All Star Comics
Comic books are no longer for dorks. They're cool, they're engaging and they're seriously turning on some of the hottest actors and producers in Hollywood. However, it is often difficult to find a store with progressive ideas and a funky atmosphere to match the awesomeness of what they sell. Thankfully for Melbourne, this obstacle no longer exists since the opening of All Star Comics Melbourne just over four weeks ago.
"We don't necessarily want to be seen just as a comic book store," explains co-owner Mitch Davies. "Right from the get-go, we wanted to look at this place as a good and interesting retail space. It's one thing to be a comic book store, which is great and obviously where we're focusing, but at the same time if we can be a cool store where people that don't even care about comics can come and say, 'Hey that's actually a really cool place' then that's awesome".
All Star Comics Melbourne (ASCM) is co-owned by Mitch Davies and Troy Varker, both of whom have over ten years comic book retail experience. They brought business ideas that were formulated whilst working in the industry to ASCM in order to elevate the standard of comic retail in Melbourne. One feature that distinguishes ASCM from other retailers is their extensive use of social media, which has helped update the industry into the Internet Age. "Something that was important to us right from the start was the involvement of the multimedia aspect. At the point of us opening, nobody else was really utilising it. If we can communicate to fans about things that are actually happening within the store relating to stock or events, at least you're reaching more people and making them feel like they're involved. The community aspect is paramount to us; it's ridiculously important," says Mitch.
ASCM's unveiling was timed perfectly, as the local comic scene is on a run that makes Charlie Sheen look like a droopy-eyed armless child. "Within the time of us opening, people have been saying that a lot's happened in the space of a month within the Melbourne comic book scene," Mitch says. Here, he is referencing the launch of production company FEC Comics as well as the Big Arse Comic Book Launch a few weeks back. The positive reception to Non-Canonical Comic Podcast's presentation of Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods at the Australian Centre For The Moving Image highlights the overwhelming interest in comic book culture in Melbourne, and ASCM places an emphasis on contributing to and assisting this culture. "One of our main features was to be respectful to the community that buys stuff from us, and to try and embrace that and give a little back," says Mitch. Troy further emphasises their commitment to supporting up-and-coming creators. "We like the idea that we can actually help out local writers by giving them a place where they can bring in things to sell or just even promote it through the social media and just make people aware of what they're doing".
Upon entering ASCM, the stylish aesthetics of the store combine with the friendly vibe to create a stimulating comic book and toy shopping experience. "One aspect that sets us apart from the other stores is the overall look and feel of the store. Most stores are sensory overload. What we've tried to make is quite welcoming," explains Troy. Visually, ASCM is striking with a red-black-and-white colour scheme reminiscent of Sin City, and the set-up of the store enables it to become a comic-culture hub promoting intriguing and open conversations between visitors and staff. "Whilst you can purchase comics off the internet, people go into the store to enjoy the experience," Troy highlights.
The critical and commercial success of many recent comic book movies have changed the perception of comics and exposed the diversity of their content, from superhero to mature. "There's definitely been a sway towards comics being cooler," Troy explains. If you've never read comics before, or are keen to discover a more appealing and innovative comic book store, then check out ASCM in person and become drawn into Melbourne's booming comic scene. As the guys mention, "it's quite an exciting time for comics in Melbourne".
Visit All Star Comics Melbourne at Level 1, 410 Lonsdale St. Melbourne 3000 and check them out at facebook.com/ascmelbourne.