As Coliseum of Comics prepares to mark its 40th anniversary next month, it’s hard to believe it all started with Phil Boyle riding his bike to grocery stores, drug stores, and mini-marts to buy comic books at 35 cents apiece.
Images courtesy of Coliseum of Comics
In 1983 (at the age of 20), Boyle left the University of Central Florida to open his first store – an 800-square foot location on 45th Street in Orlando – with 4,000 of his own comics for stock.
“The first store on 45th Street had its problems,” Boyle recalls. “Whenever it rained the front of the store flooded, so we moved onto Orange Blossom Trail into a smaller 480 square feet of space, where the rain came through the ceiling instead of the walls – not a good mix for comics.”
Phil Boyle in 1983
According to Boyle, he “made every mistake you could make and still be in business,” but thankfully, Coliseum of Comics endured, and has now reached a milestone most comic sellers never see as the flagship Coliseum of Comics store (now located in a 2,800-square-foot location near the Mall of Millenia) celebrates its 40th anniversary on Feb. 1, 2023.
“As much as I’d like to take full credit, I must share credit with so many people who’ve worked with me over the years to grow the chain, as well as the thousands of comic and game fans who supported us over the years,” Boyle said.
Coliseum of Comics has nine Florida locations in Orlando, Kissimmee, Lakeland, Gainesville, Tampa, and Jacksonville, plus two affiliate stores in Orlando and Clermont. Coliseum has also evolved beyond selling only comic books to carry statues, collectibles, toys, Funko, and board and card games. The stores in Kissimmee, Gainesville, and Jacksonville even have dedicated spaces to play cards as well as role-playing and board games.
Boyle, who as a kid was a DC fan and followed the adventures of Batman, Superman, and the Legion of Super-Heroes, has also become an advisor to DC Comics, as well as other comic publishers, including Marvel Comics, Image Comics, and independent publishers, to bring more people into comics-collecting and encourage literacy through reading.
“The goal has always been to make the comic industry better and more widely accepted as a literary form,” Boyse said. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to influence publishers in what I hope has been a positive role.”
During February, Coliseum stores will celebrate the milestone anniversary with special appearances, including comic writer and artist – and owner and Editor-in-Chief of new comics publisher Frank Miller Presents – Frank Miller (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, Ronin, Wolverine), and writer, FMP Publisher, and former DC Comics publisher Dan Didio (Reboot, Metal Men, OMAC, Superboy), who will appear at the Kissimmee location on Feb. 4, 2023.
“Having Frank Miller – an absolute comic legend – do a signing at one of my stores is a dream come true,” Boyle said. “Miller was instrumental in creating a new look for comics with his award-winning runs on Daredevil, Batman, and Sin City, such that many current artists look to those works for inspiration and guidance. There’s not a bigger name in the history of comics who is still making appearances.”
Fans can purchase the following Frank Miller Presents (FMP) packages at their local Coliseum of Comics store (limit two of each package per person):
- FMP Package ($39) – Includes four comic books (two can be signed by Frank Miller), plus all can be signed by Dan Didio.
- FMP Legendary ($139) – Includes four comic books (all four can be signed by Frank Miller), plus one additional item can be signed by Miller, and all can be signed by Dan Didio
On Feb. 26, 2023, writer, artist, and Witchblade co-creator Brian Haberlin (Witchblade, Spawn, Aria) will appear at Coliseum Millenia. Haberlin is the artist for four Coliseum-exclusive covers for Image Comics titles shipping in February, including his new book, Last Barbarians.
In honor of the anniversary, Coliseum of Comics stores will also be selling a limited run of throwback t-shirts featuring the logo from the chain’s original attempt at apparel.
Click here for more information.