Travel

Kawai’s Guide to comics shopping in Berlin part one: Renate Comics

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I’m back from Deutschland lovely readers, and thought I might report on the comics retailing scene in arm, aber sexy (poor, but sexy) Berlin. Berlin is an amazing place where art seeps into its every crack and seam; and the city has its fair share of cracks and seaminess. While it may not be as well known for comics, you can read more about the local comics scene from the Goethe-Institut.

Before I left, I sent out a call on Twitter for stores that stock indy comics. Renate Comics was the sole response and it was the favourite retailer that I visited there; in fact, one of my all time favourite comic book stores hands down. Read on for the full review and don’t forget to check out Part Two for other Berlin comic stores

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Renate has a large selection of comics postcards. You will actually be quite hard pressed to find bland, touristy postcards in Berlin outside of convenience stores.

The store is conveniently located in Mitte, the heart of the city, just outside the Oranienburger Tor U-Bahn station, the S1/2 Oranienstraße station or on the M1 tram line. (See map below)

Renate’s selection was mainly focused on small, independent press although there were boxes of old superhero comics outside. Naturally, the inventory is heavy on the Deutsche, but bilingual comics are also available as well as works in French and other European languages. Although there is some manga, the store’s strength is Western comics. There’s a table dedicated to Berlin related comics which was great to see. Renate also features zines and screenprints, but does not have much in the way of merch which is really how I would prefer it.

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A healthy selection of Berlin related comics

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Zine corner

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German mini comics. Note the screenprints in the background.

As if the store wasn’t awesome enough, Renate also houses a volunteer run comics library which features an exhaustive collection of comics from all over the world. Again, it is Western focused. With an estimated 10-20K volumes and 2,000 members, it is an incredible resource. They even have an online catalog. I love the Toronto Public Library’s comics collection but this is like being able to borrow anything from The Beguiling for a reasonable annual membership fee of €12 (just under CA$18) and a one time €1.50 (about CA$2) application fee. You can basically take up to about 10cm of spine label thickness’ worth of comics at a time for two weeks with a one time renewal of another two weeks. Membership open to Berlin residents only.

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New acquisitions at the Renate library. There are a lot of Anglo comics and you can see someone’s been checking out Dave Sim’s newer work (red cover).

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The comics are sorted by genre and nation of origin and organized by last name

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Copy of Edie Fake’s Gaylord Phoenix

Next week: other Berliner comic retailer mini-reviews (see map below) and Berlin travel tips that you won’t read in your tour guide books.

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That’s all folks!

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