Inside Little Deer – how we started an independent comic shop
Matthew Melis introduces Dublin’s new comic book store, Little Deer, an independent outlet that showcases small press publications and celebrates ‘fresh new voices and stories’…
When we lived in Madrid, we lived in the comic strip district. The neighborhood wasn’t really called The Comic Book District, it was Malasaña, but within a 15-minute walk there were almost a dozen comic book stores. It has skewed my expectations of cities ever since.
Little Deer Comics began as a side project within DCAF, the Dublin Comic Arts Festival. The festival did a good job of reflecting Irish comic creators, but we didn’t have the budget to invite international guests, so to bring an international context to our local event, I started importing comics for sale at DCAF.
Because comics are an art form of storytelling and everyone has their own stories to tell, the stories I’m most interested in aren’t the ones I’ve heard before from the creators I love. have seen before.
Using Pender’s Market in Stoneybatter as a base, I spent 2019 lugging suitcases, boxes and carts of comics to as many Dublin markets as I could. Our selection was small but unique and people loved finding comics they had never seen in Ireland before.
With the pandemic, Little Deer transitioned from marketplaces to online, first casually via email, then as the pandemic spread from month to year, a full-fledged online store. What started as an occasional hobby alongside organizing DCAF grew until we could no longer fit in our tiny cabin. Coincidentally, it was just when the site of the legendary Stoneybatter Maureen’s shop was up for rent.
Six months isn’t really a pop-up, but we called it a pop-up. Because we knew Maureen’s landlord had big plans that didn’t include us, and we knew that despite the warm welcome we had received from neighbors and customers, Stoneybatter’s retail rents weren’t sustainable.
Enter our charming new Inchicore store! Accessible, affordable, with more room for more comics! Now, instead of wondering if we’re going to close for good in a few months, we can focus on building an international comic book store on par with Silver Sprocket in San Francisco, or Gosh! Comics in London.
It’s a great day to buy comics, I think.
Come to the store at 122 Emmet Road between 10:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. Saturday and Sunday or if that’s too far https://t.co/pFMBcXquTZ is just a click away! pic.twitter.com/4y3Cikh41I
— Little Deer Comics (@littledeercmx) April 23, 2022
We can’t compete in size with the existing comic shops or bookstores in Dublin (Books Upstairs and Chapters have wonderful graphic novel sections) so we try to stock what they don’t have and put in highlights creators who would not normally be in the spotlight. Because comics are an art form of storytelling and everyone has their own stories to tell, the stories I’m most interested in aren’t the ones I’ve heard before from the creators I love. have seen before. That’s why you find so many self-published comics and small press in Little Deer, because that’s where you find the fresh new voices and stories.
Sometimes a customer will say “I don’t know where to start with comics”, but unlike movie posters and prose books, it’s totally reasonable to judge a comic by its cover! Creator-owned comic artists are responsible for both the inside art and the cover art, so if a cover strikes you, the art inside should too. We also divide our store by gender. If there’s a genre you like in prose, TV, or movies, you’ll probably enjoy comics in that same genre.
Our hope is that this store in Inchicore will give us the opportunity to grow. That it will give more opportunities to people who make comics and hopefully encourage more comics to be made in Dublin and Ireland.
Little Deer Comics is located at 122 Emmet Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8 – find out more (and order comics online) here.