The Comic Exotic: Detour thru Thailand

A semi-regular column about great comics you probably don’t know about. These could be Indie comics, comics with small print runs, or foreign comics. As reader and lover of comics for over 35 years, I’ve accumulated a huge collection. And this collection runs deep with the weird and the esoteric.

While on vacation in Thailand, in a small town about an hour south of Bangkok, I was lucky enough to find a Thai comic shop.

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The shop was stocked deep with Thai translations of popular manga. Lots and lots of manga!

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Complete runs of One-piece, Naruto, and my favorite, Cobra, were all available for rent.

That’s right, you can rent your comics over here! Just like the rental shops of Japan, this is a low-cost alternative for readers on a budget. You can rent the book for a day for 10% of it’s cover price.

In the case of these Cobra volumes, the price is 12 baht per day (about 40 cents in American money).

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I picked up these Cobra(s) so that I can compare them to the original Japanese versions that I have in my collection. It’s always interesting to see what pages are in color and if anything has been censored.

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One volume also featured a collection of color pin-ups that was unexpected but really cool.

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Besides manga, this shop also has a small collection of original Thai comics. This series, called Horror Hours, really caught my eye.

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Each volume of this series contains four or five short stories by a variety of artists and told in a variety of styles.

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I really enjoyed these comics and I will have to try and hunt down a set for my own collection.

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I spoke to the owner, Nok, about her shop, trying to learn more about the comics industry in Thailand.

The shop has been around for about seven years now. When I asked her how business was going, she gestured with her hand like a wave crashing down. No translation needed.

I asked her why she thought comics were losing their popularity. “Cell phones, computers, video games.” Sounds like a familiar story.

Finding this little comic oasis in rural Thailand was one of the highlights of my vacation.

I want to thank Nok for indulging me and my curiosity. And I wanted to thank my lovely wife, Boo, for translating for me.

See ya next time at The Comic Exotic!

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Jon Vinson is the writer of the graphic novel Edge of the Unknown and recently launched the new comics series Nightingale and the Finch. He is the Founder & Publisher of DUB Comics.