Forbidden Planet (retail chain)

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Forbidden Planet Limited
IndustryGeek culture, Popular culture
Founded1978; 45 years ago (1978), London, U.K.
FoundersNick Landau, Mike Lake, Mike Luckman
Number of locations
Forbidden Planet: 9
Forbidden Planet International: 17
ServicesComics, Books, Collectables

Forbidden Planet is the trading name of three separate businesses with online and retail bookstores selling science fiction, fantasy and popular culture products. The original store was opened in London in 1978 named after the 1956 feature film of the same name.[1]

Stores under Forbidden Planet Limited are a division of the British entertainment company Titan Entertainment. Specialising in film and television merchandise, the shops sell comic books, graphic novels, fantasy and horror, manga, DVDs, video games, and a wide variety of toys, clothing, and other collectible merchandise.



The location of the original store at Number 23, Denmark Street, central London

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,[1] which had started in 1969, and coming after Frank and Joan Dobson's Weird Fantasy in New Cross.[2][1] 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[1] founded Forbidden Planet alongside Titan Distributors (Titan having grown out of Comic Media Distributors).[3]

Christopher Lee signing The Two Towers at Forbidden Planet, New Oxford Street

The first Forbidden Planet began life in 1978 as a small store in Denmark Street.[1] Visitors to the store included Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Douglas Adams. When Adams attempted to attend a signing for the first The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy book in 1979, the queue to the shop was so long that Adams thought a demonstration was taking place elsewhere.[4] 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.[1] 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.

The first New York store opened in the early 1980s. It was originally located at 56 East 12th Street and Broadway in Greenwich Village. The store 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.[citation needed]

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 1990s. 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.[5][6]


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.[1]

The Forbidden Planet London Megastore on Shaftesbury Avenue, central London

On 30 September 2003, the London store moved to larger premises at the northern end of Shaftesbury Avenue.[7]

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.[8][9]

Interior of the Forbidden Planet at 832 Broadway in Manhattan, New York on opening day, 24 July 2012

On 24 July 2012, the New York City store moved several doors south to 832 Broadway, where it would enjoy 3,400 square feet of retail space.[5][10] The New York store is not part of Forbidden Planet International, as they are owned by rival organizations.[11]

Like many comics and gaming related stores, Forbidden Planet struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York branch launched a GoFundMe to survive, in light of the city's high rent.[12]


Forbidden Planet Limited[edit]

Forbidden Planet stall at ExCeL London, May 2023

Forbidden Planet Limited is division of Titan Entertainment and operate a chain of nine stores around England and an online presence at[13] They also host signings and events with authors, artists, and other figures from cult media.[14]

Forbidden Planet International[edit]

A separate company owned by some of Forbidden Planet's original founders.[16]

Forbidden Planet NYC[edit]

Spin-off Forbidden Planet NYC is an independent store in New York City.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

In comics[edit]

  • 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.[18]
  • 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".[19]

In other media[edit]

  • One of the potential flatmates interviewed in the 1994 feature film Shallow Grave prominently holds a Forbidden Planet carrier bag.
  • The Forbidden Planet London Megastore was featured 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."


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 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).
  2. ^ Sallis, Ed. "Fan-Things," Bemusing Magazine #10 (Aug. 1976), p. 7.
  3. ^ Skinn, Dez. "Early days of UK comics conventions and marts, part 3" Archived 2012-02-01 at the Wayback Machine Accessed Mar. 3, 2013.
  4. ^ Simpson, M. J. (2005). Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams. Justin, Charles & Co. p. 1.
  5. ^ a b Johnston, Rich. (6 July 2012) "Forbidden Planet New York Moves Four Doors Down". Bleeding Cool.
  6. ^ MacDonald, Heidi (10 July 2012). "New York's Forbidden Planet moving to bigger space". ComicMix.
  7. ^ "Londontown London Information Shopping". Londontown. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Forbidden Planet MegaStore Comes To Bristol". Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Forbidden Planet to open city megastore". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  10. ^ Frankenhoff, Brent (9 July 2012). "Today's Comics Guide: July 9, 2012". CBGXtra.
  11. ^ Johnston, Rich (23 March 2020). "Forbidden Planet Closes All Stores, Today". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on 19 December 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  12. ^ Johnston, Rich (April 23, 2020). "Forbidden Planet of New York Launches GoFundMe To Survive," Bleeding Cool.
  13. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  14. ^ "Jonathan Ross Signing at Forbidden Planet". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Store Locator". Forbidden Planet. Archived from the original on 5 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  16. ^ a b Geraghty, Lincoln (24 February 2014). Cult Collectors: Nostalgia, Fandom and Collecting Popular Culture. Routledge. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-136-47431-6 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ "Store Locations". Forbidden Planet International. Archived from the original on 19 December 2022. Retrieved 25 July 2012 – via Facebook.
  18. ^ Cronin, Brian (27 March 2008). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #148" Archived 9 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Comic Book Resources.
  19. ^ 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. Foreword.


  • 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.

External links[edit]