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Hero: The Labyrinth

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.
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Many Annex-dwellers rejoiced last December when BMV opened its fabulous new Bloor Street location, and the discount book warehouse has already become a staple of the strip. But we think equal praise should be lauded to comic store The Labyrinth, which opened up across the road in May. It’s not like Toronto was without purveyors of funny books before, what with The Silver Snail catering to the superhero crowd and The Beguiling being the hip choice for graphic novel connoisseurs, but The Labyrinth has managed to carve out its own niche, specializing, as its website will inform you, in “books on Animation, Illustration, Anime Art, Graffiti, Life Drawing, Sketchbooks, French Bandes Dessine [sic], Concept Art Books as well as Thousands of Manga and Graphic Novels, Toys and more.” But its biggest draw may be its highly affordable prices. Given our current so-called powerful dollar, it can be frustrating to have to pay the more expensive Canadian price on books, so The Labyrinth’s policy of charging US cover price on all graphic novels is simply delightful. And that’s before you even get to the sales, like the lengthy one a month back on hardcover trades, during which books went for 40% off the US cover price. This means you could, for instance, pick up books containing the first 43 issues of Brian K. Vaughn’s Runaways (gorgeously illustrated by Torontonian Adrian Alphona) for about $50.00 when it would otherwise set you back about $90.00.
The store also boasts a friendly and knowledgeable staff who are more than happy to order in harder-to-find books for you and maintains a blog to keep customers informed of new arrivals. Much like its south side neighbour BMV, The Labyrinth already feels like an integral part of the Annex community that’s been around forever. Maybe that’s because the people behind it have been selling books without a store under the name “The Labyrinth” since 1988. Or maybe it’s their willingness to host events at their store that call for local submissions, like book launches and art shows. In fact, due to a deadline push-back, they will be accepting submissions until the first week of January for their show “Vinyl Graffiti,” which will showcase art created in any medium using old record sleeves as canvases. Next time you’re on the lookout for bargain-ish reading material, remember to cross the street after browsing around BMV. You won’t be disappointed.
Photo from The Labyrinth’s blog Animation Road Show.

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