Name: Desert Island
Location: 540 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Description: Desert Island is a small, one-room comic book store. The large window houses a display, not of books, but of a papier-mâché dragon swooping down on little human figurines below. The interior of the store presents a similar design theme. Comic books are tightly packed on shelves, and a large mobile, chandelier of shiny, blue arrows illuminated by a bare light bulb hangs in the middle of the room. The back wall is covered in orangey, reddish paisley wallpaper that contains beige and black print designs of a place that appears to be somewhere in India. Various other abstract posters also cover the walls. The wooden floors are a stunning shade of chartreuse and some bookshelves sport a coat of electric blue paint. Jazz plays softly in the background completing the seemly random yet somehow cohesive bookstore atmosphere.
What I like: This bookstore offers a wide variety of comics and graphic novels. They sell everything from mainstream Marvel and DC comics to independently published comics, zines, posters and prints. They also sell several vintage editions of Mad Magazine. Like a couple of the other stores visited so far, Desert Island supports local artists, and the front of the store contains two racks dedicated to independent works created by those artists. In addition, the quirky store decorations make browsing an exciting experience because every time you look up from a book or from the shelves, you spot something new on the walls. The shop seems busy despite its small size, and the staff member running the checkout counter is friendly and knowledgeable. Definitely would recommend a trip out here for all of your comic book needs.
How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: In addition to running a bookstore, Desert Island also acts as a publisher. They produce their own series called Smoke Signal, which they call “a quarterly tabloid comics anthology,” that showcases work from both established and up-and-coming independent artists. The comic is available for purchase on their web store, or can be picked up for free at their physical location in Brooklyn. The store sells ad space in these comics and their upcoming issue will be “hand distributed in the NYC subway system,” making this an enticing place for advertisements since it will receive a lot of views. In addition, Desert Island is responsible for organizing the annual Comic Arts Brooklyn Festival, which presents events such as movie screenings, artist talks, book signings, and exhibitions. One interesting element of their digital presence is that their only website is a Tumblr account. They do have social media pages, and though they seem to post the same content on each page, they have a decent following and are able to use their platforms to promote artists and engage their fans. Finally, the store sells other items including patches and Desert Island themed items such as t-shirts, wrapping paper, and coasters.
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