Comics posted record sales during COVID. Could they give Danbury Shopping Center a boost?

While the comics hit record sales last year as people sought home entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Newbury Comics will be opening a location at the Danbury Fair shopping center.

It is the second Newbury Comics store in Connecticut after The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester. The Boston-based chain also sells vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, and pop culture-related collectibles like Funko Pop figures.

A Newbury Comics executive said on Tuesday the chain was focusing on top-selling comics and new series, without the more comprehensive selection from some independent stores, including older comics purchased for resale. She added that Japanese manga comics are all the rage.

“We opened a store in Manchester… then we opened a bunch of stores in New York, and we kind of forgot [western] Connecticut – not intentionally, ”said Valerie Forgione, executive vice president of Newbury Comics, in an interview on Tuesday. “We said, ‘Wait a minute, there’s all this state [where] we … have a fan base.

With the arrival of Newbury Comics, the Danbury Fair Shopping Center will occupy one of its signature locations overlooking its food court and central carousel, in a storefront once occupied by Build-A-Bear. Maura Ruby, senior property manager at Danbury Fair Shopping Center, said the storefront was among the mall’s busiest locations, but predicted Newbury Comics would add even more foot traffic, attracting shoppers from across the city. western Connecticut as well as across the line from New York.

Forgione said Newbury Comics plans to open at Danbury Fair Mall in the third week of August.

More than two dozen independent comic book stores dot Connecticut, including Fanboy Collectibles and Cave Comics in Newtown, a few exits east on Interstate 84 from the mall. Newbury Comics will join Alternate Universe as the only comic book store with multiple locations in Connecticut, with the latter having stores in New Haven and Milford.

“The past year has been a crazy and difficult battle,” said Erik Yacko, one of the founders of Alternate Universe. “I think all the stores at this point are stable, but that could change in the blink of an eye. Everyone has cabin fever and the light is at the end of the tunnel after spending a year confined out of balance due to COVID. Sales are good, events are rebuilding and fans are eager to go to conventions. “

Connecticut comic book fans have a set of dates circled as the calendar moves to August – TerrifiCon’s return to Mohegan Sun on July 30 and August 1, and the 20th installment of Free Comic Day on August 14 in which Newbury Comics participates. , as well as most stores in the state.

Altered Reality Entertainment’s ComiConn convention, which was last held in July 2019 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, is also set to return.

Reed Exhibitions brings the massive New York Comic Con back in October to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. Reed Exhibitions is headquartered in the US in Norwalk as a UK-based division of RELX.

Named for its original location on Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, Newbury Comics today has nearly 30 locations, including the Westchester Mall in White Plains, NY, and two Rhode Island stores in Providence and Warwick. .

The Danbury Fair store follows a grand opening slated for this weekend at Staten Island Mall, Newbury Comics’ first store in New York City. The Staten Island Mall is operated by Brookfield Properties which opened the SoNo Collection Mall in South Norwalk in 2019, which Newbury Comics bypassed in favor of the Danbury Fair Mall.

Newbury Comics dates back to 1978, with founders John Brusger and Mike Dreese continuing to run the channel today. The store came into being a decade after the San Francisco Comic Book Company opened as the nation’s first dedicated comic book store.

A Waterbury company called Eastern Color Printing is credited with inventing modern comics, with its “Funnies on Parade” featured in Sunday newspapers from 1933 as a precursor to “Famous Funnies” which he published. as a stand-alone comic.

Several cartoonists from the golden age of Sunday comics have made Connecticut home, including “Beetle Bailey” creator Mort Walker. But with the June 1938 debut of Action Comics’ “Superman” – an original copy sold seven years ago for $ 3.2 million – the superhero genre would dominate the comic book industry.

Publishers have since capitalized on the “geek store” culture of comic book stores that emerged in the 1970s, whether through comic book conventions that have multiplied internationally; franchises of films like “The Avengers” of Marvel, a subsidiary of Walt Disney; new titles like “The X-Men” and its spinoff series; and over and over again modes like Pokemon Trading Cards.

In an annual estimate of comic book and graphic novel sales, ICv2 and Chomicron calculated 2020 revenue of $ 1.28 billion, up 6% from the previous year.

“Movies and TV shows are always positive for this market, but your basic comic book fan is already a comic book customer,” Yacko said. “Movies and TV shows bring a few new faces, but they don’t reach their target audience by not using these shows to advertise their own product with the potential to reach more comic book fans. Without the comics, these movies and TV shows wouldn’t exist.

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