Black Cat Comics owners Francie Soito and Mark Causey took over Brian’s Comics on Aug. 1 of 2002, and have decided to celebrate a decade in Milpitas with a multi-day anniversary party.
The couple kicked off the celebrations with a Wednesday anniversary party featuring a signing by comic book artist Mick Gray.
“We’re celebrating 10 years as Black Cat Comics with Mark and I as the consistent owners for the passed 10 years,” Soito said. “[The anniversary party] was huge! We had a Batman and Robin inker, or comic book artist, come in to do signings; we had food and drinks and a pretty good sell out.”
Milpitans who didn’t make it to Wednesday’s anniversary party have three more opportunities to say congrats.
The comic book duo is hosting a movie night Friday where they’ll show superhero-related films, and offer 25 percent off all movie related comics like the Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman and Superman.
On Saturday, locals can explore their subhuman abilities during a masquerade costume party. Then, on Sunday, comic book enthusiasts can trade swag during black cats' customer swap meet.
The idea to turn Black Cat Comics' 10 year anniversary into a week’s worth of celebrations is based on Comic-Con, a nationally recognized comic book convention with incredibly hard to find tickets, Soito said.
Black Cat Comics held a pre Comic-Con party last year to “give customers the feel of what Comic-Con would be like if they could go,” Soito said. The pre party mimicked the numerous events held at the actual convention, and was such a success they decided to throw another one to celebrate the 10-year mark.
“Peope loved it and asked us if we would do it again, and we said maybe we’d do it with our anniversary party,” Soito said. “So we kind of morphed it a bit to make it fit into our anniversary plans.”
Although the week’s events are centered around superheroes and saving the world from mass destruction, the customers are the real focus of the celebration.
“[It’s] our way of giving back and saying ‘thanks’ to our subscribers who have been our customers all this time,” Soito said. “They’re our most loyal customers because without them we wouldn’t be here.”
To show customers how much they’re valued, Soito and Causey held a subscriber appreciation party on Thursday that featured food, drinks and prizes. Soito and Causey have close to 300 subscribers — i.e., regular customers they pull comics for before they’re shelved — and many of them have frequented the store since its beginning.
When Lois Lane Met Superman
Soito hasn’t always been a comic book fanatic like her husband, Mark Causey, who has been fighting villains for the majority of his life.
Causey learned how to read with comic books at the age of 4 and his love, and obsession, only grew from there. When Soito married Causey, she soon learned that comic books would play a significant role in her life, too.
“When we married it was either join or get off the ship kind of thing, so I started to [get into comics] too,” She said. “You can tell he was born to be in this business, so it was just a matter of figuring out how we can be a part of it.”
Soito, who has done market research in the high tech industry for the last 17 years, thought her background coupled with Causey’s expertise could result in a successful business. Although she believes her background has helped, she mainly credits DC Comics, one of the main publishers of comic books, for relaunching its stories.
DC Comics ended all existing comic books and started over from scratch with all new No. 1 issues, allowing people unfamiliar with the world of comics to pick up the hobby, and comic book veterans to get back into the stories, Soito said.
Basically, the relaunch of No. 1 issues meant that newbies wouldn’t walk into a comic book store and only find comic books on their 600th issue, and subsequently become intimidated by the plethora of comic books they’d need to read before understanding the plot.
“All of us retailers have seen a huge resurgence and I’m mainly crediting DC Comics with that,” Soito said. “As store owners we Can only do so much. We rely 100 percent on the quality of content, but that’s completely out of our control.”
Black Cat Comics is located at 73 N. Milpitas Blvd.