout of the character on a shelf of D.C. graphic novels at this store. But Big Brain proprietor Michael Drivas is so not that guy. Offering his frank opinion on wares to anyone who asks, the former Dreamhaven manager seems willing to meet you at your own level of expertise (the word "geek" is stamped on each of the... More »
From Berkeley to Boston, Wednesday counts as the high point of the comic-book purveyor's week; it's the day when new shipments--and the customers who crave their contents--arrive. Hence, the preceding day tends to run a little turgid, except at Big Brain, whose "Tuesday Triple Threat" monkey-wrenches this otherwise-ironclad law of geekonomics. The deal? Buy two items from the shop's generous assortment of toys and get a third of equal or lesser value free. You can pick up, say, a pair of... More »
You want cheap treasure-hunting, go to Midway Books in St. Paul. You want a vast library of pricey collectibles, hit the Nostalgia Zone in Minneapolis. For Japanese sci-fi, your heaven is Dreamhaven Books in Uptown. But for an easily navigated, up-to-the-minute selection of mainstream and small-press comic books, no one beats Big Brain. The store has the latest post-Comics Code Authority superhero titles from Marvel, such as an update of the classic Seventies hero Powerman (a.k.a. Cage),... More »
We know a comic book fan who once sent a girlfriend into a local comic shop. No, it wasn't a practical joke; he was sure she'd be impressed by its selection of offbeat magazines. Big mistake. His friend returned verifiably creeped out. See, girly-bombs like her rarely make appearances in comic book shops, and apparently the hobbits couldn't stop themselves from leering. This was discouraging news indeed. Happily, recent visits to various comic shops have restored faith in the deportment of their employees. In every instance, expectations of surliness were erased by notably helpful clerks. Comic shop employees understand the labyrinthine lay of their land and are usually ready to help you navigate them or to recommend something new to read. So selecting a winner in this category was no "gimme." While most shops provide outstanding service and selection, they remain a bit dark and cluttered. Big Brain wins for two reasons. Its shelves are crammed the same as the others, but a visit to this open downtown shop feels more colorful than claustrophobic. And the sheer breadth and depth of its inventory makes it the Cities' best selection of new comics. You'll find whole sections bursting with superhero, independent, anime, and kids' comics. The toys, books, and magazines are judiciously limited and appeal to Big Brain's regulars. Go, bring a kid with you, and maybe even...a girlfriend.
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