Films aren't selling comics

Latest superheroes pale next to Batman

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The portrayal of comic book legends Batman by actor Michael Keaton in 1989 and Spider-Man by Tobey Maguire in 2002 helped to spur comic book sales around the country.

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Paul Rogers, the general manager of Augusta Book Exchange on Gordon Highway, said recent superhero movies barely influence comic book sales.   Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Paul Rogers, the general manager of Augusta Book Exchange on Gordon Highway, said recent superhero movies barely influence comic book sales.

With a new and lesser-known crop of actors and superheroes swooping into the nation's movie theaters this summer, local comic book stores aren't expecting a heroic spike in new enthusiasts to match the action at the box office.

"It's a very small bump," Paul Rogers, the general manager for Augusta Book Exchange at 1650 Gordon Highway, said about sales. "We do see some but it's not as big as most people would think."

From behind a counter laden with comic book versions of Stephen King novels such as The Stand and The Dark Tower, in addition to hand-painted miniatures of Warhammer 40000 space marines, Rogers said the movies do more to draw former comic book readers back into the fold than to garner new devotees.

"Back when the Keaton Batman came out, there was a decent bump," he said. "But really, since then, sales of comic books because of movies have gone down." It's not for lack of trying on the part of the comic companies and stores. Recently, Marvel released several easily accessible miniseries comics based on the character of Thor, whose movie debuted atop the box office last week. Still, sales have been disappointing, according to Roxanne Starr, a manager at Oxford Comics and Games in Atlanta.

"They saturated the market with Thor ," she said.

Most of her new shoppers have expressed interest in comics starring the Green Lantern, a hero or list of heroes wielding a ring that grants them super abilities over the physical world based upon the strength of their willpower. A movie based about the DC Comics character and starring Ryan Reynolds is set to be released June 17, to be followed by a new film starring Chris Evans as Marvel's Captain America on July 22.

The Green Lantern's branching storylines and bevy of characters bearing that name, however, make it less appealing as some heroes, limiting its appeal. People who are new to comics often have trouble reading and understanding the medium itself, Starr said.

"They pretty much have to spend over 100 bucks just to understand the latest issue of Green Lantern, " she said. "Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern -- all that stuff coming out at the same time and people are more concerned right now with holding on to their money for the movies rather than come in here and buy comic books."

At Augusta Book Exchange' store on Bobby Jones Expressway, salesman Matt Roberts said many customers thought this summer's films wouldn't do well at the box office. He pointed to Thor's recent success as proof of the public's appetite for superhero characters. Recently, his store held a comics giveaway day to draw in new readers. Thor was one of the most asked-for comics, Roberts said.

"I'm expecting within the next few weeks more people will be coming in looking for these books," he said.

Superhero Primer

Although there are others, here is a quick course on some notable superheroes of print and screen.

Superman

COMIC BOOK DEBUT: 1938

MOVIE DEBUT: 1978

SUPER STATS: In the debut comic, Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster said he could "leap 1/8th of a mile; hurdle a 20-story building ... raise tremendous weights ... run faster than an express train ... and nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin!"

Batman

COMIC BOOK DEBUT: 1939

MOVIE DEBUT: 1989

SUPER STATS: More mysterious and more human than Superman, Batman in his first issue was a dark, vengeful crusader who stalked the night, even watching as a bad guy plunged into a vat of acid.

Spider-Man

COMIC BOOK DEBUT: 1962

MOVIE DEBUT: 2002

SUPER STATS: Spider-Man was the first comic book hero to be a regular teenager, going through the same things his readers were, and his alter ego, Peter Parker, continued to even after being bit by a radioactive spider.

Thor

COMIC BOOK DEBUT: 1962

MOVIE DEBUT: 2011

SUPER STATS: As God of Thunder, he possesses the full powers of a raging storm, including the ability to summon wind, lightning and rain. His hammer, Mjolnir, could crush any opponent and still return to his hand on command.

Green Lantern

COMIC BOOK DEBUT: 1940

MOVIE DEBUT: 2011

SUPER STATS: The Green Lantern is unusual in that the man behind the mask has changed over time. His superhero abilities come from a power ring forged from a magical flame in a railroad switchman's green lantern.

Captain America

COMIC BOOK DEBUT: 1941

MOVIE DEBUT: 1990

SUPER STATS: Captain America represented human physical perfection. Most notably, his body eliminates the build-up of poisons in his muscles, granting him phenomenal endurance.

Sources: IMDB.com, neatorama.com, comicbookresources.com, collectorsweekly.com, marvel.com

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