With a multitude of Hollywood superhero blockbusters in recent years, it’s safe to say that comics are no longer seen as nerdy. The Superhero Walking Tour of New York uses the scenery of the publishing capital of the world to show the progression of comics from paper to the silver screen – and shows a magnificent undertone of the capital that may otherwise be completely lost.
We met up with the rest of our tour at Jim Henley’s Universe, a comic shop with rows upon rows of graphic novels – easy to while away a few hours, if you’ve got time to spare! Our tour guide Paul was ridiculously experienced, with an enviable CV that’s seen him work for Will Eisner of ‘The Spirit’ fame. Halfway through the tour, he even excitingly whipped out his iPhone to show us first hand footage of the actual Chris Evans (Captain America) filming The Avengers outside Grand Central Station. Massive bonus points for that one!
The circular two hour tour took in many of the mind-boggingly impressive skyscrapers that have been influential in the comic world. Our first sight was the striking Flatiron building which was the HQ of the Daily Bugle in the Marvel comics where Spiderman (aka Peter Parker) made his mark as an aspiring photographer. We also took a trip inside the Chrysler building which Chris Hemsworth (Thor) can be seen gripping on to for a charge of lightening in the Avengers. The interior is, if possible, even more extraordinary than the outside: elaborate art deco decorations spiral up onto the ceiling, making it feel like you’ve stepped completely back in time.
One of my personal highlights of the tour was the fact it drew attention to buildings I wouldn’t otherwise had realized were important! For instance, Paul led us into the building which doubled up as the Daily Planet in the 1978 Superman movie. With the infamous globe in the middle, Paul even showed me how to pose like a proper superhero – arms bent, legs poised for action. If you squinted, I could even have been Superwoman…
We finished off at the Overlook bar, a typical cozy American pub with TVs showing baseball and a rich aroma of beer on tap and burgers cooked to perfection. Its main distinguishing feature, however, is the walls, etched with trademark sketches from comic artists, including Jim Henson and MAD magazine’s Al Jaffee. With many of the artists having sadly passed away, the pub serves as a living testimony to the great age of comics, much like this trip through time – an heroic tour of epic proportions!
- Emily Ray
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