One of Saskatoon's longest-running comic book stores is vying for the title of World's Best.
For 23 years Amazing Stories has delivered the latest comics, graphic novels, toys and board games. It features pop culture's favourite movies, super heroes and television shows.
The store's plethora of options could be one reason it currently holds the crown as the Best Comics Retailer in Canada, as awarded by the annual Joe Shuster comic awards.
But now Amazing Stories has been lumped in with the best comic book stores in the world, competing for the prestigious Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award.
The award is named after Will Eisner, the man behind the popular graphic novel, The Spirit. It's given out yearly to retailers who have done an outstanding job of supporting the comic art medium both in the industry at large and in their local community.
"This is the equivalent of like the Nobel Peace Prize of comics or the Oscars," said Jody Cason, special events coordinator with Amazing Stories. "It's so big and it's kind of mind-blowing."
The Eisner Awards, handed out each year at North America's largest comic book convention in San Diego, usually doled out awards for writers, illustrators, painters, pencillers and so forth.
But Eisner asked for a special award, recognizing comic book stores for their ongoing efforts to grow comic book culture in their communities.
Cason says Amazing Stories isn't your average comic book shop.
"I think that's one area where we especially shine because we have all ages stuff, we have a lot of variety we definitely don't stick to DC and Marvel superhero stuff," Cason said. "We have all kinds of independent creators and we really try to support the local scene as much as possible and get their comics in."
More than your average comic shop
On top of the storefront operation, Amazing Stories also publishes Punch Magazine, a semi-annual magazine that's home to local artists, writers and everything pop culture.
Amazing Stories also hold swap meets, author meet-and-greets and comic book or graphic novel launches.
"Community is huge," Cason said. "Fans make it or break it so we have a ton of regulars who come in and offer something different."
A panel of industry judges selects a group of finalist shops to be subjected to an in-depth examination based on the award criteria.
The winner will be announced at the San Diego Comic book convention on July 22.