Forbidden Planet (bookstore)
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|Industry||Geek culture, Popular culture|
|Founders||Nick Landau, Mike Lake, Mike Luckman|
Number of locations
|Forbidden Planet: 9|
Forbidden Planet International: 17
|Services||Comics, Books, Collectables|
Forbidden Planet International
Forbidden Planet is the trading name of two separate UK-based science fiction, fantasy and horror bookshop chains across the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States, and is named after the 1956 feature film of the same name. Specialising in movie and television merchandise, the shops sell, in addition to books, comic books, graphic novels, manga, DVDs, video games, and a wide variety of toys, clothing, and other collectible merchandise.
Forbidden Planet London is the name of the megastore in London, UK, which is the flagship of a national chain that includes megastores in Bristol and Southampton, other stores throughout the midlands and the south of England, and an online presence. They also host signings and events with authors, artists, and other figures from cult media.
Forbidden Planet London was the third major comics store in the city, 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. Mike Lake, Nick Landau, and Mike Luckman founded Forbidden Planet alongside Titan Distributors (Titan 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. The original partners, in addition to improving their London store, 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 30 September 2003, the London store moved to even bigger premises at the northern end of Shaftesbury Avenue.
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 forbiddenplanet.com, an e-commerce retail site offering a wide range of products and hosting details of the company's many events and signings.
In 1992/1993, 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 first New York store opened in the early 1980s. It was originally located at 56 East 12th Street and Broadway in Greenwich Village. There they had one of the most extensive selections in the world of in-print science fiction and fantasy paperbacks, primarily from major genre labels such as Ballantine, Del Rey, Ace, and so on, but also some small press materials. There were also large and small press magazines, some hardbacks, tie-in toys and merchandise, and comics. They occasionally had book signing appearances by famous authors such as Douglas Adams. The location across the street from the Strand Bookstore and less than a mile from Baird Searles' The Science Fiction Shop made the area a mecca for genre fans.
An additional New York store opened in the mid-1980s at 227 East 59th Street in Lenox Hill, with a smaller selection. Rising rent led to its closure in the '90s.
In the 1990s, the primary New York store moved across the street to a significantly smaller space at 840 Broadway and East 13th Street, and the focus became comic books and graphic novels, with a greatly diminished selection of traditional fiction. It operated there until 22 July 2012, at which it moved several doors south at 832 Broadway, where it would enjoy 3,400 square feet of retail space.
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.
Like many comics and gaming related stores, Forbidden Planet struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York branch launched a GoFundMe to survive due to having to pay high rents in New York City.
Forbidden Planet International
- Birmingham (Worlds apart, formerly Nostalgia & Comics; Associate Store)
- Hanley, Stoke on Trent
- Leeds (formerly Odyssey)
- Liverpool (Worlds Apart; Associate Store)
- Manchester (formerly Odyssey)
- New York City
In popular culture
- The Denmark Street store appeared in a Captain Britain story that ran in The Daredevils issues No. 3 and No. 4 (March–April 1983).
- The 1987 comic book The New Mutants Annual No. 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.
- Landau, Luckman, and Lake, a fictional organisation appearing in Marvel Comics, is named for the original three founders.
- The New York store was featured in an issue of The Authority vol. 4, No. 2 (November 2008). When the eponymous superhero team ends up in the real world, they visit Forbidden Planet and discover comic books that feature them.
- In the foreword to the 2015 Artist's Proof Edition of The Walking Dead No. 1, editor Sean Mackiewicz states that he was first drawn to the 2003 debut issue of that series through the artwork of co-creator Tony Moore, when he discovered the issue at the Forbidden Planet store in Manhattan, commenting, "the old one on the corner southeast corner of 13th & Broadway".
In other media
- One of the potential flatmates interviewed in the 1994 feature film Shallow Grave prominently holds a Forbidden Planet carrier bag.
- Forbidden Planet London 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.
- The Forbidden Planet London Megastore was feature in an episode of The Apprentice when the contestants visited the store to try to pitch a board game idea to the store manager.[episode needed]
- In the 2011 fantasy novel Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer, Darquesse crashes through the Dublin store's window and remarks, "A comic store. How fitting."
- Barnett, David. "How cult comic book shop Forbidden Planet changed the way we consume geek culture: Four decades on, the institution is still enjoying a position both at the top of the market and in the hearts of nerds across the land," The Independent (07 September 2018).
- "Jonathan Ross Signing at Forbidden Planet". bleedingcool.com. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- Sallis, Ed. "Fan-Things," Bemusing Magazine #10 (Aug. 1976), p. 7.
- Skinn, Dez. "Early days of UK comics conventions and marts, part 3" Archived 2012-02-01 at the Wayback Machine DezSkinn.com. Accessed Mar. 3, 2013.
- "Londontown London Information Shopping". Londontown. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Forbidden Planet MegaStore Comes To Bristol". scifinews.net. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Forbidden Planet to open city megastore". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- Johnston, Rich. (6 July 2012) "Forbidden Planet New York Moves Four Doors Down". Bleeding Cool.
- MacDonald, Heidi (10 July 2012). "New York’s Forbidden Planet moving to bigger space". ComicMix.
- Frankenhoff, Brent (9 July 2012). "Today’s Comics Guide: July 9, 2012". CBGXtra.
- Johnston, Rich. "Forbidden Planet of New York Launches GoFundMe To Survive," Bleeding Cool (April 23, 2020).
- "Store Locator". Forbidden Planet. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Store Locations". Forbidden Planet International. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Cronin, Brian (27 March 2008). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #148". Comic Book Resources.
- Mackiewicz, Sean (2015). "I've Probably Read The Walking Dead No. 1 More Than Any Other Comic", The Walking Dead No. 1 Artist's Proof Edition, Image Comics. Foreward.
- "Hardest of the Hardcore". Maxim. May 2000. p. 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.
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