|Headquarters||New York City, New York, United States|
|Number of locations||3 stores (2010)|
Midtown Comics is a New York City comic book retailer with three shops in Manhattan and an e-commerce website. The company opened its first store in the Times Square area in 1997. Its second was opened on Lexington Avenue in 2004, and is known as the Grand Central store for its proximity to Grand Central Terminal. Its Downtown store was opened on Fulton Street in the Financial District in November 2010. It also operates a boutique inside Manhattan's FAO Schwarz toy store and a shop in the Times Square Toys R Us.
The store is noted for appearances by celebrities known outside the comic book industry, for its friendly and energetic staff, and for being the most media-friendly comic store in the United States. It was named by The Village Voice in 2012 as the Best Comic Book Store in New York, and has been hailed by Comic Book Resources as "the industry’s leading retailer of comic books, graphic novels and manga." On July 13, 2012, the National Geographic Channel premiered Comic Store Heroes, a reality television program set at Midtown Comics. In 2013, it was ranked number 44 on Bleeding Cool magazine's Top 100 Power List of Comic Books.
Midtown was founded by partners Gerry Gladston, Angelo Chantly, Thomas Galitos and Robert Mileta, who met as teenagers in Astoria, Queens, and later sold comics in their video stores in Brooklyn and Queens before opening Midtown Comics in Manhattan, which houses approximately 500,000 books in its collection. According to The New York Times:
The stereotypical view of comics stores is that they are dim, cramped and dusty places with a no-girls-allowed clubhouse atmosphere. In reality, they run the gamut. For instance, the West Side Midtown store is bright, airy and welcoming to all, with two floors and 5,000 square feet (460 m2) of space. The main floor, which is one story above street level, has a long wall with countless racks of new and recently released comics. The rest of the space offers DVDs, manga, trading cards, back issues and trade paperbacks. Toys and other collectibles are upstairs. The second Midtown store, on Lexington Avenue and 45th Street, though smaller than the first one, is just as inviting.
Midtown Comics is the official retail sponsor of New York Comic Con, and has performed this role since the NYCC's inception in 2006. Each year, Midtown creates a "show-within-a-show", featuring round-the-clock appearances by comics creators and variant comic books by publishers like Marvel Comics and Top Cow.
On November 10, 2010, Midtown Comics opened a third Manhattan store. Known as their Downtown store, it is located in the Financial District, at 64 Fulton Street, in the southernmost section of the borough. Inaugural book signings were held for that branch featuring Jim Lee and Jonathan Layman, creator of Chew. As of June 2012, Midtown is the largest comic book store in the United States.
In May 2012, Midtown Comics opened a boutique inside the flagship FAO Schwarz toy store in Manhattan's Fifth Avenue shopping district. The boutique offers graphic novels, hardcover books, apparel and collectibles. In October 2013, Midtown opened a shop inside the Toys R Us store in Manhattan's Times Square. The shop, which is located next to the second floor animatronic Tyrannosaurus that forms the centerpiece of the Jurassic Park display, offers items similar to that offered in the FAO Schwarz boutique.
Midtown's website was at first purely informational, but has developed into a full-scale web retail site. The stores and website are supported by a warehouse in Queens, and a staff of thirty who are described by New York Magazine as "a rare mix of nerd knowledge and chummy confidence – [and] who foster an atmosphere where browsing is more than just a means to a badly needed social end."
Midtown Comics has developed a reputation for being the most media-friendly comic store in the United States. As Manhattan is the location of the Big Two of the American comic book publishing industry, Marvel Comics and DC Comics, and the setting for much of the former's stories, Midtown Comics Times Square and its staff have been utilized for local news reporting relating to comic books and popular culture. Midtown Comics co-owner Gerry Gladston has often been interviewed for comment on such stories, including a 2006 story on vintage comics selling for large amounts of money at auction, a 2009 story on the return of Captain America after Marvel Comics had killed him off two years prior, and a 2014 Marvel storyline that introduced a female Thor. Midtown's staff were also consulted by major media outlets in 2009 regarding the appearance of President Barack Obama in an issue of Spider-Man, and again later that year regarding the anticipation of the release of the film Avatar. The media also rely on Midtown as a source for reaction to industry news and events. Publishers Weekly relies on them for their annual survey about the state of the comics and graphic novel marketplace and for their coverage of Free Comic Book Day, while Comic Book Resources quoted Gladston for reaction to Axel Alonso's 2011 promotion to editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. Gladston was consulted by multiple publications on the effects on new readership of DC Comics' 2011 relaunch, The New 52, for which Midtown Comics held a midnight signing on August 31, 2011.
