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"Best Comic Store" 2002-2017

Thanks San Francisco Bay Guardian readers! XOXOX

Comic Making Classes @ Isotope University

Since 2011 the Isotope has hosted a series of comic making classes designed to ensure success in the comics industry for students. Our recent focus has been on classes for kids but later this summer we will be hosting two new classes for adults, WRITING FOR COMICS and BOOKBINDING COMICS. More info on these in July.

(Current classes held for SF Girl Scouts)

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The Isotope Communique
Daily news and updates by Personality James Sime and the Isotope Staff
Rafael Albuquerque & Rafael Scavone!

SATURDAY: Isotope proudly presents a very special day-long event with Rafael Albuquerque & Rafael Scavone, the Brazilian comic superstar duo behind the adaptation of the upcoming NEIL GAIMAN’S A STUDY IN EMERALD graphic novel!

Rafael Albuquerque‘s utterly gorgeous art has been one of the most beloved parts of all of our your comic reading for the past few years, from AMERICAN VAMPIRE to BATMAN to HUCK to EI8HT to UNCANNY X-FORCE to TUNE 8 to TALES OF FEAR AGENT to BATGIRL and also so many amazing comic book covers it is mind-blowing.

Rafael Scavone, is the author of ALL STAR BATMAN (with Scott Snyder), WONDER WOMAN 75TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, a heart-wrenching story in WHERE WE LIVE: A BENEFIT FOR THE SURVIVORS IN LAS VEGAS, and an upcoming run on Mark Millar’s HIT GIRL. Together with Deb Dorneles, the Rafaels formed Stout Club in 2014, a comic imprint from Brazil that is revolutionizing the South American comics scene.

NEIL GAIMAN’S A STUDY IN EMERALD from Dark Horse Comics is an original comic graphic novel adaption of Neil Gaiman’s famous Sherlock Holmes short story that runs our hero, together with his ever-present partner Watson, against the nightmares of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. Expect full-on Victorian horror, fog-choked London alleyways, horrific labs from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, hallucinogenic terrors in caves of Afghanistan, and something terrible lurking in the shadows of 221b Baker Street. Truly a story that Albuquerque and Scavone were born to tell!

Since these gentlemen are coming so far to visit the comic loving people of San Francisco for the first time, and so few North Americans have gotten the chance to meet them before, we’ve scheduled a day-long duo of awesome events for your convenience. A great daytime autograph signing session and a late night afterparty as only the Isotope can do!

Saturday, July 28th 2018
2pm – 6pm

The Isotope’s intimate afternoon autographing session for our all-ages crowd. Sure, there will be a line for this, but here at the Isotope we’ve completely redesigned the signing experience to ensure our events are casual, fun, low pressure affairs. If you haven’t been to one before we think you’ll like the way we do things.

Saturday, July 28th 2018
8pm – Midnight
21+ please

Our late night afterparty features the best comic crowd anywhere on the planet, once-in-a-lifetime bespoke refreshments by master mixologist Kirsten Baldock, and amazing tunes with DJ BEARZBUB to make you smile. These events are the stuff of legend in the comic industry, here’s your chance to find out why.

We will have lots of copies of NEIL GAIMAN’S A STUDY IN EMERALD on hand but if you’d like to ensure we have a copy for you that day, please call or email hidden; JavaScript is required to reserve your copy.

If you haven’t already, please do read our Harassment Policy. Thank you.

PHOTOS: JH Williams III @ Isotope 2018

Oh guys, this was the *perfect* event, I am over the moon! Writing this report on the event took me all week long and, as you’ll see, so full of really special moments that I will never forget. My heart is absolutely bursting with happiness!

Click Here For Photos From This Event

You probably are aware that JH Williams III (or “Jim” as the Isotope family all knows him) doesn’t do many public appearances and given how much my staff and customers treasure him and his work we really wanted to make this one a special night. But what I could not predict was just how special it would truly be!

