Friday, June 29, 2012

Quality Comics in Lewisham Way

A pleasant stroll on my 'New Cross and Deptford Radical History' walk a couple of weeks ago, from the Hobgoblin to the Birds Nest and back again. Around 40 people came along, which made the sun come out especially. I don't count a walk or talk like this a success though unless somebody chips in with some new information. So I was pleased when somebody pointed out that a shop in Lewisham Way played a key role in British comics.


Quality Comics was right next door to the Marquis of Granby at 3 Lewisham Way, and seems to have originally been opened in 1975 as Weird Fantasy by Frank Dobson. The rooms upstairs were sublet to Dez Skinn as the base for his emerging comics publishing empire. As Dez recalls, from 1979 he also acquired the shop, renaming it Quality Comics (photos above are from Dez's site).

It was in this period that his Quality Communications launched Warrior magazine as a kind of home grown UK version of a Marvel comic. The 26 issues published between 1982 and 1985 were very influential, featuring among other things the first episodes of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta



Quality Communications also published the Halls of Horror series from its New Cross office. Not sure how long the New Cross shop/office continued - last Lewisham Way address I have found online for Quality Communications Ltd is from 1984.

Anybody know any more or remember the shop?

Update January 2013 - I came across this advert  for Quality Comics 'home of Warrior' today in a 1988 issue of the comics magaazine Speakeasy, so clearly the shop was still going then.




14 comments:

san said...

IIRC the shop was run by an American guy, can't remember his name. There used to be a 6m high hoarding of Axel Pressbutton & Laser Eraser above the door.

Ladywell1 said...

The American who ran it was Bruce Paley. I used to go there and buy comics. Later on it moved to Loampit Vale (by Mothercare) and I worked there for a few years

fabhat said...

In the late 80's/early 90's my brother used to spend all his pocket money in there as a kid. He then got a saturday job with Bruce - and spent all his wages on comics as well. He used to spend practically all day in there on Saturdays - once having to be dragged out by my irate mother in pre mobile phone days, when he hadn't come home at the agreed time... an event so terrifying to other comic nerds that I met someone a few years later, who'd been there at the time and still quaked at the thought of my mother in full ire*

*my brother won't thank me for mentioning that - sorry!

Anonymous said...

I remember driving past that shop in the mid 80's as a 7 year old and it was shut down. I remember the the psychotic cyborg above the shop. Never got to go in. I went in the comic shop that was opposite Ladywell swimming baths. Anyone remember that?

Anonymous said...

I remember driving past that shop in the mid 80's as a 7 year old and it was shut down. I remember the the psychotic cyborg above the shop. Never got to go in. I went in the comic shop that was opposite Ladywell swimming baths and bought a killer Hulk comic! there was way to much to choose from being a young kid with only enough money for 1 comic sucked! Does anyone remember that comic shop?

Anonymous said...

Hey, is there anyone who remembers a comic shop that was up by Lewisham market in the 80's. Remember it weirdly had an adult magazine section at the back of it but can't recall the name of the shop.

Andrew Wright said...

The comic shop in Lewisham was called Popular Book Centre (I think it was part of a chain of small independent shops).
I remember buying Batman Son of the Demon in there.

Anonymous said...

Cheers Andrew, knew I wasn't misremembering there being a comic shop by the market...I goggled the name and found a Facebook page dedicated to them.
The Lewisham shop must have been open around the late 80's, Son of the Demon came out in'87...now I think, that was about the time I went there.
Dean.

Jon Dennis said...

I remember Weird Fantasy in the mid-70s, and also the Popular Book Centre on Lewisham High St. Weird Fantasy was the only place in the area where you could get US imports and had some really rare stuff too.

Anonymous said...

The very helpful guy who ran the Popular Book Centre in Lewisham was Bruce Hawkins, who later opened his own comic shop - Avalon Comics in Lavender Hill, near Clapham Junction. I used to drive up from Croydon in the mid-1980’s, when you could still park in the side roads. I was also a regular customer at Quality Comics when it was run by Steve 'Win' Wiacek (the guy on the right in the photo outside the shop). Bruce Paley ran it after 'Win' and later opened his own comic shop at 66 Loampit Vale, Lewisham, called Skinny Melink's.
Dave.

Anonymous said...

I was once served by Dez Skinn when purchasing some back issues of Warrior from Quality Comics in the mid-1980’s.
Another guy who worked at Quality Comics in the mid-1980’s also opened his own comic shop close by. I can’t remember the guy’s name but the shop was called Bizzarro’s and was located at 258 New Cross Road, opposite New Cross Gate station. It opened early 1986 but I think the shop only lasted a year, ending up in an indoor market off Rye Lane, Peckham.
My 1987 diary says I went to Catford Comic Mart at Crofton Leisure Centre, Ewhurst Road on Saturday, 30th May.
Dave.

Graham said...

I used to visit both Quality Comics and the Popular Book Centre in Lewisham High Street in the early to mid 80s. Happy memories. Bought a lot of great stuff. Still a collector!

Sam Learmonth said...

I was obsessed with the comic shop Weird Fantasy when I was a kid. We'd pass it twice a year in our car on our way to and from our family holiday. It was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen after just seeing the odd american comics in random newsagents. I'd obsess about it all holiday and whether we'd be able to stop on the way back. Occasionally my poor parents would be browbeaten until they agreed to leave early enough to stop on the way back for me to spend a quid or so in there. I'd have 5 or 10 minutes to choose 4 or 5 comics from the hundreds of potential candidates and then we'd have to leave - although my parents would probably say it was much much longer. That feeling of not enough money and not enough time when you wanted to spend hours in there still stays with me. This must have been about 40 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I used too send for back issues,From my Hammer House of Horror magazines .... It was very good service they did at the shop,Very quick and reliable.....