Comics shop staff tend to be a quirky set, but the one thing these booksellers have in common is their love of the form. Reading widely goes with the territory—retailers always have old and new recommendations, which keep the backlist moving and promote the frontlist. Tony Davis at Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, Mass., says handselling is easy when chatting up store regulars, since he knows their tastes. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s long-running Monstress series is a top seller, so he’s sure fans get first dibs on their newest release, She Eats the Night. But retailers also cherish their own personal picks, which they press upon newcomers and old-timers alike.

Tony Davis, Million Year Picnic
(Cambridge, Mass.)

Nicnevin and the Bloody Queen

Helen Mullane and Dom Reardon (Humanoids)

“It’s a horror fantasy, set in rural England, with a young girl of color.
I just love it.”

The Sentient

Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta (TKO)

“A lot of people come in and they want maybe something that’s science
fiction, but they aren’t necessarily looking to get into a series. This one is self-contained.”

Avi Ehrlich, Silver Sprocket
(San Francisco)

The Magic Fish

Trung Le Nguyen (Random House Graphic)

“One of our bestsellers. San Francisco is a pretty queer town, and it’s about generational trauma and communication across generations.”

Stages of Rot

Linnea Sterte (Peow)

“Everything from Peow is so good that we don’t have to try very hard. We just hold it up and people say, ‘Oh my god, what is that?’ ”

Katie Pryde, Books with Pictures
(Portland, Ore.)

Damn Them All

Simon Spurrier and Charlie Adlard (Boom)

“A dirtbag British wizard raised his niece in ceremonial magic and then
he went and got himself inconveniently murdered, so his niece is trying to solve his murder. It is gorgeously drawn and extremely funny, with really good dialogue.”

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr

Ram V and Filipe Andrade (Boom)

“It’s breathtakingly gorgeous, even when you just pick it up and peek at
it. It is this big, beautiful story of
mortality, and also very funny.”

Bob Moreau, Westfield Comics
(Madison, Wis.)

The Deviant

James Tynion IV and Joshua Hixson (Image)

“Tynion is the writer of the Something Is Killing the Children series. The Deviant is also very horror oriented. It’s based on his time growing up in Milwaukee around the time of Jeffrey Dahmer; it’s set around Christmas and it’s very dark.”


Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti (Marvel)

“This is kind of a dense story where the creators have created a whole pantheon of gods that have always existed in the Marvel
universe, but we just didn’t know about them.”

The Reckless series

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)

“These detective stories, set in 1980s Los Angeles, about a seedy private eye and the people he meets, capture the current interest in true crime podcasts. They’re the first books I recommend for customers who aren’t interested in superhero titles.”

Siena Fallon, Ultimate Comics
(Raleigh and Durham, N.C.)

It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth

Zoe Thorogood (Image)

“I’m all in on Thorogood. She can do no wrong. This book was so meaningful to me, and it’s been a perennial in our store ever since.”

Night Fever

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)

“I love reading 1940s pulp detective comics. That’s what I read in my free time, so I’ll recommend anything from Brubaker. Night Fever is so good, and anytime there’s a new Reckless series title, if I’m in the store, I’m putting it in somebody’s hands.”


ND Stevenson (Quill Tree)

“I’m a big fan of Stevenson. We saw a huge influx of people interested in Nimona because of the movie, which was cool. I read the webcomic in
college, so I’m really excited to sell it.”

Return to main feature​:

Should Comics Keep It Direct?

Direct market distribution has, for decades, been a keystone of comics culture, but its future is up for debate.

Correction: An earlier version of this piece credited the wrong publisher for The Magic Fish.