Rave : 1999 : Comics on The Rebound?

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Date: Apr 2, 1999
Next: Chapter One Revisited
Prev: A Method in My Mystery

There's been a couple of bits of good news on the comics front in my inbox recently. First, this extract from the latest newsletter out of Mile High Comics (who have a great back-issue selection available on-line, in case you didn't know already).

Not only has this been our best year ever, but this 4th quarter is the highest grossing quarter in our back issue department's history. The end-of-the-year reports coming in from our N.I.C.E. subscription department are equally positive, with this quarter ending up being the best for new comics sales in nearly two years. Completing the trifecta, our six retail stores combined for their best year, too! This year has been a great time to be in the comics business.

Surprising, isn't it? I had thought that we were still on the decline after the rampant excesses of the early 90's drove off a lot of disenchanted fans, and video games distracted a new generation who might otherwise have replaced them.

Then, the LA Times, 12/12/99 had this to say...

Kapow!

Comic books, once reviled by parents and teachers, gain credibility in schools as a way of motivating students and packing a wallop for literacy. The genre offers a surprisingly challenging vocabulary, one expert says.

By DUKE HELFAND, Times Staff Writer

Hey, Mom, you might want to think twice before yanking that comic book out of junior's hands.

Sure, there are burning skulls, hacked-off arms and gun-toting goons. But here's a piece of news that may give you pause.

A researcher at Cornell University says that comic books have more challenging words than prime-time television shows, conversation between college graduates--and even some presidential discussions during Watergate.

Comics may be the Rodney Dangerfield of literature, but they also pack a superhero's Kapow! when it comes to literacy.

"I think you're getting pretty meaty stuff [in comic books]," said Donald P. Hayes, a Cornell University sociologist and expert on the content of reading materials, including comic books...

So, there you have it. The article carries on in a similar vein, looking at the ways comics were being used to promote literacy. Nice to hear someone pointing out that comics, while not always the epitomy of literary achievement, are probably a heck of a lot better for kids than TV tends to be!