The following is an interview with director/producer Adam Schomer regarding the upcoming release of the documentary film, Selling Superman. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Schomer about the creative process of and inspiration for bringing the film to life, what he hopes that readers may take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Selling Superman! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the premise of this film?
Adam Schomer: Thank you! We are excited about it and are still actually filming and then most likely completed editing by end of the year.
So, Selling Superman – Honestly, an old friend from high school called me up and said, “There is a 40-year hidden family secret that only a few people knew about…” My friend Darren’s father had Asperger’s (ASD), and it led him to collect comic books in a genius, yet obsessive, way that overtook the home, destroyed the family, and caused everyone great mental trauma. Now, after his father’s passing, Darren is left with this holy grail-like comic collection of over 300,000 comic books. This includes the prized possession of his father: Superman #1 (7.0) valued at over $3.5 million, making it one of the most expensive comic books of all time. And Darren is really faced with this final adventure of selling Superman, of picking up the pieces of his childhood, rewriting a family legacy, and discovering the heroic power of choosing what we give meaning to.
BD: As the film’s director, what interested you in taking on this particular project, and what can you tell us about the shared creative process of bringing it to life?
AS: What really interests me about the film is the last part of the premise above. To me, it’s the key. This power to choose how we see life, this power to rewrite the stories that our family and society imprint on us. I feel that is relatable to everyone. And in fact, many people in the comic world probably turned to comic books and superheroes as some sort of escape or way to deal with life, family, themselves. So, we all can relate to this real heroic journey to regain our true power, to own what we choose to believe is meaningful in life, and really to overcome a lot of bullshit laid upon us by family. So, seeing my friend go through a real pilgrimage is what interests me, to watch someone face up to their inner anxiety, their lack of self-love, their overachieving. Things that are largely a reaction to family trauma. To watch him really face that head on through the use of this really mind-blowing collection and journey to share the comics and himself with the world.
And to be honest, a lot of the inner turmoil has started to unveil itself through the process of filming and getting to know him and his family better. Some of the initial interest was more my real desire to know how comic books have risen to such million dollar values, to know who buys them, why they buy them, and what does this show about our world and perhaps the influence Hollywood has on our role models. And although I am still in awe of the prices, I am finding that the true love of comics is quite a beautiful thing. The authentic bonding between comic book lovers and real dedication to the characters and art is really sweet to be part of and to witness. So, it’s strange that amidst this crazy rise of the commodification of comics, you also have this incredibly authentic, tight knit, and incredibly endearing group of fans that makes me love comics even more.
Coming back to your question of the creative process – I really let my initial questions guide me at the beginning and then let new questions start to unravel as I understand this crazy family portrait Darren grew up in. In terms of comics, I’m kind of an outsider. But I’m more adept when it comes to personal growth and the use of archetypes and story to illicit reaction and change. So, as I’m unraveling the family story and the industry underbelly, I’m always noticing what the good story beats are that will keep this film moving and interesting. Like a recipe, we have one part Darren’s journey with comics. One part industry education. One part inner journey. One part education on meaning, archetypes, personal power. And we make sure it all keeps the action rising.
And I want to say that there is zero way to be an objective observer as the film crew/director. The film absolutely is having an effect on Darren and on his journey. I like that. We are part of it. The film has brought more attention to the collection which is in direct opposition of what the father wanted. His dad was a recluse and was afraid of anyone knowing about it. So, the film is in direct reaction to that and then having us there around Darren starts to influence things, too. Just the questions we ask, be it about his inner world and about therapy etc… that makes one vocalize it more and think about it. Plus, I like to poke for the real emotion. And trust me, the film has probably triggered some things in him – because it brings way more attention than the normal person would want in their life. So, I lean in to what I find most interesting in life, the questions that I want answered. And thankfully, Darren is incredibly open and expressive. His mom is the same and so articulate. His whole family has just been very accessible around what is a very tough topic – that being Darren’s dad’s attitude toward the family – and he having in many ways loved the books more than his family.
BD: In advance of the film’s release, your team announced an exciting, new development in conjunction with CGC. What can you tell us about this update and how it came about?
AS: One March 9th, CGC announced its FIRST-EVER CUSTOM LABEL FOR A PROVENANCE COLLECTION. So, Darren Watts’ FANTAST Collection is the first-ever provenance collection to be allowed to design a custom label for the front and back of all its graded books. This is big and totally new for CGC. Of course, this event will be featured in the Selling Superman film. And this really is a big deal for this collection that was hidden away in a house for 40 years… to now be unveiled and to have this kind of spotlight and notoriety as the first to have this kind of label.
How it came about was from the CGC early on obviously grading the Superman #1 and other big books like Batman #1. And as a note, Batman #1 will be the first book to sell with this new label. That goes to auction on March 30th at Heritage. So, from CGC knowing of the depth of the collection and hearing and seeing more about the film and our trailer – it also reminded them that they have the power to choose and create. And they can do something new, rewrite the story of labels for the industry. And so they did, and we are honored that it was for the Fantast Collection, and we are able to capture this in the film.
BD: What do you hope that viewers will take away from the film?
AS: Inspiration to take responsibility for what we choose to give meaning to. That can be as simple as not listening to the critics in your life, the bully’s in your life, or believing what boundaries put on you. And it can be as profound as realizing the archetypes that are jammed down our throats by the same old stories and media every day – things that separate us and make us strive for things we don’t truly want. And that might distract us from loving ourselves and changing the world. But on a personal level, I want people to take away inspiration to look at their lives and what’s meaningful to them.
There are other takeaways, especially around the topic of mental health and how we must talk about mental health more. We’ve already come across so many people that have said how helpful it’s been to know and tell loved ones about their ASD. The knowledge and discussion can really help all involved to maximize life rather than let it minimize us. So, open dialogue. Much like we see with Darren in the film – he’s taking a collection that was reclusive and caused family trauma – and getting it public, getting the books in the hands of people that love comics (not hidden away), and he’s willing to talk about therapy and growth instead of keeping secrets. This is a big part of the film’s journey.
BD: Are there any other upcoming films or projects that you would care to share with our readers?
AS: Rather than the future projects, of which there are a few, I’ll point to the last one I directed and released which is a docu-series called The Road to Dharma. I love this series, as it takes a real life-and-death motorcycle journey in the Himalayas and uses it to unravel some really deep questions and wisdom around true freedom. It’s what a reality should be – actually real, haha. We have authentic people on a real life/death adventure, seeking the real truth. And honestly, it’s this kind of pilgrimage that I love and I mentioned above as Darren is on a pilgrimage with these comics. So, I just love pilgrimage to the depths of our soul… especially on motorcycles in the Himalayas where we have to face monsoon rains, cliffs, high-altitude hiking… It’s what life is all about, evolution. I have that available for free right now at www.RoadToDharma.com.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Selling Superman?
AS: Yes, please come and watch the sneak peek trailer at www.SellingSuperman.com and you’ll even see a short film about the new CGC label and why Darren designed it the way he did. The label tells the story of his father. So, check out our website, enter your email there, and you’ll get notified about comic book giveaways, scholarships, and share discoveries of new books being found in the collection all the time.