Isotope Comics in San Francisco is one of the coolest comic shops I’ve ever visited. Actually, it’s called a comics lounge, and for good reason. Rather than having a neurotic owner breathing down your neck, making sure you’re not handling the merchandise too much, at Isotope Comics you’re encouraged to pull up a comfy chair, browse comics for hours, and talk shop with customers and staff.
When you walk in, you notice a few things: custom-made bright red couches that look like they would fit the décor of any hip LA club, a huge inventory of graphic novels that you can’t just find anywhere, the most impressive variety of independent comics you’ve ever seen, and lots of toilet seats mounted on the walls. Now, these aren’t ordinary toilet seats; these are toilet seats transformed into artwork and signed by various comic writers and artists: Mike Carey, Mark Millar, Rick Remember, Warren Ellis, James Callahan, and the list goes on and on. The best part is that the owner of the place, James, has a genuine love of comics that spills over, and he’s happy to give you an enthusiastic tour of his treasured toilet seats and to share a few funny stories about the writers/artists.
Not only does James give one fun, personable tour, but he knows his stuff. I’ve never talked to someone who knows so much about comics: new, old, independent, mainstream, manga, classics, horror… he seriously knows it all. He’s even served as a judge for the Eisner Award in comics.
If you’re in San Francisco, this place is a must-see. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. And if it’s your first time checking in there on Foursquare, you get 15% off your purchase. Beautiful interiors, huge selection, great staff, and tech savvy. What more could you want?
PS- Be sure to see the gorgeous original Frank Quitely panels that hang above the register.