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Book Review – Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture

I grew up reading comics. My mom read them when I was a kid and gave them to me when she was finished. Throughout elementary school, me and my friends would sit for hours on end reading comics, trading Marvel cards, and drawing our favorite characters. Once I reached high school, my time became preoccupied with after-school activities, homework, and hanging out with friends. Sadly, my love of comics was pushed to the sideline. Fast forward ten years and my love of comics is stronger than ever. Maybe there’s a small piece of me that yearns to be young again, but comics are in my blood and I love having them in my life.

The world I grew up in as a child is no longer the same world we live in today. Comics can be purchased digitally, pirated off the internet, and are showing up in fewer markets than they were when I was a kid. Now you have to actively seek out comics as opposed to stumbling upon them. Major book retailers are closing shop and fans are left searching through pages of online retailers or visiting their small mom & pop shops to grab the latest issues. With the economy being uncertain and the price of ‘floppies’ (single issue comics) being around $3-$4 an issue, many fans are starting to turn to the digital realm to feed their addiction.

Rob Salkowitz addresses these issues head on in Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture. Being a long time fan of comics and a yearly visitor to San Diego Comic-Con, Salkowitz discusses the evolution of comics from hard copy to the digital age and their struggle to survive. His new book covers the ins and outs of Comic-Con and how it has become a living breathing marketing machine. Big dollar trans-media properties are learning to change and adapt to decreasing sales, high overhead and markets drying up. Where do comic publishers turn to get their new products in front of audiences while still making a profit?

In his book, Salkowitz discusses the rise and settling of comics in the 1990s and their growing struggles into the new Millennium.  If you’re a ‘Nerd’ and you’ve never been to San Diego Comic-Con, you need to experience it at least once in your life. Salkowitz‘s description of the ever changing and evolving Comic-Con experience is as close to being there as you can get. His telling of adventures through the Con compliment his discussion concerning the changes comics have faced and endured from the mid-1990s to the present. 

Are you a geek who has no idea what happens at Comic-Con or anything about business? That’s fine. You will still enjoy every chapter of this book. Every hour and day of Comic-Con is covered. We learn how things work, what takes place, and how facets of the Con can give us a better view at the ever changing entertainment industry. I grew up dreaming of going to Comic-Con, it was up there with Disney World. I never thought I would get the opportunity to go, but years later, I fly down the coast to attend every summer. The feeling of geeking out at Comic-Con for five days straight as an adult is hard to relate, but Salkowitz does it effortlessly.

It’s an easy 4 out of 5 Nerdskulls from me.