Award-winning journalist Columbus Dispatch business reporter Dan Gearino, a lifelong comics reader, takes a revealing look at the world of comic shops in Comic Shop: The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture (released October 13, Swallow Press), the story of the direct market from its 1970s origins to today. Gearino’s book includes profiles of forty notable shops in the U.S. and Canada, and a close look at The Laughing Ogre in Columbus.
Comic Shop is based on more than one hundred interviews, including innovative retailers such as Peter Birkemoe at The Beguiling in Toronto; Diamond Comic Distributors’ founder and owner Steve Geppi; and comics creators such as Richard and Wendy Pini, Mike Zeck, Jeff Smith and Bryan Lee O’Malley. Comic Shop is the first book to trace the history of these cultural icons.
The early 1970s saw the birth of the modern comic book shop. Its rise was due in large part to the direct market model of dynamic entrepreneur Phil Seuling, which allowed shops to get comics straight from the publishers, bypassing middlemen. Stores could better customize their offerings and independent publishers could access national distribution. In this way, shops opened up a space for quirky ideas to gain traction and helped transform small-press series, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Bone, into media giants. Gearino brings the reader through this history to the present day, when the rise of digital platforms has the industry at a crossroads even as sales are robust.