Comics shop welcomes readers of all persuasions

Mary N

There are no aisles of bookcases overstuffed with comic textbooks at Bitter Cherry Comics in San Francisco’s Mission district neighborhood. As a substitute, tables sporting the latest graphic novels, comics, and fantasy fiction greet prospects to the retailer.

What bookcases are in the shop are pushed up in opposition to the walls, offering for an ethereal and inviting environment for comics fans of all persuasions to browse and hold out in the seating spot toward the back of the area. Considering the fact that opening her retail outlet in March, proprietor Leah Morrett has fielded queries from quizzical passersby wanting to know if it is a kids’ keep because of to its breaking out of the mold of a usual comics shop set up.

“My purpose was to build a meeting room for individuals of all genders and ages to check out comics and graphics novels,” defined Morrett about how she approached the structure for the retail store at 3187 16th Avenue near Guerrero. “Individuals mistake this for a kid’s retailer. It really is not it’s for all ages.”

Morrett, a lesbian who turns 31 Friday, May possibly 13, life a couple of blocks absent with her wife and needed to come across a storefront she could very easily walk to given that she will not possess a car or truck. The spot not only fit that prerequisite but also was massive enough to accommodate special gatherings that Morrett hosts.

Previous weekend, for occasion, she held her to start with Sour Cherry Con in honor of Free Comedian E-book Day. Specific choices integrated a creating one’s own comic e book session, a scavenger hunt, and a poetry open up mic.

“Making it a worthwhile endeavor are the functions to get persons to appear in,” claimed Morrett, who organizes readings, writing workshops, selling events for new releases, and arts and crafts for young children. “I approach to host even larger events just about every other month.”

The city’s other comedian bookstores all “do a good job of staying welcoming,” explained Morrett, who intentionally is trying not to contend with these within just walking distance and will send people to them if she will not have the comics they are hunting for. At the very same time, she stated, a normal comics shop can be tough for some buyers to navigate.

“Folks notify me how they like to appear into the shop and not feel overcome,” mentioned Morrett. “Comics outlets can typically be stuffed.”

Her acquiring a limited selection is also owing to her fiscal restrictions, acknowledged Morrett. She will only order a confined sum of a particular title, restocking it when it sells out, so as not to pressure her spending budget or be trapped with inventory that individuals don’t want.

“This is a beans and pennies endeavor listed here,” joked Morrett, who is a sole proprietor and the lone personnel at Bitter Cherry Comics for the time staying. “I opened the keep on blind faith totally.”

She focuses on carrying queer comics and titles from independent publishers, such as PM Press in Oakland and San Francisco’s Silver Sprocket, which has its very own retail outlet close by at Valencia and 21st streets. The LGBTQ-themed “Heartstopper” graphic novel series by Alice Oseman, which not too long ago debuted as a Netflix present, has been a common vendor. Morrett experienced offered out of the initially e-book in April but did have many copies of guides two and a few ($14.99 just about every) in the series obtainable.

Due to purchaser requests, she is also looking to inventory more comics and graphic novels with transgender people.

“I am even now figuring out what persons want,” reported Morrett, noting that she individually likes the youthful adult genre. “About 90% of it is queer-focused. A great deal of younger audience are figuring out their gender and sexuality.”

She does carry titles by DC Comics and Marvel, specifically those comics that element LGBTQ characters and storylines. Among the titles she has on hand are quite a few hardcover copies of the “DC Pride 2021” ($17.99) unique launch.

“I grew up on Ponder Lady so I experienced to,” claimed Morrett of carrying the mainstream titles.

Her good friend, muralist and painter Gus Sawyer, just finished the mural “The Kiss” in the shop showcasing Marvel Woman locking lips with Zala-El, Superman’s sister. It is primarily based on the “Dim Knights of Metal” series produced very last yr by DC and references Gustav Klimt’s renowned “The Kiss” artwork. Triangles surrounding the super heroic pair nod to the pink triangle LGBTQ image.

“I normally beloved Question Lady. I was a big nerd and performed D&D,” reported Sawyer, 29, who is nonbinary and transgender and has lived in San Francisco for 5 decades.


One of artist Gus Sawyer’s pet portraitures is displayed at Sour Cherry Comics. Picture: Matthew S. Bajko  

Sawyer, whose tackle on Instagram is @midnightmarginalia, operates complete time as an government assistant at a fiscal company but began executing murals at the start off of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their to start with was for a bar in Oakland the a single at Bitter Cherry Comics is the first 1 publicly obtainable in San Francisco.

“I did drops and scene painting for a theater in Ohio. I cherished the spacing and the sizing of it,” claimed Sawyer, who labored there as a stage supervisor for a 10 years. “When the pandemic strike, I was stuck inside of with just four walls and endless time, so I made a decision to commence portray murals.”

Sawyer also paints pet portraits that persons can order by means of their website. Dependent on the sizing of the project, the portraits can price tag $150 to $300 every single and take any place from three to 6 weeks to finish. They will be using two months off in the tumble to recuperate from their top surgery, which calls for them not to raise their arms up, so Sawyer explained any individual seeking to purchase a pet portrait as a holiday break present this 12 months ought to do so shortly.

An instance of their pet portraiture can be found hanging on the again proper-facet wall of Sour Cherry Comics, as Sawyer did a portrait of Morrett’s dog Benny, a terrier mix who is a section-time greeter at the retail outlet. Benny can also at times be uncovered stress-free in his bed in the front proper-aspect window.

The yellow triangle mural driving the store’s sign-up stand and the Pride-themed ribbon mural on it had been also both painted by Sawyer, who initial achieved Morrett by using a poetry team. They made available to help in decorating the retailer for Morrett and hope it will be a results for yrs to come.

“I understood I had to enable in any way I could,” claimed Sawyer. “Owning a lesbian-owned comics e-book retailer is huge!”

Sour Cherry Comics is open 7 days a 7 days nevertheless the hours differ based on the working day. To study additional about the retail outlet, when it is open up, and its forthcoming functions, stop by its internet site.

Bought a idea on LGBTQ company information? Connect with Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

Aid preserve the Bay Region Reporter likely in these hard instances. To guidance nearby, independent, LGBTQ journalism, look at turning out to be a BAR member.


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