THE BBQ BELT: SPOONEY’S BAR BE QUE

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Originally posted on You Only Live Once.

We did a lot of driving on our honeymoon. In the middle two weeks of our trip we drove a few miles shy of 3000 in our various hire cars. There’s a lot of land in between all the major Southern cities. A lot of corn fields and Subway restrooms. You have the choice of eating at truck-stop Popeye’s (not the worst decision tbh), or seeking out the smaller BBQ spots and eating there. Luckily for me, “my wife” ( – Borat, 2006), sought out the most exciting middle-of-nowhere BBQ joints she could find.

One of these joints was Spooney’s Bar B Que in Greenwood, Mississippi. Bianca found it mentioned on a BBQ website. It doesn’t have Yelp page or anything, all we found was a video interview with Spooney describing his love of cooking, and talking about his past running a restaurant, which he gave up in favour of a BBQ grill setup out the front of his house. It sounded so awesome and simple. We had to go.

So on our last night in New Orleans, the day before we were set to drive to Memphis, Bianca called the number listed for Spooney’s Bar B Que online. After a few rings, it answered, and Bianca was speaking to none other than Spooney himself.

“Spooney!”
“Hi, are you open for BBQ tomorrow?”
“Are you out the front of my house?”
“No, but I’m hoping to come there tomorrow. Are you open?”
“Hold on, hold on, I’m driving, give me a moment.”

“Now what do you wanna eat?”
“Whatever you’re cooking!”
“Where are you from?”
“Australia! But I’m driving from New Orleans.”
“You’re from Australia? Well you can have whatever you want!”

The conversation continued and I watched Bianca smile more and more as Spooney asked her questions about Australia. He told her about a girl he used to know about called Bianca. He assured her that there would be ribs waiting for us when we got to his place and we went to bed, excited for the long drive to Greenwood.


300 miles later we pulled into Spooney’s small home town (Greenwood has a declining population of 15,000 since 2011) and drove to Pelican Street. Spooney’s house has a shed out the front with a hand painted Spooney’s Bar Be Que sign hanging from the roof and a large old BBQ bellowing smoke next to it. Across the road is another house covered in hand written signs advertising beer prices. Three men sit on plastic chairs on Spooney’s front lawn and welcome us to their street. We introduce ourselves and say that we’re here to see Spooney.


Spooney emerges from his house with cooking utensils and a tea towel. He immediately apologises to us, there was a storm that morning and he wasn’t able to light his BBQ as early as he wanted to. Are we in a hurry? No, that three hour drive to Memphis can wait. We pull up a seat and start talking to Spooney’s other guests on his front lawn, while Spooney tends to the ribs on the BBQ.


We sit on plastic chairs, drinking lemonade and having conversations with people from the neighbourhood on Spooney’s lawn, everyone going out of their way to make us feel welcome. Spooney finds an old outdoor fan in his shed and two of his friends take it apart and rewire it, aiming the loud but cool air straight at Bianca and I. Everybody who drives past pulls their car over and comes to talk to us. Mostly older men, war veterans who are keen to tell us about the history of Pelican St, Greenwood and their love for Spooney and his cooking. We learn that the house across the street with the hand written beer signs is the local nightclub and that the lady who lives there also cooks the side dishes for Spooney’s barbecues at the local markets. Everyone is fascinated as to how a young couple from Australia found their way to Spooney’s Bar Be Que.


During our conversations the smell of smoky meat increases and after two hours Spooney lifts the lid of his BBQ and reveals just two racks of ribs! This whole time he’d only been cooking for Bianca and I! Spooney takes the ribs into his kitchen and returns with two styrofoam boxes for us. Inside are the ribs, covered in Spooney’s own BBQ sauce; and a big dollop of potato salad, made fresh by the lady across the road.


The ribs aren’t as tender as Spooney would like them to be due to the short cooking time but they still taste incredible, with a huge smoky flavour and an awesome tang from Spooney’s BBQ sauce. The mustardy potato salad is delicious and the cold glasses of lemonade just keep coming. At the end of the meal, Spooney finally sits down with us, keen to know what we thought of his cooking, and keener to tell us stories of how he started out cooking and why he prefers serving BBQ out the front of his house for his friends. We promise to write about his spot and send him the photos we took. He writes us a bill and we tip 100%. It’s the first time we’ve ever had someone open up and cook a meal just for us!

