the process of gearing up for Free Comic Book Day, I picked
NightFlight this year for us (meaning me) to do coverage of the
event. Being one of the longest running comic stores in the
entire state (not to mention one of the longest running in the U.S.)
NightFlight has constantly maintained a tradition of giving the
lonely comic fans of Utah a hallowed ground for a multiverse of
books, from Apocalypse to Zatanna and everything in between. I
got a chance to talk with Mimi Cruz, owner and all around comic guru
of NightFlight, about the upcoming event and a number of other random
Gavin: Hey Mimi. Tell us a little about yourself.
Mimi: Hi Gavin, I'm a reading junkie and can never find enough time to read all I want. If zombies ever do rise and attack, I'll just hole up in my basement with a crate of candles and read until they discover my location.
Gavin: For those who don't know, how did Night Flight get started?
Mimi: Locally owned and operated, Night Flight Comics opened April 1987 in the Cottonwood Mall and in the fall of 2007 we moved to 6222 South State Street. We opened a sister store February 8th 2003 at the now world famous Salt Lake City Library on 200 East 400 South where we enjoy being a part of the exciting Library Square community. In 2005 we were the proud recipient of the Eisner Award or best store in the world and in 2006 Archie Comics immortalized our store and The City Library in Archie Comics #570.
Gavin: What was it like starting it up back in the mid 80's?
Mimi: Back in the 80's disco was over, Boy George and George Michael were king/queen and comics were still printed on newsprint paper that would age (turn yellow) before your eyes. No one (other than the writers, artists, editors working on the comics) ever knew what was going to arrive each week. No internet to spoil the fun back then. It really was a more innocent time.
Gavin: You've been around for 20 years, what's that feel like when most shops don't make it past 5?
Mimi: We are usually way too focused on what is going on day to day in our own shops to think about it. However, like any business, be it comic books or widgets, staying in business is hard work and there are never guarantees.
Gavin: After being around for so long, do you feel other local stores are competition or more like friends?
Mimi: We are friends with a lot of stores; competition it isn't a factor because the free market rules. I love being an American!
Gavin: What is your take on the current local comic scene?
Mimi: We love it, more people are discovering the wonderful world of comic book reading--now referred to as 'graphic novels' but it is essentially the same thing. Nothing is more exciting than sharing a story you love with someone new. Plus, there are countless new artists, writers and even comic book news reports (see One Shot Presents on our web site Bulletin Board for video reviews on comic books) being done locally. The talent is amazing and only going to get better!
Gavin: What local artists should people check out?
Mimi: Bill Galvan's Archie Comics, Derek Hunter's Pirate Club, Trevor Nielson's Lily Maid, Ryan Ottley's Invincible, George Stasinos' Big George Comics and Quinn Johnson's RuneStone.
Gavin: You've managed to bring out some exceptional talent over the years to anniversaries and events like this upcoming one. What makes them keep coming all the out to Utah?
Mimi: We are a mecca for long time comic book readers and artists as well as a natural draw for those new to comics. It is what we do best because we love comics.
Gavin: Quick fan question, for those who don't know, what's the story behind Mimi's in Sin City?
Mimi: Frank Miller is the greatest mind ever to create comics and if you read his work, you can tell he loves what he does. As a surprise, when he was writing and drawing Sin City: That Yellow B-astardd, he named the seedy motel/cafe Hartigan and Nancy run to hide out MIMI'S NIGHT FLIGHT MOTEL & CAFE. When he released the movie, he kept it in the movie and in the map of Sin City found in the director's cut of the DVD package. (One of the few times, I didn't end up on the cutting room floor.) Needless to say, I'm flattered at being immortalized in his work.
Gavin: Local media seems to do a story every now and then on how comics are bad, or that there's shady practices going on. What's your relationship with the media been like over the years?
Mimi: Luckily, we've had positive interactions with all media locally and nationally. When there are reports of comics being bad, honestly, in this world, anything is possible.
Gavin: I covered TROMADANCE this year, but only got a sample of what was going on. How did that go for you guys this year?
Mimi: TROMADANCE 2008 was the best one yet this year. We've got photos in a QuickTime file here. With Jane Jensen's ROCK THIS music from Citizen Toxie. TROMADANCE is a No Fee film fest that screens independent films free to the public. We have worked with founder of TROMA Studios Lloyd Kaufman since 1996 and were on there at the beginning of TROMADANCE. This year we were able to screen four new films at The City Library as well as once again highlight The Best of TROMADANCE shorts from past years. Afterwards we host a welcome reception for Lloyd Kaufman, independent film directors, actors and anyone who wants to meet them inside our store. You can see some of the action on the link above.
Gavin: What's your take on the comic book industry as it stands right now?
Mimi: The competition to work in the comic industry has never been greater. Consequently the comic books being produced have never been better. It sort of feels like another golden age for the comics industry.
Gavin: In your opinion, what are the best current series out there?
Mimi: Easy, I'll give you my favorite ongoing comic books.
1. Bill Willingham's FABLES
2. Dave Sim's GLAMOURPUSS
3. Batton Lash's SUPERNATURAL LAW
4. JONAH HEX
5. THE EXTERMINATORS
6. Terry Moore's ECHO
7. HOUSE OF MYSTERY
8. Eric Powell's THE GOON
9. JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER
10. 30 DAYS OF NIGHTS - all the stories after the first one too.
Gavin: Okay, putting you on the spot. What are your all time top 5 comics?
Mimi: My list would be...
1. SWAMPTHING by Alan Moore
2. SIN CITY by Frank Miller
3. SUPERNATURAL LAW by Batton Lash
4. CEREBUS by Dave Sim
5. PREACHER by Garth Ennis
Gavin: Tell us a little about Free Comic Day and how it got started.
Mimi: The comic book is a unique American art form and one we at Night Flight love to celebrate. Free Comic Book Day is an outreach effort by the whole comic book industry to encourage people to read something new and of course to have some fun!
Gavin: Who will you have on hand for the event and what other stuff will you be doing?
Mimi: We'll have these five artists offering free sketches and autographs from 3:00PM to 6:30PM at our State Street store. Bill Galvan - Scrapyard Detectives and Archie Comics, Derek Hunter - Pirate Club, Quinn Johnson - Tales of the TMNT and RuneStone, Trevor Nielson - The Lily Maid (The Joan of Arc story), and George Stasinos - Big George Comics. We'll also have lots of free comic books for people to look over and choose from. Our whole staff is pumped for an exciting day of talking comics and giving out free comic books. We are hoping the sighting of The Joker won't dampen the celebration. We advise anyone seeing The Joker to please just smile at him, but not engage him. We have of course notified The Batman of the sighting.
Gavin: What do we have to look forward to the rest of this year from Night Flight?
Mimi: Aside from the usual shenanigans, we'll be hosting artist Phil Yeh at our Library Square store during The Arts Festival in June where he'll conduct two comic work shops at The City Library and paint a mural live in the front of our store during the four day festival. More information about Phil Yeh here.
Gavin: Anything you'd like to plug?
Mimi: Yes, if you are reading this, please stop by either store and pick up a free comic book May 3rd then come back in on Wednesday, May 7th and check out HOUSE OF MYSTERY, it is a moody, spooky book that won't really scare you too bad, but maybe just enough to keep you reading.