Jeff Ayers of the Forbidden Planet store in Manhattan, New York, is running a fundraiser on GoFundMe in order to stop from going under. A longstanding spinoff of the UK comic book chain, Forbidden Planet NYC is one of the oldest and biggest comic book stores in New York City. The store has currently raised $11,000 of a $300,0090 budget, with donors including Charles Forsman, Lloyd Kaufman, Jason Borrelli, Charles Soule, Greg Pak, Ben Kahn, David Pepose, Joe Illidge, and more. Ayers writes,
"Forbidden Planet NYC has been one of the world's most acclaimed sellers of comics, graphic novels, toys, sci-fi / horror / fantasy books and collectibles since 1981. Since then, we've called three different NYC locations (on the same block) home and settled into our present space at 832 Broadway in 2012. Comic store, toy store, sci-fi store, no matter what you label FP, it's an independently run New York City institution. Many of us – myself included – have called this place a second home.
"I grew up in the north Bronx, but after being introduced to the shop as a preteen every trip down to FPNYC on the D train felt like a pilgrimage. Making passionate, habitual readers of me and my brother was important to my mom and after traditional children's lit at the library didn't quite light that spark, she figured FPNYC would do the trick. It did. Later she would head down to Union Square to buy models and other toys for us for Christmas. The store was one of the first places in this country you could buy Transformers, Magic the Gathering, Uglydolls, Pokemon cards and anime/manga, and was one of the only stores in NYC you could find the independent comics you read about but never found on newsstands. This "multimedia emporium" seemed to have EVERY major writer/artist/scif-fi/horror celebrity as frequent signing guests. From William Gibson to Katsuhiro Otomo to the crew of The Enterprise, FPNYC was the place to be. I was fortunate enough to have been hired (after asking all through high school) as a floor salesperson in 1995 and when these responsibilities were passed down to me, it was important to me to carry on these traditions as best I could and pass them on to the current staff.
"Whenever I think of Forbidden Planet NYC and the role it's had in the careers of some of the biggest writers, artists and other creators, from giving them their first shot in a major marketplace (even if it's just a few copies of their first self-published comic or handmade vinyl figures) to promoting their work when they reach the pinnacle of their fields, I think of this quote I once came across in an old issue of the Comics Journal: "I avoided Love & Rockets for a long time just because I thought it was just, like, a fanzine. I remember when I finally bought it, after Forbidden Planet had opened, and I remember that they had a huge stack of them for years…" – former Pratt student Daniel Clowes.
"Since the beginning of the current crisis, myself and others have worked from home to help maintain the store's business and customer relationships and organize a way to come back from all of this. The sad truth of the matter is that nothing will be the same for some time, but we need to ensure that FPNYC is in a position to reopen when the time comes. To do that we are humbly asking for your assistance in keeping FPNYC on its feet.
"We've gone a month with zero revenue coming in and massive expenses going out. Rent, utilities, and other bills have added up quickly. The cost of doing business in New York City is astronomical, especially in a ground floor location off Union Square. We've recently turned our website back on for mail order, but honestly this will yield just a small portion of what is needed to keep us viable. Even when we're able to open again we will face enormous challenges amidst the continuing epidemic. We want all of our staff to have a job waiting for them when the quarantine is lifted, and of course their safety and that of our customers will be of paramount concern. We understand that things are tough and other good causes in this time of need abound, but we ask that you help in any way you can. Even if it's just by sharing this campaign.
"For better or worse, NYC has changed since FPNYC first opened its doors. At one point in the not so distant past you couldn't walk a singe block downtown without coming across an interesting shop, club or gallery space. Places like See Hear and Kim's Video lined the streets and liberated the minds of people who braved to enter their doors. You could walk into CBGB or Coney Island High with a fork glued to your forehead and no one would give you a second glance. They were safe spaces before safe spaces were even a thing. Unfortunately, so many of these spaces weren't safe from the razing of the city's independent spirit and the raising of New York City rent. Forbidden Planet NYC has endeavored to keep that spirit alive through it all. Your background, class, race or religion doesn't matter when two people experience the same form of art, and now more than ever we need the arts to survive and bring people together. We have fought tooth and nail to continue to be a place where you can be yourself and we want to remain exactly that in a post-pandemic world.
"We want to continue to see families come in passing the torch, telling us they are buying their kid their first comic, just like my mom did. We want to continue to see customers go on to be successful writers and artists, who then come back and do signings in the same place they got their break in New York. We want to be the place where you meet your life partner and provide you with a venue for your wedding photos. Even if you just need a place to get out of the rain or kill some time before you catch a movie across the street, we wanna be that too. We want to be there for you when you need a place to escape hard realities like the nightmare we are all going through at this very moment. We want to continue to influence and contribute to the culture of not only New York City but the entire world. Art can change a person's life. It doesn't matter if it's a novel, a comic, a movie or a statue, it all has the same power to inspire. As people with the responsibility to provide you with the art that achieves just that, we take this job very seriously. It's not easy for us to ask, but in order to continue to do this we need your help.
"At the end of the day, we love what we sell and we love sharing this passion with others from around the world. We want to keep chatting about the culture around it and keep the laughs going with you for as long as we possibly can."
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