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The Collectors Authority: Comics Get A Little Help

Many of the book store locations on the West, East, and South Sides of town are of a religious or scholastic tilt, but Collectors Authority stands out as a beacon for comic book collectors.

Part of the reason this local comic book store has been in business for so long on the Southside is its ability to serve a clientele that doesn't really have anything else.

Inspiring reading

Collectors Authority and other comic book stores like it are also benefiting from the attention of recent successful television shows based on comics and graphic novels; series like AMC's "The Walking Dead," and Hollywood blockbusters like last summer's "The Avengers" and "The Amazing Spider Man."

Pete Contero, co-owner of the Collectors Authority, said that movies starring superheroes have consistently brought new fans to his store.

These adaptations change the context in which the audience sees comics and graphic novels, and help to spark a new interest in young readers, an interest that can lead to a lifetime love for reading more than just comics.

Credit Chris Eudaily / TPR
Wolverine, the rugged mutant with an attitude and member of the X-Men, gently persuades patrons to keep browsing to a minimum.

"Somebody asked me once before, 'What did you used to collect?' Well, nothing really. I love reading, so that's one of the things I tell parents, too. It's a comic book, but it could help them to read; read more and maybe get into a novel," Contero said.

The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day at participating stores, and each year Contero said he passes out free comics to students in his son's sixth grade class.

This kind of promotion is creating more opportunities to reach out to the next generation of comic book and graphic novel fans.

It is one thing to read about your favorite superheroes in books, but bringing them to life -- and bringing together other people who are passionate about the art form -- in the shape of a comic book convention helps develop new readers and nourish loyal fans.

"On of the key things I think seeing recently, we've had our own comic book convention called the Texas Comicon," said Contero.

This year's Texas Comicon will be held June 21-23 at the San Antonio Event Center and the convention is now in its fourth year. This event helps give local stores more exposure, and helps foster a love for established series and new titles.

Not just for kids

In it's early days, comics were considered elementary reading for kids, but in the last two decades have turned to the adult audience to develop more literary works based on serious topics.

The shift in content has helped to increase the audience, and also opened the door for new writers to develop fresh new approaches; the use of graphic art can also be found in journalism.

This year, journalist and cartoonist Joe Sacco released Journalismhttps://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=texaspublicra-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0805094865, a collection of comics covering the war in Chechnya, refugees in Malta, the war in Iraq and other stories. The book has been recommended by everyone from book reviewers to prominent graphic novel blogs and covers sometimes disturbing and graphic events without the illustrated images sugarcoating the reality.

The year ahead

Now that we are out of the recession and people are spending more money, comic books are looking to keep gaining ground in the book market, and are doing so by getting support from other media.

Publishers are taking inspiration from cartoons and book series to produce comics and graphic novels to compliment (not combat with) the original series -- a practice that seems to be working for all parties involved.

These types of new tactics are bringing the industry into a new era, and with live events like Texas Comicon still growing, things are looking up for San Antonio comic book stores in 2013.

On-air spot with Pete Contero of the Collectors Authority.

My journalism journey began with an idea for a local art and music zine and the gumption to make it happen with no real plan or existing skill set.