Business is booming for comic book heroes
June 13, 2008 · Updated 12:30 PM
By PHILIP PALERMO
By day, Jim Elmore is a mild-mannered businessman, running Action City Comics and Toys. But by night, hes still a comic book fan.
He still remembers where he got his start in the industry on the comic book convention floor.
Elmore returned to those roots last weekend in Seattle as part of the fourth annual Emerald City Comicon. The two-day convention showcased the best and brightest in the comic book industry. For fans, it was a chance to meet their heroes. For business owners, it was an opportunity to attract new customers.
For fans who are also business owners, like Elmore, the convention presented a bit of a dilemma. There is, of course, the need to conduct business at their booth. However, the temptation is everywhere to wander away and meet the industry giants whose work they admire.
Youre always trying to get away to meet some artist or some writer, Elmore said.
Theres also the matter of transplanting your business to the convention floor for a weekend.
Its definitely hard, he said. It is a pretty big task to rip apart your store.
Fifteen years ago, Elmore first entered the comic book business while he was still in college, running his own booth at conventions like Comicon.
I just kind of grew to the point I needed a store, he said.
That store became Action City Comics and Toys in Federal Way, where Elmore said business is going well.
The comic book industry as a whole, he said, is in a bit of an upswing following a decline in popularity in the late 1990s.
Things kind of hit the bottom, Elmore said, describing a period between 1996 and 1998 when the number of comic book publishers dwindled.
Now, thanks to the improved quality of comic books in general and the huge success of comic book movies like Spiderman and Batman Begins, Elmore said things are looking up.
From 2000 to 2006, he said, the industry has probably doubled in sales.
It isnt just the familiar favorites like Spiderman or the upcoming Superman movie that are drawing people back to comics. Elmore said more off-the-wall comic-book-based movies like V for Vendetta, Hellboy and even A History of Violence are attracting new fans.
Comic books are also attracting a new breed of writers from popular TV shows and movies, Elmore said.
One of his stores biggest sellers features comic book stalwarts Wolverine and The Incredible Hulk. The six-issue mini-series is written by Damon Lindelof, co-creator of the TV show Lost. Thats been huge, Elmore said.
Comic books are attracting major Hollywood writers, Elmore said, because the books are often quicker to complete than finishing a script or screenplay. They also offer writers access to iconic characters they may have idolized as children.
Comics are a good vehicle for writers, he said. You can tell stories in a more in-your-face way.
Comic books arent just the domain of big-time movie and TV writers, either. Several local authors, like Captain America writer Ed Brubaker and Aquamans Kurt Busiek, attended the convention last weekend at Qwest Field Event Center.
Its always fun to see a couple of the local guys, Elmore said. A lot of the big name creators live right here in Washington.
With this years convention over, Elmore said the goal now is putting his store at 2120 S. 320th St. back together. He said it took two weeks to prepare and set up for the show and will take about a week to get the store back in order.
Its definitely worth it from a marketing point of view, though, he said.
Staff writer Philip Palermo: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org