I love comic books. I read fewer of them an I used to, but they are still part of my pop-culture diet. My tastes have changed over the years, from being a wee child into Goofy, Richie Rich and Lil Archie, which eventually turned into an interest in Batman, and then my teenage fascination with the X-Men.
This will date me, but in the old days I would find my comics at grocery stores like Rosauers, and beg my mom for a .25 cent purchase or two. I draw, so I loved seeing the different art styles. And the stories were my escape. With Marvel especially, the characters were as real to me as the people on my mom's soap operas, or in my dad's westerns. Serialized storytelling kept me coming back for more each month. I had to know what happens next.
Eventually, and for whatever reason, comic books started fading out at mainstream retail outlets, and direct-sales comic-book shops began popping up. Imagine: a store that sold nothing but comic books! Geek heaven.
In Spokane there was The Comic Rack, right next to the Fox Theater. What a perfect one-two punch that was. "Hey, mom, can we go see a movie? And go to The Comic Rack?" We lived in the Spokane Valley, so a trip downtown was a big ask (I know this now that I'm older). But she indulged me.
The Comic Rack was small. It took very few customers to make it feel crowded. But they had every comic book you could think of. And I was introduced to independent comic-book publishers, whose books were filled with stories not being told by the super-hero dominated comic scene.
I loved an action/adventure book from Mike Grell called Jon Sable, Freelance. The people were realistic, not overly muscular. They drank. They bled. And they had (PG-Rated) sex. Don't tell my mother.
For a long time, The Comic Rack was an an anomaly in Spokane, but today the city is blessed with a few really great stores, which you'll encounter in the list below. The Comic Rack no longer exists, which makes me kind of sad. It was my favorite place on earth for that short window of time. Each of the stores you're about to read about are that special place for somebody.
Let's get to it. Avengers, assemble!