Mumbai gets its first comic book store and strives to forever delight fans and engage young readers in playful discovery
The superhero photo-op wall was a later addition to the store interiors that Sayed envisioned. Photos/Anurag Ahire, Sammohinee Ghosh
A bright yellow visual on a sweltering day isn’t the kind of escape this writer is looking for. But this time it was special. It was like answering a call from the funny ones – those English daily columns that she devoured as a child. While Captain Haddock, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy, Calvin and Dennis kept him company at the time, at one point “literary” readings interrupted the stream. This writer speculates that the rift resulted from the genre being considered “casual” by many. So when the city got its first physical comic book store, it was important to rekindle that passion.
Where is Stuart?
As the stalls of Linking Road go about their daily business, a bustling space titled The Comic Book Store stands out in yellow and green. When we walk in, it reminds us of a familiar location from the American television sitcom The Big Bang Theory (TBBT). Fans might be teased to seek out Stuart Bloom, who ran the Pasadena Comic Center on the show. This store, an almost exact reflection of this lair, is Hamza Sayed’s baby.
The Tardis escorts us, a wall of superheroes protects our entrance, gray shelves with wire mesh backs await carefree browsing, and posters of our fictional heroes tower above us. For the 25-year-old, it was his dream to create a common ground for fans to discuss and engage on their favorite tracks. “This location is perfect – it’s an upscale suburban area that can be accessed from most parts of Mumbai. Since we are showcasing popular culture to make it mainstream, the TBBT connection was unintentional,” he adds. he pointing to a sticker that reads, “Shoplifters will be sprayed.”
Stan Lee says hello to visitors from the window
Sayed, who found comics as an alternative to loneliness, has a clear business model: “I couldn’t find any sponsors; it was heartbreaking that investors were unaware of the culture and community these works wield. I funded my dream project with the clear idea of not mixing comics with graphic novels or merchandise.
We stock notable graphic t-shirts and stories, but we commit to single-issue comics. We guess it’s the canned mint feel that can be compromised with combined categories. Located near National College, students seem to have found a new adda to the store. Besides teenagers and young adults who are target readers, older customers also visit; other curious people walk around to discover the appeal of the shop and click on the images in the TARDIS.
Hamza Sayed holds a Thor poster next to a Thor #19 comic
Our eyes skim through a tip-top comic book volume from 1936, before moving on to Batman Catwoman, Something Killing Children, Nightwing, Old Lady Harley, BRZRKR, and Crimson. Our gaze stretch ends with The Immortal Hulk, Iron Man, and Avengers. Sayed sources from distributors in the United States. “Some vintage or novelty items were acquired from comic book stores and collectors around the world,” he reveals, adding that parents who accompany children are often shocked by their prices. Comics are expensive, but the purpose of such an initiative is also to familiarize people with a multi-layered format of literature. As we walk out of this local comiket, we drool over the window that says: Buy Stan Lee comic books.
Time: Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
At: Linking Road, Bandra West
Connect with @thecomicbookstore
>> It’s cosplay time: Sayed tells us he’s had a cosplay convention in mind for a long time, but he’s been waiting for the right time. “Whenever this happens, we will reward the most fascinating costumed actors with prizes [within our range] like a comic book of their choice,” he enjoys.
>> Free Subculture: Free Comic Book Day is an annual promotional concept in the comic book reading community. When things pick up, it will be a monthly affair at the store.
>> The Acquisition of Excelsior: Remember once Sheldon couldn’t meet Stan Lee at a signing event at Stuart’s boutique? With this special episode etched in our memory, expect a similar experience. Artist-illustrator Anand RK, who won an Eisner for his work in image comics, may soon pass for a signing. Sayed shares, “He lives in Mahim and I approached him before; he agreed to send some of his books as well.
My all time favorites
1. Detective Comics #27 (Batman’s first appearance)
3. Batman the Killing Joke
4. Batman Long Halloween
5. Return of the Dark Knight