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With Customers Going Digital, Sunnyside Comic Book Store to Close

Photo: QueensPost

July 13, 2013 By Christian Murray

Sunnyside, Queens: A well-known comic store located on Skillman Avenue is closing after being in operation for about thirty years.

Joseph Liesner, 80, the owner of Comic Book Heaven (48-14 Skillman Avenue), said that he is shutting the store down since there is little interest in comic books and collectibles anymore. “The store’s not making any money and, besides, I’m as old as Methuselah,” Liesner said, with a wide grin.

Liesner claims that the digital age is what has killed his business.

Joseph Liesner (Photo: QueensPost)

“The kids today play video games and spend all day texting their friends,” Liesner said.  “Gone are the days when kids would collect things, like stamps and sports cards.”

Furthermore, comic book fans often read them online, while collectors are using eBay to buy them.

Comic Book Heaven moved to Skillman Avenue three decades ago, after doing a brisk business at a flea market at the corner of Queens Blvd and Jackson Avenue 30 years ago. At the time, Liesner said that opening up a store in Sunnyside made a lot of sense.

Liesner said that he would be selling comic books and collectibles at a deep discounted in the remaining two months that he will remain open. He said he is typically in the store on Fridays and Saturday.

At the same time, Liesner is advertising for a girlfriend. There is a sign in the window: “Wanted 35-60 [year-old], attractive…for an old geezer.”

So far, he hasn’t got any takers.

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Former Woodsider

I can’t believe he stayed in business this long. I used to live four blocks from there in the late 80’s/early 90’s and I had to go into Manhattan to get my comic books because that guy was such a jerk. He used to yell at me. He used to yell at the other customers. And he used to yell at his wife. (Good luck with getting a new one. She had better be deaf as well as 35.) I can see from the other comments here that he had a lot of fans, but that sure wasn’t the man I knew. Maybe he discovered Xanax after I moved away.

Woodside Friend

This charming establishment is a local gem with a store owner whose banter leaves you with a lasting impression. I was in the store over the weekend and was delighted by Joe’s honesty and sense of humor. I wish Joe all the best as he pursues his new interests!


@86mets………….or they can comfort themselves by playing with themselves or each other……………..some things never change.

43rd & 43rd

I read recently that Astoria is getting two new bookstores. Wouldn’t it be neat if another one came in here? I know it’s not likely, but Skillman is probably the best place in Sunnyside for a little boutique bookstore. We can dream!

And yes, super LOL about the 80-year-old who thinks he’s a great catch for a woman <1/2-2/3 his age. I would say "good luck with that" but someone would probably take it sincerely.


People who believe the “sequential art narrative method” of story telling is just for kids are very narrow minded and bigoted, as evidenced by their comments above. Would these same people lump all films together as either “good” or “bad?”

As a college-educated and very successful man of 52, I have enjoyed reading all types of books: Prose fiction and non-ficition, as well as the more mature comics and graphic novels that are widely available.

Take some time to research before you attack a valid art-form.


Every time I came over to Skillman this place was closed. I think he gave up a long time ago, too bad.

I grew up in a comic/card/game shop in Brooklyn. That place is still there, and in fact it got even bigger! People love comics and a place to sit to play their card games. But once again, the store owner need to give some effort.


Old people can get away with murder! Racist remarks from old geezers… oh its ok, that was a different generation. The sign posted is disgusting, but you guys call it a sense of humor.

40th Street

What a great character with a sense of humor! This a nice human interest story.


@ f u
did you mean “read” your opinion ? I sense a lot of anger in you.
This store was not good for a lot of the young males in this community. They became trapped in comics and cartoons instead of life.
When i was a child, i acted as one, when i grew up…….
Enjoy your cartoons.


Immature males all over Sunnyside are in mourning. They can comfort themselves by playing with their GI Joe action figures and baseball cards.

South Side Johnny

Women 35 – 60 are in their prime. Watching grandchildren is okay for a few minutes but I’m easily distracted.

Dinsdale Piranha

Shouldn’t he be more interested in watching his grandchildren or great grandchildren grow up than hitting on women young enough to be his daughter?

Patricia Dorfman

I love this store and these guys. I go there to buy glassine envelopes for artwork, which are cheaper there than anywhere. Joe’s flirtatiousness is hilarious and not offensive, and just part of his sales patter. He brightens everyone’s day, male or female.

They are so charming, i always end up buying some comic book i decided i had to have, like X-files which have excellent drawing. Or some reprint of Robert Crumb. I found Classics Illustrated, “Crime and Punishment,” which was a favorite of my brother as a child. Often i pick up a free book they put out in front. Great store.

The store is a wonderful thing about Skillman Avenue, and i am sad.


Joe, don’t listen to all these haters. Comic books are forever, not just for kids, and he’s not trapped in some kind of arrested development you people are idiots and have obviously never enjoyed a good comic book with a fantastic story line. Not all comic books are peanuts and Marmaduke. Most comics offer a rich and colorful story line with tremendously detailed plots, more than these poor excuses for authors could ever imagine like the Stephanie chick who wrote twilight or jk Rowling and harry potter.

Rock On Joe, and thanks for shaping the imaginative little kid who used to come into your shop all the time into the comic book artist I am now. PS, I hope you find your younger woman! No shame in voicing what you like or choose to post in your store

Sunnyside Native

He’s got major cojones to even list 35 as his youngest acceptable age. I am fully aware that this is a joke, but the mental visual of an 80 year old man & a 35 year old woman is stomach churning. Sorry Tony Randall…

Lucky Lu

What’s wrong with women his own age??? They’ll still outlive him. I don’t know ANY woman under 60 who would take up that offer, not even the most desperate. I never knew the store was there, but after reading the skeevy younger woman ad, I’m glad I never did and was able to avoid this delusional geezer.


Comic books stores can do well. This store doesn’t even carry current issues so why would anyone go there except to rummage through to find back issues?

O'shea FU!

O’shea I see all you do is troll on everything! if you don’t want what’s happening around you then go move some place else! Nobody wants to hear you’re opinion In the first place.


Dear Joe,
Thanks for closing. The window add is not humor. It is poor social skills in relation to the opposite sex. Guess u missed the how to get laid manual. Rusty lances do not hunt spring doe.
Your closing should help the Peter pans of sunnyside — still stuck in mommy’s uterus and daddy’s basements– grow up.


I used to live around there.
I spent pretty much all my allowance at Comic Book Heaven, I’m sad to know it’s closing, but I haven’t been there in years, so I guess don’t have much right to be.
Best of luck with everything, Joe.

Ramrod Jones

You ageist! You should hire a nurse, , but only after you sign your will leaving her your millions.


What a wonderful sense of humor ..
…Best of luck with a girlfriend and your future…

Grew up with comics. Taught many kids to read, enjoy good
stories and learn good vocabulary. …..
At least in my day they had good vocabulary …


that sucks, i used to shop here frequently while i was growing up. i’ll probably stop buy to buy some things.


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