Outside the Metro, there’s CRITICAL HIT: The Comic Book Shop of Iloilo
We’re lucky that comic books are easily accessible to us here in the Metro. We have Comic Odyssey, Filbar’s, Fully Booked to name a few. We wondered, how about outside Manila? Are there any comic book shops out there?
Our question was answered when we had a nice chat with Johann Louie Ong, owner of Critical Hit with Arsenio Rafael IV back in May. Critical Hit is a comic book shop that is situated in Iloilo. It was our first time to hear about a comic book shop outside the Metro. We asked Johann if there were others. “Filbar’s used to have branches in Cebu and Iloilo but they closed more than a decade ago. I think we’re the only comic book store in the Visayas region or outside of Luzon even.” Critical Hit, just like any other comic book shop: sells singles, current and back-issues. Most of their customers are walk-ins but they have a dozen or two regulars.
Critical Hit also took part in the celebration of FCBD. “It was actually our 2nd FCBD event. But we moved out shop to the more accessible Ayala Atria area. 100% success, we actually ran out of comics around 6 PM. We invited local artists (4) to do sketches, sell art prints and shirts. They’re part of the Iloilo comic con group. It’s been a successful FCBD event when fans start lining up at 7:30-8:30 and your store opens at 10AM pa. That never happens in provincial Iloilo.” says Johann.
Unlike other comic book stores, Critical Hit receives their stocks every other week. “To save on shipping I consolidate our weekly comic orders so we get it shipped every other week. (When it arrives it’s basically two weeks worth of comics).” Rest assured, they pride themselves on having the same price as the Manila comic book stores. Aside from being a comic book shop, they are also a board game and card game shop. Another unique thing that Critical Hit offers is their shirts done by a local Ilonggo artist, Pigboom Art, but it’s made in the United States.
With a lot to offer, we asked how they sustain their business in a provincial area where their products are for hobbies. “That’s precisely the point. People are into different things nowadays and we’re the only shop in our area that caters to those geek hobbies. Why take a flight to Manila when it’s just a quick ride to our shop? Even people who buy online are saying that our shop is competitively pieces if you factor in shipping costs” Johann explains.
As game shops go, they also have weekly events, “ Cardfight Vanguard tourneys on Saturday. Magic (the Gathering) on Sunday the LCG stuff, like Game of Thrones and Warhammer Conquest on weekends too. We’re also trying to promote a new miniature game, called Guild Ball and Heroclix and Warmachine” he says. We asked about the next event for Critical Hit “Probably Halloween Comicfest or whatever con is next for Iloilo, we have hobby con and comic con that are alternating I think” says Johann.
During our talk, we found out something incredible about Johann’s spouse. It turns out that his wife used to own Central Comic Headquarters, one of the first indie comic shops and one of the first shops to celebrate FCBD, which was located in Katipunan Ave. in front of Ateneo de Manila. As Johann says, “We’re just continuing the tradition.”
Critical Hit can be found at The Shops @ Ayala Atria, Iloilo
Visit their Facebook page HERE.