MY COMIC SHOP COUNTRY
My Comic Shop Country is a feature-length documentary project from Flat Squirrel Productions that will explore comic book stores across America.
My name is Anthony Desiato. I am a filmmaker, podcaster, and lifelong Superman fan. Town to town, shop to shop, I have been speaking to retailers around the United States for my podcast, My Comic Shop History. In many ways, retailers are the "boots on the ground" within the comic book industry, playing a critical, central role as they interact with publishers, Diamond Comics Distributors, creators, and fans alike.
Over the past season, I have been finding the stores, fostering relationships with the men and women behind the counter, and telling their stories in podcast form. Next comes the movie (with your help, of course).
The documentary film My Comic Shop Country will take you behind the scenes and capture the business, culture, and fandom of the local comic book store on a national level. The movie will feature interviews with the stores' key players—owners, staff, and customers—and show the stores in action on Wednesdays (AKA New Comic Day), during events (e.g., Free Comic Book Day and creator signings), and in those regular, day-to-day moments when a store's personality shines brightest.
If you love comics, then chances are there is a store that has meant a lot to your comic shop history. This documentary will show exactly why the local comic shop is such a beloved institution among fans. Experience the challengers and rewards of retailers, and get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes in to the operation of this kind of business. For the non-initiated, this film will provide an accessible entry point into the comic book world. This film, like all of my previous works, will be about the people above all else—the larger-than-life personalities that live on both sides of the counter.
I funded the podcast and related travel personally. I am conducting this Kickstarter campaign now to bring the movie to life. The $15,000 I am seeking will allow me to purchase filmmaking equipment and deliver the highest quality product possible. I plan to shoot the film on a Sony FS5.
Where the $15,000 is going (estimates):
- $12,800: equipment
- $1,200: Kickstarter and processing fees
- $1,000: creation and shipping of rewards
In addition to the time and money I have already invested in the podcast, I plan to use my personal funds to cover the travel and marketing costs associated with the movie. Anything raised beyond $15,000 will go toward travel expenses. Stretch goals and incentives will be announced during the campaign.
If the campaign reaches its goal this fall, I will spend the winter in pre-production and then begin filming in the spring. I expect to film and edit through the summer with an eye toward finishing the documentary in Fall 2018.
This project, like all of my others, is a labor of love from someone who has lived in this world. I am proud to be a member of the comic book community and tell the stories of the people who give it life and color. I hope you will be part of the journey.
COMIC SHOPS FEATURED
I have already visited (or will be visiting very shortly) the following stores to record episodes of My Comic Shop History. I will return to many of them to film for My Comic Shop Country, and I will also continue to search for new stores to spotlight. (To nominate a shop, scroll down to the "Help Wanted" section.) If you want a taste of what the movie will be like, please give the podcast episodes a listen!
- Acme Comics (Greensboro, NC)
- Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse (Philadelphia, PA)
- Aw Yeah Comics (Harrison, NY / Muncie, IN / Skokie, IL)
- Cave Comics (Newtown, CT)
- Challengers Comics + Conversation (Chicago, IL)
- Comic Asylum (Palm Desert, CA)
- The Comic Book Shop (Wilmington, DE)
- Escape Pod Comics (Long Island, NY)
- Fat Moose Comics (Whippany, NJ)
- First Aid Comics (Chicago, IL)
- Interstellar Comic Books and Collectibles (Palm Springs, CA)
- It'z Vintage (Mendham, NJ)
- Midtown Comics (New York, NY)
- Packrat Comics (Hilliard, OH)
- The Spider's Web (Yonkers, NY)
- Undiscovered Realm (White Plains, NY)
- Zapp! Comics (Wayne, NJ)
Jermaine Exum (retailer, Acme Comics): "When I heard the first episodes of My Comic Shop History, I was hooked. Floored, really. Anthony's experience and the stories he got out of his comrades from Alternate Realities were so unbelievably similar to my own at Acme Comics. Common and previously unspoken tales and parables from inside the comic shop were revealed. Anthony has an undeniable passion, and investigative mind, and I believe in his ability to present stories from the men and women operating and working in the local comic shop—and the people who support those places as part of their monthly and weekly routine."
Brandon Montclare (comic book creator, Rocket Girl and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur): "Anthony Desiato's observations are unique in the comics world—focusing on the people who make, sell, and read this stuff. As fans of the biz, we all know stories about real-life people that are even better than superhero adventures. Anthony collects and shares these stories, with a sharp edit. Everyone should support him doing more!"
THE ROAD TO MY COMIC SHOP COUNTRY
Who am I, and what have I done before? Read on!
"The Death of Superman" was my entry into the world of comic books at the tender age of 5. I was hooked.
Needless to say, it was a dream come true to score an after-school job at my local comic shop (Alternate Realities in Scarsdale, NY) during high school. My time behind the counter meant the world to me.
Though I no longer jockey a register, my fandom remains a big part of who I am. Just ask my wife!
