We knew there was a Big Apple/New York Comic Market Con this weekend at the Penn Plaza Hotel…but we did not realize it was the LAST show to be put on by Mike Carbonaro.
But it is.
Carbonaro, an inescapable figure on the NY comics scene, has some 40 years of selling comics behind him (he started as a teen like so many of us) but really got on the NYC map with the famed “Church Con” of ’96 or so when a planned major convention at the Coliseum (now torn down) was canceled at the last minute when the organizers failed to talk to/pay off the fire marshals. Carbonaro and pals like Vincent Zurzulo stepped in to throw a last-minute show in the basement of a church and a kind of tradition was born again…the kind of grimy, fan-focused shows that New York City fandom was founded on.
We have had our gripes about the venues of some of Carbo’s shows over the years—the time that everyone was sitting under blue plastic tarps due to a rain leak springs to mind—but that’s kind of the old NYC legacy. He’s going out in style—with Stan “The Man” Lee as a guest and tonight’s VIP reception with Lee—you may still have time to pay $200 and attend the Stan mixer tonight. Anyway, Michael Carbonaro is a comics lifer and a pal, and we wish him the best with his new venture, Carbo’s Comic Box, whatever it is. Details below:
MIKE CARBO, founder of the Big Apple Comic Convention, and internationally renowned authority on American comic books will produce one last dynamite convention with none other than Stan the Man himself: Stan Lee. Mike, also known as “The Prince of Pop Culture,” states emphatically: “I am only retiring from running comic book conventions, but I will never retire from making deals buying and selling comic books. That’s why I have created my newest venture MIKE CARBO’s COMIC BOX to do just that!”
After successfully running many of the earliest and best comic book conventions in New York City for decades, Mike Carbo will host his very last comic convention Saturday, March 31st at Manhattan’s Penn Plaza Hotel, 31st street and Seventh Avenue across from Madison Square Garden. The convention, showcasing hundreds of dealers from around the nation, will also feature many of the world’s top comic book artists, and popular entertainment celebrities. The doors open at 10AM and the show will rock till 7PM. General admission is $12 at the door.
To kick off his latest comic books & collectibles buying company – Mike Carbo’s Comic Box – Mike will host a unique, and very private, two-hour party the evening before the convention, on Friday March 30th, at a still secret location in Manhattan. Mike’s Special Guest of Honor to help him kick off his new venture is none other than STAN LEE, 89-year-old Marvel Comics “father,” founder and ex-chairman of the board. A very limited number of guest invitations are on offer for $200 per person. Attendees will get to meet, greet, and chat up close and personal with Stan, including a photo with “The Man,” along with the opportunity to share in the conversation, and fine foods at our gourmet food bar.
An enterprising and successful entrepreneur since he began buying and selling comics at age ten, Mike remembers setting up comic sales from a milk crate, on the carpet “outside” the doors of Phil Seuling’s comic convention in New York City. Mike didn’t think he was doing anything wrong till Phil, the “godfather” and worldwide originator of comic book conventions, saw what Mike was up to. Phil kicked the box, saying “Hey, you didn’t pay for a table,” Mike started to cry. Phil then invited him inside to sell along with all the other dealers, if he paid the table fee. Mike was only 13 years-old at the time, and he and Phil became fast friends.
Immediately successful, Carbo put himself through private school with his earnings. Throughout the 1970s Mike was not only selling at other conventions, but he began his own comic book convention business. “The very first convention I ran myself was in 1974, at the “Italian Charities” center on Queens Boulevard, when I was 13. In 1977, we produced the Rolling Rock Show, a gigantic rock n roll amusement park in the old Americana Hotel.” A few years later, he ran the very first Baseball Card Convention ever at the New York Mets, Shea Stadium. Mike recalls, “it was bedlam in the outfield behind the bullpen, the place was swarmed with people.”
From 1981 to 1997, ‘Carbo’ ran his own very successful comic book store, Continental Comics, in Queens, New York. In 1996, Mike and Vincent Zurzuolo (presently of Metropolis Comics) created the very first Big Apple Convention Convention at St. Paul the Apostle church on 58th St. and Columbus in Manhattan. For 12 years the Big Apple Convention was the most successful privately owned comic convention in New York City, over a quarter of million tickets sold, thousands of dealers and artists presenting. In 2009, Wizard World took over the Big Apple Convention while Mike remains a consultant to this day.
After the March 31st Convention with Stan Lee, Mike will concentrate all his efforts on buying and selling comics and collectibles as he builds MIKE CARBO’s COMIC BOX COLLECTIBLES, his greatest entrepreneurial adventure yet!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.