Forbidden Planet (bookstore)
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Forbidden Planet is the trading name of two separate science fiction, fantasy and horror bookshop chains across the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States of America, named after the 1956 feature film of the same name.
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Forbidden Planet London is the flagship of a national chain that includes shops in Bristol and Southampton, as well as an online presence. Specialising in movie and television merchandise, the store also retails art toys on the high street and hosts genre signings and events.
Forbidden Planet was the third major comics store in London eventually replacing what had been the leading shop, Derek Stokes's Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed, which had started in 1969, and coming after Frank and Joan Dobson's Weird Fantasy in New Cross. Much of FP's growth came after the demise of Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed, which went out of business in 1981. Forbidden Planet had grown out of the Titan Distributors business of Mike Lake, Nick Landau, and Mike Luckman; Titan itself having grown out of Comic Media Distributors.
The first Forbidden Planet began life in 1978 as a small store in Denmark Street. As the scope of the store expanded beyond comics to embrace film and television, a second store was opened just around the corner on St Giles High Street. The store's success led to overcrowding, necessitating a move to much larger premises on New Oxford Street.
As well as improving their London store the original partners paired with James Hamilton and Kenny Penman (today the main shareholders in Forbidden Planet International with Andrew Oddie, Richard Boxall and Colin Campbell) to open other stores. Penman and Hamilton were owners of one of the UK's oldest comics and SF stores, Science Fiction Bookshop, in Edinburgh, which opened around 1975. On September 30, 2003, the London store moved to even bigger premises at the eastern end of Shaftesbury Avenue.
The original chain split into two firms, called Forbidden Planet and Forbidden Planet Scotland (later renamed Forbidden Planet International). Forbidden Planet International grew beyond Scotland to include stores throughout the Midlands, in Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and majority ownership of two stores in New York City. The New York store was previously located at the corner of Broadway and East 13th Street, where it operated before closing on July 22, 2012. On July 24 it reopened several doors south at 832 Broadway, where it would enjoy 3,400 square feet of retail space.
Forbidden Planet Ltd. has concentrated its growth across the south of England and into the Midlands. In 2003, they moved the flagship New Oxford Street store to the much larger "Megastore" premises at 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London. A landmark media event, it became the first high-street retail outlet offering every type of merchandise from individual science fiction, fantasy and cult mythologies.
The London Megastore is a city landmark, hosting signings and events throughout the year. Synonymous with the new popular credibility that science fiction has enjoyed since the year 2000, it offers a primary West End location for tourists, shoppers and celebrity appearances.
Forbidden Planet opened a second Megastore in Clifton Heights in Bristol in 2005, and a third in Southampton in 2007. In 2006, the company launched an e-commerce retail site offering a wide range of products and hosting details of the company’s many events and signings.
FPI also runs a blog featuring comics and SF related news, reviews and interviews with novelists and comics creators and has recently begun podcasting too. As well as the main webstore with a wide range of comics, SF and cult merchandise and graphic novels (including a number of British small press titles) there are also sites dedicated to new comics and back issues.
In total, between the two groups who trade under the same name, there are currently some 30 stores worldwide.
- Newcastle Upon Tyne
Forbidden Planet International
- Birmingham (Nostalgia & Comics; Associate Store)
- Hanley, Stoke on Trent
- Liverpool (Worlds Apart; Associate Store)
- New York
In popular culture
- The New York store was featured in an issue of The Authority vol. 4, #2. When the eponymous superhero team ends up in the "real world", they visit Forbidden Planet and discover comic books that feature them.
- The St Giles High St store appeared in The Daredevils issues #3 and #4 in a Captain Britain story.
- Landau, Luckman & Lake, a fictional organization in the Marvel Universe, is named for the original three founders.
- British store employee Jan Waicek was quoted in the May 2000 issue of Maxim magazine, in an article titled, "Hardest of the Hardcore" which examined various items with extreme statistics or traits ("Hardest Dinosaur, "Hardest Natural Disaster", "Hardest Aircraft", etc.). Waicek was asked his opinion on who is the "Hardest Superhero", and cited Wolverine's adamantium skeleton and claws, and Superman's near-invulnerability.
- One of the potential flatmates interviewed in the 1994 feature film Shallow Grave prominently holds a Forbidden Planet carrier bag.
- In the 2011 fantasy novel Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer, Darquesse crashes through the Dublin store's window and remarks, "A comic store. How fitting".
- The 1987 comic book The New Mutants Annual #3 features a scene in which a global duel between Warlock and Impossible Man ruins the London shop and the car of founder Mike Lake, who is horrified at the damage.
- Johnston, Rich. (July 6, 2012) "Forbidden Planet New York Moves Four Doors Down". Bleeding Cool.
- MacDonald, Heidi (July 10, 2012). "New York’s Forbidden Planet moving to bigger space". ComicMix.
- Frankenhoff, Brent (July 9, 2012). "Today’s Comics Guide: July 9, 2012". CBGXtra.
- "Store Locator". Forbidden Planet. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
- "Store Locations". Forbidden Planet International. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
- Cronin, Brian (March 27, 2008). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #148". Comic Book Resources.
- "Hardest of the Hardcore". Maxim. May 2000. Page 103.
- Sabin, Roger. Adult Comics: an Introduction (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 64, 96, and 268.
- Sabin, Roger. Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels (London: Phaidon, 1996), p. 157.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Forbidden Planet.|
- Official site of Forbidden Planet
- Flickr history of Forbidden Planet's events
- Official site of Forbidden Planet NYC
- Official site of Forbidden Planet International
- Official blog of Forbidden Planet International
- Official Comics subscription store of Forbidden Planet International
- Official Comics Back Issues store of Forbidden Planet International
- Official podcast of Forbidden Planet International
- ComicSpace site of Forbidden Planet International