Midtown Comics Times Square was the location of the December 21, 2010 press conference in which Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada and Executive Editors Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso announced the 2011 company-wide crossover storyline "Fear Itself". It was later the location of the March 31, 2012 New York City Launch Party for the Disney XD TV series, Ultimate Spider-Man, where Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and series writer/producer Joe Kelly presented a sneak preview of the series' pilot episode for small audiences of fans.
The store has also been mentioned in comic book stories themselves. In Ex Machina #12 (August 2005) by Brian K. Vaughn and Wildstorm Productions, the main character, Mitchell Hundred, laments the closing of a beloved comic book store in Lower Manhattan following the September 11 attacks, and a friend mentions some real-life comics shops that are still open, including St. Mark's Comics, Jim Hanley's Universe, and Midtown Comics. Comic book writer Mark Millar explicitly references the store in Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 #2 (October 2010), in which Nerd Hulk requests permission from Captain America to attend a book signing there.
On July 13, 2012, the National Geographic Channel premiered Comic Store Heroes, a reality television program set at the store, and starring Gladston, Marketing Manager Thor Parker and pricing expert Alex Rae. Like similar series such as Pawn Stars and Comic Book Men, the program focuses on the interactions between the store's staff and its devoted comics aficionado customer base, as well as the conflict among its staff as it prepares its booth for the New York ComicCon. Parker explains that Comic Store Heroes is distinct from filmmaker Kevin Smith's reality series, Comic Book Men, saying, "We’re fans of Kevin's show and what it brings to the table, but we wanted to take things in a different direction. We wanted to try and work [past] the typical stereotypes about comic book fans and show that comics and the comic community have the ability to help people find acceptance, become part of an extremely welcoming family, and really make a difference in people’s lives."
Signings and appearances
Midtown Comics has hosted signings by comic book creators such as Rob Liefeld, Dave Gibbons, Mark Millar and Simone Bianchi, as well as celebrities known outside the comic book industry, such as Amber Benson, Tim Gunn, Fallout Boy, Olivia Munn, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, filmmaker Kevin Smith actor Zachary Quinto and civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis.
Although the store normally closes in the evening, it will sometimes hold special midnight releases in order to begin selling certain high-profile books during the first minutes of the Wednesday shipping day, before other stores are able to. These events usually feature store appearances by creators, such as a September 2008 appearance by Peter David and Mike Perkins to promote The Dark Tower: Treachery and The Stand: Captain Trips, and an August 2011 appearance by Jim Lee and Geoff Johns to promote titles related to DC Comics' "Flashpoint" and The New 52 events.
- Gustines, George Gene (November 16, 2005). "Some Caution Helps When Selling Fantasies". The New York Times.
- "Olivia Munn Signs Her New Book at Midtown Comics". Comic Book Resources. July 2, 2010
- Gustines, George Gene (May 4, 2007). "Superhero Worship, Gotham to Riverdale". The New York Times.
- Johnston, Rich (November 2013). "The Top 100 Power List of Comic Books". Bleeding Cool magazine #7. p. 62.
- "New York Best Comic Book Store: Midtown Comics". "Best of New York". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- Perkins, Ben. "Midtown Comics". New York Magazine, February 3, 2003
- MacDonald, Heidi. "The Beat: NYCC: Midtown Comics" Publishers Weekly, April 15, 2008)
- Gustines, George Gene (November 17, 2010). "Out of Work, Spider-Man Gets Advice From Bloomberg". The New York Times
- MacDonald, Heidi. "Midtown goes Downtown" The Beat, June 23, 2010.
- "Grand Opening! Midtown Comics Downtown NYC!", midtowncomics.com, November 8, 2010.
- Kaplan, Don (June 25, 2012). "It’s a geek drama". New York Post.
- DeChiaro, Dean (February 10, 2013). "Superheroes and fanboys unite!". The Hudson Reporter.
- MacDonald, Heidi (May 31, 2012). "Midtown Comics opens boutique in FAO Schwarz". The Beat.
- Melrose, Kevin (June 1, 2012). "Midtown Comics opens boutique inside FAO Schwarz". Comic Book Resources.
- "Midtown Comics Opens in FAO Schwarz". Publishers Weekly. June 1, 2012.
- Melrose, Kevin (October 22, 2013). "Midtown Comics opens boutique in Toys 'R' Us Times Square". Comic Book Resources.
- Midtown Comics Podcast at iTunes. Accessed June 6, 2010
- Goldin, James Grant. Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked. History Channel. July 2003.
