This week, the comics community at large was shocked to hear the news that Atomic Comics – viewed as a powerhouse retailer by creators, industry watchers and Diamond Comics Distributors – was immediately closing its doors for good. Aside from its anchor store in Mesa, Atomic had two locations in Phoenix and another in Chandler. That made it not only one of the more visible chains in the national system of small businesses that comprise the comics retail community but also the biggest comic shop operation around Phoenix, America's sixth largest city.
In the wake of Atomic's closing, several local retailers have made a move to step into the breach with All About Books & Comics announcing its plan to work with Diamond to fill orders made by Atomic customers in the weeks ahead and similar promises coming from Samurai Comics – a retailer with two Phoenix locations – in a feature at Newsarama. While that piece strongly draws a line through worries of whether the closing of the four Atomic locations by owner Mike Malve constitutes a coming trend of shops closing nationally, the question remains how greater Phoenix area's comic readers will be served by the remaining stores in the area.
[Note: Several readers have written about the availability of Atomic stock and direct work to cover Atomic locations. Local reader and blogger Gary Miller has commentary here, and Mike Banks from Samurai Comics provided CBR the following statement on his operations efforts to open a new location at the site of Atomics Mesa store: "It is almost 2:30 AM. Ever since Atomic Comics owner Mike Malve called me on Sunday with the news about Atomic I've been pulling 20 hour days trying to step up and fill that void.
"I'm happy to report that we have the keys to our new location at 1120 South Country Club #107, Mesa, AZ 85210.
"We were able to reach an agreement with Diamond Comics Distribution to receive Atomics regular shipment this week. We spent all day processing the Atomic Comic shipment, and will have new comics available for East Valley customers tomorrow. We also are supplying at least four other local comic shops with extra comics to help them meet any extra need.
"Customers who stop in the new shop on Wednesday will be see some familiar faces-- We've already had a couple of Atomic employees step up and volunteer to help us out."
CBR has updated the store listings below to include this location as well as added another new Glendale shop Dr. Fantasy's that just opened so no matter where fans in the area live, they'll be able to get their fix.]
Even with the closing of these four stores and other recent comic shop shutterings (Stalking Moon Books and Spazdog Comics closed in the past year), the Phoenix area still has more comic shops operating than in Houston, Miami, San Diego or Detroit. CBR News tracked the current climate of the retailer scene using our dedicated Comic Shop Locator, and a look at the particulars of the scene reveals many options for former Atomic customers to get their weekly fix both this Wednesday and beyond.
In Phoenix proper, six comic-selling retailers remain open for business including:
All About Books & Comics
5060 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85012
3415 West Thunderbird Road #1
Phoenix, AZ 85053
Jesse James Comics and Collectables
10620 North 43rd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85028
1051 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85014
10720 W. Indian School Rd., Suite #61
Phoenix, AZ 85037
1120 South Country Club #107
Mesa, AZ 85210
Inside THRIVE! Dream Factory Community Center
2501 N. 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006
[NOTE: Jesse "James" Criscione of Jesse James Comics shared this with CBR: "I read your article and I would like to shed some light on the Arizona market. As we get ready too celebrate our 2nd year in business we are going from 3200 sq to 6500 sq. Hero comics is moving into a new store and Drawn too comics as well is moving into a new store. Including a New store Dr fantasy all in the last three weeks. The west side is doing very well in the comic book business. The notion that is being thrown out there that Atomics is a sign of times to come for comics books stores is not really a true statement (not really your article but there are some really horrible articles out there). if you treat you store like a business, that just happens too sell comics you should be okay during these are hard time.
"This is not to brag about our success this is just too show that not everybody is trying to stay open on a week to week basis.
Meanwhile in Atomic Comics' former homebase of Mesa, four outlets are open for business:
127 WEST MAIN STREET
MESA, ARIZONA 85201
Gotham City Comics & Coffee
46 West Main Street
Mesa, AZ 85201
2722 S Alma School Rd # 8
Ten miles East, the city of Tempe holds down their own significant corner of comic shops:
Ash Avenue Comics & Books
810s. Ash Avenue
Tempe, AZ 85281
Planet Neo Anime & Comics
6460 S Rural Rd
Tempe, AZ 85283
Pop Culture Comics
707 S Forest Ave Ste A
Tempe, AZ 85281
And if local fans can't find their way to any of those locations, the Phoenix metro area has two more options for weekly comics buying:
Comics Legends And Heroes
13560 West Van Buren Suite B-102
Goodyear, AZ 85338
Drawn To Comics
5619 W Glendale Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301
Dr. Fantasy's Comics and More
7480 W Bell Road #106
Glendale, AZ 85308
Beyond that dedicated retail base, Phoenix also plays home to two regular comic conventions. The growing Phoenix Comicon has been making a name for itself with its 2011 Memorial Day Weekend attendance drawing over 20,000 attendees. And at the very start of the year, the Amazing Arizona Comic Con takes up residence at the Mesa Convention Center. This past January, the show invited several big name creators including Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane.
For more on comic shops in your area, be sure to check out CBR's Comic Shop Locator, and stay tuned for more on the future of comics retail. If any Phoenix area shops have not been listed, please contact Kiel Phegley and we will add you to the list.