DEVIL'S DUE WEEK: Evolution of Our Culture

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Has anyone else noticed that the IDEA of comic books seems to have become bigger than the actual comic industry? Yes, comic shops are reporting their best sales in over a decade, but if you turn on your TV or hit the local movie theatre it seems like comics have EXPLODED more than ever before. The reality is that they have, but not the way they did in 1991. This is a not a boom, it's an evolution.

This evolution is what I was referring to seven years ago when I came up with Devil's Due's mantra - Pop Culture IS Our Culture. I couldn't have seen specifically how comics would end up in mainstream America, but I knew there was something there. As for now, I just know it's not going to stop anytime soon. I'm not just talking about movies to film, but also clothes, designer/vinyl toys, music, libraries, schools, advertising, and public consciousness as a whole.

Think about it, twenty years ago you'd be hard pressed to find many adults who openly watched cartoons, and when they did, it was as a "guilty pleasure." These days, hell, try to find the people who DON'T. They're still out there, but no one blinks if a 29 year old's main choice of sunday night television programming consists of Family Guy, The Simpsons, and a South Park rerun - I'd even argue that the Simpsons contributed to the catalyst that ignited geek culture just as much as comics.

It was a cartoon for adults, and highly controversial, much like the dark comics written by Alan Moore and Frank Miller a few years prior, that sent comics on a mission to prove they weren't just for kids. Funny, I remember Bart Simpson shirts being banned at my elementary school - oh if only they could have seen what was coming. Likewise, as video games evolved, what was once a child's game is now a main source of entertainment for adults everywhere. And then you have the manga and anime explosion - a phenomena which has brought more female readers to comics than anything in decades, and beyond that, teens of both genders.

What this is doing is creating a combined force of pop culture that lasts well beyond childhood. Not to mention, now thousands of 14 year old manga geeks no longer have to stop reading comics once they decide to chase girls, unlike their predecessors, because the girls LIKE comics. Heh, I'd love to see twenty years of data on how many fans dropped out every year due to that.

Anyone unaware of how the landscape of the comic world has changed just needs to look at conventions. It was only about five or six years ago when you really started to see comic convention attendance including teenagers, and god forbid, girls. Mostly creeping into the scene through manga channels, they are now a significant part of the comic geek population, and bringing new styles and ideas into our once sheltered little world.

This column was initially going to be about comics, and Devil's Due comics specifically, but this has been on my mind for a while. Going into the future it's not just about publishing - it's about a lifestyle. Comic book publishing is still a boutique industry, but comic book appreciation is becoming mainstream. It's not just about comics anymore, it's about the entire comic culture, I guess in the way that Harley-Davidson is about so much more than owning a motorcycle. It's where the industry's headed, and I hope to be at the forefront.

So, stop at the comic shop and pick up those books you missed last Wednesday, then hit the monthly live art event downtown while you have a beer or a coffee, and get plenty of sleep after that - you have a comic-con to drive to tomorrow. Don't worry, we'll TiVo that Heroes marathon for you.

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