measuring Hella Novella
Sketch Smith checks her measuring wheel and records the dimensions of her comic book shop, Hella Novella. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

The smallest comic book store in all the known universe could be located right here in the Mission. Sketch Smith, the owner of Hella Novella at 19th and Mission streets, is submitting her tiny comic book shop to the Guinness Book of World Records for the title and record holder of world’s smallest comic store. 

Smith, who opened her shop in September, said that she will be submitting an application to the record book within the next few days. “The idea is to get recognition and be a little beacon for artists in the area,” Smith said. 

According to architectural plans, Hella Novella, at 71 square feet, is one of the smallest retail spaces in the three-story building at 2301 Mission St., owned by the Mission Economic Development Agency.

Around 1 p.m. Friday, Smith asked this reporter and MEDA’s Senior Project Manager, Elaine Yee, to serve as the two Guinness-mandated official witnesses as she measured her space. She produced an orange measuring wheel, a small device on a stick that provided accurate measurements through a digital screen, and rolled through the length and width of the comic book store. 

Guinness requires two videos from applicants: One to record the measuring wheel and another recording the people doing the measurements. Yee held a phone to record the measuring wheel as Smith guided it up the long end of the comic book store, then again as the two gauged the width of the store from wall to wall. 

They measured Hella Novella to be 13.125 feet long and 5.25 feet wide. 

Smith said she got the idea from a friend after she joked that she wanted to have “World’s Smallest Comic Book Shop” in the store’s logo. When she began to research this, she found out there actually was such a record on the website — and the former holder had a comic book store in the United Kingdom that was 82 square feet. 

Smith said that although she definitely hopes  to make the title official, the overriding inspiration for submitting her shop to Guinness is to prove you can do more with less space — and encourage people to think smaller is better.

“The idea is to inspire people that you can do things with small spaces. It’s a little more sustainable, it’s not huge and you can get everything done,” Smith said. 

Smith originally intended to use her pint-sized office to house her airbrushing company called Airbrush-n-Stuff, but instead turned it into a comic book store. She’s also an avid comic book fan, regularly attends other comic conventions and is one of the organizers of AfroComicCon, a comic convention featuring work by Black comic book artists and writers. 

Sadly, a response from Guinness won’t come soon. Smith said that the review time for her application could take four months. So she will be on pins and needles awaiting the big news about her small store. 

“The worst they can say is ‘no.’ I was going to call it the world’s smallest comics no matter what, so it’d be awesome,” she said.

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