Cosmic Comics (http://www.cosmiccomics.com/v2/?q=node/5), located in Marvel’s old headquarters on 10 East 23rd Street, NY, NY, 10010, is changing ownership after over 18 years. Originally feared to be closing their doors for good at the end of the year by The Beat, one of the shop’s owners posted at the news blog website to confirm that the reports of the store’s demise were, as Mark Twain stated, exaggerated (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2010/12/15/cosmic-comics-closing/). The current owners will close the doors on Dec. 31st and as their website notes, everything in the store is being sold at massive sales (50% to 80% off everything, from trades to back issues to toys, etc.). Perhaps just as news worthy are some of the owners’ words about the current state of comic book sales at the retailer (front line) level:
“The comic book industry has changed dramatically and its really hard to run a store under such conditions. A $3.99 comic in an economy like this hurts everyone across the board. Do you know how many ghetto OOero cookies spelled with two O’s I can buy in the local bodega with $3.99??? The industry is milk the cow i.e. the customers before the paper comic industry crashes and goes completely online.”
Co-owner of the stop Mark Friedman had this to say on The Beat, about sales and why 2010 was the year to get out for him: “Cosmic Comic closed because my partner and I wanted to retire (we are both in our 60’s and have interests outside of comics). Sales have gone down significantly in the past few years. I suppose the high cost of individual issues, combined with a bad economy are the logical culprits, but our store was and is still profitable. Indeed , we have just completed a deal to keep the store open under new ownership, starting January 1st. So thanks again for the nice remembrances, but please keep patronizing the store.”
The Beat posted a private email from a comic retailer in Manhattan who was considered “prominent”, which means he could be involved with either Jim Hanley’s Universe or Midtown Comics (the two most “prominent” comic shops in Manhattan), who had this to say: “To say things are dire around here would be an understatement. I work close to 100 hours a week and the crazy hours have never bothered me until recently. For years it was all about the love I had for comics and the industry itself. Now it is strictly a business and honestly, that makes me sad. All I do these days is figure out ways to make that extra dollar to pay this week’s HUGE bills. Somehow we always manage, even if just by the skin of our teeth. Long gone are the days of looking to the future and how to grow my business. Now it is just about survival.“
New ownership takes control of Cosmic Comics starting 1/1/11. No word on whether some of the current employees (clerks) would be retained or if new ones would be hired.
“Now it is just about survival” is a fitting statement for this Examiner, whose local area of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn has seen no end of comic book stores close down since the end of the 90’s and especially by after 2004 or so. What once was a neighborhood in which there were 2-4 comic shops (including one bookstore that also sold comics) within under a mile’s walking distance is now a neighborhood where the closest shop is over a mile’s walking distance (or about 10 minutes by bus). One rarely sees new comic book shops opening up; one merely sees the old ones struggle to hang on as long as they can before they can no longer do so. Expect to see more articles detailing some of this Examiner’s local Brooklyn shops in the near future, starting next week (hopefully).
In terms of Cosmic Comics, this shop was located in a part of Manhattan where this Examiner’s grandmother lived for over the past twenty years until this January; after her apartment was cleared out in May, this area has rarely been visited. However, the earliest memories of this shop come from a rare signing event they staged in early 1997. It was to promote the latest Venom mini series, titled VENOM: TOOTH AND CLAW (http://www.comicvine.com/venom-tooth-and-claw/49-11033/) which was three issues long and part of the end phase of the villain/anti-hero’s peak in popularity. The artist, Joe St. Pierre, was the one doing the signing, on what little space was available within the shop. He hasn’t been credited with anything since 2002’s X-MEN: MILLENNIAL VISIONS. It was a bit of a lonely signing event and the artist was trying his best not to appear miserable. The ink used on the marker that he signed the covers with was so fresh that some of it smudged by the time the comics were put into plastics. Still, in 1997, this Examiner had little reason to head all the way into Manhattan for a comic book store, but years later it would sometimes be mandatory. From then on, Cosmic Comics always had a special place in the heart. The current owners would attach cheeky promotional signs below many “hot” new comics often offering commentary and one-liners that this Examiner has tried to capture via text under picture files. Hopefully the new owners can duplicate some of the magic. Cosmic was a shop that wasn’t a franchise and wasn’t about corporate ventures and at least 80% of what they sold day to day were comic books. Hopefully that spirit is maintained, and the new owners can keep it running another 18 years.
Cosmic Comics’ main website again: http://www.cosmiccomics.com/v2/?q=node/5