Lunchtime Tourist

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December 8, 2003 // UPDATED 11:09 am - April 30, 2007
By: Kinda Koutsky
Kinda Koutsky

Big Brain Comics

Alternative holiday shopping destination (3 of 4)R82 S. 10th St., Monday-Saturday, noon-8 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.

Panel 1: Woman glances quickly up and down sidewalk before slinking into door of small storefront.

Panel 2: A vortex of brightly colored pages swirls around her while music blares and fluorescent lights flicker.

Panel 3: She reaches out, grabs one, then two, then three of the swirling booklets and tosses them to the cashier wearing a Pac-Man t-shirt.

Downtown's Big Brain Comics has been inspiring the imaginations of kids of all ages since 1996. The jam-packed store has thousands of comics, ranging from nostalgic superheroes to more contemporary and international themes. Felix the Cat, Archie and Scooby-Doo share shelf space with The Watchman, "Lone Wolf & Cub" Japanese samurai series and Batman -- the Dark Knight.

Book-length comic books, alternately called graphic novels or picture novellas, are basically full-length stories told with sequential art and word balloons. Characters are fully developed, and stories play out like movies with elaborate set designs and vivid color. "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth" is a visual delight with sparse, precise linework and an interior designer's color palette.

Big Brain carries the acclaimed Sandman series by Minneapolis writer Neil Gaiman as well as those published by local alternative artists Ken Avidor, Andy Singer and David Steinlicht.

You can also pick up funky action figures, a Wonder Woman bobble head doll, or Uncle Gabby who has a removable head and brain.

Big Brain also carries guidebooks for aspiring artists on human anatomy, drawing buildings in perspective, and writing scripts for comics.

Panel 4: Wrapped gifts under arm, she soars above 10th Street as a shimmer of stars falls from beneath her red and white velvet cape.

LUNCH TIP: Hell's Kitchen, just east of the store, serves walleye BLTs and sandwiches with homemade peanut butter.

Send your tips to thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.