Dark They Were and Golden Eyed (bookshop)

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Dark They Were and Golden Eyed[1] was a science fiction bookshop and comic book retailer in London during the 1970s; the largest of its kind in Europe.[2] Specialising in science fiction, occultism, and Atlantis, the central London shop also played a key role in bringing American underground comics to the United Kingdom. It also sold American editions of mainstream science fiction books that were not easily obtained anywhere else.

The shop was named after a short story by Ray Bradbury.


The shop was started by Derek "Bram'" Stokes, who previously ran the Gothique fanzine but had left to start a science fiction mail order book service.[3] Diane Lister (later Diane Stokes) joined Stokes in 1969. The shop was managed by fantasy author Stan Nicholls, who had worked with Stokes on Gothique.[4] The shop was originally located in Bedfordbury before moving to 10 Berwick Street in Soho.

Nick Landau, later to be founder of Forbidden Planet and Titan Entertainment Group, was also a customer, and produced a fanzine on the shop's hand-cranked duplicator. Stokes and Landau were important forces behind the annual British Comic Art Convention, which ran, mostly in London, from 1968 to 1981. Stokes was the main organizer of the 1969 and 1971 editions of the so-called "UK Comicon."[5]

The shop was also the semi-official correspondence address for the magazine Fortean Times from 1978 to 1981, and the magazine's team met every Tuesday afternoon in a room above the shop.[6] (The shop was advertised in #28 of Fortean Times; the advert was drawn by Bryan Talbot who went on to draw for 2000 AD.)[citation needed]

Comics artist Brian Bolland drew some of the earliest pieces of advertising artwork for Dark They Were and Golden Eyed, which ran in various fanzines, convention programmes, and magazines such as Time Out, and were commissioned by future-Titan Distribution and Forbidden Planet co-founder Mike Lake, who was "working there at the time" c. 1978.[7] Illustrator and author James Cawthorn also produced adverts for the shop in 1977; they appeared in Time Out and other magazines. His illustrations were also featured on paper carrier bags used by the shop. (Cawthorn's graphic novels were published by David Britton's Savoy Press in Manchester.) Later adverts were created by Rod Vass, who designed and illustrated posters and carrier bags for the shop.[citation needed]

The shop later moved to a much larger ground floor and basement premises in St Anne's Court off Wardour Street in Soho. It closed in 1981.


Paul Hudson, later of the London comic shop Comic Showcase, was employed in Dark They Were and Golden Eyed. Illustrator and designer Floyd Hughes worked at the shop in the late 1970s. The shop was a key influence on three bookshops in Manchester run by David Britton and Michael Butterworth: House on the Borderland, Orbit in Shudehill, and Bookchain in Peter Street.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

Notable customers of the shop included Alan Moore.[9] The second issue of Moore and Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, volume 3 ("Century: 1969") features an homage to Dark They Were and Golden Eyed: a comics/science fiction/Forteana store named after another Bradbury short story "There Will Come Soft Rains".


  1. ^ Roberts, Peter (21 October 1972). "6th British Comicon". Checkpoint (25). Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  2. ^ Nicholls, Stan (December 2004). "Stan Nicholls - an infinity plus profile". infinity plus. self. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  3. ^ Here Be Dragons Archived September 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ The Write Fantastic Archived July 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Skinn, Dez. "Early days of UK comics conventions and marts" Archived 2012-02-01 at the Wayback Machine, DezSkinn.com. Accessed Mar. 3, 2013.
  6. ^ Rickard, Bob; Sieveking, Paul (ed.), et al. (June 1992) (Preface). Yesterday's News Tomorrow: Fortean Times Issues 1–15 (Fortean Tomes, 2nd edition, 1995 ed.). John Brown Publishing. ISBN 1-870870-26-3.
  7. ^ Bolland, Brian. "The 1970's – Dark They Were and Golden Eyed," The Art of Brian Bolland, p. 48.
  8. ^ Savage, Jon (May 10, 2008). "Controlled chaos". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  9. ^ Read Yourself Raw Archived May 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine

Coordinates: 51°30′51.3″N 0°8′3.7″W / 51.514250°N 0.134361°W / 51.514250; -0.134361