Director Anthony Desiato’s recently released documentary My Comic Shop Country is a film that aims to highlight brick and mortar comic book stores and the unique culture surrounding them, as well as the challenges they face — even in an era where comic book heroes dominate the box office.
My Comic Shop Country follows Desiato on a journey that takes him to numerous comic shops across the United States. The documentary features interviews with numerous members of the comic book retail community — including Acme Comics’ Lord Retail, Fat Moose Comics’ Shawn Hendricks, Amalgam Comics & Coffehouse’s Ariell Johnson, Torpedo Comics’ Gabe Bustamantez, Escape Pod Comic’ Menachem Luchins, Metropolis Collectibles’ Vincent Zurzolo and Ah Yeah Comics’ Marc Hammond — in addition to the likes of 13th Dimension editor Dan Greenfield and renowned comic book creator Mark Waid (Daredevil, Kingdom Come).
The documentary launched digitally about one month ago. While recent developments were unexpected, Desiato feels highlighting comic book shops and their struggles is more important than ever right now, given the adverse effect the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation has had on not only the stores, but the comic book industry as a whole. A trailer and poster for My Comic Shop Country can be found below.
“I initially set out to make this movie because I had an incredibly formative experience at my [local comic shop], and when that store closed, it inspired me widen my focus and really examine the power of the comic shop as an institution,” Desiato told CBR. “It’s a particularly challenging business model, especially when you consider the amount of risk and responsibility shouldered by stores relative to the other players in the industry. And the doc 100 percent peels back the curtain and shows you why the business is so tough. But comic shops also stand apart for the power they possess to bring people together — to create a space where, for example, a retailer makes personalized recommendations to customers or an employee and fan debate how dark Plastic Man comics can get.
“While the doc has always been relevant, the current crisis facing shops has made it timely in a way I couldn’t have anticipated,” he continued. “But it means a lot to me that the film is able to shine a light on what is often an overlooked side of the industry. In the month since the movie’s been out, I’ve received so many messages from viewers saying the doc gave them new insight into and appreciation for what their stores do. Others have said that it’s inspired them to get to a store (when they can, of course) for either the first time or the first time in a while. In the meantime, I hope new folks continue to discover the film and allow it to transport them to this colorful world of comic shops. Maybe it’ll help fill the void we’re all feeling right now that we can’t get to our favorite places.”
Director Anthony Desiato's documentary My Comic Shop Country highlights the unique culture of comic book stores and the challenges they face.