St. Mark’s Comics in East Village is closing after 36 years

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan -- Like the stories of good versus evil captured in the pages of countless comics, customers say St Marks Comics is timeless.

"I used to come here when I was in high school back in the day," Gary Esposito said. "It was always open late, so I used to come here at night after school or after hanging out in Manhattan, I would come here and pick up some books every once in a while."

After 36 years, owner Mitch Cutler says he's ending his battle with the super-villain like obstacles of running business.

Much to the disappointment of his customers.

"There's going to be a big comic book sized hole here when it leaves," customer Brian Stillman said.

"Oh, definitely it's the end of the era, especially here on St. Marks Place," Esposito added.

St. Marks Comics is the longest tenured store on the legendary St. Marks Place.

"We've seen comic book movies suddenly become the biggest thing in the world," Stillman said. "We've seen the resurgence of geek culture and the ascendance of geek culture. And through it all this comic book store, this independent comic book store has always been here."

Once it's gone, many say future generations will loose the last link to the old school East Village that made New York so great. But Cutler says he doesn't want customers to mourn the loss.

"I'd love it to be a farewell tour. A wake not a funeral," Cutler said. "I want to talk about the goofy memories and all the crazy stuff that happens on St. Marks Place in 36 years."

Cutler himself would prefer the role of Clark Kent to that of Superman, but for so many comic book fans he's been a superhero for decades. His superpower: the ability to read minds when it came to the comic book needs of his customer.

"I once came in and he runs back into his office and he goes I have something for you, I picked this up a while ago and I've been waiting for you to come in the store and it was an original sketch of Thor by an artist named Walt Simonson who is a legend in the comics field," remembered Stillman.

"When you are working 90 hours a week for 36 years and putting everything you got into it and thinking about how to make it better all the time, it is incredibly gratifying to get the sort of response that we have gotten," Cutler said.

He plans to close at the end of February, but as comic book fans have seen time and time again superheroes have a tendency to return from the dead.

So they're holding out hope.

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