By Hervé St.Louis
July 4, 2006 - 12:50
The real problem is finding original European comic books in French, Italian, German, Spanish or Dutch. If you are a big fan of such books, there is an easy way to find most of these comic books in North America and have them delivered to your home without having to pay large overseas shipping fees or even locate a European store that can take your order and sell them to you. The best way to buy a European comic book is through a book store or a comic book store located in the Province of Quebec in Canada.
For books published in other languages such as Italian, Spanish, German or Dutch, the best series from the countries who publish them are often translated for the French and European markets. The French-speaking market is the largest one in Europe and in terms of numbers, behind only that of Japan. Yes, there are more comic books sold in Europe than in North America! Classic series like Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese were originally published in Spanish and Italian before ever being translated in French. It’s hard to imagine that as later volumes from Pratt came out almost instantaneously in French as in other languages.
There are several stores that sell European comic books in Montreal, Canada. There are the large book store chains that sell mostly classics like Astérix and contemporary graphic novels by the likes of Moebius. There are bookstores that are more specialized in European comic books. Finally there are regular comic book stores, which carry regular North American comic books ordered through Diamond Comics but also use other distributors to order European books.
Large Book Store Chains
Chapters has a large section on French comic books in its Montreal stores. An entire floor is dedicated to them at the two downtown Montreal stores. Using Chapters-Indigo online is similar to using Amazon.com. It’s a gigantic database of books with lots of tabs and often outdated information or no cover images available. However, the tracking on orders is decent and if you adhere to one of their clubs, you can save on orders.
Renaud Bray and other book stores under its banner, like Champigny is the largest French-speaking bookstore chain in Canada. Champigny used to be the best bookstore in Montreal and the one to go to. For years Renaud Bray which was the challenging upstart tried to beat them. They finally did, by buying them out! Renaud Bray is known for its snobbish outlook and overpriced books. However, you will find all the books and comic books that you seek there. Most of their stores have dedicated areas to comic books. The folks who work there know their stuff too. That’s why it costs so much. Again calling them might be an issue as it depends on the ability of the clerk to speak in English.
Smaller Book stores.
Another place many Montrealers go to is the Valet de Coeur. The Valet de Coeur sells collectibles, statues, chest games, Dungeon and Dragon games, Mangas, PVC action figures and of course some comic books. Comic books whether in French or English is not their specialty though.
Le Marché du livre is a large bookstore in downtown Montreal with unbeatable prices. They also sell rare European comic books and often have large discounts on overstock items. They also sell second hand books too. Most of the comics are new, though, except for the rare hardcover books in their rare books’ display.
Finally, a good place to go is Librairie Millénium. Librairie Millénium is where I get all my North American comic books. Millénium is the one place where the staff will serve you in perfect English and know exactly what you’re talking about. They are a regular comic book stores with lots of back issues and graphic novels. Their European section is small. However, as they know North American comic books inside out, you won’t feel lost when talking to them.
Please note that I did not receive any sponsorship for this article and that all the comments and opinions are mine. European comics are great and offer another perspective on things. Now that you know where to get them, all you need to do is learn some French!