On Friday, 385+ locations throughout the United States will be celebrating Local Comic Shop Day, a new event in honor of the independent comic book store. This is a celebration of comic shops as purveyors of pop culture. As should be expected, collectors can expect to find limited edition and exclusive offerings.
One of the three SF locations that are part of this event is Mission Comics and Art, a local establishment that has been supporting artists and keeping comic-thirsty customers satisfied and supplied with the latest and greatest publications since 2008.
We met up with the man with the plan, Leef Smith owner of Mission Comics and Art, to hear more about the shop’s history. Find him and fellow comic book fans, Saturday November 28th, starting at noon. Click here for more info on the event.
Where did you grow up? Was there a local comic shop that you frequented?
I grew up here in fabulous San Francisco and bought comics all over town, from the corner store when you still could get them there, from Best of Two Worlds on Haight & Masonic, and from San Francisco Comic Company on 23rd St. But my regular for over 20 years was the shop that is now Amazing Fantasy on Irving St.
When did you start Mission Comics and Art? How did that all start?
I was laid off in the Fall of 2008, and unsure of what to do and feeling burnt out after working in tech for over a decade. I was also into the art and gallery scene, and the idea of combining the two and doing a comic shop/art gallery seemed like a natural fit. So I scraped together the money that I had borrowed from friends and family and opened the shop on a shoestring budget.
The Mission had been without a comic shop for a few years and I had been saying for a while that ‘someone’ should open up a new shop.
What are some of your favorite comic books? Or perhaps something you’d recommend to a person who’s totally new to comic books.
I was lucky enough to be reading Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns as they came off the stands and those totally blew my mind, so they’ll always be favorite. And I’m a big fan of the artist/writer Paul Pope. For someone just getting into comics I’d absolutely recommend the immensely engaging Saga, which I’ve described as Star Wars meets Romeo & Juliet with more swearing and sex, but just recently the focus has started to shift.
What are some exclusives that comic book fans might be able to find at your location for Local Comic Book day?
This is the first year for Local Comic Shop Day and the publishers have created quite few cool items. Some of my favorite are the giant treasury editions of Invader Zim and Rick & Morty.
Rick and Morty double-size treasury edition for Local Comic Shop Day 2015
Space Riders Hardcover Vol.1 to be released on Local Comic Shop Day 2015
I know that you recently moved to the new location on Mission St. What spawned the move to the new location?
It was a proactive move so I could have a lease where I knew what my rent was going over the next few years. That seemed super important as rents continue to skyrocket, and my landlord at my old location wasn’t willing to do that. It looks like it’s being used for office space now, go figure. But my new location is bigger and has better foot traffic, so I hope it’ll allow the business to continue to grow well.
I noticed that the name of the shop included “…and Art”…and that you do a lot of art events and artist book signings. As you look back on the year, what were some of your favorite art shows that took place at Mission Comics during 2015?
I do continue to do lots of community events, including art shows spotlighting art influenced or inspired by comic books. Some of my favorites this past year were the Mad Max tribute show, the Degenderettes show, and our Henry & Glenn art show!
2015 has been a great year for the shop, but I have to ask…any goals set for 2016?
Continue to spread my love of comic books and work with some great amazing artists!