Too Close to Call: Comic book crusaders


From left: Peter Birkemoe, The Beguiling and Leon Emmett, Hairy Tarantula

In honour of Man of Steel, summer’s Superman flick, comic book purveyors Hairy Tarantula (Yonge/Steeles) and The Beguiling (Bathurst/Bloor) battle for the comic crown. Whose graphic novels pack more punch? You choose.

The Beguiling


Hairy Tarantula

Peter Birkemoe, 1987. Owner & year opened:
Leon Emmett, 1992.
I started reading the Saturday comics section in the paper and the little Peanuts paperbacks.  How did you first get into comics? According to my parents, my first word was an attempt at "book,” yet I've been looking at the pictures ever since. 
I often have comics that cost many thousands of dollars, but we focus on things that people want to read. Most expensive comic book you’ve ever sold? Probably Amazing Fantasy #15 — it was ballpark $1,500. Today it would sell for around $7,000 to $8,000!
I’d say half a million. How many comic books do you have on hand? I couldn't begin to tell you! Tens of thousands of trade paperbacks, tens of thousands more manga ...
We don’t really care about characters; we care about authors. Chris Ware is one of my favourites. I’m a real comic book snob! Favourite comic book character? That's a coin flip between Cerebus and John Constantine. I wonder if I simply have an affectation for characters whose names begin with "C." 
We’re trying to focus on the comic book — Scott Snyder’s Superman Unchained — as opposed to the movie. Are you carrying more Superman comics due to the Man of Steel release? We already have a lot of Superman but will reorder more if the movie causes a spike in sales. 

I’d suggest Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by Alan Moore. 
What Superman story would you recommend reading? Superman: Red Son is a great place to introduce people.  
We have a much more diverse selection than most shops — we carry books about the history of comics, foreign comics, old comic strip reprints ... What makes your shop stand apart from the crowd?  We’ve always had a strong focus on independent comics and still carry all the popular (and not-so-popular) superhero and superteam books.






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