The weekend was a team-up with our friends at the California College of the Arts​ MFA In Comics Program and the Isotope, so it was a full weekend long celebration of this extraordinary comic creator who has truly re-defined the comics artform in the 21st century. Jim had a talk on Friday night at CCA’s Timken Lecture Hall in celebration of CCA’s MFA in Comics graduate students. I have to say that the CCA students right now are just *incredible*, and the energy behind the whole program is just fantastic, I love what they’re doing there and it’s no exaggeration when I say that I think that school is going to make a huge impact on the future of the comics industry. The JH Williams III talk with professor Justin Hall on Friday night was incredibly insightful and inspirational. And of course full of mind-blowing art. If you haven’t been to one of CCA’s public talks with cartoonists I can’t recommend it more highly. Afterwards Kirsten and I set up a small table with SANDMAN OVERTURE, PROMETHEA, BATWOMAN and WHERE WE LIVE at the CCA reception. In 17 years we’ve never set up and sold comics outside of the Isotope’s four walls but we made an exception because this was such a special event. I pretty much just hung out talking with the amazing art students while Kirsten did all of the work. The weekend was off to an awesome start and we had a blast working with the staff of CCA’s MFA In Comics Program (thanks Matt Silady and Anuja Silady and Justin Hall and Ed Luce). And it was about to get even better…

Our party the next night on Saturday was sublime. Beyond even my highest expectations and hopes. Over the years our parties had been getting just too over-stuffed, even with me intentionally under-promoting our events(!), so last year Kirsten and I decided to take a bit of time off from posting parties to slim down the crowds a bit. A huge success! We had the perfect sized crowd for this!

And the result was everything I could have ever hoped for. Jim’s intricate work is incredibly time-consuming and absolutely not conducive for quick scrawl-out pictures. So it is understandable that he doesn’t tend to draw much in public. I’ve known Jim for 13 years and the Isotope has had the pleasure of hosting several events with him over the years but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen him do so many mind-blowing drawings for fans before. Just phenomenal. Those of us who got to watch him draw and those who got to take home those sketches home. Wow. Talk about a once in a lifetime event!

But it got even better…!

At around 10pm we stopped the party. Which is something I almost never do. But this party was special. And we were about to have one of the most special moments in Isotope history unfold before our collective eyes. Jim is a very by-the-rules guy and he’d promised Entertainment Weekly the chance to debut his pages to the world when the time is right, sometime later this year or early next year. But, as long as no photos were taken of the work, he’d agreed to show the Isotope faithful the *entire first issue* and most of the second issue of his upcoming ECHO LANDS series. And not just show us, but Jim walked us through each and every page, describing the story and characters, pontificating his techniques, and laying bare the thoughts, artistic ambitions and challenges that went into every page.

ECHO LANDS really is unlike anything anyone has seen in comics before. And, of course, Jim’s art is just breathtaking. A pre-eminent master at the top of his game, pushing himself beyond anything we’ve seen him attempt before. And clearly having the time of his life doing it. Despite the whole thing being totally mind-blowing, Jim kept the talk super casual and relaxed, happily answering questions from fans and students and professional comic creators alike.

I could listen to endless hours of Jim talking about his art, transfixed and hanging on his every word. Anyone could tell you his art is incredibly deep and awe-inspiring but getting to hear about the amount of thought he puts into the creation of those pages you feel his work on a totally different level that is somehow even more astonishing and miraculous. My favorite thing is as superlative as his work really is I don’t know any comic artist who describes their work as “fun” as much as Jim does. It just makes your heart sing to hear that.

Speaking of making your heart sing… one of the most special things of the night was that our beloved Katie Longua (of MUNCHIES and HER SPACE OPERA fame) had just her upcoming graphic novel DEBIAN PERL: DIGITAL DETECTIVE announced the day before in a huge way… on the Hollywood Reporter! We’re so excited for her!

