The shops keeping Miami’s comic culture alive and well

The comic book industry has gotten lit these past few years, but how has Miami risen to the occasion to meet the needs of this niche nerd market? We amateurs on the scene visited some of the city’s choice comic book shops to get the lowdown before Miami Book Fair’s Destination: Comics this weekend.

A & M Comics
You’ve probably driven by a slightly amateur superhero mural on the corner of 67th and Bird – Well, that’s A&M Comics, Miami’s oldest comic book store, dating back to 1974. The fairly small and faded storefront deceives the store’s overflowing interior: an amalgamation of new and vintage comics, records, action figures, and other comic culture collectibles strewn throughout the shop. Despite its size, you could easily spend hours perusing the shop’s stacks and crowded shelves. Just prepare to get friendly; the shop’s narrow aisles and nooks and crannies keep customers close.

Gauntlet Comic Books
Consider Gauntlet home to the committed collector. While you’ll have no problem scoping out the latest trending titles, trading cards and accessories, the shop’s known for investment and speculation comics — the kind of stuff that gets sent to verification companies or signed by original story writers, and sealed before it gets put on the shelf. Unlike some smaller shops, Gauntlet offers the option to purchase online and has a pretty big presence at convention shows. Since opening its doors in North Miami, Gauntlet’s unveiled another location in Kendall and is expecting to open another soon — a sign that Miami’s collector scene is breaking out of its niche market and that comics culture is here to stay.

Mac’s Comics & Collectibles
Nestled in the heart of Westchester, Mac’s is more of a “new bookstore” where die-hards can stay on top of weekly releases from all major comic book publishers, and newcomers are welcomed with a free comic book from the discount bin (in exchange for a mention on the shop’s Facebook page). You won’t really find the high-end collectables here, or the vintage stuff either, but that’s not why customers come to Mac’s: Regulars come back for the consistency and the familiar faces. The shop’s clean, convenient, and impeccably organized, so you know what you’re getting every time around.

Books & Books
Now, hear us out. We obviously know Books & Books isn’t a comic book store, but there’s no denying its small but mighty Comics & Graphic Novels section. What you’ll find here are a combination of staples and more obscure titles by contemporary graphic novelists. And what the beloved local bookstore lacks in vintage collectibles, it makes up for in frequent book signings, readings, and, for instant reading gratification, its petite cafe.

 

Miami Book Fair’s Destination: Comics is two days worth of programming, panels, and events on visual storytelling, comic books, and graphic novels, presented by Miami Dade College, on Saturday, Nov. 19, and Sunday, Nov. 20.

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