Whether you call it the Hollywood of the South, East Hollywood, or longtime nickname, Wilmywood - Wilmington, North Carolina is a geek’s Mecca. With much of the recently released BLOCKBUSTER Ironman 3 being filmed here, desolate docks are now tourist attractions for those seeking unique movie magic. Or better yet, hit
, the waterpark that served as the home of Piranha 3-DD, where you can feel like the Hoff himself fighting off the swarm of deadly piranha or just enjoy the arcade, jungle golf, laser tag, and go karts. But a growing film and television capital is just the beginning.
For a City of just over 100,000 people, Wilmington boasts three very different comic bookstores that you would be doing yourself a disservice by not visiting all three. First on the list is Fanboy Comics. This community staple has been serving the needs of longtime residents as well as its next door neighbor, University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW), students for over twenty years. With all the latest issues and a huge stock of back issues to choose from, you are going to find something to add to your collection here. A great supporter of community events and charitable cause, Fanboy pushes comics out of the funny papers and into an art form, which it does by frequently highlighting local artists. Check them out!
photo courtesy of www.mlcshop.com
While they may be the oldest, do not miss your chance to visit Jake’s Memory Lane Comics. Sitting next to a surf shop could not be more fitting as it is always a laid back adventure seeing what new toys and other comic/cartoon related memorabilia you are going to find inside. No matter if it is He-Man, GI Joe, or the Simpsons, you too will feel like the master of the universe when you are truly going down memory lane checking out both the blast from the past toys you had as a kid to brand new super hero action figures sure to be the next generations favorites.
The new kid on the block is Nerdvana
, a comic-book, movie-memorabilia and “nerd swag” shop tucked away in the historic Cotton Exchange
in downtown Wilmington. While this may be a cramped space, the Star Wars toy display was worth the visit alone on my trip there. And I could not help myself and had to purchase some of the unique poster prints available for dirt cheap. Wall space can be found later for these must haves.
If comic books are not your geeky pleasure, there are two other must visit places. For the gamers, Cape Fear Games
carries table top games as well as MTG singles and board games. I am not a gamer, but I met several of the guys during Free Comic Book day, talked about the many family-friendly tournaments they hold, and have checked out their extensive selection of goods online.
For the high-brow geek or anyone wanting to see some amazing art, you can’t miss a quick trip to The Gallery Racine
, which is one of the 99 galleries worldwide that carries Dr. Seuss' artwork. These beautiful and whimsical works will transport you to a magical place that you may not have visited since childhood. Plus the extensive selection of Dr. Seuss sculptures will make you think twice about turning your den into a proverbial hunting lodge.
After visiting so many places (and trust me each is worth the time), you are going to want a bite to eat or maybe a late night drink. A fairly new entry in the ever change gastro landscape of Wilmington is Smoke
, dubbed a Southern BBQ & Taphouse. Obviously, BBQ is not reserved for geeks, and in the south is truly an art form, but the draw for this establishment is the chosen wallpaper. Covering a massive amount of wall space is comic book page after comic book page decoupaged into a wonderland of back issue heaven. And if their 40 beers on tap are not enough, round out your day with a late night trip to a place that may truly have something for everyone.
What is more exciting than a bar dedicated to the television show turned blockbuster movie (well to some) Firefly/Serenity. The Brown Coat Pub & Theater
is just such a place. Besides supporting local theater and hosting what some will say the best karaoke in town, check out all the photos and memorabilia paying tribute to Firefly and Serenity. Being a lover of all things Joss is reason enough, but sit back, have a drink, and ultimately make your way to the bathroom. Try not to take too long, but I have never gotten out of there without taking a few pictures. You will have to see it to understand.
As you can tell, I am partial to the Port City (Wilmington’s most common nickname and the one you will see plastered everywhere), and really would encourage anyone to check it out. After all, it is on the beach, has its own ghost tour and recently hosted its first comic con – Port City Pop Con
. I was not able to attend, to which all I can say is shame on me.