Illustration by Joe Quinones
This past Friday, Vulture published an article titled “Everything You Need to Know About Thanos, Guardians of the Galaxy’s Biggest Bad Guy.” These “how to be a better nerd” tutorials and shortcuts into comic culture are popping up all over, offering an inside scoop on the intricacies of Marvel’s universe. Similar posts regarding the characters and plotlines of DC’s world are easily found with even the sloppiest of Google searches. Whether these guides are used to pregame the opening night of a film, support post-screening banter, or act as a gateway for someone looking to buy their first comic book, they are certainly contributing to the mainstreaming of comics.
While niche invasions are often scorned, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Full disclosure: I was a late bloomer to comics, and my introduction only occurred because of a crippling crush on Hugh Jackman, and subsequently Wolverine, and finally a curiosity about the source material. Certainly the appearance of Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill supporting the upcoming Man of Steel sequel at Comic Con San Diego will entice folks who otherwise wouldn’t attend conventions to join in on the cosplay fun. While some Hollywood-crush inspired comic fans will lose interest as soon as said star departs the franchise (luckily for me—and to the displeasure of many—Jackman doesn’t appear to be going anywhere), the mainstreaming of comics can spark a more general interest that extends beyond the cinema and into print pages. Furthermore, it may, be it a conscious choice or not, lead to a reader’s support of local, independent artistry.
“It definitely feels like there’s an uptake,” says Joe Quinones, a Rhode Island School of Design alumni and Somerville-based comic artist who joins fellow local artists Erica Henderson, Shelli Paroline, Ming Doyle, Braden Lamb (to name a few) at Boston Comic Con this weekend. “It feels like in comics we are approaching a second renaissance. We had that in the 80s and it sort of apexed in the late 80s, early 90s. Then everything sort of overreached and imploded. The cool thing now is that comics are reaching a way broader audience.”
This growing popularity is what allowed Boston Comic Con to make a sizeable upgrade to the Seaport World Trade Center, offering more space for the skills of artists and writers to be showcased and celebrated. Boston Comic Con remains a creative-focused mainstream show, and while it may lack some of the intimacy and local-focus of events like Massachusetts Indie Comic Expo (MICE), which sees its fifth installment this October, it still offers an opportunity for the mainstream mindset to be introduced to the individual creators.
While I support the popular infiltration of the comic world, I can concede that a lifelong love of comic books is pretty damn special and blows my cinematic entry à la Hugh Jackman’s IMAX abs out of the water. “If an eight-year-old kid comes over and excitedly wants to show me some drawings he did, that’s really awesome and really life affirming,” says Quinones. “I totally believe in passing the buck onto the next generation, because that’s why I’m really into comics. I left it behind for a little while, but I got into comics when I was a kid. I want to impart that joy on the next generation.”
BOSTON COMIC CON. SEAPORT WORLD TRADE CENTER, 200 SEAPORT BLVD., BOSTON. FRI 8.8 – SUN 8.11. FOR FUL EVENT DETAILS VISIT BOSTONCOMICCON.COM