Labyrinth Books a treasure trove of art and geek culture


Sheridan’s most visible legacy may be its art, but not all of this history is hanging in its halls.

Nestled around the south side of the White Oaks apartment complex is a small bookstore, its window cluttered with posters of superheroes and other pieces of nerdy folklore. This is The Labyrinth.

Walking in the front door, patrons are greeted by a colourful checkerboard of books lining all of the walls. A great deal is packed into the small space.

The scent of freshly printed ink, paper and binding glue fills the air. Paraphernalia from every well-known science fiction and fantasy series sits on the upper shelves, while stacks of Funko Pop! figurines create a new wall over the window.

“Most people think we’re just a comic store,” said Dan Merisanu, who has managed the store since its original incarnation in 2002. “We’re more of a graphic bookstore focused on art.”

Naturally Sheridan students make up the majority of Labyrinth’s Oakville consumer base, with its location being directly across the street from Trafalgar Campus.

Labyrinth has special interest in giving back to the students, offering special deals on paper for life drawing.

“Our audience from the beginning was made up of students and our original focus was art books,” said Merisanu.

The business began within Sheridan itself, spawned from the world-renowned Animation and Illustration programs.

“We didn’t move to our current location until later because there was still a chance to work out of the school directly,” said Merisanu. “We sold out of Sheridan for around 10 years before we gained the opportunity to move here in 2012.”

Art books take up much of the walls on either side. A quick browse reveals a mix of artistic compilations and educational texts.

“We focus on things related to commercial art, like animation, illustration and drawing,” said Merisanu, a graduate of Sheridan’s Animation program himself.

Though he originally signed on as a means to pay off his tuition, Merisanu has remained with the business, finding enjoyment in meeting the various people passing through.

As a practicing animator, he often works with artists, procuring signed copies of comics and manga for the store.

Downtown Toronto is home to second branch of Labyrinth, the result of the business’s expansion in 2007. Born of this venture was their signature mascot: a cartoon dinosaur holding a pencil and a book.

“We thought we needed something visual, and at the time dino toys were very popular,” said Merisanu, in regards to the smiling little reptile. “It could also represent art books and drawing with what he’s holding.”