- Furman, Phyllis (February 14, 2006). "MARVEL-OUS INVESTMENTS. Comics' collectors turn 'Man of Steel' into pot of gold". Daily News (New York)
- Sacks, Ethan. "Captain America, a.k.a. Steve Rogers is coming back to life two years after Marvel Comics killed him". Daily News (New York). June 16, 2009
- Clark, Amy (February 11, 2009). "Fans: Captain America Died For His Ideals". CBS News.
- Schindler, Rick (July 15, 2014). "Female Thor? Marvel Comics' thunder god is now a goddess". USA Today.
- "Spidey's New Sidekick: Obama-themed Marvel comic becomes instant collector's item.". ABC News. January 15, 2009
- Chan, Sewell (January 14, 2009). "Lining Up for Obama and Spider-Man". The New York Times
- "Blue in the Face: Avatar Fanatics: James Cameron action movie draws devotees even before it opens." ABC News; December 19, 2009
- Price, Ada (March 15, 2010). "Comics Retailers Adapt to a Tough Economy; Look Ahead to Better Times". Publishers Weekly
- Fitzsimons, Kate (May 3, 2010). "Big Crowds for Free Comic Book Day In NYC". Publishers Weekly
- Phegley, Kiel (January 5, 2011). "Industry Reacts to Alonso as Marvel E-I-C", Comic Book Resources
- Rogers, Vaneta. "UPDATE: Some Retailers Seeing NEW DCnU Readers; Others Not". Newsarama. August 31, 2011
- George Gene Gustines and Adam W. Kepler. "So Far, Sales for New DC Comics Are Super". The New York Times. September 30, 2011
- Sacks, Ethan (December 21, 2010). "Marvel Comics launches 'Fear Itself'; Miniseries has superheroes threatened by God of Fear". Daily News (New York)
- Truitt, Brian. "Be afraid: Marvel's heroes gear up for 'Fear Itself'". USA Today. December 21, 2010
- Manning, Shaun (December 21, 2010). "Marvel Announces 'Fear Itself'". Comic Book Resources
- Kilpatrick, Conor (March 30, 2012). "VIDEO: Behind The Scenes of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' PLUS: Launch Parties in NYC & LA!". iFanboy.
- Zalben, Alex (March 29, 2012). "'Ultimate Spider-Man' Premiere Party This Saturday In NYC!". MTV Geek!.
- "Ultimate Spider-Man Kickoff Parties in NY & LA". Marvel Comics. March 26, 2012.
- Brian K. Vaughn (w), Tony Harris (p), Tom Feister (i). "Fact v. Fiction Part 1" Ex Machina 12 (August 2005), Wildstorm Productions
- Millar, Mark (w), Dillon, Steve (p), Lanning, Andy (i). "Blade Versus the Avengers, Part Two of Six" Ultimate Avengers 3 2 (November 2010), Marvel Comics
- Ritchie, Kevin (June 28, 2012). "Nat Geo acquires 'Comic Store Heroes'". Real Screen.
- Videos: "The Challenge". National Geographic Channel. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
- Fama, Russell (June 2, 2012). "An Interview with Thor of Comic Store Heroes". Super Sidekick.
- Signing & Event Archive at Midtown Comics
- "'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' Actress Amber Benson At Midtown Comics In NYC". Comic Book Resources. June 23, 2009
- Lisberg, Adam (November 18, 2010). "Spider-Man's latest heroic act is helping N.Y.ers find work, teams up with Workforce1 job centers". New York Daily News.
- "Bloomberg Makes "Comic" Cameo", NY1, November 17, 2010.
- Parker, Thor. "Mayor Bloomberg Visits Midtown Comics Downtown NYC" Midtown Comics TV, November 17, 2010
- The New York Post, March 4, 2011, Page 43
- "Kevin Smith Signs at Midtown Comics Grand Central, NYC.", Comic Book Resources, March 1, 2011
- "Zachary Quinto to Sign "Lucid" vol. 1 at Midtown Comics". Comic Book Resources, May 12, 2011
- "Star Trek's Mr. Spock, Zachary Quinto, to Appear at Midtown Comics in Downtown NYC on May 18". City Guide NY. May 11, 2011
- "signing lucid at midtown comics". zacharyquinto.com. May 17, 2011
- "Meet Congressman John Lewis at Midtown Comics for His "March" Signing". Comic Book Resources. November 7, 2013.
- Kistler, Kistler (September 10, 2008). "Interviews: Peter David and Mike Perkins". ComicMix
- "The Dark Tower Midnight Launch Details". Marvel Comics. September 9, 2008]
- Hyde, David (August 17, 2011). "Super Hero Fans Expected to Line-Up Early as DC Entertainment Launches New Era of Comic Books". The Source
- Gustines, George Gene (August 19, 2011). "Graphic Books Best Sellers: Ghost Stories". The New York Times
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