Let’s be clear up front: Fun Box Monster Emporium is a comic book store (Coast City Comics, in fact). But it is not just a comic book store. Instead, imagine if you crossed a comic book store with Hot Topic and your favorite vintage shop. Throw in a few great pinball machines at the back and that is Fun Box Monster Emporium.
In addition to their (very) wide selection of comics, everywhere you look is something that makes you either say “I want that” or “I had one of those” (or maybe “I always wanted Santa to bring me one of those but he never did”). The “Fun Box” portion of the name refers to Fun Box shirts, and a wall near the front is filled with a display of shirts referencing pop culture and nerdcore cool. As you venture towards the back (and the clarion call of the half-dozen pinball machines), it’s impossible to walk even two steps without your eye falling on yet another thing that you have to stop and look at.
I cannot think of a pop culture trend of the past 3o years (or more) that I did not see represented: the usual suspects – Star Wars, Star Trek, The Simpsons – are well represented with new and vintage merchandise – toys, action figures, and assorted ephemera. Have a soft spot in your heart for a certain Saturday morning cartoon? Yep, they have those collectables, too, everything from Superfriends to Strawberry Shortcake. I spotted a box of vintage Lego tucked away in a corner, and a great Roy Rogers and Trigger toy on a crowded shelf. Oh, and don’t forget the vintage gaming systems: Nintendo, Sega, Atari … it’s all here.
This is a place to browse. But it’s also a place to ask the experts if they have anything related to your (or your spouse’s or child’s) current obsession. The staff have an encyclopedic knowledge of the contents of those well-stocked shelves and can easily tell you if they have anything that will ensure a squeal of recognition and delight.
So, yes, they’re a comic book store. But they are also so much more. Before you go to the mall to buy a gift at Hot Topic, wander down to Congress St and check out The Fun Box Monster Emporium. I’m betting they’ll have something way cooler than you’ll find a the mall.
The Fun Box Monster Emporium and Coast City Comics are located at 656 Congress St in Portland. They are open Monday & Tuesday 11 am – 7 pm; Wednesday through Friday 10 am – 10 pm; Saturday 11 am – 8 pm and Sunday Noon – 5 pm. You can visit the Coast City Comics website or the Fun Box Monster Emporium Facebook page.