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Underground movement popularizes comic books

Once considered a mere hobby, comic books are holding their own in certain circles of popular culture.

“I love comics!” said Zack Anaya, a Weber State University sophomore. “I like to immerse myself in a good story.”

The comic book made its way into America during the 1930s. Comic book sales rose until just after World War II, when television and radio programs became more popular. Comics came back on to the scene in the 1960s, with the advent of underground, self-published books.

“The underground movement has always been there, but it’s becoming more prominent with books like the Brave and Bold series, ” said Rachael Williams, a WSU student and owner of HeeBeeGeeBeez in Layton. HeeBeeGeeBeez is a store that specializes in the sale of comics and games.

Movies like The Green Lantern and Thor have helped to popularize the entertainment value of comics, but Williams said it isn’t necessary to know the history of the comic before seeing the movie, because “the movies are usually true to the comic itself.” According to Williams, comics translate better than traditional books into film because of their inherent visual nature.

“Books are awesome,” said Anaya, “but comics, like movies, are brief stories that I have time for.”

Comic books have evolved since their origination in the late 1800s. They have gone from being merely a print news medium to today’s versions that are filled with action figures.

Psychiatrist Fredric Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent in 1954, and described the negative effects the violent imagery and content in comic books had on children.  This publication influenced the formation of the Comic Code Authority which worked to keep comics ethical.

Graphic novels, the most popular current version of comic books, are narratives like regular books, but they come with accompanying drawings and tell a full story without having to be broken up into issues like traditional comics.

“I have a lot of teachers and parents come into my store looking for books to help teach their children or students,” said Williams. “Parents of autistic children frequent (the store) looking for ways to stimulate their child.”

Congress has recently accepted comic books into the Library of Congress, with the current collection reaching nearly 6,000 titles.

Comic books bridge the gap between generations and help legacies be passed on. Williams said the majority of her customers are older men with “disposable income who are buying (comics) they couldn’t during their childhood.” These customers are passing their love of comics to their children.

“What dad wouldn’t want their child to believe he’d risk every peril, like a super hero, to be at (his child’s) side when they need it?” said Anaya.

In their 15 years of business, Williams said this year has been the best year to date for her stores. Williams also co-owns the HeeBeeGeeBeez stores on Washington and Harrison Blvd.

New comic books arrive in stores on Wednesdays. HeeBeeGeeBeez offers a variety of comic books, action figures, DVDs and other comic related materials as well as magic and other card game tournaments. For more information on comics and tournaments, students can visit or call the Harrison Blvd. store at (801) 528- 1771


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