It’s official: Derry is now home to the best comic bookstore in Ireland.
Angry Cherry in Foyle Street has just been named Best Irish Comic Shop, beating off stiff competition from outlets in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast.
The shop, run by Mickey McGonagle, Peter Crossan and Marty O’Kane, has become a huge success since the three established it just three years ago.
“To be honest, we were astonished to win as usually, it is one of the Dublin-based shops that win awards like this, so it is a great coup for Derry,” said Mickey.
“We didn’t even know we had been nominated and apart from letting people know that we had been, we didn’t campaign for it, so to win it took us a bit by surprise.”
The public image of shops like Angry Cherry is something along the line a haven for The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy.
And although there’s an element of truth still to that, thanks to recent Hollywood blockbusters like Batman Vs Superman and films based on DC comics like Suicide Squad, that is starting to change.
“Those films have opened us up to a new market, particularly girls who wouldn’t necessarily have come in in the past,” says Mickey.
“What usually happens is that someone comes in for the first time asking about Batman and they go out with all sorts of stuff from the DC universe.”
Perhaps what helped Angry Cherry to the award was their determination not to fall into the Comic Book Guy trap of what Mickey calls, a snobby attitude towards people who are not necessarily immersed in everything to do with comic books.
“We don’t patronise people - we welcome anyone and everyone,” he says.
“We want to encourage in interest in comics and yes, there is a comic book community that exists, but we want to make it as wide as possible.
“If you look at the growing card gaming community, who have Friday nights at the Foyle Arena in Derry, we help to support them and there are other groups like that starting up in the town.”
That is evident from some of the messages of support which have been left on Angry Cherry’s Facebook page since they were announced as winners.
“I have been coming to this shop ever since it opened.
“The excellent folks behind the counter are the coolest and most helpful. When in doubt, if you are looking for a specific Item, they will bend over backwards to make sure you get your requested item.
“Angry Cherry is awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for any other shop in Derry.”
Angry Cherry could have been a very different kind of shop when Mickey and co-owner Peter were looking to set up back in October 2014.
Their first thought was to try to become established in one of the town’s main shopping centres, but cost was one of the reasons which drove them to Foyle Street - and it couldn’t have worked out better.
“It’s the perfect location for us is a lot of ways,” explained Mickey.
“We are right by the Guildhall, so we are right on the tourist trail in the city.
“But more importantly the school buses are all lining up outside and when it rains we are the perfect place for them to go.
“We’d like to thank everyone who supported us and it really was an amazing surprise to be announced as the best Irish comic book shop.”