My First Shop: LCS Prime

When I think about my regular visits to my local comic book shop, I realize that this routine really is one of the real consistent “rituals” that I’ve maintained over the years. You know what? It wasn’t until I around the time I saw the slogan on the, “How long until Wednesday?” that I realized that comics came out every Wednesday! It all came together when I had an audition near my store on Wednesday afternoon and found the store to be just a madhouse — all of the new comics were stacked on the counter, and people were gathering in line, picking up specific issues from each stack, paging through them, talking with each other as they made their way to the cash register. There were more people in the store than I had ever seen, when I remarked about the crowd to the owner, he just laughed, “This is what we do, man!” Now I try to make it to the store on Wednesday whenever possible.

The ritual was a long time in coming, but as I discussed last week, my fondness for the comic book shop environment has been with me since I was a little kid. Conor checked out a draft of last week’s article and asked me if it was my entry in the “my first comic book shop” series. It was not, of course, but I figured I might as well throw my hat in the ring. So, I write this out as I fly to Chicago, trying to really remember how my life was like before I found out about Wednesdays, bags, boards and variant covers.

At first a visit to the comic store was a result of parent-child bribery. Like any self-respecting boy, there were a few things that I just wasn’t down with. Good handwriting, vacuuming the house and… getting a haircut — homey (me) just didn’t play that. I just hated getting a haircut. I’m not sure why, but I think it might have been because I never knew how things were going to actually turn out; I had thick braces on my teeth and thicker glasses on my nose, and when I got my hair cut, I had to take off those glasses and just try to squint to see how bad the haircut was going to be (this was the 70s; kids got really lame haircuts then… though I bet you now they are hip) — I’ve been legally blind since I was really, really young, so I couldn’t actually see the haircut taking place! 

Well, for whatever reason, I hated getting a haircut, but near one of the barbers was a comic book store. So, when we were done, my dad would take my brother and me to the shop and we were allowed one book apiece.

Now, this is where things get kind of hazy. I had a few options as a kid, I mentioned Comics and Comix before, but there was a small shop in the Sunset District (this is all in San Francisco) that I know my dad took me to a few times after haircuts and particularly bad dentist appointments. It’s sad, really, that I can’t remember what the place was called.

I remember one visit pretty vividly. I was in pain, I think either I had my braces tightened up or some fillings put in or a particularly bad bowl haircut, but all was, like, Not Right. I remember my dad taking me into the store, it was on a corner, and I remember him talking to the owner about something and her just chuckling and telling him that I was going to be fine. It’s those echoes of conversations that you overhear as a kid, you know? For whatever reason, I remember her paying attention to me as I walked, so slowly, up and down these aisles. They were higher then, as a kid, remember? At the height, comic stores were basically made of comics.I will always remember seeing this one Daredevil cover (I looked for it — dammit — I couldn’t find it!) and how it just looked so scary and “adult” (I think I’ve mentioned this concept before) that I ended up choosing another book (most likely Iron Man) and found out later that the issue I had avoided was apparently a Major Book and that if I had bought it, it would have been “worth something.”

But at that age, I had no clue — I had no clue as to even what the numbers meant, you know? For me, it was all about — all about — the cover. Now that many of us are older, I think it’s easy to dismiss the covers, especially if we are collecting the comic itself. We know we are going to buy the comic, so we look at the cover, we judge it to be bad, good, great or just whatever, and we focus on the contents of the book. (The relationship we have with covers will have to wait for a future article, I am already spiraling dangerously off topic.)

I remember the sunlight, the covers on the shelves and I remember my dad being rather impatient with waiting for me to choose and I remember being a little irritated in turn (I was in pain, dads should not rush their kid’s comics purchase if said kid is in pain, I knew this to be true) but eventually I got the issue and we left the store.

I think that is my earliest comic store memory. While it’s basically a collection of images with only the slightest echoes of narrative, that’s the one. Amazing Adventures? No idea what it was named. Many years ago I went driving through the Sunset district looking for the shop and had to give up — those of you in San Francisco know why; it’s just too big an area to look for a small corner shop that probably closed many years ago.

There were other shops as I got older; San Francisco is a good city for comic shops. When I was a kid I used to go to Comics and Comix on Irving. It was pretty basic, I remember lots of black wire shelving and cabinets with t-shirts and posters on the wall. The “best” store in the Bay Area, however, was the Comics and Comix in Berkeley (that’s it to the left, notice the funky font). This was where we went in high school whenever one of the few guys I knew who could drive could borrow their parents car. It was exotic; you got cross the Bay Bridge, you got to eat at Blondie’s Pizza, and the store itself just seemed to have Everything. Comics, games, magazines, manga and anime (much, much harder to come by in those days)… but we were so broke we often just walked through it and never actually bought anything. But it was still fun.

I find it somewhat poignant that my first visits to comic stores started with my dad (and, very rarely, my mom, who would usually buy me two comics — she is so rad), then my friends, and now, for the most part, by myself. Perhaps this is why I have been feeling so grateful for discovering the community I’ve been so lucky to be a part of for the past few years. When I lived in New York, I never even knew that people could hang out in comic book stores, you know? It was just you, the stacks, and the grumpy guy behind the counter. Maybe I am just more actively looking for it, but I am sensing that many stores are doing more events and signings to bring people together. Comics are great, you know? However, reading comics with no one else around reminds me of traveling by yourself; totally fun and rewarding, but sometimes it’s just more fun to share the experience with someone else. 

