About this time last week, Comic-Con International unveiled the shortlist of twenty comic book stores from around the globe that are up for the Will Eisner ‘Spirit Of Comics’ Industry Award, presented at this July’s Eisner Awards as part of San Diego Comic-Con. And, lo and behold, the first nomination for a store from Ireland was in there, too: Big Bang Comics, based in Dundrum in Dublin.
This is quite a thing. Stores were nominated by their customers and supporters, with the tough choice of whittling the list down being put squarely on the shoulders of the Eisners Judging Committee, corralled by competition co-ordinator Jackie Estrada. The twenty stores can be found far and wide – understandably, the lions share are located in North America but others on the list come from locations such as Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Israel and the UK: that store, being Orbital Comics in London, who have let us know already what they felt about the good news.
But it’s only fair that we give Big Bang Comics head honcho, John Hendrick, the space to talk about his reaction to finding out about this prestigious honour, as well:
AEISD: Hi, John – thanks for getting in touch and allowing us to talk to you. Just what does a nomination mean to a store like yours, far away from the U.S. comics scene? Does it equate to more sales, a higher profile – even for a store as prominent in the community as you are? And what would it mean to actually win the thing on the night?
JOHN: The nomination does indeed mean a lot to us, here in Ireland. We’re the first Irish store to ever be nominated at all let alone make it this far. We’ve always looked further afield than just Ireland; we do pride ourselves on being an International store with a great reputation in everything we do. Be it signings, events, workshops, conventions we run or just articles and pieces we write for sites about comics. I’m very proud that we’re a brand people know in comics, wherever we go, and this [nomination] is just another extension of that.
AEISD: Will it mean more sales? Time will tell, but it can’t hurt the store making it to the shortlist of the Eisners whatsoever.
JOHN: As for what it would mean to win, it’d mean the world to us in so many ways. An awful lot of what we do is community driven and to get that sort of recognition would be amazing – plus, it’d be fantastic that as we started out as a little store in Dublin, Ireland, to grow into what we’ve become in just 5 years. Receiving this award would be the icing on the cake for a lot of hard work.
AEISD: What was the reaction of the staff, when they found out the news? Are they aware of the Awards in the store?
JOHN: Oh, they’re aware, they knew about them as they were all here different days when we were filming our show reel, plus they were here when I did the final check list for the packet of information I sent off. So far, everyone I’ve spoken to are pretty much over the moon and very proud of themselves, and well they should be. We have the best team here and I’m very proud of them too.
AEISD: I know you have to submit a packet for their presentation but that’s part of everybody’s entry, not the actual selection for the shortlist. How did you find out about your final shortlist nomination?
JOHN: I found out by accident! I wasn’t sure if I would go over to the show at all, it’s pretty late in the day to be booking [the trip] at all and I was talking to a friend of ours in store about it who asked if I’d heard anything yet. I said no and, as I was saying this just looked it up on my phone to see if there was any news and, much to my surprise, there we were listed with the other 19 nominees! So I very quickly finished booking my flights and then brought the staff out for a beer to celebrate!
AEISD: What is it about Big Bang Comics that you feel makes you stand out and deserving of the nomination? Any highlight in the last twelve months that stands out for you?
JOHN: God, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it? Ha-ha! To be honest, that’s one of those questions that, if I answer in depth, I look like an egomaniac and if I say too little, I look like we’re undeserving!
I think we do deserve this nomination, to be honest – we work pretty much 24/7 doing our best to reach as many people who are interested comic books. And that goes for all the people out there who might be interested but haven’t started reading them yet, to the fans and readers that we have that are customers already. We’re a pretty pro-active store and do our best to drive a sense of community around the store: we do a lot of events, a lot of signings and a lot of other work outside of the store that focuses on comic books in general but also uses comic books for a good cause too.
AEISD: The awards are held when it’s very early in the morning here in the UK! Will you be playing very close attention to social media in the dead of night, or will you celebrate/commiserate later over the morning coffee/tea?
JOHN: Well, look, I’m not even going to pretend to be cool about this – we’re pretty savvy when it comes to social media, so we’ll try not let everyone know how nervous we are about the result. I’ll be honest [and say], if I wasn’t planning on attending, I’d probably not be able to sleep that night and be texting a few people I know who’d be at it every few minutes to see what was announced. So I guess I’d be the ‘up all night’ guy, waiting on the result.
AEISD: How would Big Bang celebrate if you actually won? Any street party for the loyal fans?
JOHN: Hah! We had one or two ideas about this already – it’d probably involve a party with our customers and friends. All right, we’re waiting to see how far we make it before putting too much thought into it, but I’d also do something to mark the occasion in store too. Maybe throw on an extra in store event or signing, too.
AEISD: Is anyone from Big Bang going to be in the room itself, if such a win comes off? And, if not, can I go up and collect it on your behalf??
JOHN: Yep, I’ll be there. I had thought about it long and hard and put it off for a while because it’s a hell of a trip for only a few days but, in the end, decided to go. I mean, if there’s any year to go, it’s a year the store you run is nominated for an Eisner award! Yes, it’s a long way to go to lose. But, if we came first in our category and I wasn’t there to collect it in person, that’d be even worse.
So yeah, I’ll be there… and, no, you can’t collect it on our behalf! But if we do receive it, you can come over and look at it – maybe I’ll let you hold it if I need to run to the bar or tie my shoelace, is that cool?
John, it’ll would be a genuine honour. I might not be able to swing a bottle of bubbly each for both you and Chris – Hilton bar prices, limited funds and all that – but a pint of luke-warm Guinness will definitely be winging its way to your table from the back of the room. I’ll be the one, cheering my lungs out if Big Bang manage to pull it off… Best of luck to you and the team, sir!
You can find out more about Big Bang and what they get up to in store by checking out their website, as well as their various social medias: Twitter and Facebook. Hell, they’ve even got a Google+ page, like all the cool kids do.