The first Forbidden Planet store: 23 Denmark Street, London WC2

I’m pleased to add this 1980 advert to my collection. It’s a Forbidden Planet promotion inviting fans along to their original and first London store to welcome visits by Dave Prowse (Darth Vader) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO).

UK. Starburst 22. 1980.

UK. Starburst 22. 1980.

The ad style reminds me of an old-school boxing poster or a concert venue ad. It has a certain ‘seasoned’ quality to it – and not just because of the foxing of the paper: the store premises, located in London – number 23 Denmark Street – was Forbidden Planet’s first High Street store, opening in 1978.

This 1978 ad below is probably one of the first adverts for the Denmark Street store. The artwork is by Brian Bolland. Beneath an impressive line up of famous comic stars all trying to snatch a peek over Superman’s shoulders at what the Man of Steel is reading, the advert proudly proclaims: “Londons Newest Comic & Science Fiction Book Shop!!!” 

UK. Star Wars Weekly. 1978.

UK. Star Wars Weekly. 1978.

Due to its success and the demise of some of London’s older comic book outlets, Forbidden Planet grew up quickly and offered a broad product base, attracting fans of not just comics but also TV and film. A second store purchase (nearby in St. Giles High Street) was required to cope with its popularity. Later, further location moves were necessary and the Denmark Street and St. Giles High Street stores eventually combined and moved to new premises.

Mail Order Catalogues

The following two adverts, with artwork by Brian Bolland, are both 1980 Denmark Street survivors. This first invites readers to send off for a catalogue of their choice from three categories: film & TV; science fiction & horror; and comics.

UK. Starburst 24. 1980.

UK. Starburst 24. 1980.

UK. Starburst. 1980.

UK. Starburst. 1980.

Denmark Street in 1983

This 1983 ad features a range of Return of the Jedi merchandise and a Star Trek 1984 calendar available for order by sending a cheque or postal order to the Denmark Street address.

UK. Photoplay. July 1983.

UK. Photoplay. July 1983.

The quarter-page adverts below all feature titles from 2000 AD.

UK. 2000 AD progs 317 / 318. 1983.

UK. 2000 AD progs 317 / 318. 1983.

UK. 2000 AD. 1983.

UK. 2000 AD. Prog 315. 1983.

2000 AD and Judge Dredd badges.

2000 AD. Prog 333. 1983.

Forbidden Planet Bookshop small ad. Doctor Who Monthly N°78. 1983. UK.

Denmark Street in 1986

This superb colour ad (recognise Bolland’s work again?) mentions both the Denmark Street and St. Giles Street shops. The former is credited as ‘The science fiction and comic book shop’ while the latter is credited as ‘The cinema and television shop’. The advert also appears as a variation in 1984 showing alternative merchandise pictures to the later version below.

UK. 2000 AD's Dice Man #1. 1986.

UK. 2000 AD’s Dice Man #1. 1986.

Denmark Street in 1987

Forbidden Planet 2000 ad scifispecial 1987 post

2000 AD Sci-Fi Special. 1987.

Denmark Street in a comic strip!

23 Denmark Street the shop actually makes a surprise appearance in the 1987 photo story Nemesis The Warlock published in 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special.

Nemesis the Warlock photo strip. 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special. 1987.

I mean, it’s got to be it, hasn’t it? Forbidden Planet logo on the window, 23 on the door…

23 Denmark Street.

Denmark Street in 1988

Here we can see the appearance of other branches outside of London: Milton Keynes, Brighton and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

UK. 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special. 1988.

Forbidden Planet Today

The company eventually split into two entities: Forbidden Planet and Forbidden Planet Scotland (later renamed Forbidden Planet International). To date they have some thirty stores between them situated all across the UK including well-known associate stores such as Nostalgia and Comics in Birmingham and Liverpool’s Worlds Apart, along with a US store in Manhattan, New York. Forbidden Planet also offers an established webstore and online presence. Not bad for its humble beginnings as a small high street comic store on Denmark Street, WC2.

Forbidden Planet 40th anniversary 1978 – 2018

I picked up this rather cool souvenir magazine at the FP store in Birmingham, England on a recent visit. So pleasing to see the Brian Bolland original artwork used to commemorate their big 40. Congrats FP, and here’s to another 40!

Forbidden Planet 40th anniversary magazine. 1978 – 2018. UK. Artwork by Brian Bolland.

Post updated with new images Sept 2018.

Further Reading:

Article and photos on Forbidden Planet stores by Darkest London

Official Site: Official Forbidden Planet site