Monday, June 29, 2015

6 Reasons Why Comics are Making a Comeback

“It begins in a quiet Midwestern town, one summer afternoon in the quiet Midwestern future. Away in the big city, people still sometimes glance up hopefully from the sidewalks, glimpsing a distant speck in the sky. But no: it’s only a bird, only a plane—Superman died ten years ago.”

That last line really strikes a chord, doesn’t it? Thankfully, these words are only from an imaginary tale written in the dramatic opening scene of the great Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? back in 1986. While the shock of killing off the Man of Steel might have caused a handful of nerd-related seizures back in the day, it will no doubt horrify a greater number of people today—perhaps even the whole world. That’s because comic books are making a cape-swishing comeback, converting more and more ordinary citizens into blissfully geeky fans. Here's why.

1. Blockbuster superhero movies

Leave it to Disney buying Marvel to shake up the movie industry with non-stop superhero action that leaves nothing to the imagination. Gone were the days when The Hulk was just Lou Ferrigno in pale green body paint. Because of the magic of the big screen, little kids and kids at heart who’ve never picked up a comic book in their lives are converting, and the sheer awesomeness of it all is making them want to head down to the nearest comic book store and get started on their first copy. The rest, as they say, is history, because how can anyone resist a spectacular splash panel?

2. Big-budget TV adaptations

Just like the silver screen, the TV shows based on comic book heroes are getting all the well-deserved big budgets to produce the best series with the most jaw-dropping special effects. Back then, there was just Smallville. Now, these TV dramas are all the rage with Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Supergirl, Daredevil, Constantine (sadly cancelled), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Legends of Tomorrow, and so much more. Comic book heroes are going mainstream now, hence, the ever-growing community of new comic converts. The more the merrier!

3. All about the merchandise

Of course, all these ticket sales and sky-rocketing TV ratings can only mean one thing—merchandise. Because of the growing popularity of comics and their characters, sales have never been higher. Back then, we would scour the whole Metro just to look for that obscure corner hobby shop that sold DC shirts. Now, there’s not a single toy store that doesn’t have a superhero item stacked on every shelf (not to mention all the heart-stopping video games like the Batman Arkham Trilogy). This rise in available comic collectibles actually goes hand in hand with the next item on this list, which is…

4. Geek gatherings galore

Has anybody noticed that the line to the annual local ToyCon at the SM Megatrade Hall gets longer and longer as each year goes by? Yes, this is all because of the brilliant minds that market comic book heroes to basically every human being on earth.  In these hallowed halls, you can find rare variants, trade paperbacks on sale, exhibits worthy of photo ops, cool cosplayers, and comic book collectibles that are worth more than your monthly salary. If you have enough mettle and passion to squeeze through the crazy crowds, you’ll find that what used to be an underground culture of introverts exchanging hardcovers has now evolved into a bigger and more comic-hungry group of followers that grows even more each year. More fans equal more demand for comics, which is the biggest testament to comics coming back with a vengeance. Also, annual events like Free Comic Book Day aim to reach more people and convert them into loyal fans. After all, once you flip open your very first comic book, there’s really no turning back, is there?

5. Comics in the digital age
Sure, nothing compares to the glory of reading an issue that’s right there in your very hands. But now that tablets and smartphones are taking over the world, comics have also adapted to this digital age. Interactive comics, motion comics, and digital copies are now more available (and less expensive) than ever, so anyone who wants to catch up on their favorite hero’s current escapades can do so with just a single tap. This also solves the problem of having to lug around heavy hardcovers with you, because you can easily download all the digital comics you want in just one gadget instead.

6. Diversity of comics and the rise of the new geeks

Female Thor, African-American Captain America, and lesbian Batwoman are only some of the recent moves that Marvel and DC have made to expand their horizons. While some comic book loyalists find it irritating that their most-loved characters were switched up, the diversity that the comic book companies are aiming for has a reason. They want to reach more audiences and gain more fans, which, to some level, is working.

“There’s always room for more; there’s always room for further diversity. Whether it’s more Latino characters, or more Black characters, or more LGBT characters — you pretty much can pick any group of people, and as long as you’re not talking about middle-aged white men like myself, they’re probably underrepresented in the world of superhero comics,” says Marvel’s Tom Brevoort. “No matter where you happen to sit within the cultural zeitgeist, it’s never mission accomplished. It’s always, ‘What’s next?’ There’s always going to be somebody who is underrepresented, or that you could represent more truthfully or more affectingly.” This in turn opens up opportunities for more people to be able to relate to their favorite comic book superheroes, creating new fans with each new release.

The rise of the new comic book geek is very much welcome. Mike Wellman from The Comic Bug also says that "We're living in a very 'multi-media' geek society nowadays. The geeks have finally taken over the world.” And at the end of the day, that’s all we geeks really want, right?

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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