Fifty years ago, children across America could be found delving deep into the fictional world of their favorite superheroes through comics. The same can not be said of children today.
John Mullins, owner of Collector’s Corner, a local comic book store in Auburn, believes the comic book industry is dying.
He said this is for many reasons, one of the big ones being that issues are collected and sold in book format as one story, or as “trade paperbacks,” rather than in periodical format, which deters a market of possible new readers.
Comic book corporations push their writers to produce a story to a specific length, rather than telling a higher quality story that might be shorter.
“A lot of people are changing from buying the monthly published comics to waiting until they put six issues in one [volume],” Mullins said.
These avid comic book readers are willing to make the investment in the trade paperback because they know they’ll enjoy it.
In contrast, people who are interested in reading comic books for the first time are dissuaded, as they don’t want to make a large investment, but periodical comics are not a complete storyline.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
Mullins said the comic industry has changed because of the influx of comics about anti-heroes.
“When I was growing up, I was inspired by the high standards of heroism,” Mullins said. “The Bible and comic books — that’s where I got my sense of morals.”
Mullins first got into comic books when he was about 5 years old, using them to learn how to read. He said the pictures in the comic books helped him to know what the words meant, and since then, has loved the industry, making it his career for the past 21 years.
“I owe a lot to my mother who loved to read,” Mullins said. “Part of the problem with education today is that parents don’t instill that love of reading into children at an early age.”
Mullins said he was able to learn a lot from novels and comic books.
“My earliest friends were books,” Mullins said. “In books I’ve been able to travel the world, travel through time, travel through space without ever having to leave home.”
Mullins’ desire to share the love of reading started when he was young, too.
“In 1965, my older brother had a female friend who was in the children’s hospital with polio,” Mullins said. “I remembered how much I enjoyed to read books when I was in the hospital having my tonsils taken out, so I had my mother pack up all my comics and I donated every one of them.”
While he doesn’t regret donating his comic book collection, Mullins said some of the individual issues could now be worth up to $16,000 each.
For Mullins, however, it’s not about how much money there is to be made.
“Comics are escapisms,” Mullins said. “The world in [comics] was more real and vivid than my real world.”
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman