Best Comic-Book Store - 2011
You better know your Justice League from your League of Extraordinary Gentlemen if you're a comic-book store opening near a university, and that's exactly what Marco Davanzo did when opening Alakazam! across the street from UC Irvine, his alma mater and a school that probably has more geeks per capita than any college in the country—outside of Caltech, that is. Davanzo is now behind-the-scenes, but his staff can rattle off the most obscure references while arguing the merits of the latest X-Men film adaptation. The classics—DC, Marvel, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Katsuhiro Otomo (of Akira fame, just one of hundreds of mangas in stock)—line the shelves, alongside such family-friendly items as the latest Simpsons and Archie comics, boxes of archives, and larger, more scholarly books ranging in subject matter from the Yellow Kid to collected interviews with Stan Lee. They'll even manage your subscriptions for you at no cost. The store hasn't been immune to the changing nature of book publishing—its Costa Mesa outpost closed in 2008—but Davanzo's focus is on preserving the comic-book store experience that's slowly slipping away.