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Shopping for Superman

Logline: Shopping for Superman is the origin story of your friendly neighborhood comic shop. Tracing the 50-year history of comic book stores’ far-reaching impact, we examine their cultural significance and the numerous threats they face today. After a 75% industry contraction, floundering sales, distribution disruptions, and digital competition, can our heroes survive?

Synopsis:
Shopping for Superman explores the history of comic book stores beginning with the direct market, a revolutionary system of delivering comic books directly to retailers that helped grow the burgeoning comic book shop market, allowing the sale of new comics within days of their becoming available. The existence of these kinds of shops, compared to the traditional bookstores that dealt primarily with collectible editions, buoyed the quality of graphical storytelling to works of celebrated literary heights and acclaim.

The proliferation of comic book shops allowed for something greater than a one-stop shop for comics fans as they provided centralized hubs for self-expression, fandom, and, inevitably, evolved into safe spaces for under-represented and marginalized individuals. Of their significant and long-standing contributions, comic shops are considered one of the greatest influences in the effort to combat the congressionally imposed censorship of publishers of the 1950s and allowed for an increase in both childhood and adult literacy.

From the 1970s to the modern day, Shopping for Superman takes audiences on an in-depth journey through the history of the local comic book shop with first-hand interviews of shop owners both old and new, and some of the key figures who helped nurture and grow this incredible distribution model.

Closing with a call to action, Shopping for Superman outlines the path for viewers to support struggling shops and allow their owners to survive and thrive so as to serve the next generation of comic book fans. continue to bolster literacy, and provide safe spaces for marginalized voices.

  • Wes Eastin
    Director
    Equals Three, Comedians On, Slow Cadence
  • Molly Coffee
    Producer
    Hawkeye, The Walking Dead, Magic the Gathering: The Musical
  • Imoto Harney
    Producer
    Girls Game, Bella: Thanksgiving in July, The Quantified Self
  • Phil LaMarr
    Key Cast
    "Self"
    Justice League, Samurai Jack, Pulp Fiction
  • Kevin Eastman
    Key Cast
    "Self"
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Chris Ryall
    Key Cast
    "Self"
    Locke & Key
  • Scott McCloud
    Key Cast
    "Self"
    The Cartoonish: Jeff Smith, BONE and the Changing Face of Comics
  • Joe Ferrara
    Key Cast
    "Self"
    Back to Space-Con, Floyd Norman: An Animated Life
  • Jim McLauchlin
    Key Cast
    "Self"
    Marvel Then and Now: An Evening With Stan Lee
  • Todd Stashwick
    Key Cast
    "Self"
    Star Trek Picard, 12 Monkeys
  • Tashi Trieu
    GFX / Color
    Colorist (Titans, Ford v Ferrari, Stranger Things, Deadpool 2)
  • Stephen Krystek
    GFX / Color
    Animation (A Fall From Grace, Stargirl, Corporate Animals)
  • Thomas Andrew Lawson
    GFX / Color
    Animation (Stranger Things, Fear Street, Black Widow)
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Historical, Comic Book
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 40 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 30, 2024
  • Production Budget:
    96,118 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Wes Eastin

Wes has over 20 years’ experience in the worlds of digital video, television and film production as a director, content producer and writer.

Several multimedia arts exhibitions he’s helped develop have been featured in such places as: Public Art Review Magazine, the Huffington Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Art Papers Magazine. These works focused on empathy training and are held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and the Columbus Museum of American Art and were funded by groups such as: Creative Capital of New York, Flux Projects, the InLight Richmond Festival, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, and Idea Capital.

His work has been featured on: The Independent Film Channel (IFC), CBS Sports, and Funny or Die.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I had hoped for a project like Shopping for Superman to materialize since I started working in television and film. The story and subject matter always seemed like the kind of thing I would watch repeatedly given what comic shops have done for me and so I knew they had to mean the same to someone else. Ultimately I decided to stop waiting and took it upon myself to bring it to life. Having grown up in Atlanta, GA., I was a part of the grassroots indie film-making movement that emerged there during the early 2000s. This background acquainted me with the notion of starting on a modest scale and working independently until the people and materials I needed came my way. Exploring the narrative behind the evolution of comic book shops also presented an array of invigorating creative and stylistic challenges that I couldn't resist.

With respect to just how I was going to tell a story like this in a way no one else can, my background as a comedy director and editor taught me the diminishing returns of referential humor and the shorthand fandom allows. I observed that fans of various brands and IP responded quite easily to references that resonated with their personal fandom, yet this often felt superficial within the context of humor or storytelling. These experiences significantly influenced my instincts, compelling me to venture beyond the expected. My endeavor to transcend superficial fanservice—such as Easter eggs and nods to fandom—has been just one facet of my approach to shaping this documentary. My aim is to not only illuminate an untold story but also to deliver a comics-centric narrative in a manner that elevates the subject matter rather than simply invoking familiar aesthetics and devices.

Enlisting the appropriate collaborators for a project of this magnitude, especially given limited funding, is a familiar challenge shared by every working filmmaker but the most formidable hurdle has been securing funding for a story that has been identified as niche to some. Despite numerous discussions regarding potential supplementary funds, last-in-first-out opportunities, and avenues for distribution, the $25,000 I have personally raised and committed, albeit a significant personal investment, has met repeated skepticism due to its modest proportion relative to the overall projected budget.

The challenges posed by COVID-19, my 9-to-5 job, finding myself unemployed, relocating from Los Angeles to Pennsylvania and subsequently to Ohio, familial loss to cancer, and my own health concerns have presented an array of formidable obstacles. Nevertheless, neither these barriers nor any other setback has deterred either myself or my amazing and dedicated team.
Hailing from Atlanta and a proud geek, I fervently believe in the transformative power of empathy and storytelling. This is the story I was born to tell and no matter what it takes, it will be told.