Comics / Cult Favorite

A Comic Geek's Guide to New York City


By Philip Schweier
September 1, 2005 - 11:19

Okay, perhaps guide isn’t entirely accurate. Random thoughts might be more appropriate; reasonable assessments even moreso. After all, I don’t live in New York City, I only visited there for a week, and I certainly missed much of what the city has to offer.

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But leave it to me to find a comic shop on my first day there. Forbidden Planet sits at the corner of Broadway and 13th Street. As comic book stores go, it’s pretty good. Lots of collectibles, t-shirts and the like, and perfectly serviceable for getting your weekly fix. If you’re an animé fan, I highly recommend a visit its upstairs room, where all sorts of manga-related material can be found.

It’s a good-sized shop, and undoubtedly one of the most popular in Manhattan, judging by the number of customers there that Saturday. It would require a healthy clientele to in order to maintain it’s desirable location.

However, I found it disappointing. Sadly, it lacks something all to valuable (to me anyway) in the basic premise of comic book shops: back issues. Maybe they have a collection somewhere, but I failed to locate anything along the lines of Classic X-Men, New Teen Titans, or Bronze Age Detective Comics.
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Monday found us at Midtown Comics, just off 7th Avenue. Much more to my liking, but in some respects, still disappointing. They had lots of back issues, but most of them were from the late ‘80s or newer. But still, a pretty healthy selection at reasonable prices.

Wednesday, we stumbled across Jim Hanley’s Universe, on 33rd across from the Empire State Building. This was more like it. Perhaps not as large as the others, but a healthy stock of back issues at reasonable prices. The collectibles and other merchandise ranges from very affordable to “ask Santa.” This is where I made my haul, coming home with a number of late 1970s Superman issues, as well as the often hard to find Amazing World of Superman, published by DC in 1972.

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The story will be hosting its annual Labor Day sale this year, featuring “25% off everything in the Universe.” The discount may include items ordered by phone or web, and also extends to its second location on Staten Island. You can learn more at www.jhuniverse.com

Friday we paid a visit to the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art, located on the fourth floor at 594 Broadway, between Houston and Prince Streets. While a small facility, it certainly has lofty ambitions. A retrospective of the career of comic book legend Will Eisner was in full swing, with plenty of original art, much of it dating from the 1940s. Better hurry, because Saturday, Sept. 10 will see the opening reception for Modern Fairy Tales, a new exhibition of work by Charles Vess and Mike Kaluta.

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The organization may very well preach the comic book gospel for all who are willing to listen, and that aint a bad thing. Visitors are directed to a table, where they are welcome to peruse a wide selection of graphic novels. MoCCA’s accomplishments range from successful art festivals, art education, and being missionaries for comic book culture, all of which does not come cheap, especially in New York City. The museum relies heavily on donations of money ($3 admission at the door) and time. Volunteers are limited, so are the hours. For more information, visit www.moccany.org.

However, when Mort Walker’s International Museum of Cartoon Art opens at the Empire State Building next year (as reported in the New York Times, 8/13/05), MoCCA may find itself on the short end of the stick. It is my hope that the two organizations will merge, making them both greater than the sum of their parts

After a week in Manhattan, we were directed to St. Marks Comics, 11 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. By far, it had the healthiest stock of back issues. The problem lay in getting to them. They are kept in a narrow back room, in which there is precious little maneuvering space. The room can be downright claustrophobic, given the inadequate ventilation. If you stick to sorting through boxes on an upper shelf, you’ll do just fine, but those comics on the lower shelves or floors will most likely never see daylight until that room is cleared. There’s barely even room to get down to the boxes themselves.

However, being in the East Village, the store has a healthy stock of alternative titles, including homemade comics. The store prides itself on carrying everything, from G-rated Teen Titans Go! to more adult material. Prices are fair, and if you have the patience, it’s pretty likely you’ll be well-stocked with a wide variety of personal treasure on your way out.

As I indicated, these stores represent only a taste of what Manhattan has to offer. It is, after all, the Mecca (no, not MoCCA, MECCA!) for comic book fans, home to giants such as DC and Marvel. I may or may not have seen the Avengers mansion on 5th Avenue, but no sign of the Baxter Building. However, I'm pretty sure I saw a few of Dr. Strange's mystic pals while strolling through Greenwich Village.

Praise and adulation? Scorn and ridicule? Email me at philip@comicbookbin.com


Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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