Kingpin Books KP

The first and most complete comic book shop in Lisbon. A true institution, the creator of the place, author, scriptwriter and publisher Mário Freitas tells us the story of the comic shop.

When did you open the shop? And what was the original idea?

I created the shop in 1999, so 23 years ago. At the beginning I only had an online shop, and as far as I know it was the first comic shop in Portugal.

So, first you want to open an online shop, then you decide to open a traditional shop.

The first real shop I opened in 2002. It was a very small shop, 4 m². It was not far from the present shop, probably 15 minutes away. It was in a small shopping centre and then 2 years later in 2004 I moved to Almirante Reis Avenue at number 82, between Anjos and Arrois station.

Did Lisboners immediately appreciate the concept?

In fact the shop opposite became vacant, so while keeping my very small shop, I opened the space of the shop opposite, then I changed to enlarge the sales space. Here I am at that time with two spaces dedicated to comics and 4 years ago I moved into the large space of the current shop.

Are you a fan of American comics or manga?

Personally I have quite a large library with a bit of everything. I collect Marvel and DC comics, French comics, graphic novels, manga, and Portuguese creators of course. I like to discover new references and authors, I think I have read absolutely everything. I'm also a creator of comics. I write, and it's a great passion for me, it doesn't really make sense that some people only like one or two types of graphic stories. I hope with my shop to show people that there are good authors and references from the US, France, Belgium, Portugal, Japan, South America and others. I like to read everything and I'm always looking for new pieces.

In your shop you have exclusivities like original American comics, in newspaper format. You are good at searching and finding rare references. 

Yes, if you go to the United States or England, most of the shops don't have those kinds of references because they are more for the European market. And conversely in France and Europe you don't have these American titles that we have in the shop. 

So you are a passionate person.

Certainly as you can see. I could never open a shop like this if I wasn't passionate about it. 

Are you a writer? 

Yes, I write, I am a scriptwriter and I also publish, because Kingpin has become a publishing house. I publish books by other artists. 

Are you like Goscinny? 

Unfortunately I wish I had the talent of Goscinny. I think nobody is Goscinny because for me he was an absolute genius.

Would you say that you are funny in your texts or rather literary?

It depends, I don't like to adopt a specific style, so I can be funny at times. But I don't think that's the most important point, I like to be clever about the things I write. I don't think I write to suit all readers, I think every reader has their own intelligence and perceives my story in their own way.

Do you like to have different types of stories in your shop, like horror stories and funny stories?

As you can see, we like all kinds of stories in our shop, I like to offer all kinds of authors and illustrators to Lisboans.

Do you organise events, such as book signings?

We have set up a special area in the shop for this. In July we had an event with Filipe Andrade, a Portuguese illustrator. He came to do a signing session in the shop. He is an artist who often works with American publishers on famous comic book franchises. He co-edited a great book called "The Many Deaths of Laila Starr" with the author RamV, an Indian writer. RamV is a very good writer. The book with the illustrations by Filipe Andrade is beautiful.

Do you work with particular publishers?

We work with many publishers, Portuguese publishers and of course foreign publishers.

When did you start to have figurines?

When I started I didn't have room to put up figures. I started to have room to sell figurines when the shop expanded.

It's a space for the comic book fan, like the shop in Big Bang Theory?

If you like Funko Pops figures, there are Funko Pops for everyone. Everyone is a fan of something and Funko Pops is bound to have your character, like a Marvel, DC Comics, Disney, Star Wars, or TV show character. There are a lot of fans out there for these mini character representations. However, I don't like to put labels on fans of science fiction or comic book culture. I don't like the word geek or nerd, especially nerd, it was an insult when it was created. Each person is themselves.

Do you specifically like reading, or do you also like the surrounding culture?

Merchandising is also linked to this culture, because unfortunately there are people who don't read or don't read much. 

So maybe with drawing like comics it's a good way to start reading? 

Exactly I think that all children should read comics if they want to become readers. Comics are a good way to develop cognitive functions, to develop the ability to think. It's fundamental, the object book is also illustrated so it allows multiple readings. The best books are the ones you come back to a few years later and you discover something that wasn't there before. There are specific meanings or layers in the books, or maybe you are a different person. Life states, the age we are, changes the way we perceive the story, it's absolutely different. If I read the book when I'm 20 years old and if I read it again when I'm 50, and I'm 50, the perception will be totally different, especially if there are several levels of reading.

Especially if you have a collection, this is something you can pass on to your children or nieces and nephews.

I don't have children, so I can't. But I want in my last years of life, when I'm totally tired of my activity, maybe in 20 or 30 years, to create something like a foundation. But I want in my last years of life, when I'm totally tired of my activity, maybe in 20 or 30 years, I want to create something like a foundation. I want to leave a legacy. I want to leave my collection of books and figures to future generations, and all the knowledge I have accumulated, and all the thoughts I have written in my life. What makes the difference is what we do while we are alive and what we leave behind. 

My last question is about the French section in your shop, because for me it's great to have a wall with French comics, why?

You can see, there are empty places, because some people bought them and now I have to make a new wall of French books. It's a big market full of fantastic books and some of them are not translated into other languages. You know the Belgian and French market is huge, there are great classics or modern books. 

It's like a preview, you offer the new releases, before they are translated into Portuguese. 

Yes, new publications in French or English, because there are not many books translated into Portuguese, the Portuguese market is too small. 

Are Portuguese people 'good' at reading French?

I don't find as much as English, if people in Portugal read French as they read English, I will have a bigger section. Anyway, it's important for the shop and for the diversity of the shop.

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