Brooklyn‘s LOOT operates differently than most comic book stores: a $30 monthly subscription provides customers with unlimited access to the club and its comic collection, as well as the opportunity to take books out one at a time. For those who don’t frequent the brick and mortar store, comics are available for $5 online. LOOT founder Joseph Einhorn’s mission is simple: to give kids access to an endless supply of comic books at an affordable rate. He hopes the stories inspire readers and keep them in the shop’s orbit.
Seeing how young readers light up when they enter their favorite characters’ worlds, Einhorn saw an opportunity to bring more characters to life via a creative challenge for kids. He launched a contest that challenged kids to conceptualize their own comic book character and then submit their work to LOOT.
“The contest idea came to us in the best way possible… from the kids,” Einhorn tells CH. “We have been trying to encourage the kids to be as original as possible when making and selling their own comics at LOOT.” The shop also stocks original comics by children from all over and encourages storytelling, creativity, and comic-crafting through hosted workshops in their airy second-floor studio. Kids who sell their comics there also take 90% of the profits; the 10% LOOT takes simply covers transaction processing fees. “We talk a lot about how character development is at the core of all their favorite comic franchises. As a result, kids started to submit more in-depth character profiles, sometimes in lieu of full-on comics. We decided to see where that could go and making an action figure was what they were most excited about.”
Einhorn fielded the submissions from people under the age of 18 and ran through the entries with the help from a panel of guest judges: Coco Baba founder (and mother of comic-loving kids) Emma Heming Willis, comic-based movie actor Colin Ford, and prolific sculptor and graphic artist Djordje Djokovic. Together, they settled on four winners. Then, Einhorn turned the project over to Concrete Jungle Studio artist Steven Cartoccio. Using a 3D printer and his abundant experience, Cartoccio would turn each of the designs into action figures.
“I was a fan of Steve’s art. He came in to the shop and was blown away,” Einhorn says. “He really loves what we are doing and he said he would help out in any way we need. When the kids asked for their own action figures, he took the call.” Cartoccio has since completed the first of the four winning submissions: Princess Anya by 12-year-old Haile.
Though the contest’s submission window has since closed, LOOT ensures (alongside the rollout of the rest of the winners’ figurines) that the shop will remain open virtually.
“Given everything going on in the world, we have been moving our classes online and trying to come up with ways to keep families engaged in art during these challenging times,” he says. “Our DMs are open. If a kid submits anything, we will respond and try to help them develop their ideas and if we see something that is so good that we feel it needs to be made, we’ll bring it to Steve and see what we can do.”
Hero image by Catherine Michelle Bartlett for LOOT