Day 4 began a little slower than some of the others … Perhaps it was due to all the drinks I’d had the night before, or because I’d finally let the jet lag hit me, but either way it took a little while to get started.
Fortunately I’d already decided that Sunday would be a quieter day, so it wasn’t a problem. I’d check out some of the comic shops I’d missed downtown and explore a little bit more of this wonderful city.
I started out with the Hairy Tarantula (or Hairy T, as it is commonly known) which was supposed to be situated somewhere nearby on Yonge Street. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find it, so I was forced to move on.
I then tried to look for the Comic Emporium, which still shows up on Google maps, but that didn’t appear to be there either … What was going on? This was not a good start to my day.
Fortunately, the third time was the charm and I did manage to find my next target, One Million Comix, a little bit further down the road.
While Silver Snail has a good range of everything, and The Beguiling has a strong focus on manga and art books, One Million Comix does a nice job straddling the line in-between. They don’t specialise as much, but it’s still a good solid comic shop.
I slipped in pretty much unnoticed as the guys by the counter were already busy chatting with two very cute girls who were there. This gave me plenty of time to look around and explore on my own.
I started at the front and made my way through to the back where they had a fairly decent back issue selection. Some of the recent books were heavily discounted, so I bit the bullet and picked up issues 1-6 of Batman: Odyssey. I’m sure that will make for another posting all of its own …
It took me a little while to get served when I went back to the counter as the guys were still distracted by the girls … I mean, can you blame them? Who would you rather choose – the guy with the stack of Batman comics or the cute girls?
It turns out Beth and Tennille (I believe that was their names) were both artists – one a graphic designer and the other an illustrator – and they showed us some samples of their work.
Tennille even had her own deviantART page, which I promised I’d plug in this entry, so feel free to check it out at: heinonen.deviantart.com
We continued to chat for a while, then I asked for directions to Comic Emporium and the Hairy Tarantula since I figured I’d give them another go.
It turns out Comic Emporium were no longer around (despite Google’s insistence that they are), but Hairy Tarantula *is* despite their best efforts not to be found.
With the proper directions and a bit of luck I eventually found the poorly marked Hairy Tarantula on the second floor of a building above Katies. I’d been told that Hairy T was an experience, and I think that’s a fair comment to make.
I was greeted by a perky voice from the other side of the room who I eventually saw when I made my way around the various things blocking my line of sight.
The girl behind the counter was incredibly polite, enthusiastic and helpful. It seemed almost incongruous to her surrounds, but it lent the place an extra bit of charm that it sorely needed.
That’s not to say Hairy T is a bad place – far from it. It’s just not for everyone … Not everyone’s cup of T (if you’ll pardon the pun).
She invited me to look around and was more than happy for me to take some pictures for the site. The store was filled with comic books, manga, miniature figures, card games, and RPG rulebooks. For a small place they fit a hell of a lot in.
I rounded one corner to be greeted by a cat. Now that was different … I do love cats (though not as much as this girl), but I’d never seen one in a comic shop before. It was very friendly and came over for a pat before heading into the main room.
I followed it back towards the counter and discovered another cat who had been sleeping there all along. Now I knew where the hair in the Hairy T came from!
It added a quaint charm that didn’t quite fit with a comic store, yet didn’t contradict it either. I appreciate the fact that Hairy T is unashamedly different and I’ll bet that’s earned them their own loyal following.
If you visit Toronto then I highly recommend checking it out, along with Silver Snail, The Beguiling, and One Million Comix. It’s nice to see the retail side of the industry alive and well, especially in such different forms and guises.
Once again Toronto impressed me with its comic stores and the various characters who populate them. Some may have been more my style than others, but I like that there really is something for everyone.
Before I knew it the day was gone, and I had to rush back to my hostel to meet up with Andrew Jospeh, a new friend I had met online.
It’s a bit of a long story, but Andrew had added me on LinkedIn a few weeks ago and I had (quite out of the blue) suggested that we catch up for drinks when I came over.
Andrew agreed, against his better judgement, and we went to the Black Bull Tavern on Queen Street West. I had a rather nice burger and some beers (Rickards Red, I believe) and we chatted about comics, Canadians, and life in general.
It was a wonderfully spontaneous meeting of the minds, and I’m so glad I decided to see if he’d be interested in catching up.
I could write more, but I need to fit some sleep in somewhere. How can San Diego ever hope to top my holiday so far? We shall see …