Mike Carbo wraps it up with one last con and Stan Lee

201203301652.jpg
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!

Comments

  1. Scott Dunbier says:

    Good luck, Mike!

  2. tim hammond says:

    Hmmm. Paid admission to the “mixer” a couple of hours before the party and no one is getting back to me with the actual “secret” location– Only an hour left before the party so something tells me I’ll stay home 2nite and ask for a refund tomorrow.
    unless anyone reading this knows the location–

  3. I loved those Big Apple Church cons in the late 90′s! Made a lot of friends and met a lot my heroes.

  4. hell, i’m gonna be at the show, didn’t know it’s gonna be the last one. i’ve been to carbo shows even before he started using st.pauls at various hotels around town. man, it’s the end of an era. i’ve gotten some great sketches and some great scores at carbo shows over the years. this is kinda sad too, one less show in nyc, and there can never be enough of those. i’ll make sure to wish him well if i get a chance to see him and his crew tomorrow.

  5. Martha Thomases says:

    Best of luck, Mike. And thanks!

  6. George says:

    That’s a shame. I’ve been going to the Big Apple shows the past few years and always got some great bargains. They were a little grimy and packed at times, but it was still fun to go a few times a year. I had started to take my kids as well. I remember going to his stores on Austin street and Queens Boulevard as a kid as well. The first time I saw him at the Big Apple show I was stunned he was still around. Good for him.

  7. Torsten Adair says:

    The Big Apple shows filled an important niche in the comics scene: The Bazaar.

    Yes, he drew crowds by bringing in celebrities from comics and other pop culture tribes, but I always attended the shows to sift through the dealers booths, searching for that inexplicable find, usually costing a few dollars.

    I had hoped that Wizard would continue that business model, and maybe they will, but I was disappointed in the first show over on the Hudson.

    I attended the first Church Con. I had grown up dreaming of the Great Eastern cons advertised in the Marvel Mart ads, and that Coliseum show would have been my first big American convention… and then had to wait another then years for NYCC to arrive.

    I liked those smaller chuch cons… I wonder if a church could sponsor something similar today, perhaps merging it with a school con like those seen at Ramapo High.

    Good luck, Mike!

  8. RDaggle says:

    Local news station NY1 has been running a piece about the Con, including a very brief interview with Stan Lee.

    The video is on their website:

    http://www.ny1.com/content/top_stories/158590/back-in-his-hometown–stan-lee-headlines-massive-comics-convention

  9. Go for it, Mike! NYC needs to have a comics show for comics fans at all times, whatever the channel!

  10. Good luck Mike! Here’s to another 40 years of wheeling and dealing!

  11. Marco Polo says:

    Wow, I live like 18 miles away from the location and I had no idea this was going on.

  12. I’ve heard of this guy for years and have never met him. But…
    Doesn’t that photo make him look like the result of a transporter accident that fused Richard Belzer and Neil Gaiman?

    Belzer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Belzer
    Gaiman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Gaiman

  13. Steve Chaput says:

    Wow! I remember the confusion the weekend of “Church Con”. Lots of rumors going around and Mike & Co. stepping in to give the fans (and pros) some place to go.

    I have so many good and bad memories of those marketplaces. I did have the chance to meet a lot of pros, buy lots of comics and hang with other fans who helped me get through a personal rough patch in my life.

    Peter David’s brother, Wally, is positive that whatever Mike is up to next will be a success. Thanks for the memories, Mr. C.

Speak Your Mind

*