Annual 2015: Graphic Novels, Comics, and San Francisco

This is a guest post from Trevor Calvert, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for ALA 2015 in San Francisco.

San Francisco is a literary city and as such a wealth of comic book stores merit a visit if you are eager to experience some of SF’s comic-book culture. Every year SF hosts the Alternative Press Expo highlighting local creators, and even has a Comic Art Museum which showcases both classics Golden Age shows all the way to hosting local-artist workshops. So let’s pack a light sweater (or maybe a cape?) and walk over to a few of these awesome spots!

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Our first stop is Isotope: The Comic Lounge; not only is the design of the store sweet, the comic selection great, but you can stop by it’s lounge–the first of its kind–where you can relax, put your feet up, and feel free to read some sequential narratives from their on-site library. If that isn’t enough to draw you in, its Special Project Director, Kirsten Baldock, is an Oakland Public librarian! Also, the owner is both a real person and a comic character.
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As we continue our journey, brave adventurers, let’s visit Mission Comics and Art. Proprietor Leef Smith knows a lot about comics. He also knows a lot about San Francisco, has traveled the world, and has a passion for fine art. These facets help make his Mission Comics a definite on your list of places to visit.  From his site:

“Leef’s intention is for “Mission: Comics & Art” to help facilitate a greater cross-pollution between the worlds of fine art and commercially produced sequential art i.e. comic books, re-contextualizing both and creating a new community focal point, both locally in the neighborhood, and in the larger artistic world.”

That his store is in the Mission district should not be overlooked: the Mission is a fantastic area in which to wander around, eat delicious food, and see some of the best San Francisco has to offer. If on Friday at 7:30 you are looking for something to do, Mission Comics is hosting writers Jeff Parker, Mike Tanner and Jef Burandt–all with new books with Oni Press!

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 8.45.25 AMIf your travels take you to the Castro district, be sure to check out Whatever: Get Your Geek On. They’re known not only for their great comic collection, but for their collectibles and figure collection. They’ve been around since 2006 and have a super friendly staff and, despite their non-committal store-name, completely love what they do.

While this store is not named after this famous aardvark in comics, it does reference the animal, so can be none other than Aardvark Books, home of Owen the Cat and countless used and new books (mostly hardcover). And while this is not a comic book store, it’s been open since 1978 and much beloved by many. Aardvark’s staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and if wandering a good bookstore (because they’re not classified in DDC or LCS) and petting friendly cats is your thing, then this is a must.

There are so many great bookstores, comic or otherwise, in San Francisco: Green Apple Books, City Lights, Booksmith, Borderlands (one of the best Science Fiction / Horror / Fantasy stores around–and in the Mission!) just to list a small few (not to mention across the bridge in Oakland). If you have the time, checking out the local bookstores (and maybe a few watering holes along the way) is one of the best ways to see this city. Be intrepid, curious, and inspired!

 

About Hannah Gómez

School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.
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