Comic Book Curious

Comic Culture: How Collecting, Conventions, and Stores have Built a Community for Fans and Creators

January 17, 2023

In the world of comic books and geek culture there is a rich history of characters, comic shops and conventions that have brought together fans and creators alike in a shared experience over the last hundred years. Storylines that have lasted nearly a century and have been followed by millions of people around the world. That shared experience creates a culture and a community that spans nationalities and has no language barrier. 

Comic book collecting is a hobby that has been enjoyed by people of all ages and nationalities for decades. The history of comic book collecting can be traced back to the 1930s when the first comic books were published. Over the years, comic book collecting has grown in popularity and has become a global phenomenon. From the United States to Japan, and everywhere in between, people have been collecting comics for their artwork, story lines, and nostalgia.

The 1940s and 1950s saw a surge in popularity of comic books, thanks in part to the success of Superman and Batman in the pages of Action Comics and Detective Comics. As World War II came to an end, many soldiers returning home would continue to buy and collect comics as a form of escapism and nostalgia. This led to a boom in the industry, with countless new titles and characters being introduced. The Golden Age of Comics, as it came to be known, was a time of experimentation and innovation in the medium.




During this time, comics also began to attract a wider audience. While they had previously been primarily targeted towards children, the rise of superhero comics in particular drew in older readers as well. With the introduction of more complex and mature storylines, comics were no longer seen as just children's entertainment. This led to a growing fanbase and an increase in comic book collecting, as fans sought to own and preserve their favorite comics for posterity.

As the years passed, comics have continued to evolve and change, but the passion and community surrounding them has remained constant. From the early days of Superman and Batman to the modern era of comics, the medium has served as a unifying force for fans and creators alike, bringing people together through a shared love of storytelling and imagination. Today, comic book collecting, comic book stores, and comic conventions thrive, but it wasn’t always that way.

The first official comic book convention was held in 1964 in New York City and was called New York Comicon. Early conventions were small affairs, usually organized by local enthusiasts and featuring a handful of industry guests. The first recurring conventions was the Detroit Triple Fan Fair, which ran from 1965-1978.

San Diego Comic-Con International, which began in 1970, quickly became one of the largest conventions in the United States. The convention not only featured comic book creators, but also welcomed guests from other areas of pop culture such as film and television. This marked a shift in the focus of comic conventions, as they began to encompass a wider range of entertainment and fan interests.

As the popularity of comics and conventions continued to grow, so did the scope of these events. Today, comic conventions are big business, with recurring shows in every major American city. These conventions have expanded to include a wide range of pop culture and entertainment elements across virtually all genres, including horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels.

Comic conventions have become a global phenomenon with events taking place all over the world. In Japan, Comiket is the largest comic book convention, which attracts over half a million attendees annually. In Italy, Lucca Comics & Games is the second largest convention, and in France, Angoulême International Comics Festival is the third largest. 

These conventions not only showcase the latest comic book releases and creators, but also offer attendees the opportunity to participate in cosplay, meet like-minded fans, and explore the vibrant comic book culture in their respective countries. These events have become a staple in the comic book community and continue to attract fans from all over the world.

Whether it's for the artwork, the story lines, or the nostalgia, comic book collecting has created a community for fans and creators alike to come together in a shared experience. This community is not just limited to conventions, but also found in comic book stores, which have become a spot for collectors to find rare comics, meet fellow fans and creators, and foster a sense of community.

Some of the most well-known comic book stores include Midtown Comics in New York City, which has been in business since 1997 and boasts three locations, including one in Times Square; Mile High Comics, a chain of three Colorado comic book stores founded by Chuck Rozanski in 1969 from his parents' basement, and Forbidden Planets, a UK-based science fiction, fantasy and horror bookshop with chains across the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States.

Comic book stores not only provide a physical space for fans to connect, but they also serve as a hub for events and signings with industry professionals. Many stores host regular in-store events such as meet-and-greets with comic book creators, trivia nights, and workshops. This not only helps to bring fans and creators together but also helps to support local businesses and the comic book industry as a whole.

In recent years, the rise of digital comics and online marketplaces have caused some concerns for the future of physical comic book stores. However, many fans continue to value the in-person experience and personal connection that comes with visiting a brick-and-mortar store. These stores also serve as a space for fans to connect with like-minded individuals and foster a sense of community.

The comic book community is a unique and vibrant one, with a rich history that spans decades. From the earliest days of comic collecting to the explosion of comic conventions and the continued success of comic book stores, it is clear that comics and the culture surrounding them continue to capture the hearts and imaginations of fans and creators alike. Whether you're a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of comics, there's never been a better time to dive in and explore all that this community has to offer.

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