Painted bright orange, Mark One Comics stands conspicuously on Victoria St.

It's one of the oldest stores in Hamilton, joining the likes of Auteur House and Browsers Bookstore in historic presence.

Inside, worn red carpet clashes with orange paint. The carpet has been there since the store's previous incarnation as Danny's Music World.

Along the middle of the roof power points are dotted where keyboards were once connected. Mark One Comics co-owner Chris Lander said in its day "Danny's Music World was an institution".


Chris has been into comics since he was a child. His parents were both teachers. When he was seven they lived in the remote Mahia Peninsula in the South Island.

His mum said he could choose any comic he'd like and they'd have it delivered to him weekly; Chris chose 2000AD, a British anthology science fiction fantasy comic.

Every week Chris would wait for the little rolled up, rubber band-tied newsprint that he'd collect from George's Garage down the road.

Chris moved to Hamilton with his parents in 1986, coincidentally the same year Mark One Comics opened. He was in seventh form. It was the year he met his wife-to-be, Rachel. Chris said she was into comics as well, or at least she liked him, so she said she was.

"My parents moved away, I stayed. Hamilton was Rachel."

Chris went to teachers' college when he finished high school, but it became an abandoned career path.

Chris worked in a bank, among other things, before finding work at Mark One Comics in 1994. He soon became manager.

"Then in 2000, Rach and I got the chance to buy it and we did. It was either that or get a real job."


Comics have always been the backbone of Mark One, but over the years the business has dabbled in a few extra things - buying and selling second-hand goods was once part of the business model.

That was something Chris and Rachel ended on day one of their ownership. They didn't much like watching people come in to hock, for cash, things with mostly sentimental value.

"It was a little depressing because people were selling their prized possessions."

They have always had lots of children and students come in, showing them drawings of dinosaurs or sketches. Chris never dampens their enthusiasm - "you never know when you might be talking to the next Peter Jackson".

Graphic artist Greg Broadmore used to bring mini comics into the store while he was a student and Chris would sell them.

"Now he's doing King Kong and designing production sketches for huge mediums. So that is just damn cool."

Chris and Rachel have four children now and they're all into comics except the oldest, Hayley, 23, who's into fashion.

Chris said the store isn't looking to go through any major developments any time soon. They're happy just trying to cater for all Hamilton's graphic novel desires. They talk to customers, and gauge what the readership wants and try to provide it.

A lot has changed for Mark One Comics over the past 26 years. Moving from the X Men-dominated 80s through to the niche market of today. Still, the red carpet remains.