I couldn’t be more proud of Katie and spent a good portion of the party just introducing her to people and telling them about her upcoming book. So many of the party’s attendees were art students and future comic creators so it was extra cool to see how inspired by her work and excited everyone was. And even better was later in the night Katie pulled out a flyer she’d saved from her very first Isotope party ever and it was JH Williams III in 2008! I remember meeting Katie and hanging out with her and her fellow the Academy of Art students that night. But what I did not know… and this is the coolest thing… is it was on that day, when she first met JH Williams III at an Isotope party ten years ago. that Katie decided she wanted to make comics! And here we were, the day after her huge Hollywood Reporter announcement, having a party with JH Williams III again!

Just… wow. I was blown away just thinking about that! And definitely one of the happiest moments in my entire 17 year long (so far!) comics career.

Another great moment at the party was when I spotted FAE ARCHAIC creator Kirt Burdick, one of San Francisco’s greatest unsigned comic creators, sitting at the drafting table getting his JH Williams III comics autographed. I quickly grabbed a copy of FAE ARCHAIC and slid it in front of Jim, “This is Kirt’s book…” Jim was instantly excited and enthusiastically exclaimed “Oh, I was looking at that earlier! This is YOURS?!” (laugh) So cool. Kirt was utterly speechless.

As if my heart could not contain more joy my longtime friend Maureen Minn walked in the door of the party. My jaw hit the floor. Back when we lived in Wisconsin Maureen was the person who took me to my very first comic convention ever! “I’m driving to Chicago to go to Chicago Comic Con – and you’re coming with!” It wasn’t long after that she started working at a comic book store. I was so envious! So Maureen will forever be one of the coolest people in my entire world. She lives here in San Francisco but has kiddos and has never made it to one of my parties before. AWESOME! I had a blast introducing her to everyone and telling people she’s responsible for my entire comics career (laugh)! Maureen had come with her next door neighbor, Heather Nodelman, who I had helped pick out books for her twin daughters only weeks before. So sweet. Thank you for sharing your photos with us Heather!

I kept saying “this is perfect, this is perfect, this is perfect” to myself, the happiest mantra, all night long. And it really was.

Jim and Wendy Williams are some of our favorite people on Earth so it was great to spend time with them again. My sincerest thanks to DJ Bearzbub who we haven’t had the pleasure of having at one of our parties in well over a year. I was downright giddy setting up his equipment up once more and to see him up there on the mezzanine doing his thing all night long. Even my beloved friends Adrienne Rappaport​ and Jim Cox who I hadn’t seen in forever were there. And with Josh Richardson was behind the bar with Kirsten, Katie Mattingly at the register, Andrew Gapen and Ash Aiwase at the door? This is perfect, this is perfect, this is perfect.

Thanks to all of you who joined us and filled my night with smiles. You made a perfect event more perfect than I could ever hope to ask for.

I can’t wait to throw another party.

– James

New Comics: Wuvable Oaf Space Fuzz

Isotope is truly honored to get to present the World Debut of Ed Luce‘s WUVABLE OAF: SPACE FUZZ comic… today! In a far-flung future, millions of years after the extinction of humanity, Wuvable Oaf finds himself re-cloned from a hairball by hyper-intelligent felines (the descendants of his pet cats). This full-color magazine-sized book is not available at any other shops and won’t be officially released elsewhere until San Diego Comic Con. You are going to love this sexy, weird, b-movie pulp sci-fi science fiction adventures of everyone’s favorite bear!

The World’s Hairiest Comic Magazine – Be the first on the planet to get your copy!

Isotope & CCA Proudly Present:

Isotope has teamed up with our friends at the California College of the Arts’ MFA in Comics Program for a weekend-long celebration with JH Williams III, the artist who blew all our minds on SANDMAN OVERTURE, BATWOMAN, PROMETHEA, DESOLATION JONES, BATMAN, and so many more jaw-dropping books.

Few artists have a more stunning body of work or have been more influential on the evolution of the artform of comics in the 21st century. Williams is also the only artist to have worked with each of the most important writers of several generations, including Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Greg Rucka, and Alejandro Jodorowsky. Not to mention his work with two of the greatest bands ever (check out that work here and here). Simply put, we here at the Isotope we are of the opinion that Mister Williams is the single greatest artist working in comics today.