Visiting Spooney’s Bar Be Que was a very unique and special experience. I’ve no doubt that there are other small scale BBQ joints all across the South, but if you ever find yourself driving through Mississippi, be sure to give Spooney a call.

Next up: The best pulled pork sandwich of my life in Memphis.

Spooney’s Bar B Que
404 Pelican St, Greenwood, Mississippi. 662-709-1465.

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Stay tuned for the rest of the smokey meat eating tour of America with Levins right here.

If you missed Part 1, see it here: When Levins did Austin, Texas
If you missed Part 2, see it here: When Levins did Lockhart, Texas

THE BBQ BELT: LOCKHART, TEXAS

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Originally posted on You Only Live Once.

Lockhart is a small town some 40 minutes south of Austin, Texas. While its population barely scrapes above 10,000, it actually contains three of the most famous BBQ joints in Texas, and was even proclaimed The Barbecue Capital of Texas by the Texas Legislature. So that’s why my wife, sister and I found ourselves haulin’ ass down Highway 183 on a Tuesday evening.

We had first heard of Lockhart while watching a short lived TV series we became addicted to –Food Wars, a show which, for each episode, would travel to a different part of America and pitted two rival restaurants who served the same cuisine against each other, resulting in a blind taste test to decide who served better food. In the Lockhart episode, they pit the two most famous of Lockhart’s BBQ joints, Kreuz Market and Smitty’s Market, against each other to decide who served the better Texas BBQ. This rivalry was far more intense than the other episodes of Food Wars because it involved the falling out of a brother and sister, who used to run Kreuz Market together. They parted ways in 1999, with the brother keeping the name and moving Kreuz Market to a new, bigger location; while the sister renamed the 100 year old Kreuz site to Smitty’s Market and the siblings have been in a smokey barbecue war ever since.


Kruez Market619 N Colorado St Lockhart, TX +1 512-398-2361
Kreuz Market came home with the glory in that Food Wars episode, with their brisket and sausage declared more delicious by the local judges. It’s the first BBQ joint you go past on your way into Lockhart. It’s huge – the carpark could fit well over 100 cars. Inside is like a BBQ museum, as you walk past hundred year old kitchen artifacts from Kreuz’ history on your way to the counter. The BBQ pit – where all the meat is smoked on low heat for hours and hours – is on display for all to see. You order your meat, they pull a huge smouldering piece of animal from the pit, slice some off for you, weigh it and plonk it onto some brown paper. You take your tray of meat to the next room, add some slices of bread, saltine crackers and a pickle and take your seat in the dining hall. As we entered there was a sign saying “Vegetarians Enter Here”, which leads directly into the dining hall, excluding the less carnivorous minded from the bloodthirsty horror of the pit.


The stars of Kreuz’s meaty lineup are their pork ribs. The brisket is pretty good, and the sausage is fantastic, fatty and peppery, but those ribs are smoked to perfection, looking as good as they taste with a nice red ring around the meat and the amazing balance of chew versus fall off the bone tenderness. Good stuff. Here’s as good a place as any to profess my love for saltine crackers as well, which should be served on the side of every meal, even if your meal is just a packet of saltines. Kreuz Market gets two thumbs up!


Smitty’s208 S Commerce St, Lockhart, TX +1 (512) 398-9344 
Because of their rivalry, for many years it was always about Kreuz and Smitty’s in Lockhart. However in recent years, Smitty’s Market has received bad reviews from BBQ judges all over Texas – with the 113 year old restaurant not even making the cut in Texas Monthly’s Top 50! So when we realised that Smitty’s Market closes early and we wouldn’t be able to eat there, we weren’t too upset – it was enough just to head over to the site and have a gander at the outside of Smitty’s Market though, marvelling at their smokestack and impressive display of wood – ready to fuel the week’s barbecue.


