Frankfurt Book Fair’s Hall 3 - the comics hall - is overrun by tens
of thousands of young Germans, often dressed in costumes of
their favorite comic book heroes.
Appropriately, the Sharjah International Book Fair - one of
the biggest in the world - introduces a Comics Pavilion this year.
Comics are big, comics are profitable, comics are global.
There is also a literary angle. Comics are the great gateway
to getting young people to read instead of playing video games.
Reading comics can be the first step to discovering that reading is
fun. Indeed, when you read interviews by many of today’s great
literary writers, such as Junot Diaz, you will learn that they grew
up reading comics. One US survey showed that comics were
among the highest circulated items in libraries.
Comics have something for everyone. Superheroes, fantasy,
crime noir, science fiction, romance and teen angst are all
represented. Using visual storytelling to talk about an important
subject is a hot new trend. There are comics that cover issues
from the history of the American civil rights battles (March by
John Lewis), to a memoir by Jennifer Hayden of her struggles
with breast cancer.
This is a great time for writers, artists, booksellers and
publishers to be involved. For the comics art form to keep
growing and engage readers, we need continued support and
investment in creativity. Comics are big business, but they are
also a beautiful art form and important literature for the new
This year for the first time, the Sharjah International Book
Fair will host a Comics Pavilion. The 150 sq metre Pavilion
is organized with ComicCave, the UAE’s largest distributor of
comics, and will be sited in the main expo centre. Aimed at all
ages, it will feature favorite brands and genres such as Marvel,
Hello Kitty, and Manga, with activities, events and signings.
Action figures and toys as well as books will be on sale.
In 2015, everywhere you look you see comics: Avengers: Age
Of Ultron is one of the biggest movies of the year globally, while
one of the most anticipated new movies is Valerian And The
City Of A Thousand Planets by Luc Bresson, based on a French
comic book. On television, The Walking Dead is aired in over 200
markets. Attack On Titan, a Japanese comics series, with more
than 52. 5 million copies in print is a bestselling book all over the
world. A highly anticipated book this Fall is Sandman: Overture, a
graphic novel by the English author Neil Gaiman.
The readers and viewers of comics are also voracious
consumers of t-shirts, toys and games based on comics. Batman:
Arkham Knight is one of the biggest video games of the year.
According to one study, the Superman logo was as well known
as McDonald’s golden arch. Free Comic Book Day, a huge event
held on the first Saturday of May, celebrated its 10th anniversary
in 2015. The winner of this year’s Tony Award for best musical is
Fun Home, based on a comic book.
Comics conventions from Shanghai to San Diego, Angouleme
to Jakarta draw hundreds of thousands of people every year.
COMICS COME OF AGE
AT THE NEW COMICS
KUO-YU LIANG is Vice President Sales &
Marketing at Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s
largest distributor of comics & related pop culture