Comic books have a unique problem…people don’t read them. That of course, is not to say that NO one reads them because, well, you and I apparently do. No, the problem is that the majority of those who enjoy comic book characters in films do not read actual comic books with equal fervor.
This is very interesting because, as comic book readers know, when a new movie comes out, the cannon of the book is occasionally re-written (Spider-Man with organic web shooters!), teams are re-arranged (Avengers Assemble had the movie character crew) and costumes are re-drawn (Superman and his missing underpants!). We have become used to such changes. Characters come and go, their powers change, costumes change, this is the natural essence of the comic books. But, changes associated with films are often designed to make readership grow… but it usually does not and those of us who read the comics are stuck with silly changes made for the sake of those people who do not read the comics.
See what the dilemma here is?
Libraries do their best to understand and react to trends. It is kind of our job. When Guardians of the Galaxy was released, libraries stacked up on Bendis’ run. My library even got Starlord and Rocket Raccoon posters from our local comic book store for a display. While circulation on these items spiked when the movies were released, we hardly saw the same return on investment though out the entire year (there are a myriad of reasons for this including our shelving, classification, etc. which we won’t get into now).
So , is the reading of comic books just a fad which ebbs and flows with box office numbers? My hope is that, after this year, the answer finally turns to NO! Why is that?
This year’s summer reading program theme revolves around heroes. For kids, “Every hero has a story;” teens, “Unmask;” and adults, “Escape the ordinary.” Not an overtly comic book/superhero theme, but the promotional materials definitely give off that comic book onomatopoeic vibe (which you can check out here.)
Why, you may ask, do I believe this will change the flow of what adults read? I cannot count the number of times I hear parents say, “I want to read what you are reading” while they are with their children in the library. Therefore, if children like to read comic books, maybe the adults in their lives will like them, and read them too.
As Levar Burton said at ALA this week:
Heck, if you are an adult and you like superheroes, buy YOURSELF a comic book!
But, the big question is, do adults and children have to read the exact same thing to appreciate the comics? NO! Children can read the Marvel Age Iron Man where as adults can read the more gritty, alcoholic Tony Stark from the early 2000s. And the best part is that the universe is continuous, you can see aspects of characters in all their targeted age groups.
So parents and kids, enjoy a comic book together!