Blacks215 N Main St, Lockhart, TX +1 512-398-2712
Around the corner from Smitty’s is the underdog, Black’s BBQ, a comparatively small and unassuming bar and bbq joint. This place is famous for their beef brisket, which is all that we order – one pound for each of us – with a pickle and a cornbread muffin on the side. Black’s is the only place we’ve been to so far in Texas that seems to take pride in their sauce, offering a wide selection of home made BBQ sauces, some sweet, others spicy.


Their brisket is glorious. The fatty side is fall apart tender and the lean side isn’t dry at all. What’s wild about Black’s is the way they cook – cooking their meat for 8 hours, then foiling it up, refrigerating it overnight and cooking it for a further 8 hours before serving it the next day. This method is unique, and the staff are probably grateful for the less intense hours!

We leave Lockhart happy and full of meat. It could be argued that if you only have a few days in Austin there’s more than enough incredible barbecue joints to check out before wandering off to any neighbouring towns, but the rich history of BBQ in Lockhart is definitely worth a visit.

Next up: Mississippi!

Stay tuned for the rest of the smokey meat eating tour of America with Levins right here.

If you missed it, see part 1 when Levins did Austin, Texas

THE BBQ BELT: AUSTIN, TEXAS

Originally posted at You Only Live Once.

Earlier this year my wife Bianca and I embarked on the Honeymoon of our dreams, driving through the Southern states of America, eating as much food as we could. We found out that Bianca was pregnant just before we left Australia, so luckily Bianca was eating for two – while I ate for at least five.

Throughout our trip we ate a tonne of Tex Mex, Cajun, soul food, all things grilled, fried and most importantly: smoked. For it was our desire for Barbecue that took us to Texas, then to Mississippi, Memphis, and North Carolina, to sample their finest slow smoked meats. Australia views itself as a BBQ nation, simply because we know how to burn a dozen Coles sausages and wrap them in saucy bread. But Barbecue in the States is so much more advanced, with every state we visited holding tightly to what their interpretation of BBQ is, never backing down from the belief that their way is the absolute best, with the assured cockiness usually reserved for only the richest of rappers.

I’ll be writing about our smoky adventures for the next few weeks, starting in Texas and making my way north. This is not so much a guide to best BBQ that America has to offer – I’d have to spend years eating my way through the South to claim any authority on the subject, and what a horrible experience that would be. Consider this a sampler plate – a beginners introduction to some incredible places to eat in the South. Please tie a bib around your neck and we’ll begin.

Austin, Texas

We fly into Austin from Phoenix – where it had been a dry and murderous 46 degrees celcius. Austin is good 8 degrees cooler. Maybe we should’ve packed thermal underwear. Staring at us from a stand at the airport is something that would become somewhat of a bible during our time in Texas – the latest issue of Texas Monthly, which boasts ‘The 50 Best BBQ Joints In The World‘ on the front cover. Inside is a hilarious editorial which claims that Texas style BBQ is the only BBQ worth a damn in America, therefore the 50 best BBQ joints in Texas are the best BBQ joints in THE WORLD. The balls on this magazine! Following the editorial is a tight list of Texas’s finest ‘cue, put together by a secret society of greasy reviewers – and at the top of this list is Franklin Barbecue.


Franklin BBQ900 E 11th St, Austin, TX +1 512-653-1187

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It’s 8:30 in the morning and we are dropping my sister Emily off to get a spot in what is soon to be a ginormous line out the front of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. She runs out of the car, secures a place about ten people from the front of the line, and we drive off to get tacos for breakfast. When we return with a bag of Veracruz All Natural at 9am, there’s about 50 people behind Emily and two hours to go before Franklin opens it’s doors. The sun scorches everyone in line and we consider paying five bucks from the evil vendors renting out chairs.

The line is about 250 people deep by the time Franklin opens at 11am. The people at the end of the line may not even get any food as Franklin closes as soon as the meat runs out! Thankfully we’re the 4th group served, and since we left our restraint in Sydney, we order too much of evey single item on the menu, and a t-shirt. The friendly staff pile the glorious meat onto brown paper and tuck the tiny serves of slaw, beans and potato salad on the side, cowering beneath the huge serves of beef brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausage and turkey. We get a few bottles of my favourite new drink as well – Topo Chico Mineral Water, and a cold mug of the beer brewed specially for Franklin.

