Phoenix Magazine Best of The Valley
Best Comic Book Store
All About Books and Comics
All About Books and Comics is filled with so many colorful comic books and toys, walking through the store feels a bit like being in a comic book – minus the speech bubbles and flesh-eating zombies, of course. The massive store displays hundreds of new comic releases, and houses thousands of back issues (a ladder is required to reach some of them), along with a wide array of hardbound graphic novels, trade paperbacks, and collectibles like statues, T-shirts and figurines. From The Avengers to Zorro, there’s probably not a title you won’t find here. 24 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-277-0757, allaboutbooksandcomics.com
New Times Best of Phoenix
All About Books and Comics has been a go-to for Valley readers and collectors for over 30 years, so when Marsha and Alan Giroux faced a serious rent hike at their Central Avenue location, they turned to Kickstarter to finance a move around the corner to West Camelback Road. That the campaign quickly blew past its $33,000 goal by more than $4,000 says a lot about the relationship the Giroux have cultivated with their customers, who show up for current superhero books, indie titles, action figures, and other toys. Moving the store’s massive catalog of back issues (more than a million comics in stock) was no easy feat, but it was hardly surprising to see loyal comic fans show up to help out for store credit. Few shops can boast that kind of dedication.
Forgive us for how nerdy this is going to sound, but the employees of this place are like matchmakers. Tell them you want something really gory and, in a few seconds, you’ll be looking at a two-page color illustration of human intestines and other innards strewn across the pages. Sold. (That was Warren Ellis’ No Hero, by the way.) The employees are what make this place great, but that’s not to downplay the selection. All About has wall-to-wall comics, from the newest releases to collectible classics.
Whether you’re looking to buy or consign vintage comics, All About Books and Comics is the place for you. This Central Phoenix shop has a great selection of back issues of vintage comics, including Captain America, Thor, Avengers, X-Men, Dr. Strange, Superman, Flash, Mr. Miracle, Spider-Man, and Iron Man. Can’t find what you’re looking for? A helpful clerk will check the backroom for the issue. Looking for vintage on the cheap? Check the dollar room. Want to play? AAB&C sells action figures, toys, and other superhero collectibles.
New Times Archive
~ 1991 ~
Comics aren’t just for kids anymore, but you’d never know it by walking into most comic-book shops in Phoenix. Unless you share an interest with your 9-year-old nephew in the serial exploits of Wolverine or Lobo, most shops will hardly service you. Thus, quantity means quality. And the store with the largest stock of current commercial comics and back issues is easily All About books and Comics.
At the recently expanded flagship store on Camelback Road, you’ll find a staff that’s intelligent and informed, racks sensibly arranged with signs noting “New This Week” or ” New Last Week” and just enough underground comics and graphic novels to keep an adult reader’s interest. Personally, we’d like to see more Hate, Yummy Fur and Eightball and fewer prebagged copies of X-men, but until alternative readers outnumber adolescent fanboys that’s as likely to happen as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drawing social security.
~ 1992 ~
It’s clear comics aren’t just for kids anymore; in the last year, Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivors Tale II was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review and won a Pulitzer. However, most comic shops are for kids. All About Books and Comics owners Alan and Marsha Giroux know where their bread is buttered-they stock plenty of titles featuring muscled guys with big capes. But we salute the headquarters of their three-store operation for carrying cutting-edge comics like Eightball, Hate, and Yummy Fur and for having a sensible, spacious layout that invites bigger folks to browse. Readers Picks:
1. All About Books and Comics
~ 1993 ~
Practically everyone knows exactly what they were doing on November 22, 1963, the day JFK was assassinated.
But how many of us can recall what we were doing on the only-slightly-less-fateful day of November 15, 1992?
The folks at All About Books and Comics do. That was the memorable day that thousands of Valley mortals (and not a few members of the media) descended on this East Camelback comic-book shop to mourn the death of Kal-El, better known to the rest of the world as Superman.
A more appropriate place to commemorate the passing of the world’s greatest superhero would be hard to imagine. (A three-store minichain, All About Books and Comics also operates smaller branches in Paradise Valley and West Phoenix.) In addition to back issues and reprints featuring virtually every one of the Man of Steel’s exploits, the shop also carries thousands of other comic and related genre
magazine titles, as well as role-playing games, action figures, collector cards, tee shirts and other funny business.
Great Caesar’s ghost! Comics don’t get much more serious than this.
