After a monumental 36 year run, East Village mainstay St. Mark’s Comics closed the doors to its flagship Manhattan location in 2019. Yet like any iconic superhero, the store has returned to help the world during its hour of need…this time across the river in Sunset Park’s Industry City.
Our paper recently caught up with St. Mark’s co-owner Mitch Cutler to discuss the store’s reopening and his goals for the new Brooklyn location
“Industry City called us even before we closed [the East Village location] and said ‘don’t close, we’re here,’” Cutler explained. “We weren’t ready for that yet. First I needed to sleep for two months straight after working 90 hours a week, every week for 36 years.”
Cutler continued: “We were always entertaining the idea though, but it needed to be just the right situation. Industry City was finally the right spot. The campus is beautiful, we have a great big open space, and our store opens right up to the courtyard. It’s been nothing but terrific so far.”
Since their grand opening on July 30th, the team at St. Mark’s Comics has been working tirelessly to stock their shelves with a vast assortment of new and vintage comics, graphic novels, and toys. Cutler is hopeful that, despite being in a state-of-the-art campus, the old-school comic shop can retain its trademark character and charm.
“Industry City has a vintage bowling shop, a vinyl shop, a tattoo shop, and plenty of bars and restaurants,” Cutler said. “So it’s just like the East Village has moved across the river. We like to say that we’re bringing a little bit of the East Village to Brooklyn, and we’re just cleaner than before.”
During its nearly 40 years of operation, St. Mark’s Comics has seen both New York City and the comic industry change dramatically. The East Village transformed from a quaint neighborhood into a world-famous destination and the once niche-hobby of comic books has grown into an entertainment behemoth, especially following the release of Iron Man and the birth of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. In addition to the iconic East Village location, St. Mark’s also previously had a store in Brooklyn Heights for 24 years, but it shut down shortly after 9/11.
Despite these changes, the team at St. Mark’s is still excited to see what the future has in store for their city and their industry.
“Things change and sometimes you are sad to see something go. I think that’s the nature of things but it’s especially the nature of New York,” Cutler explained. “But so far, about a third of the customers [who have come to Industry City] are old customers who wanted to come in and say hi. Then there’s another third who live in the neighborhood and have been waiting for us to open, and then there is a final third that sees that there is a comic book store here and say ‘that’s a novel and cool idea.’”
“Every fandom and group has some sort of gatekeeper, but we don’t want to be like that,” Cutler added. “The more the merrier. If you know nothing about comics, you are one of my favorite customers because I am able to show you everything all over again. There is so much great material and it is still exciting for me when I get to share it.”
With truckloads of comics and toys coming in by the day, the team at St. Mark’s Comics is ready to bring their passion and energy to Sunset Park. After 40 years, Cutler and company are just as persistent as ever, just like the co-owner’s favorite hero.
“I’ve always been a Superman guy,” Cutler said with a grin. “I know it falls in and out of vogue, but his stories are always the one I come back to.”