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Comic book sales suffer, movies thrive

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Published 2011-02-21T22:35:00Z”/>


Griffin Rogers

Boots: check. Spandex suit: check. Cape: check. Super powers: check.

A comic craze seems to have crashed into American culture over the last few years. Movie franchises such as “Spider-Man,” “Batman” and “Iron Man” fill theater seats while “The Walking Dead” and “The Cape” take TV viewers deeper into the world of comics.

Even with the stream of media success, colorful stores and an active comic book club at Chico State, the comic book industry is suffering from the recession.

The popularity of characters isn’t the issue, said Jason Reifert, sales manager at Collectors Ink, on Highway 32.

“It’s the form of media the public chooses to use in order to see those characters,” he said.

Reading stories of super heroes through a small, thin-paged book may not be rising in appeal, but physical copies offer readers a chance to collect and hold on to something material that can entertain them, Reifert said.

“Everybody needs entertainment,” he said.

People often find comics entertaining because they can relate to the moral choices and emotional depth, he said.

“The characters, although they lead extraordinary lives, have to deal with a lot of ordinary situations,” Reifert said.

Light pockets in the midst of a recession might be one of those ordinary problems, but he said comic books are inexpensive and a good outlet.

Collectors Ink will also help readers by hosting a free comic book day May 7.

Cheap comics are a plus, but the major problem for the falling comic book industry is that people just don’t read, said Trent Walsh, owner of Bat Comics & Games on Broadway Street.

“Overall, comics are down because literacy is down,”

he said.

Walsh gets customers who are Superman fans, but have never read a Superman comic. As for online comics, sales for the nation are less than one percent, he said.

“People identify with the brand, but that doesn’t help comic books,” Walsh said.

Comics have always filled a niche, and most of the business still comes from collectors, he said. The trick is to get people who are only educated about the characters through movies and video games to pick up a comic with a willingness to read.

However, movies and video games do help spark the public’s curiosity. Movies create awareness for lesser known characters, such as “Kick-Ass,” a comic that Walsh saw four to five times the normal sales after the movie hit, he said.

“Spider-Man” and “Batman” comic book sales also saw a spike during the first installment of the trilogies, but sales eventually ended up going back to normal, he said.

The one thing Reifert and Walsh seem to agree upon is that the stigma of comics being only for “nerds” is coming to an end.

This is because comics becoming more mainstream, Reifert said.

Chico State’s Comic Book Coterie is doing its part to help lift the industry.

Students in the club create, collaborate and critique each other’s personal comics, and at the end of the semester, they put them together in one giant comic book, said Kellen Dyer, a senior studio art major.

The comic book is sold at Mini Con, a comic book convention at Chico State that shows off comics and art from local businesses and clubs, which will be held May 7.

The club is perfect for students who want to learn more about comics, swap ideas about comics or just love comic books, Dyer said.

“It has opened me up to a new world of art,” he said.

Griffin Rogers can be reached at

[email protected]


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