For all those out there thinking that comic book shops are for nerds, geeks and manga nuts, you only need to look at shows like the The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones and the explosion of ‘Pokémon Go’ to realise that the world has gone berserk for fantasy and gaming. Geek chic is now a fashion trend and an official phrase in the Oxford dictionary (obvs) and the world is eventually beginning to notice the rise of the enthusiasts!
It’s great to have a hobby and interest that is actually social and gets you out meeting new people and learning new things. Despite being called ‘social’ media, it isn't actually very social when you think about it literally. Don’t get me wrong I am an avid user of social media and it has loads and loads of good points, but getting out and actually being social with friends and family and enjoying the moment without having to give the full live twitter low-down about it, is always much more satisfying and better for the mind and soul. This is something that we think should be promoted and encouraged especially in the age of selfie sticks and snapchat.
Enter Big Dog Books. A few weeks ago I caught up with the lovely and super charismatic Stuart, the owner of Big Dog Books. He was preparing for the grand opening of the shop the following day and was swamped in a sea of boxes and unopened packages. Despite everything that was clearly needing attended to, he welcomed me in and kindly offered me a cuppa and I must say, it was a great cup of coffee, good enough to go back for that alone!
Big Dog Books is an independent comic book, games, and pop culture shop. It’s all about celebrating who you are, your individuality and understanding that the things that make us unique are the very things that can bring us together. I absolutely love their ethos and Stuart tells me that he really wants the shop to be a social space for kids, young adults and older adults that takes them away from screens and computers and into a genuine social network. Open into the late evenings Wednesday to Sunday, it provides a place that’s fun and friendly after school, college or work where you can enjoy all your hobbies in a safe and lively social environment.
Stuart is originally from Hamilton and moved to Perth when his husband relocated for work. After spending 14 years in an International HR role for a large company in Hamilton, Stuart was offered redundancy just before the big move to Perth so it made this decision to up sticks much easier. Being in HR he knew redundancy was on the cards even before he was officially told, so he took a year to plan Big Dog Books and put the wheels in motion for opening the shop so he was ready when the time came.
I asked Stuart how the name of the shop came about and he tells me how it’s an old joke between him and his husband. When they were younger his now husband commented on how Stuart was always reading comic books and Stuart quipped back by saying they weren’t comic books they were ‘graphic novels.’ The response was an “oooohhh so you’re a big dog now reading graphic novels!” This quote has always stuck with them both and has been the centre of many jokes, so it seemed like the fitting name.
The logo that went along with the name was tested out on a few friends, family and focus groups. The original colours were black and red but this was swiftly changed after it was said to look like a murder scene and invoke murderous connotations! I laughed as Stuart tells me that after this comment it was replaced with red and white. This makes the logo much fresher and helps to encompass what they are about; nothing murderous or scary at all!
Big Dog Books is to be a social outlet for people from all different walks of life. Stuart even makes sure that the food and drink that is available is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, gluten intolerant diets and more, he really doesn’t want anyone to feel left out. Since he has been here he’s also made connections with Perth Autism Support, local schools and libraries to help encourage everyone to get involved in this great social group.
Big Dig books stocks a range of comics, board games and accessories and also has a small snack bar. You can drop by with friends and join in the games completely free of charge (except the snacks,obvs) and find out why this fantatsic movement has become the new and exciting trend of 2016.
It really is heart-warming the kindness, thought and compassion that has gone into Big Dog Books and you can’t help but become a massive fan after meeting Stuart. He is funny, welcoming and the perfect asset the City Centre with his positive attitude and fantastic shop and ethos.
I left with a new perspective on what a comic book shop was and a lingering curiosity to find out more. Pop in with your friends, kids or just yourself and say hi to Stuart and add Big Dog Books to your #PerthLoveFest favourites.
Perthshire's local charity PKAVS does some great work from its Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub which is based across two venues in Perthshire.