What It Means To Me

What It Means To Me

So, many of you heard about the recent purchase of Derby City Comic Con, but I thought I would take a few moments and put into words exactly what this acquisition means for me on a very personal level.

I grew up with a life that has had comics at its core. I’ve told the story of how I first became a collector, but I don’t think I’ve ever summed up just how much this hobby has been a part of my growth as an individual.

Some of my earliest memories involve looking at comic books. I remember leafing through those pages and feeling pulled to learn how to read. I have a clear memory of the old oversized 100 page giant Superman Family type comics. It was in the era where Superman would shrink down and often visit the bottled city of Kandor. I loved that idea and so desperately wanted to know what they were saying in those speech bubbles. In many ways, comics motivated me to learn to read and I know they’ve had that impact on many people over the years and can be a real force for literacy.

Getting on my soapbox for a few moments, comics (one of the rare, purely American creations) are sequential art. They are also often untapped learning tools and for most, they are keys to imagination. In sequential art, you can do things that are almost impossible in cinema and are substantly different from what can be accomplished through written prose. Some dismiss them as kids books, but they are an art and literary form which you really can grow old reading. You don’t have to be lost in the capes and tights side. There are great works involving any interest you may have. You just have to find what makes you burn and run with it. Like music or art or literature, you have to dig a little to find your passion, but once you have it, it can be both rewarding and, in my case, life changing.

Through my life, I’ve almost always read comics. Along the way, I’ve been a collector, a store owner, a franchise creator, a comic reporter, a critic, a podcaster and, if I’m very lucky, from time to time I will stumble into being an innovator. I keep trying.

Along the way, my love of comics morphed into a respect for comic creators. I’ve seen and been friends with a long list of individuals who create comics as an expression of their soul. Many will never make money at the books they create, but the journey of knowing they are creating something that expresses a message they need to share is actually enough. Some do it through art, some through writing, but some also express themselves in color or letters or any of the army of processes that go into the creation of these stories. So much creativity goes into each comic we read it’s staggering.

Many years ago, I recognized that there are creators who are just starting and don’t necessarily get the exposure they deserve. To combat that, I created ComicRelated.com as a place where I could choose where that spotlight would shine and mix just enough mainstream content with small press stories to give them the attention they needed. We’ve not always been able to hold to this goal, but we keep trying to give new creators a place they can call home. Almost eight years in, I think we’ve done some real good along the way.

Now, I turn my attention to Derby City Comic Con. This comic convention is something I welcome as it’s a new venture I can really dive into and explore. It’s such a natural outgrowth of my life. My history in comics combining with the promotion knowledge I gained in radio (and during the boat racing years) solidifying into my current life as an events manager makes this a perfect fit. It’s like I’ve finally reached a point where I can dive into a project and make it something magnificent.

There was a moment when I almost teared up as I stood in the empty hall before the 2012 Derby City Comic Con began. I know, through this convention, I can not only build a bigger life for myself but also help comic creators in a new way. I’m more excited than I can express when it comes to growing this show and the foundation created by its previous owner, Eric Banister, is rock solid.

When I say to those who want to be a part of this show that times are about to get VERY exciting, I honestly think it’s an understatement. Derby City Comic Con is going to grow into a destination event for this area of the country and, if the effort I plan to put into it is an indication, that goal will be reached in just a few short years. If you make the decision to live and breathe something, how can it not succeed?

One Responseto “What It Means To Me”

  1. Nice essay, Charles. I’ve yet to make this Con (always one or another family scheduling conflicts), but I hope to be there in 2013. I look forward to it, and I’m sure it will be great.

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    Similar story for me. Comics expanded my vocabulary and my introductions to a lot of Space Age concepts that whetted my curiosity and my creativity. Lots of mainstream creative folks today tip the hat to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. A lot of love should also go to folks at DC, like Edmond Hamilton, John Brrome, Gardner Fox, E and O Binder, and a boatload of artists.

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