By Hannah Sparks
“Comic books and stuff” is how the Vault of Midnight describes itself. Co-owner Curtis Sullivan says the name is a combination of two of his favorite comic books, Vault of Horror and Captain Midnight, originally from the 1940s and ’50s. So why add “and stuff” to the name? Sullivan says he wants people to wonder “what is this stuff you speak of?”
The “stuff” lends a sense of curiosity to the potential customer and draws them into this creative space.
Vault of Midnight was founded in 1996 by Steve Fodale and Sullivan in Ann Arbor — the duo’s hometown. Since the opening of the flagship, the store has expanded. In 2013, the Grand Rapids location opened its doors and, in early 2016, the Vault made its way to Downtown Detroit.
The store also welcomed a third partner to the ownership team, Nick Yribar, who has been with the store since it opened. The Vault of Midnight team is “super juiced” about their Detroit location, Sullivan says.
“With 30 full-time employees working for the company and three stores, our goals for the future are being a great place to work and being a part of the downtown communities we’re in,” he says.
Sullivan’s love for comics began in 1979. “My uncle gave me Conan comic books. The character, created by Robert E. Howard, dates to the 1930s.”
When Sullivan first got into comic books they were “dorky, nerdy, cool and underappreciated.”
“I got into at least one or two fights because I was a nerd,” he adds.
Comics may have gotten a bad rap back then, but today they’re back in full swing. In fact, the store had its best-selling month since 1997 this past July.
As children become adolescents, who turn into adults, their imaginations seem to slip away. As we get older, we get wiser, but does that mean we have to let go of our sense of imagination?
“At some point, we lose our ability to turn a cardboard box into a spaceship, and I’m always trying to get back to that,” Sullivan says. “We want to spread the love of comic books. We spend a lot of time dorking out around here.”
He invites people to “stop by and get nerdy with us.”
“A lot of people don’t know what comic books are. They have the full breadth and width of any medium,” Sullivan says. “Comics combine art and literature like nothing else and are worth adding to any book lover’s reading list.”
Meaningful interactions with customers happen “all the time” at Vault of Midnight. “A few days ago, I was playing Pokémon Go with a couple of kids, and we were exchanging tips. They were totally blown away that an old dude knew about Pokémon. I could just see it in their eyes. We were speaking the same language,” Sullivan says.
Vault of Midnight not only brought its comics, games and toys to the city, it also brought its bright colors, carefree attitudes and the love of all things “fun.” NS
Vault of Midnight
is located at 1226 Library St.
in Downtown Detroit. For info,