On Friday, July 13th the California College of the Arts’ MFA in Comics Program is having an-depth talk with Williams as part of their summer lecture series at their San Francisco Campus’ Timken Lecture Hall (more info here). Moderated by queer comics historian Justin Hall. Yes, we will definitely see you all there!

And on Saturday… an epic party at the Isotope! Featuring a perfectly curated setlist by San Francisco’s own DJ Bearzbub, all our favorite local creators, a whole bunch of comic-making CCA students, and all your best, comic-loving friends here at the Isotope!

Williams is a long time member of our family and we have had so many wonderful times together with him… so for those of you who have yet to get to know him… we want to bring that experience to you too. As always Jim will be happy to sign your SANDMAN OVERTURE hardcovers, PROMETHEA omnibii, BATWOMAN paperbacks, vintage CHASE comics, BLONDIE and THE SWORD albums, and anything else he’s ever worked on. And we don’t even mind if you’ve bought those things elsewhere, this isn’t about us, it’s about you and Jim getting to say “hi.”

Saturday, July 14th 2018
8pm – Midnight
21+ please

An intimate late night afterparty with the best comic crowd anywhere on the planet, once-in-a-lifetime bespoke refreshments by master mixologist Kirsten Baldock, and delightful tunes by DJ BEARZBUB. This event is a casual backstage-after-the-show vibe and gives you all an opportunity to actually hang out and get to know our guest of honor JH Williams III… the way we think an in-store appearance should truly be!

We will have lots of copies of Williams’ books on hand but if you’d like to ensure we have a copy of something for you that day, please call or email hidden; JavaScript is required to reserve your copy.

If you haven’t already, please do read our Harassment Policy. Thank you.

New Comics: Lost In Guyville

Local author / artist Marie D’Abreo (of BEAUTIFUL: A GIRL’S TRIP THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS and SKY ORB fame) stopped in today with her latest graphic novel, LOST IN GUYVILLE, a comic about an artist with big dreams and an ever-increasingly confusing love life. We really love D’Abreo’s charming slice-of-life comics. She’s been self-publishing her comics since 2015 and we’re thrilled to hear they’ve really started catching on online and she’s now doing comics full-time. Congrats Marie, we couldn’t be happier for you!

You can check out her work here at the Isotope, or on the Isotope’s digital comics store here and here.

NHK World Interviews Isotope

The nice folks from NHK World were in today to interview James about SHONEN JUMP MAGAZINE and the cultural impact of Japanese comics in America. They also talked to local comic creator Katie Longua (HER SPACE OPERA, MUNCHIES, and got lots of gorgeous shots of the Isotope. These interviews will be broadcast into over 290 million households worldwide, 160 different countries, and who knows how far the webcast will reach. We will let you know when the show is released!

Phoenix Forever Rising

The hardest part about running a (more wildly busy than we could have ever hoped for) small business with a teeny-tiny crew is all of the things you just can’t get around to like you used to be able to in the early years. The reason the Isotope exists is to put Good Comics in people’s hands, from popular titles like SAGA and AVENGERS, rarely seen delights like GIRL IN DIOR and VIOLETTE AROUND THE WORLD, upcoming books from unique creators like HEATHEN and PASHMINA, vintage and slightly obscure masterpieces like ARKWRIGHT INTEGRAL and ENIGMA, and truly obscure treasures like MUNCHIES and SMOKE & GUNS. More than anything we want to bring each person who comes through the front door a unique one-on-one experience and, no matter how knowledgable they are are or not, help them discover their next favorite graphic novel or series.

Each year the shop’s reputation grows and people from all walks of life from all over the planet visit the Isotope for just that. Truly a dream come true!

But with the shop always buzzing it makes keeping up with things like backroom alphabetizing, social media feeds, overstuffed in-boxes, and annoying things stuff like website server glitches a harder and harder proposition. Recently the shop’s site went down for 6 days when our webhost got hacked. “Well, since everyone is glued to their Facebooks, Twitters, Instagrams, and all the important stuff can be found there or on Google Small Business and Yelp, sadly no one really uses the Isotope site very much these days.” Imagine our surprise to find out quite the opposite! We got so many nice emails and phone calls about the site being down in those 6 days I was truly flabbergasted. Wow, okay. Thank you for letting us know!

