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Interest In Comic Books Grows

interest in comic books growsSummer blockbusters like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises along with digital media have caused a recent peak in comic interest among consumers.

According to Milton Griepp, publisher and founder of ICv2, an online trade publication that covers pop culture for retailers, comic sales have risen from $635 million in 2010 to $640 million last year. Digital comic sales have also spiked from $1 million in 2009 to $25 million last year. Retailers said the increase is not just within large companies but small, local comic stores as well.

Joe Murray, owner of Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, said sales for the past year have increased by approximately 20 percent. He said the major increase in overall comic market sales was not limited to the digital realm. Digital comics have not hurt comic shops, but have added to their profits, according to Murray.

"If you buy the comics digitally, we get a small percentage of that," he said. "It's not nearly the same as if we were selling the comic, but there's also no risk for us because we don't have to stock the book on the shelf."

Murray said he found the digital comic market to be less challenging for smaller, independent comic companies to start businesses. He said sharing comics online is an easier way for artists to gain attention.

"As a young creator you do it as a web comic, then you could go to a publisher," Murray said.

He said small, independent firms are the ones in highest opposition to the more traditional printed market. There is a more immediate appeal to digital comics because downloading offers instant gratification as opposed to buying comics at a shop, Murray said.

Although movie adaptations of comics have not largely impacted sales at Captain Blue Hen Comics in the past, Murray said this year's The Dark Knight Rises movie resulted in Batman comics flying off the shelves. He said he thinks the increased popularity is due to the fact that the media has made it cool to be a "nerd."

"We have people coming in strictly because their kid saw a comic book shop on 'The Big Bang Theory' and said, 'What's that?'" Murray said.

Sophomore Jeff Chandler said he thinks superhero movie adaptations have had an impact on comic popularity.

"That's why I kind of started looking into it," he said. "I had a friend who said he read Batman comics and said he really enjoyed them, and that conversation spawned from the Batman movies."

The comic fan base stretches to both adults and children and has much to do with the way the comics, both print and digital, are promoted, according to Murray. He said reading comic books requires both the left and right side of the brain to be used, which encourages their use in development and education.

Sophomore Carly Wilt said she believes the spike in digital comic book sales is related to the increase in overall digital book sales. She said she thinks digital books are often cheaper and easier to download than buying a physical book. Wilt said despite increased comic interest in the media, she has not found herself gravitating towards comics recently.

She said that even though she recently became more interested in the Batman superhero character, she probably would not read the comic books.

Chandler said he used a new comic book he had bought at the end of spring semester as a motivation to study for finals.

"Right before one of my finals, I bought a comic book, and if I didn't study hard enough, I would return it," he said.

He said he mostly reads graphic novels due to their accessibility at libraries and thinks digital comics are an asset to the market because they have an increased availability to consumers. However, he said that his personal preference lies in hard copy issues.

"I didn't get into it as much as holding a book," he said.

"There's just something special about that I can't explain."
Chandler said with extensive movie hype for the summer Batman blockbuster, he wanted to experience the original comic story. He said as a newer reader of comics, the allure for him was a sense of relief.

"It didn't really matter what the day was, you could just kind of read the comic and get out of your world for a little bit," Chandler said. "Pretty much the same reason as someone would pick up a book."

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