The meat here is cooked to perfection. The staff start cooking at 2am each morning and every hour of smoke is evident in the beautiful smoke lines in the meat – especially the ribs. The beef brisket, the piece of meat that all Texans use to judge good ‘cue is out of this world tender, fatty and juicy. All the meat at Franklin is all kinds of adjectives that people use when they write about food on the internet. Some of the adjectives are in capitals, some of them are even bold and underlined, it’s that good.

One of the defining factors of Texas BBQ is that the meat is the star. Only the meat though. Texans rarely take pride in their sauce like other states do, and they only ingredients in the rub the apply to the meat is salt and pepper. In this hilariously condescending article from Texas Monthly, ‘Why Beef Brisket Is The Apex Of Smoked Meat, the writer bemoans any other meat besides beef, saying that “anybody with half a brain a cook pork” that’s “hacked to pieces and slathered with sauce”, slaw and a bun. Here’s the thing though – I love pork, I love sauce and slaw, and more than anything, I love vinegar with my BBQ. So while this meat is without a doubt perfectly cooked, and as good as Texas BBQ gets, I realise that Texas BBQ isn’t my kind of BBQ. Thankfully this is just the beginning of our BBQ pilgrimage, and there are so many more kinds of BBQ to be eaten.

These adventures will continue each week on You Only Live Once!

NEW MIX: CRISP FOREVER

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A made a crisp new mix for a label I like called Vanishing Elephant.

This is a sexy combination of kool r&b and high iq raps. People are saying that this is the best mix I’ve ever made. Sexy people.

Here’s the tracklist:

CRISP INTRO
TINK physical
YP feat LYRIC bad bitches
CASSIE feat FABOLOUS i love it
JUICY J ain’t no coming down
BEYONCE feat ANDRE 3000 back to black
OMARION feat PROBLEM & TANK admire
CIARA body party
BRANDY slower
SHLOMO bo peep (do u right)
RICH KIDZ kool on the low
GUCCI MANE feat LLOYD fly shit
DOM KENNEDY feat TYGA & JUICY J my kind of party
TRAVIS PORTER stripper love

5 GREAT PIZZAS IN NAPLES

Originally posted on You Only Live Once

Disclaimer: This list should actually read “5 Great Pizzas, 1 Kinda Bad Pizza and an Amazing Bowl of Pasta in Naples”.

My wife and I spent 3 days in Naples, Italy at the beginning of this year. It was bitterly cold but we had no fear, because everywhere we wanted to go had a woodfire oven cranked up high. Naples is the home of pizza, arguably the best food in the world. Although I grew up loving a bastardized version of pizza, a fat cousin with bbq sauce and stuffed crust, in my grease-clogged heart I knew that in order to pay my true respects to the pizza gods, I had to eat the purest pizza as they intended. I had to go where pizza was invented and devour some of that OG pie. No hot dog stuffed crust or shwarma meat, just simple ingredients cooked to perfection. This was our pizza pilgrimage.

Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente, Via Tribunali 120, 80138 (see map)
We started our pizza pilgrimage here and I recommend you doing the same – this is a great all rounder pizza. A simple but great margherita. We ordered the Margherita con Bufala, which comes covered in buffalo mozzarella. These small circles of white cheese bubble with oil and stretch as you bite them in half. The crust is nicely charred, one of the best things about pizzas in Napoli! If you are one of those “I don’t like eating pizza crusts wahhhh” kind of people maybe you should lock yourself in a cupboard for a week and punch yourself in the face instead of coming to Italy because you are a bad person.

L’Antica Pizzeria da MicheleVia Cesare Sersale 1/3, 80139 (see map)
A few hours later we had made our way over to L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, which is the pizza place most famous for being in a Julia Roberts movie called Eat, Pray, Love. It is widely regarded by all reviewers as the best in the city and by god did I want to prove them wrong. I wanted this place to be so shit! Who wants to agree with a Julia Roberts movie? I wanted to come home, walk over to the nearest Video Ezy, find a copy of Eat, Pray, Love and yell “WRONG!” in its face! Unfortunately my fantastic and mature plan was never to be because man alive, is the pizza at da Michele perfect. The soft, charred and chewy dough resembles naan bread a little, and the oily cheese mixes with the sauce in the middle of the pizza to create an incredible soup that’s impossible to eat with your hands. You gotta use cutlery with this pizza but goddamn is it worth it. We ate one pizza each which may have been a mistake since we planned to check out another pizza place later that night and the pies at da Michele are MASSIVE. They are so good though. Honestly you could come to Naples and only eat pizza from here and you could leave with no regrets. This was in my top 5 of things I’ve ever eaten. I owe Julia Roberts an apology. Just kidding, fuck Julia Roberts.

