Comics Go Mainstream

They’re not just for ‘nerds’ anymore

(page 1 of 2)

Dave Barfield

Fans, fanatics and collectors everywhere have set out to avenge their reputations, proving comics are not just a trend. 


The Flash. The Walking Dead. Daredevil. The Avengers. Doctor Strange. The list goes on and on. It doesn’t take super powers to see that movies and TV are obsessed with the comic book universe. Consider: About a dozen comic book-inspired TV shows are on the air, with more to come. In theaters, there are at least 20 films from the comic book realm planned through 2020. And it’s easy to see why: Comic book themes are hotter than X-ray vision.

Just on its opening weekend in May, “Captain America Civil War,” the third Captain America film released, grossed $179,139,142 (domestically), according to Box Office MoJo. As of August, the site reported, the Captain America film had grossed more than $407 million in the United States and more than $744 million overseas, for a total of more than $1 billion.

All that popularity gives longtime comic book fans a feeling of “vindication.”

“The nerds have won,” said Jeffrey Shanks, a member of Tallahassee’s Comic Book Club.

“What we’re seeing is that comic book characters have transcended that medium,” said Shanks, a National Park Service archaeologist, historian, scholar of early 20th century pop culture and comic book fan. “Most of us were probably nerds growing up, and this stuff we were fans of was marginalized and now it’s mainstream.”

Shanks was one of nine guys talking about comics over pizza at a monthly gathering of the Tallahassee Comic Book Club. 

Film Frame..© Marvel 2016

Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War L to R: Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan)


“This is a pretty nice time to be a comic book fan,” said member Wesley Dupont. 

The comic book club’s members range in age from their 30s to 50s and most share a nearly lifelong love of Batman, Spiderman, Hawkeye and other characters.

“Everybody has different interests,” said club member Jason Marconnet, 34, a Tallahassee safety consultant for construction companies. “A few buy and sell comics, some collect original art and we talk about movies and TV shows as well as comic books.”

Social media has made it easier for comic book lovers to connect and chat. Readers who once felt isolated can now easily be part of fandom, no matter where they live.

“There is a comic book culture in Tallahassee,” said Jeffrey Davis, who grew up in the comic book business. His dad, Tom, has been running The Bookshelf, one of the city’s oldest comic book stores, for more than 20 years.

The Bookshelf is one of five comic book stores in Tallahassee though one, GameEscape, at the Centre of Tallahassee is dominated by trading card games. Even the other local comic book stores are also packed with super hero art, figures, toys, posters, games and cards. 

“It’s the age of comics in all media forms,” said Emmaline Massaglia, a staff facilitator of the adult graphics novel book club at the LeRoy Collins Main Library. 

There’s also a club for preteens and teens. “We had so many kids and teens attending we decided to split into two clubs,” she said. “They’ve been an overwhelming success.”

An appreciation of comic and graphic novel storytelling is a growing trend, insiders said.

“Tallahassee certainly has passionate comic book fans,” said writer Craig Schroeder, who founded the independent, Tallahassee-based comic book publisher, Gentleman Baby Comics, in 2012.

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