Comic books now have 'something for everyone'


Who would you rather have dinner with- Superman or Batman? That is one of the questions that local comic book reader Eric Rowell and his children have now found themselves asking. With today’s media industries being filled with comic book-inspired films and television shows, comic books and their merchandise have become part of the mainstream.
“It wasn’t until the last ten years that it has become so accepted,” Rowell said. “Those enthusiasts for comic books created so much buzz about them that we now have such a proliferation of superhero themed stories that continue to grow.”
Now that moviegoers are awaiting the release of blockbuster films like “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Ant-Man” and “Fantastic Four,” set to release this summer, these films spark an interest in those who have never touched a comic book. They become eager for the films to arrive and go straight to the source material of comic books to learn more.
Dr. Margaret France, of Augustana College’s Department of English, adds that the idea of comic books being just for children has faded and there are now adults willing to become a part of the culture.
“It’s like if you look at fashion. You wouldn’t see adults wearing clothes that kids wore, but now it’s different,” said France.
Rowell enjoys how comic books films have become a way to connect with his children.
“I think they took a lot of it from me,” Rowell said. “It’s great for kids being able to help them imagine greater. This has all grown from a love of all things fantasy that children now have an outlet for… Because earlier we had the older films like Christopher Reeve’s take on Superman and Michael Keaton’s Batman, but there wasn’t this big explosion like today.”
Local comic book seller Tim Cederoth of Tim’s Corner in Rock Island said that comic books benefit from films like “The Avengers” and television shows like “Arrow” and “The Flash.”
“It’s made a lot of money for that industry lately so they’re gonna keep hitting on that,” Cederoth said.
Cederoth described how the timeline of comic books has changed drastically over the years to appeal to readers. What is referred to as the “Golden Age” of comics began in the late 1930s, which introduced the characters Superman and Batman and cost ten cents.
The “Silver Age” soon followed in the 1950s and introduced many famous Marvel heroes like the Fantastic Four and Spiderman. The “Bronze Age” arrived in the 1970s where the stories became more complex and character-driven. We now find ourselves in the “Modern Age” of comics where the stories are seen in books, television, and films.
“I’ve noticed a lot of younger people, more so now, getting into comics,” Cederoth said. “But my age range is probably from 20 to 50, and that surprises a lot of people.”
Cederoth described how many of his current customers, which includes Rowell, grew up reading comic books and were influenced by them.
“Reading, of course, helps you through your life,” said Cederoth, “and that’s probably the best learning tool that anyone could have. You could ask doctors and lawyers. There are many people that have leaned how to read through comics.”
Rowell added that recurring themes in comic books attract a lot of different readers.
“We’ve always had a love for all things fantasy. Heroism, strength, and courage too,” he said. “A lot of these themes appeal to men and women both young and old.”
“The popularity of comic books just shows how entertainment is made for every single possible audience,” said France. “It’s something for everyone.”
Cederoth believes that comic books are created and are set up for entire families to enjoy.
“It’s not just for the male comic book lover anymore, but also for his wife and kids,” he said. “Comic books have become much more than just childish books.”
The stories they tell reflect and strengthen what many readers value. After all, Superman always fought for truth, justice and the American way.
“We seek out things that will take us out of our mundane lives,” Rowell said. “[Comic books] have created an outlet for us to become more than ourselves.”