I’ve worked in comic shops in Bristol, London and Glasgow. I’ve done comic marts and conventions either with my own stock or working for friends in London, Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Manchester, Cardiff and all over the place over a period from 1984 to today, with only recent ill-health excluding me from doing anything this year.
Most of the shops I’ve worked in are nothing like the ones people are used to today where shiny toys and merchandise dominate shiny, often soulless shops where staff often aren’t aware of anything beyond the last decade’s worth of comics, and don’t even think of asking them if they’ve got things like the latest Love and Rockets because they’ll never have heard of it.
No, the shops I worked in bled comics. Sure, we’d do the odd bit of merchandising but you’d often walk over piles of comics to get to more comics. The smell of dust and old paper hung in the air, along sometimes with the musk of some of our customers but there was no mistaking what you were coming in for. Many of these shops had a grumpy old man who was hiding a decent heart, but make no mistake they loved comics as a medium, not as a fashion or trend.
Comic Book Heaven is a short film about the eponymous shop in New York run by Joe Leisner, the very picture of a grumpy old man but this man loves his comics. This short documentary documents the passing of a type of shop we’ll never see again as we move into a multimedia age. It is worth around 12 minutes of your time.