After more than 33 years of operation, the DRAGON LADY COMICS SHOP is closing its doors in two weeks. If you’re not from the Toronto area, and aren’t much into the comics scene, then I suppose the closing of a local comics shop isn’t going to mean much to you. But I’ve lived my life in Toronto, and started my career here, so the memories are flooding in. The Dragon Lady wasn’t the biggest shop in the city, it wasn’t the first, or the best known. But it was my local comic shop for a good chunk of those years so I get to be mewly and sentimental.
So, darn it all.
Ty the Guy OUT!
Here now, your BONUS Dragon Lady Comics Moment: I meet Harvey Pekar in a Bun Toon originally published a year or so ago. Here it is again!
This appeared originally the week after Harvey died.
It’s sad when a business closes, especially one that’s been around so long. I never visited the store, but I have several Dragon Land Press books. (Memory # 7 is my favorite.)
Never ever been to Canada, my loved your heartfelt recollections.
“Ty the Crack Whore”…
Now, me thinks, my picture of “Ty the Guy whom I’ve never had the dis-pleasure of acquainting” seems so complete.
I think this is something that just could not be explained adequately to the “significant other” here (though she is a huge Witchblade fan now and has even learned enough to ask “What is American Splendor?”).
My only negative memory of Dragon Lady involved dealing with miserable saleswoman in 1988. She chided me for wanting to open up some back issues when I was in the process of buying almost $150 worth of stuff and was utterly humourless.
But every other memory I have of Dragon Lady is a good one. I remember buying the last issue of V for Vendetta there and struggling not to read it in the store. Going there with my Dad in the early ’80s to buy 1960s issues of House of Mystery (the one with Plastic Man). Being there the day Superman 75 came out. Buying all sorts of newspaper pages from the ’40s and ’50s (I got a ’41 Superman Sunday page figuring it would be the closest I’d get to owning an original comic by Siegel and Shuster)
Most of my memories are of the College Street store from 2000-2008. I frequented probably more than any other comic shop in Toronto, mostly because they had an awesome collection of back issues and trades and I really liked the staff. And they had the most incredible quarter bins too. All the collections and want lists I had inevitably got finished there: the Kaluta/O’Neil Shadow, Moore’s Supreme, the 70s Swamp Thing… any trip to Dragon Lady usually meant being there at least an hour just to go through the longboxes.
I moved to Ottawa in 2008 but tried to stop by when I was in the area. I’m sorry it’s gone. With it and the Silver Snail and Pages going, it really is the end of an era in Toronto.
Thanks for the memories Graeme. Though the Silver Snail has changed owners, it’s still around, and plans to be a presence in Toronto for years to come (even in a new location). The Dragon Lady will continue, apparently, in SOME form…as an internet back issue company. And possibly other ways…he said cryptically.
Bless ya’, Ty m’lad, but it must have been the crack, eh?
Can’t say I ever edited the store’s publishing imprint (Dragon Lady Press) which introduced you to Alex Toth, Leonard Starr, etc. or that I published your first comic related art … sigh! — though I’ll certain you’re thinking of my good friend and predecessor at the shop, the aforementioned Dave Darrigo.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re still right about that “Toronto comic book legend” stuff … 😉 having managed the Lady for a few years; edited some of the Dragon Lady Dispatches and put on a number of the shop’s conventions (y’know with Joe Kubert, Todd McFarlane, and a few other upcoming artists of the time) along with publishing ORB magazine and initiating the Joe Shuster Awards … but just not those things you mentioned, okay?
Anyway, seeing as you didn’t draw me into the strip … double sigh!!! … all you need to do is change the lettering and you’re all set … another Bun Toon for the archives!
Sad what that horrible crack does to the memory, right … Dale? … sorry, Ty?
Jim … uh, James!
The first place my artwork was published was the Dragon Lady Dispatch, where I drew two covers for you. So, even if you didn’t edit the Buz Sawyer reprint books, you DID publish my first work in the comix biz in those two covers. (One with Judge Dredd, one with the THUNDER Agents, by the way…) So I’m not so bad with my crack memory as all that.
Ty the Guy
Much as I’d love to take credit for those Dispatch issues, Ty, when I handled that newsletter it was just winding down (discontinued for financial reasons just like the late Dragon Lady Press) and the issues I edited had covers by IAN CARR and JIM BEVERIDGE but, sadly, none by you. Check with Darrigo, I’m certain he’ll confirm that! … anyway, gotta get back to the pipe … 😉 — JW.
Dragon Lady memories – stunning drawing there!
A 90’s memory: I’m in the store, leafing through some 60’s DCs, when I notice a lawyer I know. “You collect COMICS?” he says, none too respectfully. Well, uh, maybe not ‘collect’, I say, more like ‘accumulate’, um, certain artists, blah blah. What are you here for? “ACTION figures”, he says, with an unmistakable sense of superiority.
Had no idea Waley had taken up bagpipes. Can you play ‘Annie Laurie”, Jim?
Nope, but I can do a pretty fair “Amazing Grace” on a kazoo! … 😉
Damn, I didn’t KNOW there was a comic adaption of The Stars my Destination! I’m definitely checking that out right now!
On a related note, I can identify with your loss. A science-fiction store, Nebula closed shop over a decade ago, and it was a welcome retreat since it was one of the few comic stores that bothered to stock Manga, which was still a niche interest at the time. The sting was lessened by the fact that there were still several comic shops in the immediate area.
My condolences, and I hope you find a worthy replacement.
I lost track of Dragon Lady after they moved out of the Queen St West location (back when Queen West was actually cool). I LOVED the newspaper reprints. Those mags started my mania for newspaper strips. I still have most of them. Ah, those were the days. Comix were still geek chic, the hunt for back issues a total obsession. *sigh*
So sad to hear! Back in the 80s/90s I worked at Dragon Lady and worked alongside Dave Darrigo. I met you Ty and others (the Van Bruggens, Chester Brown, etc.) while I was there and was part of the launch of Vortex (Bill Marks over at the Snail). I remember I was working on a comic with Dave about solidiers of fortune or something. The memories. Good times. The Dragon Lady was my first real job and my introduction to the business side of the comic book world.
PS Dave if you’re out there I’d love to chat again!
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