Michael Carbonaro, a Middle Village native, has been buying and selling comic books since he was 12, but never thought he would run his own Comic Con.
Carbonaro grew up in Middle Village and has always had an affinity for the world of comics. He started getting into the business in the ’80s with a comic book store in Jackson Heights. But in 1996, Carbonaro held his first Comic Con in the basement of St. Paul’s Church in Manhattan. Twenty-five years later, his company, Big Apple Convention, hosts thousands in Manhattan every year.
“New York City has been my home. I’ve fallen off the roof at Studio 54 [and] I had a comic book store in Jackson Heights,” Carbonaro said. “I like the fact that I run Big Apple Comic Con in New York City. It makes me feel good that I’m a part of New York and I’ve done something fun in New York City.”
Since starting in a church basement, Carbonaro has moved his conventions to the New Yorker Hotel.
“I love doing it,” Carbonaro said. “From financing, then [throwing] a party for 10,000 people, then [dealing] with all the artists, the celebrities, the dealers [and] the fans. Hopefully, the fans will have a great time.”
Carbonaro also opened a pop-up store for six months last year in Middle Village with his friend, Ivy Silberstein. The paranormal art and comic book store was on Metropolitan Avenue and 74th Street.
“I’m proud to have Ivy’s paranormal comic book store,” Carbonaro said. “Whenever we were open the store filled up.”
Silberstein and Carbonaro are considering opening the store again, either as a pop-up location or a permanent storefront.
Carbonaro spends most of the year traveling the country buying and selling comic books. Since the pandemic started, there hasn’t been a convention, but that didn’t stop Carbonaro from preparing for his next convention.
“I have not slept [and] I have not taken any time off,” Carbonaro said. “I’ve re-calibrated my thoughts and decided that Big Apple is going to go on.”
This weekend’s convention is the first since the pandemic began. Carbonaro said he is trying to make it more comic book-centered this year.
“We got involved with wrestlers and celebrities, but we’re trying to bring it back to the comic book world,” Carbonaro said. “We just want to get back. Let my Comic Con, Big Apple, reopen New York City this Saturday.”
Thousands of people are expected to attend this weekend. Carbonaro said he is ready to stay open late if necessary and invites everyone to come down.
Some notable guests include Rob Liefield, the creator of Deadpool, and John O’Hurley, who played J. Peterman on Seinfeld.
Tickets, which are $30 for adults and $10 for kids, can be bought on their website.