Saturday, April 13, 2019

Nostalgia and Comics regenerates

As from today, the UK's longest running comic shop, Nostalgia and Comics, is no more... but don't panic! It's had a complete refit and a name change to Worlds Apart. Yes, they still sell comics, - although you'll find them upstairs now, with the ground floor being used for Funko Pops and other merchandise.

Nostalgia and Comics opened in late 1976, founded by Phil Clarke, who had previously played a huge part in the history of comics fandom by organising Britain's first comic convention in 1968. The original Nostalgia and Comics store was a tiny shop on the corner of Hurst Street in Birmingham, which opened in November 1976 as announced in Comic Media News No.28...

...and advertised fully in the following issue...
Art by Mike Higgs.
Shortly after, a second branch was opened to cater for back issues, a few seconds walk away in the subway of Smallbrook Queensway...
Art by Mike Higgs.
By 1979, a new larger premises were opened on the other side of the road at 14/16 Smallbrook Queensway, replacing the previous shops. (The subway shop was sold to Readers World who traded there for a while. The subway no longer exists, having been filled in as part of a redevelopment in Birmingham several years ago.)

With two floors, the new shop at 14/16 Smallbrook Queensway was brighter and more comfortable for customers. They are the same premises still in use today.

Years ago, Phil Clarke gave up ownership of Nostalgia and Comics when it was bought out by the Forbidden Planet International company, although they retained the name Nostalgia and Comics... until today. Now, with a complete refit, the name has been changed to Worlds Apart, which is also the name of a comics shop in Liverpool owned by FPI.

(If you're wondering why they didn't simply call it Forbidden Planet International when they took over, it's because they can't if there's a rival Forbidden Planet in the same town. Yes, there are two companies with similar names. It's complicated. Basically, the owners fell out years ago and both claimed the name for their rival shops. Forbidden Planet International with the black/gold/white branding is one company, whilst Forbidden Planet with the white/red/black rocket logo is a different company.)

I guess it makes sense for the sake of unity and branding to use the Worlds Apart name for their shops, but for many of us it's a sad loss to see the name Nostalgia and Comics go after more than 40 years. I was one of the original customers back in the 1970s and was a regular for many years, meeting up with other customers on a Saturday or Thursday before heading off for our weekly pie and a pint or whatever. Admittedly I don't visit as often as I used to but I'm sure it's still a great community spot for readers and will continue to be so under its new name.

Goodbye then, Nostalgia and Comics, but here's wishing Worlds Apart a bright and prosperous future! 

More info on the changes here:

...and a video of the refit, at the Geeky Brummie YouTube channel here:


NP said...

I have a Nostalgia and Comics tale!
In about 1991 I had to be in London at a particular time one Saturday for a birthday surprise and I had promised to pick up an old magazine cover date of the actual birthdate which I'd seen at N&C when I was there the previous weekend as a gift for the special someone to present to the birthday boy. I travelled on the West Coast mainline so I could get off at Birmingham New Street and stroll down to N&C then stroll back for the Euston train around 40 minutes later. Upon exiting the station I was confronted by- The Birmingham Marathon! In the days before the internet, these surprises were common! I can still remember the pained look on the stewards face as I dashed over the barrier he was closing, wove through the runners and escaped onto the next street, virtually intact! Of course I then had to repeat the operation in reverse. Luckily, I not only managed it but got that very suitable mag with the exact date and the party was a great success!
Phew! I feel exhausted just remembering all that. No wonder we were all so skinny!

Lew Stringer said...

Now that's what I call dedication to comics!

DazAdams said...

wtf! Why on earth would they change the name of a ship with such heritage. Utter nonsense

Stevie.H said...

Shame about the name change, but I will keep going in. Most people will still call it tnostalgia and comics!

Lew Stringer said...

The shop needed a refit and it does look good, but it's a pity that by changing the name it'll lose the status of being the UK's longest running comics shop... now that honour will soon belong to their rivals at Forbidden Planet, which opened in 1978.

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