When Greg Rathe, owner of The Displayers, a NYC company specializing in displays for conventions, museums, exhibits and other corporate clients, took over a building across the street from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, he knew he wanted to do something really cool for one of the biggest and most popular conventions hosted at the location, New York Comic Con. The Displayers moved into the new location back in June, and spent about 2 months cleaning up the industrial space and renovating it to suit their needs. Now, with today marking the kick off for the four day mega event, Rathe has turned his building into a pop up site that celebrates another NYC business, St. Mark's Comics, which has been in the same location on St. Mark's Place in the East Village for over 30 years. Rathe's business has been family oriented since before World War 2, when his Grandfather, Fred Rathe, began dressing windows for Macy's. Rathe says he is a born and bred city boy, who remembers collecting comics as a kid, and therefore it made perfect sense that he team up with another city bred guy to celebrate Comic Con and provide great marketing for both family owned businesses during the convention.
Mitch Cutler and his comic shop have been fixtures on the main thoroughfare of the East Village since well before the street became the tourist attraction it is today. In a city where fans of comic books can linger for hours in front of the racks in multi-level comic book stores, St. Mark's Comics' appeal has always been its cult cred and insider status amongst the hardcore fans of the comics universe. Nestled away as it is between the ramen joints and head shops, it is one of the last hold outs of establishments that have fallen by the wayside in the face of mega drugstores, banks and multi million dollar condos. Whatever punk and grunge appeal the street still has left, in the face of gleaming condo towers and trendy noodle joints, St. Mark's Comics is the torch bearer. It is a little David in the face of the Goliath of gentrification that has gripped the neighborhood like a kudzu vine since buildings like the curvy glass Charles Gwathmey structure first loomed over Astor Place back in 2005. And now with NYCC in full swing, St. Mark's Comics is hosting events over the next four days that solidify its status as a standard bearer of all that is cool in the comics universe. And, oh yeah, how about that cool pop up right across the street from the convention center, the St. Mark's Comics Cartoon and Pizza Saloon?
The pop up saloon will serve pizza, sandwiches and refreshments, as well as host an art contest that will be judged on the last day of the con. Visitors will be given an 8x10 piece of plastic sheeting on which to draw their superhero masterpiece and submit it for the judging. Rathe has chosen this event to launch their new location and celebrate the New York Comic Convention, and so far, if the tweets from fans of St. Mark's Comics are any indicator, it is looking like a success. One fan tweeted that pizza and comics in one place was her idea of heaven. Rathe had his company design a huge sign with the St. Mark's Comics logo on a red banner to put up outside the building, which is located at 460 11th Avenue, between 37th and 38th Streets, and it cannot be missed by attendees lined up outside the convention center waiting to enter the halls of fandom. So for hungry fans who don't want to get soaked by the high prices of lousy food inside Javits, the St. Mark's Comics Cartoon and Pizza Saloon is a great option.
Cutler and his employees at St. Mark's Comics will also be hosting events over the next four days to celebrate the comic book universe, which started last night with a book signing with Laurence Maslon, co-author of the book "Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture. The book is the companion piece to the PBS 3 hour event that starts Tuesday at 8pm, the Liev Schrieber narrated documentary that is being billed by the network as "the first documentary to examine the comic book genre and its powerful legacy, as well as the evolution of the characters who leapt from the pages over the last 75 years and their ongoing worldwide impact." PBS is calling Tuesday "Superhero Night", and they will broadcast the documentary in three parts starting at 8pm. Maslon co-authored the book with the Emmy award winning producer/director, Michael Kantor, and the book is a compendium of the greatest comic book heroes ever assembled between two covers.
Friday night, October 11th, from 8pm to 10:00pm, St. Mark's Comics will present "Transformers Night", with appearances by writer Mairghread Scott, artist Andrew Griffith and inker Brian Shearer. Also making an appearance, in advance of the release of his book "Transformers Ultimate Pop-Up Universe", will be bestselling paper engineer , Matthew Reinhart. Saturday night, the 12th, from 8pm to 10:00pm, the store will host the creators of Zenescope's Wonderland comic book, with artist Anthony Spay joining the writers Pat Shand and Raven Gregory. There will be free gifts, prizes and models, dressed as Alice from the book, to mingle with the guests. Sunday, the final day of Comic Con, St. Mark's Comics will host, from 7pm to 9pm, Monty Nero, writer of Titan Books' new Death Sentence.
In addition to all this Comic Con hoopla, St. Mark's Comics has gotten all DC comics special 3 D villain covers back in stock, after a huge rush on the collectible books got wiped out in mere days. The prices are a bit higher right now, as it was pretty difficult, according to Cutler, to get orders on the most popular titles, like the issue featuring The Joker's daughter, which is now marked up to $35.00 from the original cover price of $3.99. Cutler says he has already seen the issue on ebay for over $100.00. St. Mark's Comics is booth #2546 at the Javits center, and the St. Mark's Comics Cartoon and Pizza Saloon is right across the avenue in the only commercial building on the east side of 11th Avenue from the center. Just look for the red banner with the iconic checkerboard St. Mark's Comics logo.
St. Mark's Comics
11 St. Mark's Place
(Between 2nd & Third Avenues)
New York, NY 10003
212 598 9439