Next time I am in the San Francisco, I think I will have to take my dad to Isotope and introduce him to James and the crew. I think he would get a kick out of it. Maybe I’ll buy him a book, too.

What about you? When you get a second, think — really think — about your first memories of that first comic shop. What do you remember first?

Total, Absolute, Unrelated Side Note: Did any of you read that Teen Titans: Year One #6?! Man, oh man. If I had bought that when I was seven years old, even I would have realized what an utter waste of money that issue was. Usually I can find something of value in even the most utterly frustrating comic read, but man, for some reason that issue just really, really let me down. It was like a series of meaningless dream sequences (I know they weren’t, but they might as well have been)… they should have just ended the series at #5. Grunt.


Mike Romo is an actor and writer (not always in that order) who lives in Los Angeles. He’s kinda sad that all of his childhood comic book stores are no longer around. You can write him at



  1. love these, also enjoyed you bashing to Teen Titans: Year One

  2. "Mikey, you’re going to the dentist today.  Don’t give me any grief."


    "I don’t understand.  Dentists are awful.  Why are you overjoyed?"


    "That’s so…Freudian."

    "You mean Pavlovian, Dad."

    "Just get in the car." 

  3. My first comics memory involved a rather unfortunate barber accident. I’m guess I was maybe 4 or 5 and my mother took me to the neighborhood barber shop, Sam’s, where I always got my hair cut. Sam the Barber was, at the time, maybe in his 2,000s – like really, really old. When you’re four, you have no say over what kind of ‘do you rock, so the barber was using the really, really short trimmers around my ears and that sideburn area. Maybe he slipped, maybe he crapped himself, maybe he had a Revolutionary War flashback, I don’t know, but he went to go from front to back, over the ear, with the clipper and managed to nearly shear my right ear from my head. To this day, my right ear is slightly less attached than my left ear.

    Needless to say, it hurt like a son of a bitch. There was blood – I was 4; I had no concept of what this gooey red stuff was and why it was coming out of my face. My mother, in her infinite wisdom, told Sam the Butcher Barber, ‘Ahh, just clean him up and put a paper towel on it. He’ll be fine.’ Yeah, that explains a lot.

    Apparently, Sam felt worse than my mother and gave me a few coverless comics he had lying around the shop. I don’t know what issues they were, but I distinctly remember one had a werewolf or some kind of creature. Could have been one of the myriad of horror comics that came back in the 70s, but I wish I knew. That book is long gone, but I sure wish I remembered more about it.

    So it took a maiming to get me into comics. 

  4. @Dan – That’s awful. Poor guy, you nearly lost ear. Brings up a good point about how a lot of kids might first get exposed to comics though, through injuries or ailments. I think it was only tonsils, but I was 7 the first time I ever got some comics of my own, one of those tri-packs of back issues from a hospital gift shop. Mighty Mouse, Batman, and The Punisher were a nice distraction.

    @Mike – Pops got me into the books, and was always the one to pick up comics for me. These days, I’ve extra issues of Justice League, and Avengers on my pull list for him. It’s got a real "the circle is complete" feel to it. 

  5. Back in my teenage years, there was no local comic shop near me. once a year or so, my family would make a trip to Cambridge(outside of Boston) and my sister and I would go to million year picnic(now that I work in cambridge, I go almost once a week) and buy back issues of Elfquest. I remember my parents being very supportive of my comics habit, Even though I’m sure it drove them absolutely crazy. Once I was hooked, when ever my family would visit a new city, I would insist that we go to a comics shop there. My sister and I would crack open the hotel yellow pages and search for the comics store with the best add and then badger my folks til they took us to it. To this day, my collection has comics(mainly Robin) that I purchased in Alaska and everywhere else we went. good times.

  6. i love these articles it makes me appreciate my first LCS even more

  7. Ok Mike it appears that we had similiar tastes in shops beack then.  For m in the 70’s, it was Comics and Comix in Berkeley, and right down Telegraph Ave. was Best of Two Worlds, and in Oakland there was Graphic Fantasy Comic Shop.  Those were good times to be a young reader, once Graphic Fantasy closed down I was at Comics and Comix for my books every week until I left for college in ’86.  I still remeber staff picks and recommendations, Ann turned me on to books like "Thriller" and "Watchmen" and later Big Mike defined the term "fanboy" for me, had no clue at the time, I miss that place.

  8. This is kind of sad, but I can’t remember how exactly I got into comics.  I remember my first store, and I remember riding my bike and going there regularly to buy books.  For the life of me, I can’t remember what first got me there.  Ugh.  I’m going to have to ask my parents…

  9. I didn’t find my first comic shop until I was about 12 years old & I had no idea they even existed (before then I got my comics very very inconsistantly from different places) & I found the comic shop by accident. When I was old enough to get public transport on my own, I found a huge comic shop about 30 minutes from my house by train & I thought it was heaven. All these comics? And they keep comin’ out every month? Plus back issues??? I couldn’t believe it.

  10. great responses, guys, k5blazer, that’s great someone else remembers those stores!


    isn’t it weird, though, when you just straight up can’t remember something?  scares me…


    finally back online..I got through a ton of unread books while on the road and now I just wonder…why do I buy so many books I only read once?


    another article, I guess.


    have a great weekend,