Vintage superheroes, introspective indie titles and art exhibitions all meet at this West End bookshop.
It’s the trend that has become so established, it’s now a cliche: Queenslanders moving down south to pursue bigger and better things. It’s also the trend Vlada Edirippulige is happy to break, making her dream of opening her own comic book store a reality.
Based in West End, Junky Comics launched on April 10, 2015, establishing its physical presence less than a year after bursting onto the online scene. The passion project of Edirippulige, also known as illustrator Junky and as a member of local band Major Leagues, Junky Comics is partly her way of counteracting the apathy so often seen throughout the city. "Brisbane has such a great music scene, and such a great arts scene. Why can't things like this work here?" she notes.
Indeed, location is everything — particularly the shop on Vulture Street, which is still in the process of being unpacked when Concrete Playground stops by. As soon as Edirippulige found out the place was available, she sprang into action, working to get the store up and running as soon as possible. "This is such a great little strip in a really lovely community," she says of her spot just up the road from Jet Black Cat Music, and around the corner from both Bent Books and The Avid Reader.
The relaxed neighbourhood feel suits her vision for the store, with Junky Comics the kind of place where browsing — and taking a seat on the couch while you peruse the shop's stock — is welcome. "I really hate that feeling of getting in, grabbing something and getting out," Edirippulige advises. "With comics, you need to look through them too see if you dig them.
"The decision to turn Junky into a physical store had a lot do with the idea of utilising the space itself, not just as a place to sell comics but a place to have exhibitions and workshops, talks and readings." She hopes to cultivate "a good creative space where you can sit and read and draw a bit if that was what you wanted to do".
The unique combination of written word with illustration is a big part of what draws Edirippulige to comics as well. "Some of the most 'highbrow intellectual' texts I've read have been comics," she says. "I think that's why it's super easy to get quickly invested in comics because of the visual aspect, they communicate with the reader so easily."
Edirippulige's affection for the medium is obvious and infectious, even if she contends she started Junky Comics from "a very selfish place." She continues, "I wanted to be able to pool together all of the comics that I loved and have them in one place, under one roof. Comic books and graphic novels cover such widespread content — it's not just about superheroes anymore! — and I wanted to have a place that showcased that diversity."
Indeed, rifling through the wares adorning the store's custom-made shelves proves just that, with Junky Comics stocking everything from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis to vintage Wonder Woman. "A huge inspiration as well was the fact that I wanted to have a tonne of work by female writers and artists because there is so much of it out there and it is so good," she explains, with her alternative and indie stock sourced from publishers in Canada, London and the USA alongside classics from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Image, plus art books and local zines.
Between the artwork and the comics, there's plenty to entice customers into what will hopefully become a thriving new Brisbane hub for all things — and people — of the creative persuasion.