I woke up one morning and had a dream... Could I own every single issue of Detective Comics, Batman and all of the other subtitles in the Gotham universe?
Insane? Stupid? Inspired?
This can only end in obsession and financial chaos.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Quest goes to Cardiff

Me and Cardiff and comic books have a long and happy relationship.
For me it is the finest town outside of London for buying back issues of comic books. This was a discovery I made when I was about thirteen years old, and every year I have returned and spent a small fortune at various retailers since.

So to put it all in context, I had a birthday bash to attend and I decided that seeing I wouldn't be anywhere near this part of the world for best part of the year it would be an excellent chance to pick up some stuff for the collection. I knew that a lot of hole in the Batman Quest would be filled as a result of this visit.

If you ever decide to go to South Wales on a comic binge, I hope that this Blog entry will help you greatly, as will any other towns I intend to visit in the coming years.

So, I start my day by not going to Cardiff at all, but going to a town 10 miles away called Newport. Negative Zone Comics is brilliantly situated in The Provision Market. I love this market stall, lots of back issues, lots of Batman and lots of other things. And I love the banter that the owner has with his regulars and his neighbouring stall-holders. Nobody here is short on advice and have opinions on all and any subjects, makes the retail experience here a lot of fun.

Getting to Cardiff, I park up and head directly to Troutmark Books that can be found in Castle Arcade. A three floor, super-rammed bookshop that has been in business for years. This place is an Aladdin's cave of mainly second hand books, and has a thrilling number of fairly new, second-hand comic books. I absolutely adore this place, and over the years have spent hundreds of pounds on Batman, Punisher, 2000AD and Incredible Hulk comics. All the stock is realistically priced (and this is part of the reason I love this place, they always have a bargains and those bargains add up as you find even more bargains...) and I walked out of their door distinctly poorer.

I have a look in Forbidden Planet International, on Castle Street (about a minute away), usually I can only handle the place for about thirty seconds. I know that there is no back issues here, but I usually find it pokey and dark. Not dark because there is too much stock. No dark, because they never seem to be arsed to change any dead lightbulbs. But I suppose that this is a common issue that I have with the entire Forbidden Planet International chain (as opposed to the other Forbidden Planet, for an explanation click here), they just seem to be happy to have a grim shopping experience. Well, at least they stock cheap comic boxes.

Heading through the Cardiff Indoor Market via the Book Store that is there, I have a quick look at the longboxes that he has. This book trader seemingly concentrates just on Marvel books, which isn't the itch that I'm trying to scratch.

A long walk is then undertaken, past the train station (I avoid The Comic Guru, opposite the Bus Station - stock is too new and too expensive), under the train tracks and I embark on a new discovery! Because of The Batman Quest, I have to find new shops that might carry stuff that I might not already have, and a week before I happened upon a blog that mention Cardiff Fantasy Centre hiding away on the first floor of Jacob's Antique Market. And what a place!

Now, I never knew that this place existed, and while I only spent a couple of quid there in the end, I will always make a point of returning there. Two reasons why. One, all their stock is reasonably priced, and they have serious selection of back issues. Two, the fellow running the store was really impressive- not only did he know everything in the entire universe about comics, he genuinely wanted to try and help me. I was so caught up chatting to him, I had to actually apologise to him when I had to leave the store in order to make a lunch date.

In short, Cardiff is excellent for buying comic books. And visiting Troutmark Books and Cardiff Fantasy Centre are highly recommended as they sell their decent stock of back issues at a price point that isn't designed to bankrupt you!