Interview: Thor Parker on ‘COMIC STORE HEROES’ Reality Series

Tomorrow night, the National Geographic Channel debuts its new documentary-style show, Comic Store Heroes.

It is Wednesday in the vast expanse of the Serengeti. The seasoned comics reader crouches in the tall grass, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on a heard of unsuspecting comics… 

OK, that’s probably not what the narration will be like.

NatGeo's 'Comic Store Heroes'

Set in New York’s Midtown Comics, Comic Store Heroes follows staffers Gerry, Thor, and Alex as they deal with “enthusiast customers,” hunt down obscure back issues, and plan out their booth for New York Comic Con.

Midtown was my first regular comic shop. The staff is all really friendly and helpful, and the all three of their locations are bright and unintimidating. All of which was all integral to me trying out and sticking with weekly issues when I first jumped in to comics. I’m exciting to see this crew on their own TV show.

We had a chance to chat with Midtown Comic’s own Thor Parker, a main character on the show who also has one of the coolest names ever.

 

iFanboy: With Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men out earlier this year, I’m sure there’s been a lot of comparison between to the two shows. What makes Comic Store Heroes different?

Thor Parker: It was very important for us that we give an accurate and positive profile of the world of comics. There’ve been too many things put out there that show comic fans as some kind of stereotype. There’s a huge, strong and talented community of people involved in the world of comics and we wanted to be sure the rest of the world was aware of it.

iF: It’s great to see that reflected in the show! As the largest comics retailer in the U.S., you must have a really wide range of customers.

Thor: Absolutely. There’s one thing for sure all of our customers have in common and that’s their love of comics. We have people of all ages, gender, and walks of life come into our stores and that was something we knew we had to show to the rest of the world.

iF: You’re the Social Marketing and Events Coordinator for Midtown, which isn’t always something you think of when it comes to the day-to-day operations of a comic shop. Do we get to see your mad marketing skills in action on Comic Store Heroes?

Thor: Oh yes! Part of the show follows me on our road to New York Comic Con. It’s part of my job to get people excited and interacting at the store so you see an event or two I throw to build the hype as well as my quest to get a big name creator for our booth at NYCC.

iF: Tell us more! Can you give us a sneak-preview about the kind of events you do?

Thor: One of the biggest events in the show is New York Comic Con. It’s the thing that all of the characters are preparing for and it plays a huge part in the show. I’m sure most people know that NYCC is an amazing and huge convention, but when you see it on the show it looks 100 times bigger and better! One of the highlights for me and the store last year was getting Frank Miller for a signing at our booth. We get to see some of the behind the scenes things that went into getting him at the booth in time for the con.

iF: In a promotional clip for the show, we see Midtown Comics co-founder Gerry Gladstone challenge you and Back Issue Manager Alex Rae to find him a copy of Hot Stuff: The Little Devil #1. Can we expect to see more, fun “retail challenges” on the show?

Thor: I certainly hope so! Alex and I are great friends and our competitive rivalry is 100% real. I love messing with him and one-uping him, so any chance I get to do that I’d happily take.

iF: What were some of your favorite things to shoot for Comic Store Heroes? And what was the hardest part of making the show?

Thor: I really enjoyed shooting the scenes that I shared with our back issue buy Alex. He’s one of my good friends and we have a lot of fun together. I think that the scenes you’ll see in the show of our interactions are some of the most fun of the show. We’re normally going back and forth and one uping each other. I’d say the hardest part about making the show was keeping the same haircut and I didn’t even do a good job at that… I’m a nightmare for continuity!

iF: Will long-time comics fans learn anything new from the show? Do you think this show will be interesting for non-comic readers, maybe get them excited about comics?

Thor: I’m hoping that long-time comics fans will getting something new out of this. We always strive to keep things interesting and accessible. Non-comic readers should enjoy the show very much. We’re showing a more practical look at the people involved in the comics world that they may not be accustom to. The real world of comics fans doesn’t look like the Big Bang Theory and people who work at comic stores are NOT Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, they’re far more interesting and compelling characters the people are going to want to get to know.

 

Comic Store Heroes airs July 13 at 8pm Eastern/Pacific on the National Geographic channel. You can check out a clip:

Comments

  1. Tell ’em Steve Dave!

  2. Guess I gotta find where National Geographic is on DirecTV now…

  3. How this as anything to do with National Geographic is actually my only issue. I really dislike how channels have no meaning anymore… TLC, Discovery, Science, NatGeo, History, etc. Filled with reality TV, Aliens, and all kinds of assorted garbage. So glad I dropped my cable/dish.

