Comic books vary greatly in their plots, illustrations, and overall presentation. Some feature cape-clad heroes. Others take on crime, politics, and suspense. Some are graphic, others tame. Some are gory and others are less so. For this reason, planning a geeky road trip and gassing up the guzzler to partake in a bit of nerd travel could pose its share of challenges. Fortunately, there is one common thread that ties the binding of every comic book on earth together. At the end of the day, adventure is at the heart of the story.
As fans, it is our duty to do our part in keeping that adventure alive; not just between the pages, but even within ourselves. There are way too many comic book landmarks out there, way too many comic book museums yet to be explored, for us to simply be content hiding behind our laptops and flipping through the digital versions of these classic works of art.
Some have called it the ninth art, a pop-culture concept too big to fit into any other category. Like any other art form, seeing it, touching, feeling and experiencing it are all big parts of the journey. So journey we shall, into the caves and castles and museums and post offices (Post offices? Yes. Post offices.) that bring this art form to life until we discover for ourselves what it means to soar, fail, conquer, quest and otherwise walk the pathways of the icons we’ve admired from afar. Here are some of the best nerdy museums and landmarks for comic book readers to get you started on your way.
The Super Museum, Metropolis, ILPhoto: David Wilson/Flickr
One could pretty easily argue that caped crusading would never have been a thing were it not for Superman. So, if you’re a superhero fan of any variety, visiting Superman’s hometown of Metropolis, a tiny oddity tucked along the back roads of Illinois, is guaranteed to send your spirit soaring. While you’re there, you might want to also peruse this Superman-themed museum. Superman movie props, costumes, toys and artwork align the walls of this spectacular which is situated smack dab in the center of a town adorned in year round Superman décor. Here, you’ll encounter a towering Superman statue, a replica of the instantly recognizable Superman phone booth, and a Superman themed newspaper for starters.
This town has major plans to expand their Superman prowess in the future, so be on the lookout for the Man of Steel to re-emerge triumphantly in the cozy town of Metropolis, even if he’s only flying through the air on a superhero float during their annual Superman Celebration, a gala that’s been up and running for almost four consecutive decades.
The Bronson Caves, Los Angeles, CAPhoto: Courtney Mault/Wikimedia
If you’re a movie buff, this is the cave of treasures for sure. When you approach the entrance to these caves as they rise from the soil of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, try to imagine a billowing cape under a gust of wind behind you. This is the entrance to the Batcave from the classic 1960s Batman TV show. These caves also served as the backdrop for Batman: The Movie, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stark Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as 1941’s theatrical production of The Adventures of Captain Marvel. This is a comic book fan adventure if ever there was one.
Toonseum, Pittsburgh, PAPhoto: Douglas Muth/Flickr
Every art enthusiast should take time out to visit Steel City at least once in their lifetime. This destination is a cornucopia of artistic oddities. Toonseum’s mission statement is, simply put, “To celebrate the art of cartooning.” But it’s actually a little deeper than that. Not only does the museum present fun caricatures and little-known comic book trivia, it's also known to host some very thought-provoking comic book exhibitions. If you like to dig deep into comic book culture, Toonseum, the boutique museum situated in Pittsburgh’s cultural district, is a road trip-worthy attraction.
Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., Brooklyn, NY
Attention, shoppers, do you need a cape, a superpower, or a pair of socks that’ll make you run like The Flash? If so, it’s time to take your super-mobile over the Brooklyn Bridge and witness the mayhem that is the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. This offbeat warehouse sells superhero-inspired goods that benefit children’s education, instantly transforming everyday people into unwitting heroes. Here’s a cool fact you might not be aware of about this store: it used to be a pirate supply store. If a pirate warehouse turned superhero supply company doesn’t inspire your inner geek, nothing will.