They may not be Batman or Wolverine, but Mimi Cruz lists some of the comic book industry's biggest players as part of her inner circle.
Cruz, who opened Night Flight Comics with her husband more than 25 years ago in the now-razed Cottonwood Mall, has fostered relationships with the likes of Frank Miller, who created the tough and gritty Batman portrayed on the big screen and in the 1980s comic series The Dark Knight Returns, and Chris Claremont, who is credited for turning X-Men into one of Marvel's most successful entities. Plus, she's buddies with Alan Moore, known as one of the world's greatest comic writers for his works The Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell.
And Cruz isn't stingy with her connections. Since opening Night Flight's doors, she's had one major goal: to get kids excited about reading. "It was never just about retail but about the community," she says of the programs she's hosted at the store's State Street location, which opened in 2008, and the former shop at Library Square. "We're helping kids get excited about reading and learning—that you can't do anything unless you know how to read," she says. "This is my evil plan—getting kids to read for fun."
She's recruited her industry friends to make appearances at Night Flight, sign books and talk with fans about their work and the comic book world at large. "I'm not shy, and I'm kind of an instigator," says Cruz, who also organizes education and entertainment panels each year at the massive Comic Con International event in San Diego. "It's great to work with like-minded individuals who love sharing their work with the world." Cruz has also forged relationships with educators, hosts sessions on how to use comics in the classroom and supplies comics and graphic novels to thousands of libraries across the state and nation.
It's no wonder Bleeding Cool, an industry magazine and website, ranked her as one of the 100 most powerful people in the comic biz. At No. 72, Cruz is one of only two retailers and one of seven women on the list, which includes power players like Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers director, Joss Whedon, and the godfather of modern comics, Stan Lee.
"What I love about comics is the literature," notes Cruz, who won the prestigious Will Eisner Spirit of Retail Award in 2005 for supporting the comics art medium in the community. "We're still buying and reading Mark Twain now, and it's the same with comics. These stories hold up 30 or 40 years later."
Five Comics From Mimi Cruz's Must Read List
- Frankenstein Alive by Steve Niles
- 300 by frank Miller
- To Hell You Ride by Lance Henriksen and Joseph Maddrey
- Batman: The Dark Knight by Gregg Hurwitz
- X-men comics by Chris Claremont