Central Portland is home to a number of fine comic shops, but three stand out for their diverse approaches to community-building and serving particular niches of the comics market.
Excalibur Comics—located at 2444 SE Hawthorne Blvd—is a Wednesday-Warrior’s paradise, featuring aisles of back-issue bins full of floppies, which comics enthusiasts have come to expect from their brick and mortar affairs since the 1970s. Excalibur is one of two women-owned shops in Portland and has a considerable back-catalog and pull-service that is oriented toward collectors of the Big 2 (Marvel and DC), though not exclusively. During the pandemic, they have worked tirelessly with local food banks to ensure that young people in Multnomah County are flush with reading material. On top of that, their great relationships with local comic luminaries ensure that there are always appearances, signings, and launch parties to look forward to.
Books With Pictures—Portland’s other women-owned comic shop—located at 1401 SE Division St. has similarly worked to extend a helping hand to young people during the pandemic by setting up free comics tables for neighborhood youths. The owner, Katie, even delivers orders by hand in the local area, masked and smiling. They also offer concierge back-issue collections and curated packs for readers who are looking to dip a toe into their vast back-catalog. Their selection of diverse titles with a particular emphasis on children’s and YA is another draw and ensures that their brightly colored storefront is routinely packed with young and old alike, united by a love for the graphic storytelling medium.
Floating World Comics—located at 400 NW Couch St.—caters to the europhile and indie-wonk, operating a publishing business on the side and creating lavish boutique editions. They stock an unparalleled selection of locally produced, independent comics and zines which take up prime real estate near the counter. Their shelves are dedicated to a host of cartoonists, and while they don’t scrimp on material from the Big 2, their selection of manga and European work—not to mention zines, comicana, and related media—is the best in Portland. A telling inclusion of their inventory is an imported collection of Hokusai’s Manga, the proto-form of Japanese tankobon volumes and an indicator of just how broad Floating World’s appreciation for the diversity of the medium is. Their indie bona fides for the signature junkie attracts a plethora of indie giants (Ben Passmore, Dan Clowes, and Simon Hansselman, just to name a few) for launch parties, and they always provide refreshments free of charge to their community clientele.