The 1988 comic book quiz:
1. True or false: Comic books are for kids.2. True or false: Comic books are relatively inexpensive.
3. True or false: Comic books are all printed on cheap paper.
4. True or false: You can single out a quality comic book by a well-drawn cover.
5. True or false: Drug or grocery stores are the best places to buy comic books.
6. True or false: The quickest way to receive comic books are through mail-order subscriptions.
7. True or false: Comic books are published monthly.
8. True or false: Comic book stories don't deal with real-life problems.
9. True or false: Comic book stories rarely cross over with other characters or titles.
10. True or false: There are NO Utah comic book conventions.
ALL of the above 10 statements are false. Ten to 15 years ago they were all true, but things have changed drastically in the comic book industry. For example:
1. Comics are not for kids:
Today, the mainstream comic books are written for college-age students and/or college-educated adults at the corresponding reading level.
"A Ph.D is needed to read the X-Men," former Marvel Comics Editor Jim Shooter once said. "We get letters from doctors and lawyers who read and enjoy our books."
A recent survey done by the "Comic Buyer's Guide" indicated that there are serious comic collectors in every age group, but the bulk are found between the ages of 21-49, and the adult audience seems to be growing.
The buyers are mainly males. Only about 10 percent of all comics are purchased by females.
Tim Chase, manager of The Bookshelf in Ogden, a comics specialty store, said the average age of his comics customers is about 22. He said older patrons are not uncommon.
2. Comics are not cheap:
Regular-issue comics cost 75 cents to $1. But the specials or miniseries can run $1.50 to $1.75 each. Graphic novels cost around $4 and up.
Buying just the basic three regular "Superman" comics for one month will cost over $8.
3. Deluxe comics books:
Many "deluxe" comic books are printed offset press on slick, quality paper with high-quality color reproduction. Some "deluxe" issues look more like adult-oriented magazines than they do comic books.
4. You can't tell a good comic book by its cover:
A top artist may do the cover art for a particular comic while the inside art may be done either in a hurry or by a less-talented artist.
Also, what's pictured on the cover of a comic book may not even be a part of the story inside.
5. Comics and specialty stores:
Comic "specialty" stores that blossomed in the early 1980s sell only comic books and related items. There are now at least seven along the Wasatch Front.
"Deluxe" comics and miniseries are only available at specialty stores.
6. Subscriptions aren't the fastest avenue:
The specialty stores get the newest comics the fastest, often several weeks before subscribers.
Subscription comics also seem to get lost or delayed in the mail - more so than other items - and this causes stress for comic book collectors.
7. Comics are not just monthly:
Last month "Action" comics switched to a weekly format in what may start a trend. Action has three to four different stories for $1.50 a week. However, the Superman story seems too short. It runs like a serial in a newspaper's comics section with just two pages of story each week.
Marvel Comics, DC's rival, is soon coming out with a new bimonthly comic.
8. Comic books are more realistic:
If you can accept the imaginary concept of super powers, comic books are a lot more realistic than they used to be.
For example, Superman may be shown taking the time to shave in the morning or to mend his tattered cape following a fistfight, while Spider Man seems to have more than his share of marital problems.
Some of the day's most sensitive issues are also being confronted in the comic books. AIDS and minority groups are two subjects that DC Comics plans to address in future stories.
9. Comic books can cross over:
Comic books have become big business with estimated annual retail sales topping $120 million. Comic book readership is estimated at over 20 million.
To create even more business, comic book companies have developed miniseries, maxiseries and even crossover ties to other regular comics. This means more comics sold, because a reader must buy all the related comics to learn the full story.
Tim Chase said such tactics by the comic book companies help him sell more comic books, but as a comics fan he dislikes the crossover ploy.
10. Comic book conventions:
There are many national comic book conventions annually with two this month in Utah.
The the sixth annual Baseball Card, Sports Memorabilia and Comics Show" is May 14 from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at Salt Lake's Tri-Arc Hotel, 161 W. Sixth South. Admission is $3.
This year's show will be bigger than ever with over 60 tables and 1,500 people expected.
"Collectible Plus" show will be from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. May 28 at Ogden's Hilton Hotel.
The Wasatch Front's main specialty comic stores are:
- Comics Utah, 1956 S. First East and 7650 S. Redwood Road, No. 6. The store even has its own "Comics Hotline" - 487-1867 - that tells what new comic books have arrived.
- Comics & Baseball Card Shop, 3196 Highland Drive.
- NightFlight, a modern comic shop in Cottonwood Mall.
- The Bookshelf, 2456 Washington Blvd. in Ogden, has more than 80,000 comic books.
- The Card Attic, in the northern upper level of the Layton Hills Mall, has a medium supply of comics with its baseball card items.
- Sports Cards & Comics, 141 N. University, Provo.