We've seen our heroes this summer in theaters. San Diego's Comic-Con International popped up on our news channels. And TV is wracked with adaptations, from The Walking Dead to Lucifer.
Comic-book characters are big business, and comic-book stores are the better for it. Comic-book stores continue to supply the demand all over North Texas. We found 10 great spots to discover a whole new world of back issues, collectible statues and gaming cards that allowed our inner geek to come out.
Updated on Sept. 23, 2016. The original story was published on Aug. 15, 2013.
AREA 51 GAMING AND COLLECTIBLES
Be careful when heading into Grapevine's Area 51. You might walk right into a major video game tournament happening next to active board game tables in some 5,000 square feet of playing space. Add the customers at the register perusing cards and this is one happening spot for players. Fans can partake in the store's Game of Thrones Living Card league and open play. Comic readers will find a solid new-release wall with back issues going for a buck, but don't look for golden- or silver-age comics here. Back issues lean more modern but are a steal for just $1. 201 N. Barton St., Grapevine. 682-514-9679. clockworkgamer.com
This boutique shop may look small but still features a calendar of Friday Night Magic play, HeroClix Sundays and a monthly Boomerang Book Club discussing assigned comics. 500 E. Round Grove Road in Vista Ridge Plaza, Lewisville. 972-315-5291. boomerangcomics.com.
All the gaming accessories one would need for amassing a butt-kicking cadre of characters can be found here, but Asylum wins with celebrity signings (most recently, Lazarus artist Michael Lark) and it hosted the first Texas appearance of The Walking Dead artist and Eisner award-winner Charlie Adlard in 2011. And for the casual comic-book fan, a $30 mystery box is a worthwhile investment for a heck of a lot of issues, either as a starter set or to fill space. 905 N. Jupiter Road, Suite 170, Richardson. 972-231-8939. comicasylum.com.
This is easy to miss in its tricky-to-reach location off Interstate 20, but it's a worthy find for back issues. That aroma of aged comic books rushes you when you walk through the doors, and the store is filled with an astounding collection of golden-age and modern books along with figurines, booster gaming packs and toys. This shop is clearly a haven for the collector. The wall of vintage (read: pricey) issues is a treasure-trove of legendary comics likely to bring a tear to many a collector's eye. The store is in the process of remodeling, and in the future it will include space for game nights, game demos and free-play games. 101 W. Camp Wisdom Road, Suite J, Duncanville. 972-298-7546. duncanvillebookstore.com.
KEITH'S COMICS (NORTH DALLAS)
An icon in local comics, Keith's locations span through central Dallas, Denton (More Fun Comics), Garland and this North Dallas spot. Keith's Comics tend to be smaller, intimate places, some might even say cramped (looking at you, Mockingbird location), but that's the way owner Keith Colvin likes it. As long as there's inventory, it's going to be out there. But in this spot, there's a place just a few doors down where inventory is sold at a discount. Dollar bins, half-price graphic novels, toys and collectibles can all be found here in this sort-of pop-up location, and there are plans to create Summer Con, a vendor market for friends and customers to sell their books or art and share the love this store has received for almost a quarter century. 17610 Midway Road, Suite 136, Dallas. 972-735-8333. keithscomics.com.
MADNESS GAMES AND COMICS
Walking into Madness' fancy new digs in Plano is akin to hearing a chorus of angels. This isn't a store as much as it is a compound. Even my usually unimpressed cohort whispered under his breath when we visited. Reminiscent of a grocery store in size, half of Madness is devoted to the gamer community with endless tables featuring enthusiastic player leagues of young and older in the midst of Dungeons & Dragons, Magic and HeroClix. The other half features new issues and an extensive library of graphic novels, omnibuses and collections. Madness also offers a healthy calendar of game events. Toys, T-shirts and posters round out this mecca of geekery, but don't go looking for back issues here. They hardly exist. 3000 Custer Road, Suite 310, Plano. 972-943-8735. facebook.com/madnessgames.