Da Pellonevia Nazionale nr 93, Quartiere Vasto (see map)
Have you ever been drunk off pizza? After two pizzas to ourselves from two different spots in a couple of hours we were delirious and decided to walk off our pizza induced stupor by heading to the other side of the city, where we would eat more pizza at a place called Da Pellone. We played it safe here and ordered one pizza to share. The problem was that this pizza was a monster – slightly wider than the pies at da Michele but almost double the thickness! I wish I could go into more detail but we were hammered off pizzas by this point in the night. All I can remember is that 1. this was a pizza and 2. we didn’t eat it all. We put ourselves on a pizza ban for the next 12 hours.

Pizzeria BrandiSalita S. Anna di Palazzo, 1-2, 80100 (see map)
Remember how I said that one of these pizzas was kinda bad? Here it is. Pizzeria Brandi is credited with inventing the Margherita Pizza. We figured that while we in the town that invented pizza, why not go to the spot that invented the Margherita? The pizza here doesn’t hold a candle to the other pizza joints in Napoli. It’s by no means bad, in fact it’s better than almost every Margherita Pizza I’ve had in Sydney, but there are much better pizzas in this city to spend your money on. The biggest difference that Brandi offers is service. Where other pizza restaurants in Naples are very laid back and you can see your pizza being made while you wait, Brandi awkwardly tries to offer fine dining service with your pizza. Yes they have a much larger menu on offer too but the overall vibe was really offputting. You should skip this one!

Di MatteoVia del Tribunali, 94, 80138 (see map)
See this glorious pizza above? This was breakfast on our last day in Naples, and ranks up there as one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. The pizzas here are excellent. The sauce is a little chunkier than other joints and best of all, this was the only pizza we had that wasn’t just charred around the edges – the dough at Di Matteo bubbles so much that patches in the middle get charred as well! As good as this was, Margherita pizzas aren’t even what people rave about when they talk about Di Matteo – it’s all about the Pizza Fritta:

At some of the pizza spots we went to there was a huge deep fryer near the pizza oven. It looks like a giant beer keg filled with oil. Mostly these are used to fry arancini balls but some geniuses use them to make Pizza Fritta – a whole deep fried pizza! This isn’t battered or anything though – they put the toppings on one disc of dough and seal it shut with another, then drop the pizza into oil where it cooks for a few minutes, the dough bubbling and expanding while it swims in the oil. When it gets to your table it’s this glorious puff, as you can see above. As soon as you touch it with your knife it deflates and reveals the ricotta, sauce and meat inside.

Obviously this was ridiculously good. The kind of thing that you just keep nibbling at even though your stomach is about to burst. Honestly I could just eat deep fried pizza dough with some sauce to dunk it in for the rest of my life. What a great life that would be.

Europeo di MattoziVia M. Campodisola 4-8, 80133 (see map)
This was the last pizza of our trip, at a place that we weren’t going to go to until my friend Cam saw I was in Naples on the Instagramz and stressed how important it was that we come to Europeo di Matozzi before we leave. So, with 90 minutes until our train left Napoli Stazione we headed there for lunch. We were worried when we sat down though. This place was pretty la-di-dah. After the not so great pizza at Brandi, this was a bad omen. Thankfully, Europeo di Matozzi delivered like Dominoes (as in it delivered on it’s premise of good food, not as in delivered to your door at 3:30 on a Sunday arvo, maybe Dominoes was actually a pretty bad choice of comparison point). This pizza was topped with a few cherry tomatoes, plus a nice glug of oil to swim alongside the oil from the melted cheese. It wasn’t quite as good as the other pizzas we’d had in the last few days, but the real reason we were here wasn’t actually the pizza – it was for a little pasta dish called Frutti Di Mare, which means ‘fruits of the sea’.

