This past October, Greenpoint resident Jason Mojica opened a comic book store after finding success selling comics on a Franklin Street sidewalk with his son. The store, Hey Kids Comics! (157 Huron St.), is small and selective about what titles they stock.
This selectivity alongside what sellers are referring to as the “The Great Manga Shortage” drove the Hey Kids Comics! owner to do something he never imagined he’d do. He told customers to head to the local Greenpoint library and check out graphic novels for free.
“Since the start of the pandemic, comics from Japan known as manga have risen in popularity and publishers have been unable to keep up with demand,” explained Mojica. “So, while I’d love to be able to sell early volumes of titles like My Hero Academia to people who come in looking for them, I can’t!”
Instead, Mojica sent them to the library. “As much as we love selling books, we also love (and still use) the library,” said Mojica. In fact, Mojica thinks the outdoor reading deck at the local Greenpoint library is “the most idyllic place in Greenpoint to try to get your kid to do their homework.” Greenpoint parents take note!
“The Brooklyn Public Library system has an impressive collection of graphic novels for young readers, including tons of books that are out of print,” said Mojica.
Because the selection at the library is so extensive, Mojica used his expertise to put together a list he titled “50 Great Graphic Novels for Young Readers at the Brooklyn Public Library” which can be found on the Hey Kids Comics! blog.
One of Mojica’s favorite graphic novels that cannot be found in his store is Yotsuba&! By Kiyohiko Azuma. The series was recommended to Mojica and his family by Queens-based comic artist Kelly Fernandez. Mojica has not been able to attain the series for the store yet, but was excited to find it at the library. He calls it “a total delight.”
A somewhat surprising find is the graphic novel version of The Little Prince by Joann Sfar. Mojica did not know this classic favorite came in a graphic novel form, but was proven wrong after a customer asked for it and he did a search. It was published in 2012 and is now out of print, but can be found at the Greenpoint library.
There are also lots of manga titles at the library. “With ‘The Great Manga Shortage’ rolling from 2020 to 2021 and into 2022, the library is the best place to start reading some of the most popular manga series like My Hero Academia,” says Mojica.