    • i’m interested in checking this out…especially if it paints a more accurate scene of the industry and the fans. Looks pretty cool from the clips i’ve seen.

    • I agree there, especially if it is less wooden and scripted than KS’s show, but I still just think stations and content are out of whack entirely. If I still paid for cable/dish when I turn on a channel like NatGeo I’d like to actually get something related to National Geographic.

    • I get what you’re saying, Pawn Stars and Ice Road Truckers have nothing to do with History. The National Geographic Society’s mission though, it’s broad as hell. Almost anything falls under their umbrella.

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      It’s a stretch, but Pawn Stars does focus on the history of objects and artifacts. This is more noticeable when you compare it to its competition on TruTV, Hardcore Pawn, which ignores relating an item’s history and instead focuses on deranged customers and strife amongst the family who owns the business.

      But yeah, stuff like Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People don’t make a strong case for themselves as programming for a network called the History Channel.

      (I work from him. This is usually the background noise when I write about comics.)

    • This is an issue I debate a lot with my Dad. He LOVES these shows that have nothing to do with history or have the vagueness of history attached to it.

      I remember when I was a kid and the History channel actually showed history. I remember when TLC was a ‘Learning Channel’ and played the shittest education programs in the morning. The only network you can’t fuck up is the Food Network cause as long as it’s about food then your golden.

      I can’t wait till this fad of reality shows is over. It has to die soon….it just has too.

    • it is a stretch….but i mean National Geographic is about showing what the world and cultures are like. The magazine has gone into showing American culture before…..its not just about showing naked tribes people on some remote island or mountain men in Appalachia.

      But i will admit i was taken by surprise when i see what channels these shows are on.

      These channels couldn’t survive doing things the old way. I remember when the history channel was “the 24/7 Nazi Channel”, but they can only show and produce documentaries from the same 20 minutes of footage so many times. Ultimately they are all part of media conglomerates and have to perform to a certain level to stay around. Give the people what they want.

  4. Tenner says Scott Ian shows up at some point

  5. I worked at Midtown for two years. Most fun I’ve ever had at work. I’ll check out the first episode at least. It’ll be fun seein my old boss (Gerry) on TV. Don’t know the other two guys. I was before their time. I wish them all the best.

    I can’t even imagine how the show would’ve turned out if you had followed me and my crew around with a camera. We would’ve been kicked off the air.

  6. Yeah, wow, these guys are definitely breaking those stereotypes of comic fans that someone has been putting out there….LOL

    I really hope this is more documentary than reality show though the clip provided isn’t pointing in that direction. I’m going to hold out for TLC’s version.

  7. It would be nice if this show was good and not stereotypical as Comic Book Men is.

    Will give it a chance but I will not give much leeway on it like I did with AMC.

  8. I hope they will show this on National Geographic here in Belgium. I’ll certainly watch this, really interested.

  9. Really enjoyed “Comic Book Men”. If this show is half as humerous and with as much insight into the world of comics it could be a great watch.
    Certainly very eager to see the stuff with Frank Miller.
    Good luck to the show!

  10. Is this going to be an ongoing series or a TV special?

  11. It is ridiculous to say that Comic Book Men is “stereotypical” or misrepresents the comic book industry. This is obviously a blatant rip off. This guy sounds like a judgmental prick in this interview. When asked how his show is different he just says it is an accurate profile of the world of comics. What an ass.

    • Let me clarify, I have not seen this show or even watched the preview, but it’s clear the idea, and even the graphic design of the show, is derivative of something that is already our there and recently successful. Having seen every episode of CBM, I can confidently say that they never claimed to represent the “comic world” or made any such generalizations.

  12. I liked the show a lot more than Comic Book men. If there are more in the works, i’d like to see more fans in the shop interacting and talking about comics and stuff. I liked focussing on the blogger and some of the customers as well as appraising collections and so on…I’d like to see more of that. Seems authentic.

    I was kinda bugged by the amount of screen time the self published indie creator got. It was my least favorite part of the show and his whole act was kind of annoying. It would be cool going forward to have actual indie pros showcasing their creator owned books like if they do signings at the store or whatever. Could be a great opportunity.

  13. Was a nice episode.I could really do without these so called “challenge” missions.Also, manufactured drama (Will Frank Miller show up at their booth?) does nothing for me.I would have loved a little Q&A with Frank tho.It was nice to see behind the scenes working of their warehouse,buying inventory and setting up for a big show.Still would like any of these shows to highlight a creator,artist,publisher and let them get some facetime.