Big Monkey Comics: Discovering Big Monkey Comics in D.C.

Big Monkey’s business card
Big Monkey Comics

Last week I went to Washington, DC, for a few days to see the brash and lovely indie rock goddess Leslie Feist (who kicked several levels of posterior, for those of you interested), and my nagging preoccupation was what my next AO subject would be. I was staying with my sister, Sabahat, who lives in DC Since I was taking the rail to our nation’s capitol, and Lancaster’s The Comic Store (yes, that’s what it’s called) is conveniently located across the street from the train station, it was my obvious first choice for material. Simple. My train left on Wednesday at 11:34AM (don’t you love how razor-precise Amtrak purports to be?) and I reasoned could get to the comic shop sometime between 10AM and 11AM. There were more than a few priorities standing in my way, though. Staying up late the night before my departure looking for events to occupy my days was one of them. I refused to wander around the L’Enfant planned ex-Federal City with no less than a bagful of instructions.

However, a more important purchase stood in my way and that was an AC charger for my iPod; I had a pile of TV shows I had TiVo’ed for my three-hour train ride and, as every knows, videos put a Dedrick Tatum-style hurting on the battery of even the best aesthetically designed MP3 player in existence. Furthermore, I was famished. Food and caffeine were of the utmost importance. After grabbing two slices of mushroom pie and a Vault energy soda to wash it down with, I only had time to pick up my train tickets and watch the clock nibble its way down to the train’s arrival. My need for panel-box reading material would have to wait until later and I was pretty thankful – though not at the time – that it did.

Attempt number two to get comics was at the Beaux-Arts–style Union Station in Washington, DC. Waiting for my sister to call me with her apartment keys, and not content with walking around the town with my heavy bag, I decided to kill time at the B. Dalton bookstore located within the confines of D.C.’s epic and magnificent carved granite, gold and marble railway station. The store was crammed wall to wall with people and books, and carrying a bulky pack further complicated my hunt for the paltry three-shelf graphic novel section (though they did have an impressive five shelves of manga); I didn’t find Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, my decided upon target.

All was not lost. Sabahat had mentioned that a new comic book shop had opened up in her neighborhood. I mentally marked it as a place I wanted to visit. Thursday afternoon, after carefully marking a route of art galleries and the like, I unexpectedly ran right into the shop, titled Big Monkey Comics. At the end of a hallway with textured mango paint and flat plum-colored carpeting, the shop entrance itself was filled with a poster rack and pictures of the Hero Clix games that they carry. My heart was pounding – this was going to be awesome!

A selection of Big Monkey’s goods
Ahmad Chaudhary

Inside the entrance, an employee was lounging behind a small counter with a cash register. A large rack immediately to my left held assorted single issues, books and figures, including the stunning DC Deluxe Collectors line. The shop also had two appealing wrap-around leather arm chairs, plus “recommended” and graphic novel shelves.

In one of the two adjacent rooms were action figures and t-shirts. Up front on the figure racks were some Marvel Legends and, importantly, DC Direct releases that I’d been drooling over in pictures online. The drool-worthy included the Red Son Superman, Red Son Wonder Woman, the Gotham by Gaslight Batman (which I was not even aware was in production) and the Infinite Crisis series Superman (one of my all-time favorite Supes sculpts), in addition to the amusing Lego-style Kubrick lines. What really had me excited was the DC Direct Batman Through the Ages set that was 20% off. This wasn’t my first time eyeing it up, so it appeared particularly tempting. I told the employee I was in the neighborhood for a few days and that I would most certainly be back for some swag.

Friday afternoon, I walked back into Big Monkey ready to buy. Despite my desire to purchase some of the marvelous action figures, general space concerns – both in my house and in my messenger bag – at the time prevented me from purchasing any. But I could still gawk at them, and that I did.

Big Monkey’s reading area
Ahmad Chaudhary

I paced around the store, carefully examining my options. Knowing that in addition to Swamp Thing, I wanted to pick up some random single issues. I asked the employee for some recommendations. He said that Superman: Up, Up and Away was one of the best superhero books he’d read in twenty years. Sold. However, I also wanted to branch out of the tights and general powered-being genre, so I picked up a few issues of reality-based Local and of Dynamite Entertainment’s gritty Lone Ranger mag since I’ve been digging Clint Eastwood Westerns recently. To top it off, I grabbed Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp Thing. Oh, and I picked up the new KISS title, KISS 4K. It looks generally bad, except for the artwork, but I had to buy it – it was the only copy there. I promise I won’t review it. Maybe. Seriously consider stopping by Big Monkey if you’re ever in DC and need to pander to your fanboy or fangirl addictions.