tims corner flyerAs the Quad-Cities braces for another pulse-pounding, explosive comics blowout sale and event at Tim’s Corner, 2963 14th Ave., Rock Island, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 16,  theaters in the area are already bursting with the powerful onslaught of comic books being brought to celluloid life, much to the joy of thousands of film fans.

But what does the cinematic trend mean to local comics retailers, can it continue, and why have comics, once on the fringe as cult entertainment, become so mainstream?

“(Comics movies have) action, romance, explosions…everything that makes up a great blockbuster!” said local comics fan and artist Leo Kelly. “I see no end in sight! The advancement of CGI, actors training to look the part, Hollywood realizing the gold they have in all those comic books (storyboards ready to go). Is this the Golden Age of Superhero films?”

All signs point to yes.

“I think it’s because the people putting out the movies make it easy for people young and old to understand them, and make it so entertaining to movie-goers whether they’re familiar with the comics or not,” said Tim Cederoth, owner of Tim’s Corner, 2963 14th Ave., Rock Island. “Everyone likes heroes and everyone likes a good show and a happy ending, and that’s what the comic movies provide.”

“They’re one of the few pieces of media that have been going since the 1930s, and there’s a reason for that, because the characters are archetypes that have stayed with people,” said Cody Tucker, local comics aficionado and former host of a comics review segment on his KALA-FM show Tucker After Ten. “They’re made to appeal to kids, but those kids have grown up and had kids and so we’re seeing this multi-generational appeal.”

Tim Johnson, owner of Mellow Blue Planet, 2212 5th Ave., Rock Island, and the organizer of the Quad-Cities Planet Comic and Arts Con, which packed fans into the Holiday Inn last weekend, agrees.

“I think a lot of it has to do with people with children, and them trying to expose children to positive influences, and you can’t really go wrong with superheroes,” Johnson said. “You have an ultimate good and an ultimate evil, and it’s a way to teach kids positive lessons and values.”

Speaking of values, the boom has been a boon to Hollywood. Comic book movies routinely break box office records and have raked in billions of dollars worldwide. Have they done the same for area shops? Yes and no. Johnson said he hasn’t noticed much of a change in sales, but has had customers come in periodically to pick up books based upon plotlines in the films. Cederoth, on the other hand, said that his business has gone up “at least 30 percent” in the past 5-10 years as the comics as films trend has bloomed. As for Jenna Bishoff, owner of Have Fun Collectibles, 4327 Avenue of the Cities, Moline, she agreed it’s had a positive impact on her bottom line, and doesn’t see the trend dying down soon.

“I think they’ve easily got another 10-15 years of movies ahead of them, at least,” Bishoff said. “And of course the movies help with promotion of the comics industry and help shops. We see a lot more readers due to the movies, a lot more kids are going to the films and then wanting to start reading the comics they’re based on, and any time you can get more kids to read, that’s a good thing.”

Area comics artists have likewise seen a boom.

“As a caricature artist, I’m getting many more people asking me to draw them as their favorite super hero character,” said Bill Douglas, who will be drawing caricatures at the Tim’s Corner blowout bash. “Apparently, it’s a more discreet option for the cosplay-challenged fan.”

The success of the genre seems secure, area cineastes agree.

“Anyone familiar with the works of Joseph Campbell, the great writer/philosopher, who wrote about myth as part of the storytelling of humankind, will recognize superheroes and their universes as myths that have been with us as long as people have told stories,” said Linda Cook, film critic for the Quad City Times and KWQC-TV6. “Contemporary superheroes are fleshed out, if you will, with personal problems and struggles. They feel real because they are multifaceted – they’re certainly not cartoons. And now, with the incredible advances of computer-generated imagery, they look as real their personalities seem. We see ourselves reflected in their achievements and their losses – we can relate to them as people. Also, I think the comics/illustrated novels from which superheroes sprang have become a much more respected means of storytelling. Finally, superhero movies generally are rated PG-13, which means that families with children mature enough for this rating can make viewing a family event. The demographic is vast.”

And growing as quickly as Bruce Banner expanding into the Hulk, as local fans will find out at the burgeoning bash at Tim’s this weekend.

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.