"There's an old joke. Uh, two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of 'em says: "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know, and such small portions." - Woody Allen, ANNIE HALL
I paid my first visit to the new location of the Austin Books Sidekick Store the other day. The first iteration of this annex store where back issue comic books were a buck a throw and trade paperbacks, graphic novels and action figures were half price, was on North Lamar, just a few blocks north of the flagship store. That location closed early this year (and what a feeding frenzy those last few days were!) and the building where it was located has recently been demolished.
The new location opened a couple of weeks ago in the office complex behind the Half Price Books on North Lamar. But you better know where it is before you head over there. It's not visible from any street as it's tucked back in a courtyard like area (with parking in the middle of the storefronts). Better bring those bread crumbs and leave a trail.
The store is about a quarter of the size of the old location (I'm sure rent was a large and decisive factor in acquiring this location). There's plenty of inventory to dig through but the aisles are extremely narrow and I can see navigation becoming a problem on a busy day when there are weight and hygiene challenged fanboys (and girls) all trying to paw through long boxes that are incredibly close together.
The product mix is good. They had some Silver and Bronze Age comics, all in "reader" condition for five bucks a piece but I passed on those. There are mini-series and complete runs that are already collated and bagged and priced to move. No need to worry about finding that one issue you need. This is a great idea and a wonderful service.
Of course, this being a dumping ground for overstock, the selection is limited. You're not going to find everything you want in terms of graphic novels and trade paperbacks but all of the major players are represented here: Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, etc.
I'm looking to pick up reprint collections such as the DC Archives, DC Showcase Presents, Marvel Essentials, Marvel Masterworks, etc. There wasn't much to be had of those specific brands but that can always change.
I did score a nice copy of EERIE ARCHIVES VOLUME FOUR, a handsome hardcover with a Frank Frazetta cover. This reprints EERIE #16-22. EERIE, in case you don't know, was a black-and-white horror comic magazine published by Jim Warren beginning in the mid-1960s. Warren also published companion titles CREEPY and VAMPIRELLA and FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. These archive volumes (of which I now have one CREEPY and three EERIEs) retail for fifty bucks. Twenty-five dollars for one of these is a great deal.
I also picked up a Kingdom Come action figure of Aquaman based on the designs and artwork of Alex Ross. Way cool! All told, I got out of there for $40.00. Not bad.
There were some other books that caught my eye but I'm not going to tell you what they are. I want them to (hopefully) still be available on my next visit.
The store is only open on the weekends, Fridays through Sundays, and I suggest you get there as early as possible.
Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled that the Sidekick Store is back in business. I just wish we all had a little more room to move around in and that the selection catered more to my specific areas of interest. Oh, well. You can't have everything.