Comic book sellers and enthusiasts gathered in Philadelphia to share their love of all things animated at the March 18 Philadelphia Comic Con.
It is not every day that one hears mainstream discussions of Superman, Spiderman, DC or Marvel. Many have forgotten about these comic icons and companies. Yet, they still do have a following to uphold a fan base.
Comic book collectors, dealers and creators convened on Sunday, March 18 at the Ramada Philadelphia Airport Hotel for the Philadelphia Comic Con – not to be confused with Wizard World’s Comic Con, which will make its rounds in Philly this June.
More than 60 tables were spaced out creating pathways to allow comic fans to walk around and marvel at all the merchandise being sold.
Each table was complemented by huge displays of comics, all ranging from “Golden Age” – 1938 to 1950, “Silver Age” – 1956 to 1970, “Bronze Age” – 1970 to 1985 and “Modern Age” – 1985 to the present day – of comics. Vendors also displayed non-sports trading cards and iconic DVDs. Action figures and plush toys including X-Men, Teen Titans, Spiderman and Ironman characters peeked out from underneath some of the many tables, waiting to be purchased.
Philadelphia Comic Con, promoted by Derek Woywood, has been reeling in comic lovers for 20 years.
“[I started getting into comics] in the ‘60s, when I was born,” Woywood said.
Early on, he said he engrossed himself in DC Comics favorites, Superman and Batman.
“I like the exploratory fantasy type of things that DC was doing,” he added. “They were stretching the boundaries.”
His appreciation for the deftness of comics is still apparent. He said he continues to read physical, paper comic books.
“I need something that’s in my hand,” Woywood said.
He said he appreciates the feel of a comic book and enjoys being able to flip through the pages, leading him on a fantasy based journey.
Woywood was not alone in his feelings toward comics, thus Philadelphia Comic Con began. The 4,500-square-foot ballroom provided just enough space for comic lovers to peel through boxes upon boxes of comics of all genres. Collectors spoke with vendors about the histories and transformations of their comic book favorites. Parents guided children through the room, exchanging cash for a child’s smile as they held their new comic book.
Gus Giuduci, 58, is anxious about the future of comics.
“I worry, as an older person, who has grown up with [comics], that someday, there’s going to be nobody who cares about [them],” Giuduci said.
Comics are an important element in Giuduci’s life. In 1994, he opened his store, “Comic Book Theater,” in South Philadelphia, which closed in 2002. However, he said being a part of the Philadelphia Comic Con has shed a bit of hope on the future of comics.
“We have these little shows, and people come out. And people are smiling and having a good time. People are buying comics, and it makes [me] smile, as an old-time collector,” Giuduci said. “Kids buying comic books is the greatest thing in the world.”
Giuduci pointed across the room to a father buying his son a comic book.
“I love to see that, because then you say, ‘Maybe there is another generation of people,’” Giuduci said.
But not everyone present believed the digital age would change the way people viewed comics.
Dave Franchini, 24, and Christopher Cote, 27, of independent comic book publisher Zenescope Entertainment, said they’ve celebrated the opportunities comic books have had with the rise of technological advancements.
“For us, [the digitalization of comics] is really good,” Franchini, a sales representative for Zenescope, said. “It’s awesome because you get a lot of people who don’t normally go into a comic book store or don’t have a comic book store near them, and they’ll be interested in [our comics]. That’s how you get new fans.”
Cote, Zenescope’s production manager, introduced Zenescope’s mobile application powered by ComiXology, and said that they “have been able to get in touch with an entirely different market,” especially those who normally do not read comics.
Available through Apple’s app store, ComiXology, allows readers to seek out comics produced by a slew of companies, including Zenescope.
Comic-Con attendee Paris Cullins, 20, believes that comics will continue to be around as long as people are interested.
“It all depends on whether people [like digital comics or paper comics],” Cullins said.
“If people did not love comics, this [convention] wouldn’t be happening,” Giuduci said.
The next Philadelphia Comic-Con will be held April 29. Temple students and faculty who come to the show with their ID will receive free admittance.
Alexis Wright-Whitley can be reached at email@example.com.