Stevenson said the decline in comic book stores across the area had less to do with enthusiasm for comics and more to do with stores converting to include gamers instead of staying strictly with comics.
Himes attributes that constant draw even in the face of evolving technology to the erudition benefits of the industry.
“There was a study published a couple years ago and the short version is, they’d put words and then a picture in front of a child to see what part of his brain would fire off,” he explained. “Then they’d put a comic, which is a combination of the two, and their brains would light up like Christmas trees. My parents always looked at it as a way to trick us into reading, and there is educational value to it.
“The writing is the difference between a Saturday morning cartoon and primetime television. When you see that accredited universities are devoting a curriculum to (comic books), you can see it’s going to grow. Students from IUPUI say that they’re studying comics and illustration at their school.”
Stevenson added, “I think the reason comics have survived the digital revolution is because there’s some sort of aesthetic about reading sequential art rather than seeing it on a screen or tablet. The visual image and feel isn’t translated over. That’s not to say it won’t someday. They might come up with some way to replicate the esthetics, but for now, the comic industry hasn’t taken the hit that the magazine or newspaper industry has.”
Still, the demographic, story lines, and vernaculars have evolved over time. Yet the reason for loving them never changes.
“I think it goes back to people who enjoyed the escapism when they were young, and when they get older we see them move away from comics in their early 20s before coming back to them,” Stevenson said. “It’s nice to come home after a long day and jump into a little bit of escapism. Maybe you don’t want to make a commitment to jump into the Game of Thrones 1,200 page novel, but a 15-minute foray into an X-Men comic will do the trick.”