UPDATE: We are now hearing that the business will remain open in 2015, with the closing date pegged at 30 June 2016 unless something changes. Thanks to Simon Smith for checking this out for us..
UPDATE 2 (6 Nov 2015): This story has gone viral, and The Brag and The Daily Telegraph are now running pieces on it. According to the latter, COMIC KINGDOM manager Clayton Wildridge “said the store would continue to trade until existing stock was sold. However, our sources tell us that the store is closing down over a period of 3 months.
Read on below for our original story.
Another one bites the dust. Several sources have reported that Sydney’s oldest comic book store, COMIC KINGDOM, will be shutting its doors after decades in the business. It’s part of a trend that only sees a handful of such stores left open in Sydney.
A staple on the Sydney scene since the 1980s, COMIC KINGDOM‘s distinctive visage at its Liverpool Street location is known for its eclectic display of pop culture items in the front window, and even more diverse range of memorabilia inside. The ground floor was an assortment or ‘stuff’ from television, film, comics and beyond, while the upper floor contained new releases, collections, toys, valuable issues, and an impressive back-issue stockpile room with issues dating back to the 1960s and 1970s.
Owner Steve Smith’s store started off as the Bondi Book Exchange in Bondi Junction in the early 1980s, before COMIC KINGDOM opened another store that fans may recall was on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Liverpool. Then offshoot Comics and Cards found a home on Market Street, one that took advantage of the card collecting boom of the 1990s. COMIC KINGDOM eventually bought the multi-tiered building on Liverpool Street , consolidating its collections into one store. It has remained in the area of Sydney now known as ‘the Spanish Quarter’ until now.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, COMIC KINGDOM was part of a vibrant comics community that inhabited the Sydney CBD. Kings Comics, now in a prime location on Pitt Street, once occupied an underground section below street level location in Elizabeth Street across the road from Comics and Cards, with other locations such as Moore Park’s Fox Studios (now the Entertainment Quarter) no longer around. Down on George Street, just around the corner from COMIC KINGDOM, was the epically named The Land Beyond Beyond. As a young lad first getting into comics, this writer spent many an hour of his misspent youth making the trek between these four locations to hunt down bargains or seemingly rare and exciting issues.
Never as flashy as the brightly lit and socially engaged Kings Comics, even the most ardent of Sydney comics fans would argue that COMIC KINGDOM had seen better days. The front display’s manually placed “6” over the original “Open 7 Days” sign has been a long-standing indicator of those finer times. The creaky stairs that led from the street-level doorway flanked visitors with Eeerie and Punisher posters from a more successful time for the store. There was always a sense that you were merely visiting someone else’s spare room, a potential hoarder in the making, but inevitably went home with items that you wouldn’t have bought in any other circumstance. A recent trip looking for a current issue instead yielded The Amazing Spider-Man: Parallel Lives graphic novel from 1989 and a copy of Walt Simonson’s 1983 book Star Slammers.
For Sydney comics fans, it is far from the end of collecting. The aforementioned Kings remains a staple in the city and at the growing convention scene, while the nearby Books Kinokuniya keeps us in bountiful amounts of trade paperbacks and collections. Liverpool’s The Comic Shop still sells current single issues, as does Paramatta’s The Phantom Zone and relatively new plater Superhero Comics in Newtown. There’s also Arcadia Unbound over in Kingsgrove, a shop with arguably the biggest painted doors in all of comic book store history.
So long, COMIC KINGDOM. We may not have visited you as much as we should have, and perhaps we always took you for granted. Yet you will leave a hole in the scene, one that we hope is filled by other keen collectors of ‘stuff’.