By Courtney Key
This week we’re profiling Zanadu Comics in Seattle, which was suggested by our very own Stephanie Cooke. It turns out I’ve actually been to Zanadu myself, during a conference visit to Seattle back in the spring. It was just after the Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie came out, and the staff was very helpful in giving me guidance about which trades to read to get more of Bucky’s story, so I can second Stephanie’s recommendation.
“Manager Monkey” Casey, who delightfully signs his emails CASEY!, was kind enough to answer a few questions about what makes Zanadu special and send along some photos of the shop.
Shop Name: Zanadu Comics
Location: 1923 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98101
@zanaducomics on Twitter
Zanadu Comics on Facebook
Zanadu Comics Youtube channel
Zanadu Comics on Instagram
How long has your shop been open?
39 years (1975)
Do you focus strictly on comic books, or do you sell other things? Do you focus on a particular type of comic (ex. indie vs. Big 2 comics)?
We focus mainly on comic books and comic related items including new comic books, back issues, graphic novels, manga, toys, statues, posters, and an ever growing local/indy section primarily featuring work from Pacific Northwest creators. With our customer base as diverse as the population of Seattle, we strive to stock a rather large amount of non- “Big 2” comics and graphic novels. It has never mattered to us who publishes the comic—if it looks good and we think it will appeal to even one of our customers—we’ll carry it. We do, of course, carry lots and lots of Super-Hero stuff for the more traditional reader as well.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to new readers, diverse readers, and women entering and feeling comfortable in a comic shop, and/or reading comics in general?
The bottom line is that whether you are woman, man, meat popsicle, or other, comic books can be confusing, overwhelming, and downright intimidating for those not versed in the strange customs of comicbookery. The industry has spent so many years “inbreeding”—catering to a fixed fan base using recycled content—that it was hardly ready for the massive influx of new readers over the past decade. It has only recently conceded to the fact that its fan base consists of more than just white males.
What has your shop done to encourage new readers to come in, and to develop new comic readers? Do you have any events reaching out specifically to women, minorities or LGBT readers?
First, we try to provide a welcoming and open atmosphere for all of our customers—regular and casual reader alike—and to assist customers in whatever way possible to make the comic reading experience easier. As for events, we host a monthly discussion group where readers of all degrees can come by to chat about comics and eat junk food. We shoot weekly recommendation videos, entitled “Comics Should Smell Good,” highlighting a sampling of titles to help our customers sort through the avalanche of new books that come out every Wednesday. We recently hosted our first Ladies’ Night, and it went over so well that we plan to make it a recurring event. Our store has been welcoming to the LGBT community from its inception in 1975. Unfortunately, the comic book industry (like most industries) has been slow to catch up (or on) and most LGBT comics are still stuck online.
Does your shop engage in any activities to involve the wider community in your city and make them aware of comics?
We provide comics for the King County libraries and the King County Juvenile Correctional Facility. We also partner with local businesses from time to time to cross promote with coupons or other specials.
Tell us anything else you think is special about your shop.
The love of comic books is a treasure we try to share with all of our customers. It permeates all that we do. We always try to introduce people to lesser known comics that deserve more recognition. Our local/indy section is the largest in town, and we really try to stock items that are individualistic and expressive of the local culture and the vast amount of creativity here in the Pacific Northwest. Most of all, we want to make Zanadu a respite from the normal world, a side step into a dimension of untold wonders.
Do you know of an awesome local comic shop you’d like us to spotlight? Get in touch via the comments below, the “Comic Shop Spotlight Recommendations” thread on the forum, or email me with the subject line “Talking Comics LCS Spotlight.” Please include the shop’s website or social media account, and a brief description of why you think the shop deserves to be featured here on Talking Comics.