Isotope is probably the coolest comic book store in the country.
Don’t get me wrong – I love plenty of comic book stores. I love the Big Planet stores, I love Forbidden Planet in New York. I like your basic hole-in-the-wall stores, too (to a point). There are a good collection of great comic book stores in this country.
But I’m talking about sheer coolness here. And in terms of coolness, it’s nearly impossible to beat Isotope.
I read somewhere that proprietor James Sime (who tends to look like a Batman villain – and I mean that as a compliment) looked at women’s shoe stores when planning his comic book store. Certainly, it does not have any of the racks of T-shirts and tables for 10-year-olds to play Pokemon. It has an open layout with comfortable, stylish couches and bright colors and lighting. You’ll find the usual recent issues and plenty of collections and graphic novels, but there are also plenty of featured titles on display, which is always helpful. There is also an awesome mini-comics lounge upstairs which has a great selection of things that deserve attention.
Sime is infinitely enthusiastic and polite. He went out of his way for us while we were there, taking time to show us his “Comic Rockstars Toilet Seat Museum,” which is much more awesome than it sounds. He has all his store’s guests draw on toilet seats. (You can view the gallery here.) He also kindly provided us with a list of his favorite places in San Francisco.
He obviously loves comics passionately, but there is absolutely no snobbery from him. I’m sure there are comics he likes more than others, but he didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone or anything. In fandom culture that is too often caught up in complaining, I find this refreshing and wonderful.
If you’re ever in San Francisco, you need to visit here. We need comic book stores like this. I suppose it’s both good and bad that I’m on the opposite side of the country from Isotope right now. I would be shopping there all the time if I could.