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Best Comic-Book-Store Chain 

Fantasy Shop

Now, your comic-store regulars come in three kinds: the superhero and barely-clad-female connoisseur; the customer who prefers an "alternative" (don't you hate that word?) to the aforementioned well-trod paths; and the patron of the arts with the wisdom to recognize the value of both aisles of the beloved comics emporium. Admittedly, the Fantasy Shop chain does seem to lean more toward the superhero fan than the alternative reader, but that's cool, because the writing of nearly all comics is so crappy that, from that standpoint, there really isn't much alternative anyway. After Watchmen, what else is there? OK, fine, Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, Eightball, Frank -- they're all real good, but Darkchylde and Impulse and Cry for Dawn? Come on! There's a world of shitty comics out there that thoroughly obfuscates the rare treasures. Submitted for your highly subjective approval, here are the two big reasons the Fantasy Shop chain must claim the mantle as the best comic-book store(s) around: (1) Convenience. There are Fantasy Shops in Maplewood, Kirkwood, Hazelwood, Affton, St. Charles and Fairview Heights, Ill. So when you're out on the weekend tooling around, there's a fair chance you'll be near one. They're doing their part to spread the glory of comics to the masses and to absorb the extra hormonal energy of youth that might otherwise be used for evil. (2) The Big Back-Issue Extravaganza: If there is a God, then it must be she who brings a little piece of heaven to earth when the St. Chuck Fantasy Shop megalocation sells off literally tons of comics for 25 cents per -- yes, we're not kidding, 25 cents per comic -- for all kinds of new and old goodies annually. This feeding frenzy of fanboys is spread out over several days, and there is so damn much bargain goin' on that shoppers have been known to pass out from pleasure and/or drop their life savings on old issues of Green Arrow. Righteous.

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