This was, without a doubt, the best bowl of pasta I’ve ever eaten. The pasta was handmade, al dente and salty with the simple sauce – butter, parsely, garlic and the taste of the ocean – which came from the prawns, clams, octopus, crab and scampi in the bowl. All these creatures were cooked perfectly, they must’ve been cooked separately because not one bite was over or undercooked. It was so fresh, simple and goddamn good. Almost as good as the pizza at da Michele. Almost. I wouldn’t dare anger the pizza gods by putting a bowl of pasta on the same level.

So there you have it. A solid couple of days in Naples. Some other things worth doing that aren’t pizza or pasta related include trying to cross the street at night while yelling absurd claims like “This place is like the European Vietnam!“, visiting the ‘Castle of the Egg’ and filling what little room is left in your stomach with rum babas, the cute dessert that is native to Naples.

DO THE DIP VOLUME 2!

I made a hot new rap mix to celebrate The Dip’s 2nd birthday. I made one last year with a tonne of Miami Bass on it. Since we’re launching a new hip hop / r&b night this Thursday I thought I’d make this one a straight up rap mix. These are the songs that we blast in the kitchen, and in the car on our drive home from work. It’s almost 50% songs produced by DJ Mustard, which is pretty special.

Tracklist: WAVEY DAVEY B INTRO / THEM PHRESH BOYZ dip / DJ DRAMA (feat TRAVIS PORTER & KIRKO BANGZ) real niggas in the building / YOUNG JEEZY feat 2 CHAINZ r.i.p. / TY$ & JOE MOSES weekend / RASHAD feat T.I. & YOUNG DRO tell em what they want to hear / YG toot it & boot it / MYSTIKAL bouncin’ back / YG pop it / HOT BOYS feat BIG TYMERS i need a hot girl / T.I. feat LIL’ WAYNE ball / TRAVIS PORTER feat TYGA ayy ladies / TYGA feat RICK ROSS dope / FRENCH MONTANA feat TYGA & ACE HOOD thrilla in manilla / 2 CHAINZ i’m different / RICH KIDZ house wife / E-40 feat YG, IAMSU & PROBLEM function / BEYONCE feat LIL’ KEKE, SLIM THUG, WILLIE D, SCARFACE, Z-RO & BUN B i been on (h town remix)

Speaking of mustard, we’re having a goddamned Hot Dog Eating Contest this Thursday night! Lots of awesome prizes to be won – all the details are here on The Dip site

We also made our first ever t-shirts, which will be on sale this Thursday night, and online over at Label State.

And we’re launching a new weekly party! DIP HOP – rap and r&b every Thursday night in the Front Bar at Goodgod for FREE. I’m DJing every week plus kool pals like Joyride, Franco, Elston, Leon Smith, Radge and more are playing too.

Enjoy the mix and come along this Thursday night if you can! 

HALFWAY CROOKS THIS WEEKEND

Halfway Crooks, my rap party with Franco and Elston, is back on this weekend! Did you see the article I wrote for Oyster last month with my top 10 tracks from the first 4 years of Crooks? It’s a good one!

Franco has made an awesome mix for you to get familiar with before tomorrow – the final in his Lush Lyfe mix series – THE FINAL WAVE. Listen and download below!

BATMAN TRIVIA TOMORROW NIGHT!


Holy bonus round, Batman!

It almost didn’t happen last month – the whole club was evacuated due to a fire next door (our number one suspect was Firebug) but the Dark Knight has risen like he was born to do – it’s time for Batman Trivia!

Super friends Angus Truskett and Andrew Levins have been deep in the Batcave plotting and planning an evening of trivia dedicated to their favourite hero – the dark knight, the caped crusader – BATMAN!

Featuring back-breakingly hard questions from the Batman comics, movies, cartoons, games and the legacy of Gotham city!

Start forming your Justice League team and come down to win some bat-prizes at the Batman trivia night that Sydney deserves!

Table bookings are strongly encouraged and available now through The Dip. Email us on do@thedip.com.au!

MY GUIDE TO COMIC BOOK STORES IN SYDNEY

Originally posted on youonlyliveonce.com.au. This is the first of many posts I’ll be doing for them in the next couple of weeks!

