Field trip: the Silver Sprocket store in San Francisco

Field trip: the Silver Sprocket store in San Francisco

I was fortunate enough to visit Paris several years ago. Most attractive to me of all of that city’s cultural sites were the comic shops. It was mind-boggling to be surrounded by attractive displays of beautiful books by artists mostly unfamiliar to me, and not a cape in sight. I got the same feeling in the Silver Sprocket store located in San Francisco’s Mission District (1018 Valencia St).

Display of books published by Silver Sprocket

Silver Sprocket is a publisher but their online and physical stores carry books from a wide variety of independent and small press publishers. What’s most striking about the store to me is how much they fit in there. I’m used to stores having a section or a rack devoted to interesting independent work. The Silver Sprocket store is not small, it has a lot of shelves, and it’s all the good stuff.

I love a lot of book shops but I’ve never been in one this comprehensive when it comes to what’s interesting in American comics. They carry bigger independents like Fantagraphics but what’s more impressive is the amount of inventory from publishers like Perfectly Acceptable, Peow, Glom, Kilgore, Strangers, Shortbox, etc plus tons of self-published work. If you’ve been missing small press shows during the pandemic a visit to Silver Sprocket will be dangerous for your wallet.

Everything about the shop is designed to be browse-friendly. Given the chance, one of these books will catch your eye and go home with you, so the layout is all about maximizing that chance. Lots of tiered, forward-facing displays.

There are shelves for specific publishers, all ages books, LGBTQ, and other groupings. Shoppers are encouraged to sit and read.

Sit and read a while.

Another striking feature of French comics shops mirrored by Silver Sprocket is walls covered with art. It’s a gallery above all the books, all for sale, plus bins of additional prints to peruse.

If you like the kind of comics I talk about here and you’re in the Bay Area then the Silver Sprocket store is a must-visit. And if you’re unfortunately located elsewhere, their online shop is pretty good too.

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