More than a Comic Shop
Parts of the disability sector want you to believe society has progressed and the world is inclusive of all. Sadly this is far from the truth. When I go out, people give me looks of disbelief, pity, fear… I could go on but basically it’s not very welcoming. Due to the frequency of this I have developed an immunity to it (friends get more angry about it than I do). I know all too well that were I to take it personally I wouldn’t go anywhere and I wouldn’t be a pleasant person to be around.
The positive to come out of this is that I have become acutely aware of where this doesn’t occur. And for me, and countless others, one of the places where it doesn’t happen is All Star Comics. Whilst there it is ultimate acceptance, to the point I suffer withdrawal symptoms if I don’t get there every couple of weeks!
Firstly wheelchair access is as good as anywhere in the world, particularly since moving to 53 Queen Street. Owners, Mitch and Troy, wanted a comic book store that’s unique. They certainly achieved this with having accessible ground floor entry. Lift access is required for level 2, which any of the friendly staff will happily assist with. That level contains all the graphic novels, and stacks of toys, so I don’t like going up there too often because I see too much stuff I want to buy!
Most importantly though, All Star Comics has plenty of space to move around. This is so impressive that I feel like I should repeat it again. This isn’t just significant for people with disabilities; it’s significant for all comic book fans. It really is unprecedented. Generally, the inside of a comic book shop looks and feels like a storeroom. For those that have never been I will stick with my initial description it’s like Borders, only it’s comics not books.
By doing this All Star Comics has broken down barriers. While the numerous movies with comic book characters have raised awareness, there are still many challenges. Fans always seem to have to justify why they read comics and the perception is it’s something you should grow out of. All Star Comics clearly understood this. They have created somewhere that fans could only dream of and non-fans respect because they can see the effort that has gone into the store.
If this isn’t enough there are also events to enjoy throughout the year. From my personal favourite, Free Comic Book Day to Batman Day to appearances by writers and artists, there is plenty going on outside of regular business. What I like about all of this is that it demonstrates All Star Comics commitment to what they are doing. They are constantly looking at new ways to attract new customers, whilst providing loyal fans opportunities that seemed unimaginable.
I find this particularly interesting because it exposes what is missing in the disability sector. Whenever I leave All Star Comics I feel motivated. This is because I visibly see what can be done when like-minded people are focused. Something I don’t often see in the disability sector.
And this has become one of my many missions. I have lost count of the times I have said people with disability and their families need to look outside the sector to get ideas of what needs to be done. I can’t help it, when I know places like All Star Comics exist.
Obviously I recommend checking it out. Sure it’s better if you like comics but people with disability and their families should go there at least once.
We all hear the words, inclusion and accessible for all as if it’s standard practice. I often wonder though if anyone is actually trying for this, or if it’s just words. With All Star Comics not only are they trying, they are succeeding with it. You’ll struggle to find a better example in Melbourne.
Now, onto getting other places to follow their lead…