On a never-ending quest of national (and now international!) nerdery, I recently found myself at Carselys Comics at St. Catherine Street in Montreal. Amidst the cold, bitter, winter air in the bustling Canadian Metropolis, my wife and I found ourselves at the unsuspecting Drummond Building. A little Google had gone a long way, as I would never expect a comic book store to be held inside of this mild-mannered office building. I especially wouldn’t have noticed it surrounded by the bright lights of the Cinema, the HMV, and the other brightly lit commercial fodder on the street. We walked into the building…unlocked and unmanned…and took the elevator to the 9th floor.
In the elevator, I couldn’t help but let my mind drift to the Olympus of Percy Jackson and the Olympians atop the Empire State Building; not that Carselys was an opulent palace or that the Drummond Building was the grand lady of the New York City skyline, but rather because you never know what a building is going to have hidden in its walls. As it turns out, Carselys was hidden in a row of offices that might as well be doctors, dentists, scam photographers, and lawyers—you wouldn’t ever think twice about it except that the Batman standee sticks out like the sorest thumb you’ve ever seen.
My wife and I walked into the store and saw a well-appointed, incredibly organized fortress of fanboy delight. They had well-stocked back issue rows (I recall specifically seeing some old Jimmy Olsens and prominently displayed Uncle Scrooge comics), a fine collection of Canadian coins (I hear-tell the owner is quite the authority, and lends in writing the coin catalogue). Carsleys boasts on its business card being a source of Gold, Silver, Bronze, and current comics and I can tell you that their collection is wonderful.
As a New Yorker, I’ve been to my fair share of comic book establishments and I’ve developed a taste for them over time. Each has its own distinctive personality and feel…its organization is its genetic makeup, and its staff is its face. This store was a beauty inside and out. Not only were they accommodating in facilitating the purchase of comics, but also the men inside the store were genuinely nice, courteous, polite, and caring people. The manager Paul was diligently attending to matters behind the counter while Will came forward immediately and struck up conversation about what I was looking for and what I hoped to find—eventually putting the first volume of Saga in my hands along with some Marvel Now number 1’s. Eventually, my wife monopolized their time asking for some information regarding what restaurants we might want to make reservations at for the evening and they were more than accommodating.
Meanwhile, my shopping was diverted as I struck up a conversation with Andre, who was cleaning up some recording equipment having just finished recording an episode of his comics web series. We spoke for a while about comics, cons, wrestling (by the way you can totally watch a pay-per-view at the movie theatre in Montreal which is pretty effin’ awesome), and video editing among other things. As someone always working, I snuck in a few unsolicited Eat Your Serial related Facebook follows, and began some other conversations that may one day come to bear. Suffice it to say that Andre appears to be a favorite son of the store, while Will and Paul received high praise—as did Carsleys itself—from the patron. I am inclined to agree on all counts.
Eventually, it came to light that we had actually entered the store after hours and they had welcomed us openly and without even mention that the store was closed. Back home we would have found ourselves turned away, slumped over in disappointment as the sad Charlie Brown Christmas music played in sympathy. Instead what we got was warm and friendly conversation from strangers willing to lend their opinions, suggestions, friendship, phones, and even a car ride to us. Not to mention I was able to get some comics (and bagged and boarded at that). Not bad, eh?
My experience at Carsleys (and indeed in Montreal in general) has moved me to endorse anyone reading this review to find their way there if given the opportunity. Mike, the owner of Carsleys, who was not present at the time, has assembled quite a team of professional, knowledgeable, and welcoming staff to his store along with a wide variety of goods and more than reasonable sale items. I will enjoy my comics one way or the other, but I will always appreciate the experience of a comic book store as the social element of my nerdery. The gentlemen I met at the only comic book store I visited in Montreal made certain to treat me in a way that ensured I would return the next time I find myself this far north of my normal location. For me, I appreciate this beyond any wares I might acquire in the store because good service makes the product all the better. On that note my comics were great.
Visit the fine people of Carsleys Comics at 1117 St. Catherine St. W, 9th Floor in Montreal, Quebec, Canada or online at http://www.carsleyscomics.com
Written by: Brandon Melendez