Comics! They’re the best, right? I read like 100 a week! But every time I try talking to my “friends” about how ball shakingly good the new issue of Saga was, I get the same response! “Levins! I don’t have the disposable income that a DJ Chef can afford! I work in social media! I get paid in likes!”

I feel your pain pal. But you can thank the Asgardian gods, for this weekend is Free Comic Book Day! The only day of the year when you can walk into any comic book store dressed as your favourite Robin and fill your utility belt with FREE COMICS! Each year all the comic book companies put out a couple of free issues for stores to giveaway. Do you like watching The Walking Dead but have never read the comic? Why not pick up the free Walking Dead comic coming out this weekend! Were you confused at the end of The Avengers when that blue smiling guy showed up? Find out who he is in the free INFINTY comic! Looking forward to Man Of Steel? There’s a free Superman comic too! There’s also a stack of comics for kids so if you’re worried about being an adult in a comic book store, why not bring a kid and save your cred while showering said kid with FREE COMICS!

But where shall you go to collect all your free comics? I’ve put together a complete list of all the comic book stores in Sydney to assist your free-comic-getting. We’ll start in the CBD and then move out to the suburbs.

King’s Comics(facebook page) 310 Pitt St, Sydney +61 2 9267 5615

If you’ve never been inside a comic book store, Kings is a great place to start. This huge and well organised store is a perfect example of what a comic book store should be – you’ll find an unbelievable amount of comics from mainstream and independent publishers, a great selection of toys and most importantly, friendly staff who know their shit. There’s not much worse than going into a comic book store and being greeted by rude staff who don’t give two shits about you or the comics in their store. Whether you’re new to comics or an obsessive geek, the staff at Kings are always good for a helpful chat. They’re also good for wearing the best costumes each Free Comic Book Day – last year they all dressed as X-Men!

Their range of comics and trades is frequently updated and they definitely order more of every new issue than any other comic book store in Sydney. The one thing you won’t find at Kings is an extensive range of back issues – their back issues boxes only go back a couple of years – but the enormous selection of new comics easily makes up for this. 

Kings Comics doubles it’s greatness on Free Comic Book Day – and although it might be a bit of a wait to get in, once you’re inside you’ll be treated to 20% off everything in store, 50% off all back issues plus giveaways and cosplay competitions.

Comic Kingdom, 71 Liverpool St, Sydney +61 2 9267 1685

Sydney’s oldest comic book store Comic Kingdom is insane. There are so many things stacked up against it – the organisation of the store is a shambles, the staff are awful (and seem genuinely pleased at their awfulness), they only get a small amount of new comics in each week. But in the years that I’ve been coming to Comic Kingdom, knowing it’s flaws as I walk up the stairs, I’ve found some amazing comics. 

Downstairs at Comic Kingdom is a wild mess of toys, magazines, trading cards, kids comics, books, manga and the strangest collection of movies on VHS that nobody in Sydney wants. It’s worth having a browse through here just for the sheer novelty of how much junk surrounds you. Upstairs is where all the comics live. Newer comics and trades line the walls, with boxes full of older comics beneath them. In a roped off section out the back there’s an insane amount of DC and Marvel back issues dating back to the 70s. If you ask nicely, the staff will let you back there to peruse the selection. Everything is reasonably cheap, there’s a stack of stuff priced at a dollar or less and there are some real gems to be found!

I’ve grown to love Comic Kingdom, and for all it’s flaws, I hope it stays open for a few more decades. If you go in there expecting bad service and a bit of a search for some good shit, you’ll learn to love it too. Their festivities for Free Comic Book Day are pretty minimal, everything in store is already 25% off (it has been for the last couple of months), last year they had a dude selling tshirts out the front so maybe that’ll happen again. Tshirts!

Kinokuniya(facebook page) Level 2, The Galeries, 500 George St, Sydney +61 2 9262 7996

The best bookstore in Sydney, Kinokuniya, has a damn good graphic novels section. You’ll find trades from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Image and more, for a little less money than every other comic book store (especially if you’re a Kinokuniya member). The staff in the section are friendly and helpful, if not quite as knowledgeable as the staff at Kings.

