Divisadero's Comix Experience turns 30 this weekend

Divisadero's Comix Experience turns 30 this weekendPhoto: Camden Avery/Hoodline
Camden Avery
Published on March 28, 2019

This Saturday, March 30, Comix Experience, the city's comic shop of record at 305 Divisadero, will celebrate its 30th anniversary. 

"Everything's changed" since the store opened its doors on Divisadero in 1989, founder Brian Hibbs told Hoodline, both in the world of comics and in the neighborhood. His store has survived catastrophic flooding, an expansion to a second location (the Comix Experience Outpost, on Ocean Avenue), and that location's near-closure

But Comix Experience continues to evolve and grow, remaining one of the anchor businesses on Divisadero even as the world changes around it.

"This neighborhood used to be the kind of place you could have a church that was all about John Coltrane's music, or you could have a magic shop where the people who own it could live in the back," Hibbs said. "That's why we opened here 30 years ago." 

"There's been a societal change for the acceptability of comics" in the last 30 years, said founder and owner Brian Hibbs. | Photo: Camden Avery/HOodline

As Divisadero rents have soared and bookstores have struggled in a post-Amazon world, Comix Experience has adapted and thrived. Events and a graphic novel book club help keep its business going. 

When a 21-year-old Hibbs first opened the store in the late '80s, it was "a very traditional comics shop, in that it was mostly periodicals," he said. "These days, we're a bookstore — it's a completely different model."

The world's relationship to comics culture has changed, too. Traditional superhero stories are now big business, driving the movie world's biggest blockbusters. On the other end of the spectrum, graphic novels have become a prestigious art form, winning literary awards. 

"When we opened, you could hear people talk, walking by the door, saying, 'Oh, they still make [comics]?'" Hibbs said. "There's been a societal change for the acceptability of comics."

The store will host an anniversary celebration this Saturday, March 30 from 6-10 p.m., with beer, a taco truck, and general merriment.

On Monday, April 1, Comix Experience and Comix Experience Outpost (2381 Ocean Ave.) will have all-day sales, with 30 percent off their entire stock.

Hibbs' attention has also turned to securing his business' future. Now that he's hit the 30-year mark for Legacy Business status, he's planning to put in an application with the city.