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The Geekly News: 18 May 2010

And on the 2nd day of starting this news summary – a veritable goldmine! But that’s about as much happiness one can glean from news like this. The Life! section in The Straits Times today covers the sudden closure of one of the oldest comics shops in Singapore, Comics Mart. Apparently it’s been closed for a while, I did hear a rumour from a friend, but I never did have the time to drop by to check out if it was true, and so it is. The closure of Comics Mart isn’t something that’s going to bring me to tears – having grown up in the east in Singapore my whole life, I only truly had a reason to visit it once, and if memory serves me… that day after spending a while in the shop (drooling like crazy, mind you) my friends and I adjourned to the nearby MacDonald’s to play a game of Vampire: the Masquerade (it could have been Werewolf: The Apocalypse). That’s as far as I got to in terms of being near Comics Mart – but trust me on this, Comics Mart is a legend around these parts. When they opened a few branches in more centrally located shopping centers I would definitely take a gander in (and then get disappointed by the lack of, strangely enough, comics) – and now those branches are gone too.

I suppose that was their downfall – overreaching in a possibly saturated market. I’ve seen 1 comic shop very dear to me close down about maybe 6 or 7 years ago, and many comic shops are no longer at their old locations, a victim of rising rents, or maybe just a changing market. Comics Mart (defunct), Comics Asylum (dead), Absolute Comics, Alaric’s Comics (website dead), Comics World (warning, loud music on geocities style website), Astronaut Comics (I think that was its name, deceased), My Comics Shop (dearly departed), Comics Art Gallery (done for) and of course G&B Comics – off the top of my head these were the few shops serving Singapore in the past 10 years or so. Having known the owner of a comics shop, and hearing about how it’s quite the dog eat dog world out there (a few friendships broken, and there was the huge USD conversion rate wars a while ago)… sometimes its surprising to see some shops last so long.

But to actually see Comics Mart fall is another thing altogether, especially in a time where comic book movies, and soon, comic book TV shows, are huge right now – it boggles the mind. But in the end, even a rock solid business will fall, whether its due to bad judgment calls, or a bad market.

So to Comics Mart – hopefully you will return, a symbol of the comics industry in Singapore. There are those looking to take your place, but old comic book fans will remember your name fondly, for sure.

An Aside: I find it strange that Nicholas Yong, a comic book fan of a good 16 years would consider G&B Comics “up-and-coming”. G&B Comics has been around for a good decade, coming at a point where a new wave of comics shops were opening – but new wave or not, G&B has weathered its own storms, especially during the time when it was offering a 1.4x conversion rate when the US Dollar was worth 1.7x… it definitely survived then, snapping at the heels of the Comics Mart behemoth – but even now I suspect it’s been hit hard, having to move from a nice cosy location in Bras Bashar to Rochor Center. Rising rents? Larger space? Well, I guess Nicholas Yong is out of touch, being left to borrowing TPBs from the library… perhaps then they could have found someone who was still a collector to write the piece? Just strange, I say.

EDIT: Nicholas has clarified his stance below. Thank Nicholas!

Another Aside: Today’s Today had a short article about Glee and gleeks – but that’s not the point here – tomorrow’s episode features Joss Whedon directing and Neil Patrick Harris acting. A must watch!

Yes, my scanner is still down. Enjoy the read!

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6 Comments

  1. To be honest, I heard something along the grapevine that they were going to close as well. They started offering pretty significant discounts and stuff, so it’s possible that Comics mart was liquidating.

    I had assumed that everything was going to be fine, and that Comics Mart would be back, either in a week or so or under new management, but not like this… closed down, lights out and with an article in the paper.

  2. Hi Alvin,

    Thanks for your feedback. I happened to stumble across your blogpost yesterday and thought I ought to respond to the points you raised.

    By “up and coming”, I was refering to GnB’s increased media profile and the number of writers/artists they have brought in over the last three years. For example, in 2007, Kurt Busiek and Gail Simone came for the Singapore Sun Festival. In 2008, it was Brian Bolland, Neil Gaiman last year, and now David Lloyd this year. While fanboys would certainly be familiar with GnB, I think it’s pretty fair to say that their increased media profile is exposing them to more members of the general public.

    I wouldn’t quite call myself “out of touch”. To clarify, in addition to borrowing stuff from the library, I still do buy comics (from Kino admittedly) and keep up with developments in the industry through my Wizard subscription. I’m much more of a Marvel fan than anything else, but I do read a fair bit of the indie stuff too.

    Regards,
    Nicholas

    1. Hey Nicholas,

      Thanks for clarifying your position. I personally have to admit that collecting weekly issues is a tough thing to keep up, even with the dropping USD, those TPBs are definitely a tempting alternative.

      And we do, in general, keep ours Marvel! Just don’t tell those DC fans.

      Cheers,
      Alvin

  3. Hi Alvin,

    Yes, and collecting weekly issues got even harder with the closure of Comics Mart! It was so near to my place….

    By the way, I will be covering the STGCC. You can expect to see several stories in Life! in the run up to and during the convention itself. Hope to see you there too!

    Regards,
    Nicholas

    1. Ouch, looks like the closure of Comics Mart really hit you hard.

      Cool! If not me, then the other 2 of us will be there all 3 days – maybe we’ll meet in the press room!

      Cheers!
      Alvin

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