Since the format was invented in the early 1930s, comic books have been an important medium in American entertainment and demand for comics remains high.
According to Diamond Comics Distributors, the nation’s largest comic book distributor in North America, the company distributed over $517 million worth of comics, magazines and trade paperbacks last year, up 9 percent from the previous year.
It isn’t just comic books themselves that are drawing people’s attention. Movies adapted from comic books generate millions of dollars at the box office every year and comic book video games generate huge retail numbers.
With a comic book shop within walking distance of campus, many avid fans of comics at PCC can easily get their fix.
“The storylines are interesting,” said Jason Villasenor, biochemistry. “Good usually triumphs over evil, like when Bane broke Batman’s back and how epic of a story it was when Batman had to come back stronger.”
Villasenor, who is a fan of “Deadpool” and Japanese mangas, says that comic books are still popular because they portray stories in the way that movies and television shows can’t.
“Not only are there pictures and a storyline, but you get to see what the characters are thinking and feeling,” he said.
“Russell Latiolais, photography, is a fan of “Star Wars,” “The Goon” and crossovers like “Batman vs. Predator.”
“I like the visual aspects of comics,” said Latiolais. “No one artist can draw the same thing the same way and I enjoy the creativity of it.”
English professor Elise Rivas Gomez, who teaches a class dealing with graphic novels, says that comic books are popular because they are easily accessible.
“Comics are really diverse, just like any other art form,” she said. “There’s a comic or graphic novel for just about everyone. Unlike novels, most people aren’t intimidated by a comic book or graphic novel.”Rivas Gomez says that comics have the crossover appeal to create other forms of media and vise versa.
“There are great stories in comics and that’s what drives film, TV, and video games too. I’d love to see the film version of ‘Dapper Men,’ or ‘Maus,’” she said, referring to two popular graphic novels. “There’s also been a lot of crossover the other direction too. TV shows spawn comics all the time. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ ended its TV run with season 7, but seasons 8 and 9 are out in comic book form. For fans, it’s great because we don’t have to lose our favorite characters.”
Located blocks from campus, Comics Factory serves many PCC students addicted to comics and created new fans as well, according to store associate Dennis Sison.
“The beauty of being at this location is that we get a lot of PCC students that come in and some of them have never read a comic book before,” Sison said. “There’s the standard stuff like ‘Superman,’ ‘Batman’ and that kind of thing. But in the last 10 years there have been a lot more titles that aren’t necessarily super hero comics. Titles like ‘Saga’ and ‘Manhattan Project,’ so it’s really fun for us to figure out what people are looking for.”
Sison says that the store encourages respectful browsing and so customers have a chance to sample things and hopefully find something that they are really into. The rise of comic-inspired movies and video games tends to create a spike in interest for comic book content.
“When a new ‘Captain America’ movie comes out, Marvel is pretty savvy about releasing a new ‘Captain America’ title and so there will be people coming out of the woodwork who might have just seen the movie that come in wanting to read more about the character,” Sison said.
Even in the age of the Internet, Netflix, hundreds of TV channels and video games, students still find the time to get their fingers dirty with comic ink.