Magazine article Insight on the News

Holy Comeback!

Magazine article Insight on the News

Holy Comeback!

Article excerpt

Comic books are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as fans trade online.

Does anyone still care about comic books in the 21st century? The answer appears to be a resounding yes. Just look at all the recent movies spawned from assorted superheroes and evildoers. Visit the Websites devoted to the fluctuations in value of Batman No. 2. Listen to bookstore owners tout the popularity of trade paperbacks.

"There's never been a time period where you've had so many good, quality books with good stories and good art," says Jonathan Cohen, manager of the Beyond Comics stores in the Washington area. "This is the right year to jump back into investing."

Surely, the hobby hit some hard times in recent years, and the buying public these days has plenty of other distractions. But well-written story lines, lavish artwork and the Internet are keeping these pulp periodicals relevant.

Comics, by and large, still are 22 pages long, but they aren't printed on thin newsprintlike paper anymore with that ink that smudges when rubbed. The pictures are clearer, mostly created on the computer, some of the reasons they now cost about $3.

Characters and story lines are more grown-up nowadays, too. There are alternative comics and real-life comics that explore contemporary events, such as the Kosovo conflict. In general, capes and fights have given way to jeans and leather.

But looking at a list of the most-stocked comics in stores this spring, it appears not too much has changed in a generation. Ultimate X-Men No. 5 is the leader, with more than 101,000 orders, according to Spider-Man, Green Arrow, Batman and The Fantastic Four also make the top 25.

Comics are wildly popular in Europe as well, where they are considered an art form. In Japan, books are three to five times thicker and are the most popular form of literature.

In the United States, comics still are considered a juvenile medium. "Only in America do we look down on it as children's literature," says Joel Pollack, owner of comic-book outlets in Washington. This may change, however, now that Michael Chabon's fictional account of the early days of comic publishing, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, has won a Pulitzer prize.

Comic-book collecting reached its zenith in the early 1990s as would-be investors scrambled to grab up new issues with potential. Print runs reached into the millions. Comic books became a "junk-bond speculation business," says Pollack.

Then, like a precursor of e-business, the comic-book industry crashed. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.