CREATOR MADNESS WITH My Comic Shop Country Director Anthony Desiato

 My Comic Shop Country is A feature-length documentary film from Anthony Desiato exploring the culture, business, and fandom of comic book stores across America. We at Geekery were lucky enough that Anthony set some time aside from this project to talk to us, check it out below an our own Monica Archer digs into the mind of this creator:

GEEK: Including this project, I understand you’ve made two documentaries and a podcast about comic book stores in the United States. What is it exactly that drives you to tell these stories?

AD: On a personal level, the defining experience I had working at Alternate Realities continues to drive and inform what I do. On a creative level, I’ve found comic shops to be an incredibly colorful backdrop (literally and figuratively) for these films and podcasts. Comic book stores tend to attract larger-than-life personalities on both sides of the counter.

GEEK: For fans of your podcast, and previous documentary, specifically, what can they expect from this new film? Both in terms of elements that are the same and things that are maybe a little bit different.

AD: With respect to the past documentaries, those films were about specific stores (Alternate Realities in My Comic Shop DocumentARy and Jay’s Comics in By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story). With the new film, the idea is to take a wider view of the comics retail industry while still telling personal stories. The film will depict a cross-section of stores across America and shine a light on the Local Comic Shop as an institution. In terms of how it will compare to the podcast, films and podcasts are different mediums that call for the story to be told in different ways. For people who have been listening to the episodes, this will feel like a natural outgrowth, but it will also stand on its own for new viewers.

GEEK: Your Kickstarter page talks about how The Death of Superman was your introduction to comic books, was there a particular comic book store that you visited growing up that influenced your relationship to comic books in a similar way?

AD: Alternate Realities, of course. That was where I shopped, worked, and hung out for so many years before it closed. As far as it influencing my relationship to comic books, I was probably most engaged as a reader when I was working there. I was literally surrounded by comics, and customers would come in looking to discuss or asking for recommendations, so I probably read more during that time than before or since.

: This is your second documentary about comic book stores. Should this be seen as a continuation of your work in My Comic Shop DocumentARy or a completely new project?
AD: Thematically, sure, I think it’s fair to call it a spiritual follow-up. But My Comic Shop Country will stand on its own.

GEEK: What process did you use to select the shops that you plan to feature in your upcoming film?

AD: My starting point in building the podcast lineup was to feature a cross-section of stores in terms of history, geography, and area of focus. I solicited recommendations from some fans and collectors whose opinions I really value; some retailers were people I connected with via previous seasons of the podcast; and I also took a look at where I would be traveling for other purposes (work, weddings, etc.) to see where I could work in a store visit.

GEEK: What do you think is the place of comic books and comic shops in US culture overall and how do you want to showcase that in your upcoming film?

AD:  The Local Comic Shop is an institution. For me, “the store” was always more than just a retail establishment. It was a clubhouse, and I know it is for a lot of other comic book fans too. That sense of community is the driving theme of my comic shop explorations, and the goal of the movie is to capture that on a national level.

GEEK: I spent three years in Japan, where comics (ie: manga) have a major share of the literature market, for adults as much as for children. Given that, do you think that there is a potential for comics in the US to expand their readership and what role do you think comic shops play in that?

AD: I’m sure there’s potential that could be tapped, especially given how prevalent comic book adaptations are in other media. In terms of the shops’ role in all of this, I consider retailers to be the boots on the ground in the industry. In my travels, I’ve seen some incredibly proactive owners and managers who are guiding readers new and old via store displays, personal recommendations, creator signings, book club events, and more. There are retailers out there making all kinds of connections between readers and comics.

GEEK: Is there anything you’d like people to know or keep in mind when watching the documentary?

AD: It’ll still be a while before the film is out there, but for now, I hope folks check out the My Comic Shop History podcast and my past films. Mostly, I just want to convey that these projects don’t shy away from the challenges and frustrations of this industry. At the same time, they are–above all else–a celebration of comic book stores and the people who give them life and color.

: Is there anything else you’d like to say or want audiences of your documentary to know?
AD: This all comes from a place a love. I have lived in the comic book/shop world and have a passion to invite others in to experience it.
The Kickstarter is live now, show your support here: 

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