The early 1970s saw the birth of the modern comic book shop. Its rise was due in large part to a dynamic entrepreneur, Phil Seuling. His direct market model allowed shops to get comics straight from the publishers, bypassing middlemen. Stores could better customize their offerings and independent publishers could now access national distribution. In this way, shops opened up a space for quirky ideas to gain an audience and helped transform small-press series, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Bone, into media giants.
Comic Shop is the first book to trace the history of these cultural icons. Dan Gearino brings us from their origins to the present day, when the rise of digital platforms has the industry at a crossroads even as sales are robust. He spends a year with stores around the country, with a spotlight on The Laughing Ogre in Columbus, Ohio. Along the way he interviews those who shaped comics retailing from the early days, including many pioneering women; top creators; and shop owners who continue to push the industry in new directions. A guide to forty of the most interesting shops around the United States and Canada is a bonus for fans.
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Dan Gearino is a lifelong comics reader with tastes that swing from the classic Legion of Super-Heroes to the work of Michel Rabagliati. Formerly a business reporter for the Columbus Dispatch, he has won national recognition for his work and now covers clean energy for InsideClimateNews. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and two daughters. Find him at www.dangearino.com.
"Dan Gearino captures the genie in the bottle. He's gathered together the players and the circumstances to reveal how a generation of entrepreneurs saved an entire industry and changed the very way people discover, buy, read, collect, and even think about comic books." -- Bud Plant "The fickle, frustrating and sometimes joyful travails of owning a comic book store are detailed in a new book by native Iowan Dan Gearino. [Comic Shop] traces the history of selling comic books from their inception on newsstands in grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations to the rise of specialty stores." "Gearino...effortlessly navigates the byzantine business lore of comic-distribution companies....The author still takes delicate care with their stories, weaving tales of complex heroes and villains with stories directly from the people who lived through the uncertainty and chaos in the industry....It is spectacular how often Gearino makes these small stories of heartbreak and triumph feel herculean in scope....Comic Shop lives in the beautiful struggle to survive and exist." "Gearino pulls back the curtain on the seldom-seen end of the business encompassing sales, distribution and retail.... Drawing from original documents and firsthand interviews with key participants, [he] gives the retail and distribution side of the industry an account as dramatic and lively as Sean Howe did for the creative side in his 2012 book on Marvel Comics.... The result is a readable, well-researched account that fills a gap in existing comics literature and provides a great reference for future work." "If the foundation of America's castle on a hill consists of how we buy and sell things, Dan Gearino shows us what's in the basement." -- Tom Spurgeon, editor, ComicsReporter.com "This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand comics in the U.S. Dan Gearino has put together a riveting account of the history of the comics market, and even reveals the forgotten key women who were essential to its creation. Comic Shop is a fascinating page turner." -- Heidi MacDonald, editor, The Beat "There are precious few prose books that have elucidated the quirkiness of the comics industry more than Comic Shop....In clear and compelling language, Gearino lays out how comics specialty shops were born in the 1970s and '80s, how they flew too close to the sun in the '90s, and how they've managed to endure decades into the Information Age." -- Abraham Riesman, Vulture "Dan Gearino offers a more compelling and complex place for the comic shop in popular culture by demonstrating how entrepreneurs and distribution channels have reshaped that commercial space over the last 50 years....Gender issues feature heavily in the text, and this offers scholars...a point of consideration lacking from many other outlets....Above all, this work personalizes the comic shop as a collection of people who, through emotion and personal desire, embrace an evolving and unstable place in the commercial world of pop culture." "Gives a fascinating glimpse at the challenges and pressures that store owners have to face in this hybrid retail business.... [Gearino] makes the case that the modern pop culture era we're living in wouldn't exist without the rise of comic book stores." -- Evan Narcisse, io9
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