“MY COMIC BOOK COUNTRY”
The Power of Comic Book Shops
Comic book characters have come to mean box office gold, yet comic book stores struggle to survive? I often walk by my local comic book store in Brookline, Massachusetts and seldom see anyone inside. It’s in a high rental area and I have often wondered how it pays the rent. In “My Comic Shop Country”, filmmaker Anthony Desiato explores the culture, business, and fandom of comic shops across America. He takes us behind the scenes in stores from coast to coast and shows us an industry in transition as shops strive to remain relevant. We explore the power of comic shops to build a community that honors the original form of the superhero: the comic book.
In 2015, the shop where Deslto worked, New York’s Alternate Realities closed after 23 years in operation, as this closure was the impetus for his quest to explore the comics retail industry. We see how the 20 shops featured in the film are turning the tide, one customer at a time, seven days a week.
The film is an extension of Desiato’s ongoing podcast of the same name. The focus of the film is on the people who make these stores special and are the heart of the comics community. We learn why physical comic book stores are so important to the future of comic books and it explains why shops matter .
For the documentary, Desiato traveled across the country to interview comic book store owners and well-known comic book editors and writers, like Paul Levitz and Mark Waid. The result is a documentary that explores the business and the community of the American comic book shop. Desiato has publicly stated that this part of the comic book story isn’t known by most people. “Comic shops are facing an extremely real and pressing threat at the moment,” Desiato said. “Comic shops offer enormous value to customers, creators, and publishers alike in their ability to connect readers with material on the shelf – to make personalized recommendations based not on an algorithm, but because they know their customers and they make the effort to familiarize themselves with the product. I’ve seen that in action across the country and have an entire segment of the movie devoted to it.
Having a person behind the counter telling customers, ‘Hey, I read this, and you need to check it out’ is invaluable.” The benefits of the comic book store go to customers. publishers and creators too.