On a personal note, if there’s one thing I really miss about the early years of shop, it’s having the time to feature cool upcoming books we’re excited about and celebrating San Francisco and writing on the store’s blog. We’ve got a bunch of cool events, and another round of Isotope University classes, we’ve been cooking up for you all coming up this summer. And have a few upcoming series we want to share with folks. Definitely looking forward to all of that. So… since the people are still out there wondering what’s going on here and what we’re into… let’s see if we can squeeze in some more of that writing on the store’s (still gorgeous) website. That’ll be a nice way to celebrate the store’s birthday.

Like Jean Grey rising from the Jamaica Bay – Phoenix Forever Rising.

Happy Small Business Week

We’re truly blessed to be a small business here in SF’s gorgeous Hayes Valley for so many years.

Come celebrate another wonderful San Francisco Small Business Week with us!

Celebrate Those You Love, San Francisco!

Check out that great Irene Koh LEGEND OF KORRA art she did on a lid recently for our Comic Rockstars Toilet Seat Museum! What better image to get us all in the mood for sharing a little love?!

And what’s not to love about San Francisco? A city of magic and delight, dreams and dreamers, populated by passionate personalities and hard working folks with a dedication to sharing their affections with us all. We are honored to get to be a part of the amazing scene of unique cultures and small businesspeople that make San Francisco truly special. And once a year we get to celebrate all those fabulous denizens, wild visionaries, indie businesses, and awesome characters that make this city so great in the SF Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay reader’s poll. So don’t be shy, San Francisco… join us in embracing these amazing people and places we all love here in the greatest city on Earth. I can definitely tell you how much it means to my fellow small indie businesspeople and SF personalities. Let’s show them some love and let them know how much it means to us to have them around!

Celebrate those you love, San Francisco! Vote here:
SF Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay Reader’s Poll 2017

As is tradition, here’s some of mine and the Isotope family’s personal favorites:


Best Street Fair – BYO Big Wheel
Best Hotel – SF Sleep
Best Tour – The Dashiell Hammett Tour
Best Event or Venue for Kids – Circus Center San Francisco
Best Nonprofit – Lava Mae Mobile Showers
Best Local Website – www.sfbg.com
Best Locally Produced TV Show – Check, Please!
Best Radio Station – Radio Valencia
Best Tattoo Parlor – Dream Masters Custom Tattoos
Best Local Animal Rescue – Rocket Dog Rescue
Best Pet Groomeing – All Creatures Healing Network
Best Veterinarian – Dr. Rao @ Nob Hill Cat Clinic
Best Dentist – Doctor Butler @ Eco Dental Oakland
Best Auto Mechanics – Jack Schroll @ Mostly Mustangs
Best Bicycle Repair – Matt Aimes @ Market Street Cycles
Best Salon – Hair of the Gods
Best Hairstylist – Donnelle @ Hair of the Gods
Best Massage – Justin Hall Massage
Best Local Sports Team – Bay Area Derby Girls All Stars Team


Best New Restaurant – Barcino
Best Splurge Restaurant – Pläj Scandinavian Restaurant & Bar
Best Late-Night Restaurant – Sauce
Best Romantic Restaurant – Flour + Water
Best Food/Drink Festival – Domingo de Piña @ Smuggler’s Cove
Best Farmers’ Market – Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market
Best Vegetarian – Greens Restaurant
Best Pizza – Patxi’s Pizza
Best Sandwiches – Fatted Calf
Best Burritos – Gordo Taqueria
Best Burgers – Finn Town Tavern
Best Barbecue – Rusty’s Southern BBQ
Best Bowl of Noodles – Nojo Ramen
Best Soul Food – Brenda’s French Soul Food
Best Indian – Little Delhi Restaurant
Best Mexican – Nido
Best Thai – Jitlada Thai
Best Breakfast – Brown Sugar Kitchen
Best Brunch – Straw SF
Best Lunch – Lunchpad
Best Ice Cream – Smitten Ice Cream
Best Coffee Roasters – Ritual Coffee
Best Cup of Tea – KitTea Cat Cafe
Best New Bar – Ginger’s
Best Bartender – Keli Rivers @ Whitechapel
Best Dive Bar – Molotov’s
Best Swanky Bar – Smuggler’s Cove
Best Gay Bar – The Eagle
Best Bar Staff – Smuggler’s Cove
Best Butcher Shop – Fatted Calf
Best Cheese Shop – Cheese School of San Francisco
Best Chocolatier – Christopher Elbow


