Comic book havens

If you look at the roster of the biggest, most anticipated films in recent years, it reads like a who’s who of comicdom. What was once a secret club of freaks and geeks has blossomed, creating some of the most memorable, and popular, stories worldwide. And quite frankly, it’s about time. But before they were movies, they were comic books, and nothing quite compares to the feeling of perusing the shelves of your local comic book store.

With Miami’s own Florida Supercon swooping down upon us, we thought it might be nice to give a shout out to the fearless men and women who keep our tights pressed and capes flowing throughout the year. Let’s explore some of our favorite local comic book shops.

Villains Comic Book Shop: Since villains have more fun, let’s start with the venerated Villains Comic Book Shop at 1788 NE 163rd Street in North Miami Beach. It’s been around for decades, and in the 90’s, was right around the corner from the now defunct Blue Note Records. Punk rock records and comic books were the perfect combination to drain away ill-gotten teenage funds. The record store may be gone, but Villains remains, tucked away and easy to miss, but definitely worth seeking.

The Goblin’s Heist: Further south lies a more recent addition to South Florida’s comic book scene, The Goblin’s Heist in Hialeah Gardens at 9160 NW 122 Street. And though the store may be new, owner Juan Navarro has been around. An illustrator and writer, he’s also the co-founder of Creature Entertainment. We recently profiled him along with four others making comics in South Florida. Navarro wanted to make a comic book shop where everyone can feel cool jumping into comics, whether they’re just starting out, or have iron-clad geek cred. “We’re not exclusive and we won’t judge you for your preferences,” Navarro says. “We are here to help you and keep you revved up about it.”

The Goblin’s Heist happens to be located within the Dapper 13 Tattoo Parlor, so it seems completely reasonable to pick up some comics and get that Deadpool tattoo you’ve always wanted while you’re there. Both the comic book shop and the tattoo parlor will be at Supercon this weekend. 

Korka Comics: If gaming is more your style, Korka Comics at 10562 S.W 8th Street in Miami has what you need. Specializing in more than comics, they have a huge selection of tabletop games, cards, and collectibles, with frequent gaming tournaments to test your skill. And they’ll welcome you even if you still like Pokémon, with an active Pokémon league, where, yes, you can still catch them all.

Tate’s Comic’s: But if you simply must have a little bit, or a lot, of everything, there’s always Tate’s Comics. Walking into Tate’s feels like walking into a living, breathing work of art. Launched in 1993 by Tate Ottati when he was just 17, with money he earned from buying stock in Marvel while still in high school, it’s grown into a powerhouse. The main store is at 4566 N. University Drive in Lauderhill, and trust us when we say it’s worth the drive. This mega shop has everything, from an enormous selection of graphic novels and wall after wall of comics, to obscure collectibles and rare toys from every era, to a whole section of Japanese candy, just for fun. There’s even the Bear and Bird Boutique+Gallery upstairs, where geek meets fine art, with original paintings and sculptures from artists near and far. And Tate’s pays special attention to indie and self-published comics as well, especially local ones, because there’s more to sequential storytelling than superheroes. If that’s not enough, right next door is Tate’s Gaming Satellite, specializing in cards and tabletop games, and Tate’s recently opened yet another location at 801 North Congress Avenue, Suite 604, in Boynton Beach.

A & M Comics: Of course, everything has to start somewhere, and in Miami, it all started at A & M Comics at 6650 S.W. Bird Road. It’s Miami’s longest-running comic book store, carrying all manner of comics and collectibles since 1974. It’s a cramped paradise of nostalgia, crammed with not just comics, but used records, vintage toys, rare books, and antique figurines. It’s a taste of vintage Miami from the geek perspective, run by the unforgettable Jorge Perez, who started working at A & M as a summer job that turned into a lifetime passion.

And in the end, it’s that sort of passion that drives people back into comic book shops when digital options like Comixology can make physical stores feel like a throwback. People come to them to come together. “The successful ones are the ones that help people come together around what they love,” Navarro explains. “The truth of the matter is, you can get a lot of this stuff cheaper online, but you’ll miss the chance to connect and find real gold on the shelves, and characters and stories you’ll love. It’s the comic shops’ job to curate that and usher that in. It’s an exchange beneficial for everyone. Once customers become part of something bigger, then you’ve made something more than a business. That’s a community.”