~ 1994 ~
Pow! Wham! Zap!
The All About Books and Comics flagship store clobbers the competition- including its own smaller sister stores. This spacious comics cove is packed to the rafters with hundreds of thousands of funny books representing everything from vintage superheroism to anthologies of the latest postpunk panels. In addition, the shop also carries an impressive assortment of related gimcracks guaranteed to ring a bell with anyone who every wanted to grow up to be Illya Kuryakin, Forrest J. Ackerman or Ed “Big Daddy” Roth.
If you’re eager to get back in touch with the Superboy within, we can’t think of a better place to start looking.
~ 1995 ~
No, need to read our thought bubble. If you’ve got even the slightest interest in comics and related pop culture memorabilia, you’d have to be a Bizarro not to already know about this joint. Now celebrating its 19th anniversary, the four-store minichain has conquered the local comic book universe with its galactic selection of new and used titles. In addition to everything you’d expect and plenty you wouldn’t (comics run the gamut from Superman and Casper to Beanworld, Hell Baby and Kill Your Boyfriend), this comics conglomerate carries scads of other way cool stuff like ED Wood Jr. trading cards, video compilations of old TV commercials, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. collectibles and cheesy bondage pinups from the Fifties. We’re especially partial to the mind-blowing selection at the East Camelback Flagship store, an outlet that has so much merchandise that management actually opened a discount annex next door to handle slightly shopworn books and comics. In short, shopping here is almost as much fun as visiting the Ackermansion. And If you have to ask what that is, well, you’re in the wrong store.
~ 1996 ~
If we were comic-book artists, we’d be drawing a blank right about now. A big Blank. Think of a huge cartoon speech balloon with nothing in it and, well, you get the picture.
Yep, we’re finally speechless. What could we possibly say about this flagship fortress of funny books that we haven’t told you upmteen times in the past? That this citadel of comics has been sweeping this category since Krypton exploded? That this Bastion of superheroics is a great place to get in touch with your inner Superboy? That anyone who’s remotely interested in comic-book culture would have to be a Bizarro not to already know about it? #+$%@*?!!! End of this panel discussion.
~ 1999 ~
Where it is written that grown-ups can’t enjoy comic books in a clean, well-lighted place? The way some stores treat them (adults slinking out, their purchases wrapped in plain brown paper), you’d think they were pornography. If anything, the grow-up world has gotten more like a comic book:
Pamela Anderson clones with zero-gravity for breasts, Tae-Bo classes, sci-fi diseases that melt flesh. We think the world might be a better place if we had Batman around to kick a little ass. That’s the spirit at AABC: Gee-whiz lives on. The cool stuff we wanted as a kid – that we still want – is all there. Like Flash’s lightning bolt. And there are newer, darker icons like Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. And nobody treats the customers like social retards just because they’re still reading funnybooks. After all McFarlane plunked down a bazillion dollars for Mark McGwire’s home-run ball.
Not bad for kid stuff.
~ 2001 ~
Great Caesar’s ghost! Did All About Books & Comics really win this category again? Hey, does Lois Lane have the hots for Superman? A contender long before anyone ever heard of Spawn, Sandman, or Witchblade, Alan and Marsha Giroux’s fortress of funny books continues to be one-stop shopping headquarters for two generations of Valley comic-book geeks. In addition to thousands of comic titles (both new and used), the store stocks scads of related ephemera: sci-fi trading cards, James Bondabilia, monster-movie merchandise and, well, you get the idea. Hey, what do you want us to do? Draw you a picture?
~ 2006 ~
Are your “Spidey senses” tingling? Okay, you didn’t need superpowers to guess that AABC would be our pick. After 25 years of serving comic book junkies, theis eight-time Best of Phoenix winner is still hailed as a geek’s wet dream. The shelves are stuffed with more than a million back issues, from golden age originals like The Avengers and Green Lantern to the modern cult classic Sandman. While waiting for the next installment of Witchblade, you can stock up for your party, which, in this case, means a couple of 20-sided dice, some Magic: The Gathering cards and a plastic model of the buxom Lady Death to keep you company.
Forget Internet dating – this is the best place for a true geek-to-geek hookup. “Where did you meet Mommy?” ” Our eyes met over a rare copy of Uncanny X-men #247, son, and I knew she was the one for me.” With any luck, their kind will multiply like Tribbles, producing an endless supply of customers for AABC.