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Well into it’s third decade of bringing the fantastic worlds of superheroes, crime fighters and antiheroes to Calgarians, Phoenix Comics now has three locations that deal in comic books, graphic novels, action figures, role playing games and novelties. Ben Falconer founded the business in 1988 with the launch of its 17th Avenue Southwest store. Painted on the side of the building, comic hero the Silver Surfer has been a regular sight for eastbound traffic ever since. The mural pays homage to an era of classic comics that captured the imaginations of Ben and business partner Martin Rouse, inspiring them to grow the store into a little world of fantasy and fun for all ages.

Amazing Spiderman was my favourite,” Martin says of what got him hooked on comics. “I always liked the covers. I also read Sin City and Hellboy.” Since their formative years collecting and reading comics, Martin and Ben have watched the comic industry blossom. Once perceived to be a low-brow art form, comics have attained literary and artistic credibility. Martin says it’s a good time to be selling comic books. “I’d say we’re at the golden age of writing: Matt Fraction (The Invincible Iron Man) of Marvel Comics, Brian K. Vaughn (Y: the Last Man) from DC Comics and Image has Fiona Staples (Saga). She’s possibly the most successful comic artist to come out of Calgary since Todd McFarlane,” he says.

Phoenix carries these titles and many more. Pointing to the jam-packed rack of current issues by the shop’s main counter — including enduring titles such as Batman, Green Lantern and X-Men — Martin says Phoenix gets hundreds of new editions weekly. Beyond the racks of new monthlies, the shelves  are crammed with graphic novels, bound editions, Japanese manga, underground satire and humour books, special hardcover editions and biographical books about comic artists. If it has anything to do with comics and cartoons, Phoenix probably has it.

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