As bookstores struggle to stay in business in the age of Kindles and e-books, a comic bookstore stands out in the middle of the row of shops on Linking Road in Khar West. With an impressive collection – from Star Wars, Marvel, DC comics to indie comics – this store has proven to be a must visit for comic book fans.
“When I was growing up, there were no comic book stores around me. So instead of waiting for someone else to set up a specialty bookstore, I chose to do it myself- same,” said Hamza Sayyad, the store owner.
The 25-year-old was the only comic seller at Comic Con Mumbai in 2019. “We first started selling books from my living room. It was an online store operated by one person, one computer and with a small capital. All the comics would be lying around the room. During the lockdown, our sales increased. We have started receiving orders from all over India. It encouraged me to open the store,” he said.
The store, which opened in March 2022, offers a wide selection of comics from different genres – horror, time travel, adventure, among others. The shop also sells rare collectibles. “Our books are authentic since we buy them directly from distributors,” Sayyad said.
With Stan Lee’s iconic face adorning the facade, bold lettering and bright yellow exteriors, the store is hard to miss. Inside there are three walls of indie, Marvel and DC comics, with each wall dedicated to a specific genre. The upper shelves hold vintage issues and signed copies by notable comic book creators such as Stan Lee and Alex Ross.
The store also sells clothing and posters.
Managing the bookstore, however, comes with its own set of challenges. Sayyad said, “Comics are susceptible to water and transport damage.”
Sometimes the authentication certificate is removed during transit.
Asked if pirated comic book sites pose a threat, Sayyad said, “Piracy is a growing concern, but very few titles are available online. If someone is chasing a particular story, they may not find all the issues online.
He added that he is convinced that a dedicated comic book reader will always prefer a physical copy to a pirated one.
The store offers titles that will appeal to readers of all ages and are reasonably priced. The starting price of comics such as The Avengers, Power Rangers and True Believers is Rs 99. Sought after graphic novels such as Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen (the international edition), Deathnote and others cost around Rs 1,000.
Sayyad, who has also opened a company called The Comic Book Store, is working on introducing a monthly subscription service. This will provide digital comics to customers who don’t have access to the store, he said. It also plans to open a new store in Bangalore by the end of this year.