Collecting comics hot at NIU

By Sean Leary

With the widespread appeal of comic book-influenced movies like “Dick Tracy” and “Batman”, comic book collecting has become a popular activity among college students. And NIU students are no exception to this trend.

“Comic collecting is fun and interesting,” said NIU sophomore Alex Bucciarelli, a comic collector for 12 years. “And besides, being an artist, I like to draw and reading comics gets my imagination going and gets me motivated,” Bucciarelli added.

A number of NIU students who read comics are themselves trying to break into the comics field. Jeff Moy, a senior illustration major said that while he is trying to break into the field, professional interest is only one reason for his interest in comics.

“Comics are a medium that doesn’t get its just due,” Moy, who has been collecting comics for seven years, said. “Comics can be just as good as other, more respected art mediums if they are done right,” Moy added. “The stories can get really complex and adult-oriented, and comics can be really interesting.”

Many students said the artwork and the visual aspect of comics are what primarily appealed to them. Despite the increased attention comic books have been getting in terms of their value as a financial investment, students listed financial reasons as a low priority in deciding what comics to buy.

However, students did say that the rising cost of comics has made them more selective as to which comics, and how many different comic titles, they buy each month. “The price of comics is definately the one bad thing about them,” Moy said. “The regular price of comics is getting too high, and the back issue prices are getting to the point that if the prices keep going up like they have been it’ll drown (the market) out,” he added.

Many store owners agree, “The quality of the work hasn’t improved, only the prices,” said the owner of DeKalb’s Silver Smith comics shop. “It used to be you would get 60 pages of comics for 25 cents. Now you get only 28 pages for $1 at the least,” he said. “And with only 28 pages you don’t get as much of a story, so you have to be able to understand the whole story,” he said.

The owner of another DeKalb comics emporium, the Northern Lights Bookstore, agrees that the rising cost of comics has discouraged consumers, but doesn’t believe the quality has declined. “Besides, comics haven’t gone up in price much more than anything else has,” he added. “And the comics that do cost more are deluxe editions that really present the work in a way it deserves,” he said.

Both store owners agreed that comics deserved a wider audience that they currently hold in the United States, but are doubtful they will ever find the widespread succwss and acceptance they hold in Europe and Japan.

“In Japan it’s more unusual if you don’t read comics,” the Northern Lights Bookstore owner noted. “Collecotrs here are respectable citizens who enjoy comics as an escape and as entertainment. It’s odd, but the U.S. isn’t very liberal when it comes to accepting comics as anything other than children’s entertainment,” he said.

Collectors enjoy a variety of titles, but the most popular genre remains that of superheroes. “Hot” titles at the moment include Todd MacFarlane’s “Spider-Man,” “Wolverine,” “The Punisher,” and the variety of “mutant” titles out on the market, the oldest and most successful being Marvel Comics’ “The X-Men.”

Comic books may not ever become the wide-spread entertainment they are in other countries, but they will always enjoy a strong audience in the U.S., especially among college students, both owners and collectors said.