Best Movie Theater – The Roxy Theater
Best Rep Film House – Castro Theatre
Best Museum – Comic Rockstars Toilet Seat Museum
Best Art Gallery – SF MOMA
Best Dance Company – Solar Flare Fire Dancing
Best Theater Company – SF Oasis
Best Performance Space – SF Jazz
Best Film Festival – Noir City
Best Arts Festival – SF ZineFest
Best Music Festival – NoisePop
Best Book Publisher – Viz Comics
Best Record Label – Prank Records
Best Band – Chrome
Best Singer / Songwriter – Bob Mould
Best DJ – DJ Bearzbub
Best Live Music Venue – Bottom of the Hill
Best Overall Nightlife Venue – DNA Lounge
Best Overall Dance Party – Breakfast of Champions
Best Rock Club – Thee Parkside
Best Jukebox – Molotov’s
Best Overall Queer Party – SF Pride
Best Drag Show – It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Drag King Revue
Best Drag Queen – D’Arcy Drollinger
Best Burlesque – The Devil-Ettes
Best Comedian – Drew Platt
Best Literary Night – Lunada Literary Lounge


Best Store Staff – Nancy Boy
Best Overall Bookstore – Borderlands Books
Best Used Bookstore – Green Apple Books
Best Comic Book Store – Isotope
Best Record Store – Thrillhouse Records
Best Women’s Clothing Store – Acrimony
Best Men’s Clothing Store – Jake
Best Local Designer(s) – Jake Wall
Best Shoe Store – Fluevog
Best Hardware Store – Cole Hardware
Best Toy Store – Heroes Club / Art of Toys
Best Bike Shop – Market Street Cycles
Best Gift Shop – Aloha Warehouse
Best Sporting Goods – DLX Skateboards
Best Sweets / Chocolate Shop – Christopher Elbow
Best Newsstand – Fog City News
Best Place to Buy Lingerie – Dark Garden Corset Shop

Please do feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section below, I always want to know about the amazing people and places that we might be missing out on! And check out our recommendations from previous years too for even more people and places to love in SF. Join us in showing our favorite locals some love, we’re on the final week of voting, so don’t delay on getting your voices heard! On behalf of all of the small business folks here in SF… thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping keep our city the magical and delightful place that it is!

SF Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay Reader’s Poll 2017


Isotope proudly presents the amazing Irene Koh, artist of the upcoming series of absolutely gorgeous graphic novels LEGEND OF KORRA: TURF WARS!

We here at the Isotope were already fans of the anime, and were doubly thrilled to hear that the new trio of graphic novels weave an epic coming out love story amid the backdrop of a world where corporate greed has fueled political chaos and societal oppression. Truly a tale for our times.

And who among us hasn’t been waiting for Korra and Asami’s first date?!

Irene’s love of these characters, and martial arts, really explodes from the pages and one only has to read these great interviews with Irene to know how special this dream project written by series co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino is for her.

Let us invite you to a rare Sunday event at the Isotope, for an intimate afternoon with us and Irene. Come get your comics sketched / signed, soak up the adoration of all things LEGEND OF KORRA, be awed by Irene’s jaw-dropping artwork and be inspired by her truly wonderful breaking-into-comics story.

This is what it is all about, people.

Irene Koh @ Isotope
Sunday, July 30th 2017
Noon – 3pm
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Saturday through Sunday

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