Kinokuniya put on quite a show for Free Comic Book Day as well, offering 20% off all graphic novels each year plus hosting an Artist’s Alley which features 12 Australian comic creators selling and signing their work. The Australian comics scene is rarely supported by anyone so it’s very cool to see Kinokuniya give the creators some shine.

Elizabeth’s Bookshop343 Pitt St, Sydney +61 2 9267 2533

Elizabeth’s Bookshop is just across the road from Kings Comics. They have all the Asterix and Tin Tin comics and a small section of secondhand comics. Youll find a few boxes of single issues and a shelf or two of trades. New stock is added fairly infrequently but I’ve found some cool stuff there. I doubt they’ll be doing anything for Free Comic Book Day but if you’re already going to Kings why not pop over and try find a bargain. There’s an Elizabeth’s Bookshop in Newtown as well with a significantly smaller collection of comics for sale. 

The Comic Shop, (facebook page) 10a/170 George St, Liverpool +61 2 9601 2622

The Comic Shop in Liverpool: boring name, awesome store. They’ve got an amazing amount of comics, mostly single issues from all publishers and a good selection of trades as well. Their toy selection rivals Kings Comics, in fact they might actually have more. They’ve got hundreds of statues, so if for some reason having an alternate reality Moon Knight bust in your bedroom staring at you while you sleep is appealing, they’ve got you covered!

The Comic Shop is a fair way out of the city, but even if you dont live nearby it’s definitely worth the trek out. The staff are outgoing and friendly without being annoying. It makes me happy that a store like this can be doing so well in the burbs. They’ve got a lot of back issues which are actually pretty dear however if you head out there this Saturday you’ll be treated to 50% off all back issues which is nice. Everything else in the store is between 25 – 35% off as well which makes The Comic Shop a must visit in your Free Comic Book Day travels.

The Phantom Zone, (facebook page) Shop 22C Horwood Place, Parramatta 2150 +61 2 9891 1848

Just around the corner from Parramatta Westfield, The Phantom Zone is a quaint, clean and well organised comic book store with a nice display of new comics, an impressive amount of trades lining the walls and a modest selection of toys and collectibles. There’s a few boxes of back issues from the big publishers dating back five years or so. 

The owner is friendly enough when he serves you but every time I’ve been inside the store it’s just been me and him in there, me hovering silently around the comics and him staring into his computer, clicking his mouse. Why is that an issue? I guess given the size and location of his store you’d expect a little warmth to convince you to come back. Who goes to comic stores for warmth though?! This is a good store to visit if you’re ever in Parramatta but not as worth the trek out of the city as The Comic Shop is. The Phantom Zone is a way cooler name though.

For Free Comic Book Day, The Phantom Zone is discounting everything in the store by 20% and giving out prizes for everyone in a costume.

Arcadia Unbound331 Stoney Creek Rd, Kingsgrove, +61 2 9510 4884

The only comic book store in The Shire, Arcadia Unbound is also the only store on this list that I’ve never actually been to. I only found out about it today! They don’t even have a website!

What they do have is the coolest entry though. Look at that fucking thing! So badass. While I’ve never set foot inside Arcadia Bound, I did visit their stall at Supernova last year and they had an amazing selection of back issues dating back 30 years or so, all for pretty good prices. The dude running it, who I presume works at the store too, was super nice. Arcadia Unbound are yet to announce their plans for Free Comic Book Day but at the very least if you head in you’ll get your free comics!

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So there you have it. All of Sydney’s comic book stores. So many places to get so many free comics! Then you can brag to your geeky friends about how many free comics you got, before punching one of them in face for saying “Bazinga!”. I’m actually gonna try to visit all of these stores this Saturday, so if you see an out of breath kool guy in a beyond half arsed cosplay attempt (I’m contemplating writing “I’M BATMAN” on my head with a sharpie) please say hello.

Also, if anybody wants to sell me the John Ostrander run of Martian Manhunter, get at me on Twitter.

MOM’S SPAGHETTI

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There was an Eminem / 8 Mile reference in last week’s issues of FF and Uncanny X-Men.

Uncanny X-Men writer Brian Bendis had this to say about it:

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