I am a comic collector and always have been one. The most common question I am faced with is ‘how did you start collecting comics, and do you still do so?’ Back when I was a kid, right till I was in college, I used to find myself visiting bookshops for my comic fix. Over the years, many of these bookshops have disappeared in the fight against online retailers. But there are still hidden gems strewn across the city. Here are some of my favourites.

VL Nayak Book Store

This little shop near Khar station is a landmark for book and music-lovers. VL Nayak has been around for decades and each and every Khar resident would be aware of the brand name.

I used to get a lot of DC and Marvel singles from here years ago back in my school days, but I still head here for a good dose of Amar Chitra Kathas, Tinkle comics, Phantom {reprints, not Indrajal} and Archies. Nostalgia to the max.

Strand Book Stall

The popularity of the Strand name stands testimony to the hundreds and thousands of patrons they have had over the years. all of whom swear by the number of books they have bought from here.

The moment you step into this shop, the smell of books {or should I say aroma?} makes sure you don’t leave this place early. Step into their mezzanine floor and ask for the comics section. They have a serious stack of singles in store for you. DC, Marvel, Image – you name them. Also look out for their book sales, which happen annually. You are sure to get a few rare ones there if you are lucky.

Knowledge Book Point

This is a stationary shop on the outside, and a library on the inside which also sells books.

I think I have bought some of my rarest singles from Knowledge. I got a lot of Spawn issues, Oink, The Maxx and many other titles which are hard to find in India.

Cable and Deadpool was a series I totally wanted to get my hands on for a long long time, and I finally found some issues at Knowledge. Again, it’s a game of luck with places like these. If you’re there on your lucky day, you’ll find some good stuff!

Word of advice – ask for “aap Superman-Batman books rakhte ho?” rather than “Comics hai kya?” Much more effective.

Pavement Book Sellers At Fort

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The pavement book sellers strewn all over and around Fountain area had a superb collection of comics before they faced eviction a few years ago. They did manage to come back after their short-lived ban, but the number of comics available has reduced.

I have picked up a lot of mint condition Asterix and Tintin issues from these stalls, along with the usual Marvel and DC singles. Though, I was once duped here as well. I had picked up an Asterix comic, only to find after coming home that the first 32 pages of the comic were repeated over the next 32 pages. In other words, it was only half the comic, printed twice. This was either a ‘press-reject’ copy or I was conned. So keep your eyes open and check your purchases.

But on the bright side, this was only one instance of facing such an issue, I can’t tell you how many comics from my collection have come from these footpaths. Other than the usual titles, I have picked up quite a few Gary Larson’s Far Side collections from here as well.

Footpath Bookseller At Kala Ghoda

Just a few steps down the pavement outside the Fabindia shop in Kala Ghoda, you’ll find an unassuming book seller who has been around for a while now. To my surprise, the guy had some vintage Mad magazines, as well as the usual Archies and Tintins. He knows a collector when he sees one, and that’s when the prices soar. So be tactful and bargain.

So, when’s your collection expanding?

Photos: Athul Prasad/LBB