A longtime showbiz journalist and fan's thoughts on comic books, movies and other cool stuff.

Comic-Shop Memories: Warp 1, Edmonton, Alta., 1985-86

The opening of Warp 1 Games sometime in 1985 or 1986 cemented the Whyte Avenue strip of Edmonton as its comics capital. Warp One opened at 10332-81st Ave., which was almost exactly one block south of Comic Master on Whyte Avenue. (The old Warp 1 location is currently the Tea House Cafe.)

Warp 1 was a large store. I remember entering into a large lower area with I want to say blue carpet, and a line of racks for new comics along the left side. There was a little loft, where you went upstairs to an area with back issues both in long boxes on tables, and on the walls. I remember a window that was round and may have been a dome. I thought it looked cool, remembering having visited on rainy days where the effect of it was enhanced.

Warp 1 was best for back issues. Its selection was deeper than other shops in town and it was easier to track down issues older than a year or two. Back issues were reasonably priced, though condition often varied more than at other shops. It seemed to have more newsstand copies of comics, which means Canadian newsstand copies that have in recent years become in-demand variants.

I never cared for the newsstand copies. They usually were in lesser shape, and I honestly preferred the cleaner look that Marvel in particular used for its direct market copies, with that “M” design and the nice, big issue numbers. The newsstand issue numbers were squished and crammed into a tiny box to make room for the Comics Code Authority symbol, and presaged my typographical interest and subsequent distaste for distorted type.

Among the comics I remember buying at Warp 1 are Secret Wars II #6, X-Men #170, and The New Mutants Annual #1. My X-Men #170 is a very nice-condition Canadian newsstand copy, which may put a few extra dollar or two in my pocket should I ever sell it.

The other thing I remember buying at Warp 1 was a copy of Bill Sienkiewicz’s poster of The New Mutants. It was and is a stunning piece of work that just looks great. Warp 1 was the only store where I had even seen one and so I bought it in September 1986, just a month before we moved to Arizona. I wish I still had it, or that Marvel would re-issue it, as it’s very hard to find one and they’re quite expensive even if you do.

The New Mutants poster by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Of the stores I’ve written about so far, Warp 1 is the only one that is still in business. Online, I found this profile of the store from the Sequential Tart website. When I visited Edmonton sometime in the 2000s, I stopped in with my friends at its new location on Whyte Avenue at 99th Street. It was still a solid shop, though it had changed with the times to be more focused on graphic novels than back issues, even then. Warp 1 is still open, and has two additional locations called Warp 2 and Warp 3. I’m sure I’ll check it out again whenever I find myself back in Edmonton.

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1 Comment

  1. You’ve got a great memory. The original Warp 1 was just as you described it. It was originally run by Daryl Minty… and I think he was one of 3 or 4 owners. Dave… something was one of the others. One thing about your post that I found interesting was the “reasonable price” comment. My friends and I used to make jokes about “Uncle Daryl prices” since he always seemed eager to squeeze as much out his young customers as possible. I remember the first time I walked in, what struck me was a large poster sized hand drawing of the Alpha Flight team that I believe one of the customers had done. I think it was part of a “amateur display” area where people tacked up their own artwork attempts.

    Originally the shop was quite cramped (and you’re right about that cool bubble window on the second level). At first it expanded to double the size by knocking down an adjoining wall. Then it moved to the next building over (but part of the same complex)… and then it moved to its current location on 99 Street.

    Warp 1 was probably always the most varied of shops… it was just as popular a gaming store as it was a comic store. I remember heading down there when the Second Edition AD&D rulebooks were released. There were always lots of dice, miniatures, etc. I also remember Daryl being one of the very first outlets for anime… back when it was a mysterious thing only spoken of in whispers. Daryl had some contacts in Japan, and eventually some Japanese anime art books began showing up… and VHS cassettes… in Japanese, with absolutely zero hope of any English subtitles. I remember renting the Studio Ghibli Miyazaki film Castle in the Sky there the first time I’d seen it. I think I also saw MegaZone 23 (part2)… and God Bless Dancougar… I couldn’t understand a single word, and loved every second of it!

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