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Comic Lovers Get a Clubhouse

There were no surly, Simpsons-esque Comic Book Guys to be found at the opening of the Comic Book Lounge & Gallery.

Comic fans party at the Comic Book Lounge & Gallery's's grand opening. Photo by Dean Bradley.

The Comic Book Lounge & Gallery is more than just a comic book store. According to manager Joe Kilmartin, the College Street space, which celebrated its grand opening on Friday night, is meant to be a community hub.

He wants Toronto’s comic fans to use the lounge as a place to bond over the titles they love.

“The whole idea is to have people come in, get their books, sit down a while, read, have a cup of coffee, listen to music, and take it easy,” he said.

The idea for the lounge came about following the January demise of Dragon Lady Comics, where Kilmartin was a manager. The upstairs space at 587 College Street, where the lounge is now located, was already home to both the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop and Guerilla Printing, a digital print shop that has worked on small comics and zines. When Comic Book Lounge co-owner Kevin Boyd, who is also the director of the Joe Shuster Awards and the event coordinator for FanExpo, first heard about Dragon Lady’s closure, he contacted Sean Menard, the mind behind the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop and Guerilla Printing, about using some of his vacant space.

Comic lover Brandon Lim gets engrossed at the Comic Book Lounge. By Dean Bradley

“When I heard that Dragon Lady was closing,” said Boyd, “I went to Sean, the owner of the Cartoonists Workshop, and I said, ‘You know all the empty space at the front of your school? Why don’t we put a comic book store up there and keep Dragon Lady alive in some way?’”

Boyd, Menard, and Kilmartin convinced Dragon Lady owner Josh Biernet to transfer his subscriptions over to them, then started imagining their dream store.

“We didn’t want to do a huge space with back issues,” said Boyd. “There are a lot of traditional comic book shops in town, and I said when we were putting this all together, ‘If we’re going to do this, let’s not do a traditional comic book shop. Let’s do something unique, like a gathering space with a community aspect.’”

In addition to being a shop and clubhouse for comic lovers, the lounge will also function as an art gallery, showcasing work from artists in the city’s comic scene. The artist on display right now is Mike Del Mundo, whose portfolio includes almost 50 Marvel covers. For him, having his work on the walls of the Comic Book Lounge is a treat.

Artist Mike Del Mundo next to his work. Photo by Dean Bradley.

“We don’t really get a chance to enjoy what we do,” he said. “We’re so involved with hitting deadlines and whatnot, just to to put it all on the wall and enjoy it and digest it—it’s amazing.”

Kilmartin said that he hopes the fun, convention-like vibe of the lounge’s opening will be characteristic of the shop.

“Any small group of people who are interested in anything—essentially you all like same thing,” he said. “If you’re a sports fan, you might have your differences in teams that you like, but ultimately it’s the game that you love. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being in a room full of people who love the same thing.”


  • Matthew Harper

    Why does the Simpsons Comic Book Guy have to be mentioned at all?

    Do torontoist’s writers mention pretentious snobs in relation to articles about articles about AGO or musical performances?

    • Anonymous

      I think the reference just reinforces the point that the lounge/gallery isn’t the (stereo)typical comic book shop.

  • Anonymous

    The local dating… More singles find true love in here. They find he or her of the same fondness.Hope you can find your lover in here.Good luck!

  • Amanda Halley

    Where are all the ladies?! GET OUT THERE GRRRRLS!!

  • Kevin

    Isn’t Killmartin like 400 pounds?
    pretty typical Simpsons comic book guy if you ask me…
    Also, isn’t Killmartin why Dragonlady went out of business in the first place?

    • Kevin Boyd

      Disgusting Kevin. No, DL closed because it’s 86 year old owner decided that the rent increase at the old location was a good reason for him to get out of the retail game.

  • Ligeiamorella

    Wow, you would think you folks were from Buffalo with the complete lack of positive comments ; )

    I agree though. Get out there ladies! I’m tired of being the only girl at shops/comicon down here.

    • YT

      Probably because Killmartin gets a kick out of making girls feel like idiots and has power trips over them.

    • Kevin Boyd

      Our customer base is pretty evenly divided between men and women. Our current full-time employee is a woman and we host quarterly Ladies Nights at the store where the guys stay home.

  • YT

    That is exactly what this place is, a clubhouse. Reserved for those who think they deserve a special space while others are ignored, made fun of in public and even harassed by Killmartin. In fact, he even puts on a show of being super nice to people who he knows while being nasty to you if he doesn’t like you. Fantastic business.

  • Kevin Boyd

    The store has grown and changed quite a bit over the last year plus, and is almost unrecognizable to folks who came in for our opening party as it has filled up nicely. We’ve grown and expanded with new features such as the quarterly Comic Book Marathons (in conjunction with Ty Templeton’s Comic Book Boot Camp), Ladies Nights (where the guys stay home), art shows and book launches. We’ve got things happening almost every other week at the Comic Book Lounge. Of course, artists are welcome to come in and use our Lounge area to draw and meet other similarly interested creatives.

    The Toronto Cartoonists’ Workshop finished it’s last course in March 2013 and is no longer operating.

    Additionally, there have been some personnel changes over the last few months. While Joe Kilmartin is no longer working for us at the Lounge as manager (as of May 1/13), his departure should not be taken as a knock against his skills and abilities or confirmation of the speculations/harassing comments shown by the posters here in the comments section. Rachel Richey joined our staff in February 2013 and is the regular full-time person at the Lounge.