RED PEGASUS GAMES & COMICS
This store is housed in a little red house in the Bishop Arts district and has quickly become a favorite among aficionados, even being named atop a best-of list. That's mostly due to married owners Kenneth Denson and Gabriel Mendez, who are there with an answer for every question and a suggested comic for every taste. And they welcome children, and anyone else, who are just getting into the game. It's a small store, but hosts event nights, film screenings and pop-up shops. 208 W. Eighth St., Dallas. 972-413-8716. redpegasuscomics.com
Just about everybody loves Titan, with good reason. Titan Comics is a dream of a shop where back issues are treated with love and new titles on the walls are like a big animated hug. Expect to find collectible comics that could easily be in an auction, and the hardback and paperback inventory is likely to have exactly what you're looking for. And be aware that owner Jeremy Shorr knows his comics. Expect a lesson while selling your comics to the store, because he is happy to talk comics, as well as their value and history. Beyond the obvious, Titan also has a nonprofit donation service that supplies comics to schools, day care centers, youth centers and more. Now that's heroic. 3128 Forest Lane, Suite 212, Dallas. 214-350-4420. titancomics.com.
URBAN LEGENDS COMICS
This longtime store changed its identity from Lone Star Comics (Mesquite) to Urban Legends Comics just three years ago. Former LSC employee Aaron Settle owns the store and it's much the same as its predecessor; customers can still take part in gaming events and peruse the wall of newer titles and graphic novels, while younger readers get their fill with an impressive selection of books and toys. 3501 Gus Thomasson Road, Suite 51, Mesquite. 972-681-2040. facebook.com/urbanlegendscomicshop.
And then there's Zeus. Owner Richard Neal has mastered the art of comic-book store as a boutique. With the shop's relaxed air, browsing its selection of books and comics feels immediately comfortable. Where Zeus does have a step up is its automated pull system. Readers can go to the website and select all their comics for the next week without fear of any sellout. Where other stores may approach it manually, this has helped Neal stay ahead with orders and customer satisfaction. While Zeus doesn't do games, a spinoff of sorts has happened next door with Common Ground Games. And even nongamers might switch sides with the store's fun collection of games that are beyond magical characters and fire-breathing dragons. Those drinking games looked like a lot of fun.
Zeus Comics: 1334 Inwood Road, Dallas. 214-219-8697. zeuscomics.com.
Common Ground Games: 1328 Inwood Road, Dallas. 214-631-4263. boardgamesdallas.com.
BOX LUNCH "Get some, give back" is the motto of this shop that carries all sorts of pop-culture tasty goodness. From T-shirts to POP figures to purses to Hogwarts banners, this store has it. For every $10 spent, the store will help provide a meal to a person in need, hence the name. They've partnered with the North Texas Food Bank in our area. It's a great way to do good while getting good stuff. Inside the Galleria, 13350 Dallas Parkway, Dallas. 972-361-0025. boxlunch.com
*COSMIC COMICS There's old school, and then there's Cosmic Comics. Located in an old convenience store, this location may not have the polish of other shops, but it does have heart. Teenage boys filled the not-so-air-conditioned room for adamant play time with heated discussions among players adding to the quirky ambience of the place. Back-issue comics can be on sale for half-price while new arrivals are throughout the store. 728 E. Marshall Drive, Grand Prairie. 972-264-0617. cosmiccomic.com.*
PIRANHA VINTAGE Toys may be the standouts here, but back issues are to be had, too. The store is located in the Casa View Shopping Center and is a collector's paradise. If you don't find what you're looking for, just ask; the owners will look high and low and in other stores to find it for you. And if you have something to part with, they buy and sell. The store also hosts free movies on Saturdays. 2349 Gus Thomasson Road, Dallas. 469-626-TOYS. piranhavintage.com
WILD WEST COMICS BOOKS GAMES
The former Lone Star Comics were sold to employees; see Urban Comics above. Some of them became this store that has locations in Arlington -- the old flagship LSC -- and Fort Worth. The store has something going on almost every day of the week and 4,000 square feet of space filled with gaming and "the longest comic wall in the area." 1215 S. Cooper St., Arlington. 817-265-0491. wildwestcomics.com
Of course, we couldn't visit every store in the area. Do you have a favorite? Let us know.
Dawn M. Burkes and Rich Lopez contributed to this report.