Release Date: March 24, 2020
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 1 Hour 25 Minutes
Comic book characters are box office gold, but why do comic book stores struggle to survive?
In My Comic Shop Country, filmmaker Anthony Desiato sets out on a quest to explore the culture, business, and fandom of comic shops across America. Venturing behind the scenes in stores from coast to coast, he reveals an industry in transition as shops strive to remain relevant to the growing hordes of fans of movies, online gaming and mega-conventions. The film is a heartfelt exploration of the power of comic shops to build a community that honors the original form of the superhero: the comic book.
Watching My Comic Book Shop Country was an interesting experience as someone who grew up going to comic book shops because of their comic book artist dad. I’ve been to most comic book shops in Northern and Central New Jersey at least once in the 90s and many whenever we went into the city. I admit, I’m still not as deep into actually reading comics as I’d like to be but growing up in comic book culture since before I was born (there’s a picture somewhere of my mom pregnant with me at yet another comic con haha), it always feels like home being in a comic book shop. And every comic book shop is very different so that’s saying a lot haha. This documentary does a fabulous job of showing that.
My Comic Shop Country gives us glimpses into comic book shops from all around the United States as we hear from the long time pros about the early days of comic book shops and both the old timers and newcomers about what it takes to run a comic book shop. It’s not all daisies and roses. You don’t get to sit around and read comics all day, it’s actually work. It’s so, so great to have this documentary and show people what it takes because people really do not think about these things! They do not think about the labor at all. They shouldn’t have to but they also need to at a certain point to realize what it takes to keep the train going.
This doc goes into the business behind running comic shops, from breaking down New Release Wednesday, Pre-Orders, Subscriptions and pull lists, as well as the different models of each comic shop (the layout, stock, aesthetic, and brand of each store) to the community that comic book shops bring and unfortunately also the closing of comic book shops.
They give you just enough here to understand that there is nuance to each of these things. I do wish there had been more time spent on how different each comic book shop is. Some stores sell only comic books. Some store sell toys and collector items. Some stores have cafes in them. It’s all so different. We could have definitely had another 20 minutes really getting to know a number of the stores that were visited for this doc. I’m sure there’s lots that was left on the cutting room floor so I really wonder why this doc is so short.
Aside from this criticism, I really encourage you to watch it if you’ve ever been curious about comic book shops and what it takes to thrive, especially in this landscape where pop culture leeches off of comic book stories and yet still, year after year, so many comic book shops end up closing. It’s nothing that I didn’t already know but I can imagine that it’s fascinating for those who haven’t given any of this too much thought. So check out My Comic Shop Country today!
My Comic Shop Country is available to watch on iTunes now.