I am no stranger to telling stories about comic shops. During law school, I turned the camera on Alternate Realities for my debut film, My Comic Shop DocumentARy, which garnered press in The New York Times and played at film festivals across the country.
Watch a few minutes of My Comic Shop DocumentARy for free:
I followed that project with a short film chronicling a curmudgeonly comic book vendor's final days at a flea market prior to its closing. By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story is a two-time winner for "Best Documentary" (Phoenix Comicon Film Festival & Brightside Tavern Film Festival).
My most recent documentary, the feature-length Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer, ventured into new territory with an intimate portrait of an aspiring performer and his purple puppet, Wally Wackiman.
In 2015, Alternate Realities closed. Before it went up to that big back issue bin in the sky, I returned to tell the final chapter in the AR Saga through a podcast, My Comic Shop History.
Today, my comic shop is history, but the podcast continues with a new mission: to explore comic book stores around the country and lay the groundwork for this documentary film.
All episodes are available on Apple Podcasts:
I also host a companion show called Flat Squirrel Tales: Beyond My Comic Shop, available on Apple Podcasts as well:
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
About My Comic Shop DocumentARy:
"A warm, entertaining depiction of a haven for comic book fans." (Popoptiq)
"That love of detail is due to the insight Desiato has from working in the shop he decided to film. And though he worked there, the film covers the shop fairly, warts and all, showing off the competition, and allowing pretty frank depictions and discussions." (Graphic Policy)
"It's an honest portrait and as a viewer, it really doesn't matter whether you've been to Alternate Realities or not - the hallmark of a good documentary." (13th Dimension)
About By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story:
"Although Meisel is irreverent and cantankerous, Desiato manages to capture the furious comic book vendor a way that makes him enjoyable to watch . . . Desiato's film goes beyond the personal story of Jay Meisel, as the film also acts as a reflection of modern society." (Review)
About My Comic Shop History:
"A podcast about locals' love/hate relationship with their local comic book store has morphed into an entertaining podcast about comic book stores, their owners and the industry in general. Definitely worth a listen if you ever felt at home at a comic book store or ever had dreams to work at one." (Facebook listener review)
My comic shop odyssey has been featured recently in the following media outlets:
- "The Ups & Downs of Comic Book Retailers, As Documented by a Podcaster" (Newsarama)
- "Touring America, One Comic Book Shop at a Time" (13th Dimension)
- "Pick Up Your Comics!" (Bleeding Cool)
- "This Podcast is Spotlighting Some of the Greatest Comics Shops in America" (The Beat)
ABOUT THE REWARDS
The price you see listed next to the reward is the price you pay! Shipping costs have been factored in to the prices of the rewards. No surprises!
A note to our international friends: On the subject of shipping, I'm afraid that shipping internationally would be cost-prohibitive for this campaign. I apologize to everyone in countries outside the United States. Thankfully, there are plenty of digital rewards that require no shipping. Please know how much I appreciate everyone's interest and support.
Lastly, the "estimated delivery" date you see below the reward applies to the primary reward at that level. Unless otherwise noted, the lower-level rewards that are listed under "includes" will be sent as soon as they are available (refer back to their descriptions for that timing information).
The newly-added (10/8/17) "Lord Retail Reward Package" includes a Lord Retail mug and a Desi Westside/Lord Retail Team-Up print. See images of each item below.
Here's the mock-up of the Flat Squirrel print. Former Alternate Realities owner Steve Oto will hand-write one of his infamous "Otoisms" (e.g., "hesitation kills") in the word balloon on each print:
Next, here is a mock-up of what the My Comic Shop Tour t-shirts will look like. Even if your shop is not on the list, the shirt—and my entire journey—is a celebration of all comic book stores. Wear it with pride the next time you pick up your comics. Behold!
Finally, the rewards include some excellent original art options. Below are sample sketches by the campaign's artistic contributors. NOTE: These are not the actual sketches you will be getting, but they will give you a sense of each artist's style.
HOW TO HELP
Thank you to everyone who contributes to this campaign. I truly appreciate it. After you contribute, please be sure to share this Kickstarter page link and let others know about the project. If you are unable to contribute monetarily but wish to help the cause, spreading the word is the best way to do it.
In closing: My production company is called Flat Squirrel Productions, and I end every episode of My Comic Shop History by saying, "Don't be a flat squirrel." A long time ago, a very good friend of mine taught me that hesitation kills, and if there is something you want, you must go after it without hesitation. That is how I try to approach everything I do. I hope you'll join me and be part of this journey.
Risks and challenges
Given my previous documentary experience and knowledge of the subject matter, I am confident that I will be able to deliver My Comic Shop Country as promised. I have grown adept at balancing filmmaking with my day job, and I have been laying the groundwork for the documentary for months. For example, I now have relationships with stores from coast to coast, and I have already selected the equipment I plan to use to make the film.
That being said, this is still an independent operation, and I am essentially a one-man crew. It is possible the production could run into a delay, especially with travel involved.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)