Bulletproof 30 : A Celebration

By | December 26, 2022

New York City : by far the busiest most impersonal community to be found on the face of the known atlas. A place where there is only seconds to catch a breath in between conducting acts of business. It’s not surprising then when a person walks into a store even as niche as a comic book shop 99 they can expect their visit to be strictly transactional. But if one decides to take their tourist lenses off, they can see a shop like Bulletproof Comix , within its thirtieth year of operation, as a cornerstone of arguably the most burgeoning borough.

A comic book shop established in the nineties that due to their notoriety eventually found themselves in Earth 616 as well as here in the dull 33 (see one of Marvel’s many Deadpool Hip-Hop variant covers) where some of the only people that bear the power to add spice in the mix are known artists, most commonly in Brooklyn emcees. Many who have been known to make themselves at home at this Nostrand Ave. stop before and after the gold in both mouth and plaques. Originally spread out in three locations, Bulletproof Comics can now be found consolidated and thriving where it all began off the corner of the intersection of Nostrand and Flatbush Ave. in the heart of Little Caribbean.
I was unaware of all the exclusive covers that Hank was eager to show off, but the open secret of the shop may not make sense for marketing purposes. Irregardless, such a policy allows this hybrid of a hobby store to keep it’s integrity in an era where word of mouth has been lost to the viral meme.

A true hole in the wall, Bulletproof sits with two floors : the bottom devoted to the newest “floppys”, hardcover and softcover GNs, TCG packs and manga volumes scattered about, sharing space with a large amount of skateboard decks, bearings and trucks to build the ultimate tool for carving up the New York streets. I did not get a chance to visit the upstairs wing, but from what I learned there was a full gallery space which was used for signings (that week Damion Scott was supposed to make an appearance) and tournaments focused on video games from a variety of consoles – from the latest to system’s the most hardcore of gamers would consider archaic. Even though Bulletproof opens early, the traffic at the shop was far from light : from those on the deep end of the culture to new visitors dipping in their toe, every person entered with a smile on their face and left with that even if their pockets were a little lighter on exit, their spirits were still full.

A shop for the BK community, and welcoming to tourists, I found myself amazed as an L.A. native that I had yet to even hear about this shop.
Self-conscious of the hole in the wall status, Bulletproof leans into this with a coziness that just cant be felt in the majority of N.Y. or the East Coast in general. It’s understandable then why a Hip-Hop lumineer like Sean Price would have enjoyed a shop such as this, in where Hank expressed pride over the fact that Price was known to play in the 2K tournaments (amongst other games) hosted at the store, along with the Flatbush Zombies and other emcees that represent the populous borough. Hank said it was a place where artists could come in “take off their grill, their cool, and just be themselves” while nerding out over the sorts of pop culture that has been known to inspire the most eclectic of their works that will go down in history.

Just like this shop, with thirty years in, I would be remiss to not wish Bulletproof another 30, but instead of sending that wish to the ethers, I decided it would be best to do it here in the form of this article. I’ve been to many comic book shops since I was an eleven year old kid visiting a shop on a light day in Pasadena, CA and a decade and change later with the memories that I walked through and created with my short time in Little Caribbean, I understand why other shops like Midtown and Forbidden Planet get put on a larger scale, because Bulletproof is a diamond in the ruff, and it could not shine the way it does without it’s competition bogarting the spotlight. That is to say that Bulletproof Comics is a purist shop that pays homage to all things pop culture in a way that doesn’t come across as corporate in a Metropolis built around corporations. That’s a rarity. As it is commonplace to open up a funny book and find a hero with bullets bouncing off their body, I’m happy to have found a spot with attributes just as immortal right in the heart of New York City. To another 30 …

* Bulletproof Comics is located at : 2178 Nostrand Ave. Brooklyn, N.Y. 11210

C.V.R. The Bard