My First Shop: Paul Cornell (Guest Column)

My first comic shop was Forever People in Bristol, which has long closed down. In the early 1980’s, it was an old school comic shop, in that it was also a temple of alternative culture, and my parents weren’t keen on the very hairy men who probably wanted to sell me illegal substances. But it also offered good service and a huge selection of stuff. It smelt the way shops that sell purple silks do. It was halfway up a hill, so just getting there, to my small legs, a huge heft from the train station, was a bit of a pilgrimage. 

All I was interested in was the bargain bins, where I could find back issues of Defenders, Marvel Two-in-One, and all the other fringe Marvel titles I used to love. This was where I first glimpsed underground comics, which to me then seemed bad and wrong: how could comics possibly contain people saying such rude things?! That was a mind expanding moment I’m quite pleased about, a feeling that so far one had only been paddling in the shallow end. I was also interested in multi-sided dice for Basic Dungeons and Dragons.

It was never a regular trip, just a few times a year as a treat. I got my regular comics through the post, and should never have ticked the box for ‘all issue ones’. Can you imagine some of the stuff I got sent? I can’t remember anything about the staff or culture around the shop, I was too young to notice, but it’s fondly remembered by the patrons of the Bristol comic conventions, and indeed made Bristol a bit of a hub for the British comic scene at a time when there were very few shops. (I also once set foot in Dark They Were And Golden Eyed in London. That was like Forever People times ten.) It was all fields around here back in my day.




  1. Oooo I like this new themed article. If you could get more famous writers/artists then this could get very interesting to read. ‘Come see the very first LCS Alan Moore has ever been too!’.

    Although I dont think Denfenders as much as underground. Wasnt that a really big title back in the day? Maybe you guys should also offer a contract to Cornell and get it over with. It’s obviously a match made in heaven. 🙂

  2. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Wonderful!  Paul’s a really standup guy.  Loved the special edition podcast he appeared on.  The more we hear from him the better, I say.  

    Loving these trips down memory lane!

  3. American Marvel titles weren’t as readily available in the UK as they were in the US.  They had Marvel UK, which were printing different versions of what we got.

  4. @josh: So Wolverine had a cockney accident? Or that Cable uses a Police Box to travel threw time?

    Man times must’ve been great then.

  5. I was at Bristol Uni during ’84-’87 (oh happy days!), I remember that shop very well.

    Bloody steep hill mind.

  6. As I read this, I heard Paul’s voice in my head from the interview he did a while back.  Stories are much better with a British accent.

  7. @TheNextChampion: A Cockney accident? Did he slip on some jellied eel?


    @Marbles: Forever People may have gone, but you’ve still got to trek all the way up Park Street if you want to find some decent comics. …If that is the hill you’re talking about. This is Bristol after all: leave a tyre on the ground anywhere in the city, it’ll roll.

  8. Ahhh yes.  The Forever People up Park Street.  Creepy old place, especially the creaky old staircase upto the sci-fi & fantasy section above.  Doctor Strange would probably have felt at home there. Left a big impression, although I bought most of my books in my hometown (place called Street!). It had what musta been one of the only comic bookshops to ever have been hidden away in the backroom of a gents barbers!  It felt kind of illicit, popping in for a short back and sides, and then popping out the back for ‘a little something for the weekend’, which for me usually meant a copy of Swamp Thing, Batman or Warrior. Aye, them woz the days. 

  9. There’s a good thread of UK/Ireland iFanboy folks over in the forums, in case you’re curious: