Comics are an entirely different medium of story telling that relies less on giving descriptions and more on showing how it happens. Details are exchanged for visual representation and nuances of speech and movement are reduced to static panels and bubbles. Story-telling is important, but the story cannot stand on it’s own feet; it requires brilliant art to help convey all the details of the story sans the dialogue.
As a result, comics are often the work of an entire team. Someone else does the writing, someone else does the drawing, someone else does the coloring and someone else does the editing. The culmination of all these various skills and talents produce a comic book. Manga, on the other hand, are usually the work of a single person (the mangaka) who is often both the writer and the illustrator. While superficially comparable, there really is no point in comparing manga and comic books. They might share the same shelf at a library, but at the end of the day, they are completely separate genres.
While anime is fairly popular in Pakistan, the same can’t be said of manga. There are very few stores that stock manga and those that do often have random volumes from long-running serials like Naruto or Bleach. While I am not a fan of collecting manga (let’s be real, I’ve stopped collecting books too. You never know when you’re going to have to pack up and sell them!) there are the occasional anime/manga fans out there that do. There are a handful of Pakistani Facebook pages that cater to this audience by importing manga on request and delivering at relatively agreeable prices.
What’s it like for comic book fans?
Settled inconspicuously in F-7, it’s really easy to walk past All Things Superhero. In fact, in all the handful of visits that I’ve had to F-7 previously, I have always gone past the area that this store is in. It’s pretty much in the main area of the shopping market, not too far away from Islamabad’s biggest bookstore, Saeed Book Bank. Until you know what you are looking for, I feel that it’s incredibly easy to miss.
Right by the road, there’s a signpost with directions to Mordor and Metropolis, just to name a few. Going down the stairs, you’ll even find the Batman spotlight! Again, I felt that these things weren’t super obvious but it also gave a very interesting feeling, like discovering Platform 9 3/4s on your own while people bustle around you, unaware of your discovery and perhaps not even interested in the first place!
The store was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but again, it was understandable. The audience for comic books is a very limited audience, especially since the store was importing comic books from the United States, resulting in products often starting at Rs.2,000. The average person doesn’t really have the capacity to indulge in such an expensive luxury in Pakistan. (me. I am that average person. you can’t make me dish out Rs.2,000 for a single comic book, no matter how pretty or aesthetically pleasing it looks).
There was a surprising amount of variety on the shelves. I’ve only been to one other comic store and that was in the US. For a Pakistani store, I was fairly impressed. Sure, it was just a walk in store with no place to sit (unlike the other comic book store) but for a small place, it definitely had quite the collection.
There were plenty of selections from Marvel and DC. Perhaps if you were looking for a specific issue, the store could even import it on request. The point is: they really went in to deliver as authentic a comic book store as they could for Pakistan.
One thing that I really liked was that there were comics unrelated to Marvel and DC. Showcasing comics that fall outside of the superhero genre really impressed me. There were interesting and colorful comics as well as some historical ones too. A comic based on the Mughal empire also caught my interest.
Comics weren’t the only things this store had though. While one entire wall was dedicated to shelves of comic books, the other wall was dedicated to figurines. Personally, I don’t see why anyone would want to purchase figurines. They seem like a waste of space honestly. Perhaps a fancy paperweight? Again, too expensive and definitely not my cup of tea.
I’d rather buy a Lego set honestly.
To sum up; All Things Superhero is definitely a place that had been on my visit list for a while. I’m glad I finally managed to see this comic book shop for myself. While it’s not what I imagined it to be, it still exceeded my expectations in other ways. Regardless, I don’t see myself visiting this store again or purchasing anything from here again anytime soon!! I’m just a broke student and purchasing imported comics from America while being in Pakistan is not the kind of luxury I want to splurge on.
Are there any comic book stores in your areas? How do you feel about comic books as an entire genre of books? Do you have any comic book series that you love and would recommend for others to read? Have a nice day!