Back when he was a part of the show, Will Eisner pushed for these awards. You have to remember there was a time when a comic shop was a Boys Club and they often were dark and grungy and many didn’t even have an actual cash register.
Will recognized that if we don’t evolve the method of selling comics into viable shops that not only a true comic fan can be comfortable in, but a grandmother, then the industry could never grow itself.
As a former student of Will’s I was honored to be asked to be one of the judges.
It was SO much harder than I thought it would be. There were twenty finalists we had to review. Of the 20 maybe 5 just had a ways to go to get to the guidelines Will had pushed for. But even dismissing those 5 was difficult because you saw the passion, you saw the love of the medium, you saw that comics meant something to them and for each and every one of these shops they were someone’s favorite, which is how they got nominated.
Moving onto the other 15 we got into the WOW! Category. These are comic shops from all over the United States and the World that I want to visit. A couple of them like nothing I’d ever seen before and we whittled the group down assigning them a numerical point system. I’m extremely tough to please with retail, I have a lot of retail experience, but I gave three of these stores scores of 95 and better (two of them got 100). Perfect stores.
They’ll announce the final five stores sometime today and the winner will be announced on Friday night at the Eisner Awards ceremony.
Great experience that I would do again in a second, even though it was extremely difficult.
That night we met up with our Team Leader Joe Ferrara and his lovely wife Dottie and the other judges at a nearby Brazilian steakhouse that was really five stars. They have a little knocker on your table and you flip it to either red or green to signal you want them to bring the meat over to your table where they slice it right onto your plate.
At the end of the dinner Joe performed a song for us, and it was a stunner. Check my Instagram for a photo from the night.
Joe’s story is pretty amazing— his shop, Atlantis Fantasy in Santa Cruz, was the shop they used in THE LOST BOYS (one of my favorite movies of all time) and he’s rubbed shoulders with the true giants of the industry, as Joe and Dottie themselves are giants.