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Best Comic-Book Store St. Louis 2010 - All American Collectibles

All American Collectibles

6933 Hampton Ave.

St. Louis, MO 63109


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Poking around the racks of garishly hued new comics, a brash teen blurts out, "How much is Spider-Man #1 worth?" Mark Farace, the charismatic owner and frontman for All American Collectibles, shoots back with perfect comic timing. "About a buck and a half," he says. "Spider-Man was the title of Todd McFarlane's 1991 relaunch. If you mean 1962's Amazing Spider-Man, look it up." Such an exchange reveals the core identity of All American, the superhero comic-book mecca of St. Louis Hills. Here, superheroes are serious business — hold the irony. Farace stocks all the latest adventures of DC's pop gods and Marvel's feet-of-clay antiheroes, not to mention an ever-expanding selection of vintage comics. Diving deep into the city's last great back-issue section, you'll regularly find glossy, high-grade bronze-age beauties priced well below the Overstreet guide. And try not to gawk at Farace's drool-worthy premium stock, located under glass in the front counter. (The small batch of well-preserved 1950s EC horror titles alone will make your credit card itch.) Respect for this distinctly American art form permeates every square inch of Farace's store. If you're looking for a trend-hopping shop stocked with the latest collectible card-game fad or pre-weathered T-shirts, look elsewhere. But if you're a true believer, All American is your store. Be forewarned, however: If you find your dream issue — say, a reasonably priced, very fine copy of Silver Surfer #4, guest-starring Thor — buyer's hesitation is not recommended. As Farace says, "This isn't a museum," and the feeding frenzy brought on by his yearly 50-percent-off sale in December is the stuff of local legend. Excelsior!

My Voice Nation Help

The RFT should reconsider their editorial choices. I understand that the RFT needs to 'spread the wealth' and can't give it to the one store in St. Louis that stands head and shoulders above all the rest *every* year even if they deserve it. At a minimum, the RFT should choose a store that is actually doing something in the local community to reach out to new readers or to push the comic medium towards the mainstream.

I can only suppose this award was given ironically. The RFT praises the aspects of a store that make it sound like something out of 'The Simpsons' and it's insulting to fans of comics who appreciate the value the medium brings to ordinary people like me.

Unless the RFT can make editorial picks that actually mean something, I suggest you leave the category out unless you can give it to a store that really deserves it.

Carter Hall
Carter Hall

FACT: All American Collectibles stocks the latest collectible trading card games, despite what the writer

FACT: All comic book stores respect superhero books. Superhero comics are the backbone of the industry, and if you own a comic shop and don't love superheroes without irony (sidebar: Why would the writer, ostensibly someone familiar with comics, mention "holding the irony?" Was he/she being ironic? It comes across as borderline condescending to even bring it up.) your customers are going to notice and your business will suffer accordingly.

OPINION: The conversation between Mr. Farace and the conveniently placed teenager (how brash! how garish the comics he sees!) sounds spurious. If Mr. Farace is so knowledgeable as the writer wants to impress upon us, he would know that Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man was not a relaunch of anything. It was simply another book in the Spider-Man family of books, which at the time included Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man. If Mr. Farace is indeed mistaken, he shouldn't be so smug about correcting a customer. Also, the McFarlane comic sells for $4 to $10 depending on grade -- but no one wants to buy the single issue at any grading. Those first six issues are readily available in any number of reprints for about the price of one mint copy of issue #1.

QUERY: Does All American stock any independent comics? Only DC and Marvel are mentioned, and I can buy those at the mall. How about mini comics? What about books on the history and medium of comics? Do they sell collections of newspaper strips? These are the things that interest comic buyers, not the excellent comedic timing of the owner.


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