The rise of costumed heroes in Durham

Comic books. These simple words evoke thoughts of spandex-clad superheroes and a string of blockbuster Marvel movies.

If local fans are any indication, the love of comics is contagious in Durham Region. The Comic Book Addiction comic book store recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary with packed events at both its Whitby location and Oshawa warehouse.

Gabriel Chiasson, 24, is one of many who learned to read through comic book.

“With comics it was easy to develop an interest in reading,” says Chiasson.

Chiasson was one of many adults at Comic Book Addiction who still enjoys comics. The devout fan studied translation at Montreal’s McGill University and hopes his passion can evolve into a job doing translation work in comic books one day.

He describes the appeal of the art as limitless, pointing out that comics offer plenty of diversity for all ages and tastes. Chiasson explains that many enjoys comic books because of their art and storytelling.

Comic Book Addiction’s Oshawa warehouse sale was attended almost solely by serious collectors looking through stacks of comics in hopes of finding that one rare pearl to complete their collection. It was seasoned collectors, mostly males in their mid-30s to late fifties who showed up for the warehouse sale.

However, it would be a mistake to assume comic books are strictly for teenage boys and middle-aged men. When it came time to visit Comic Book Addiction’s Whitby location, the customer demographic expanded to become much more diverse. All of a sudden families were walking into the store, dads were sharing their love of superheroes with their sons, and children purchasing their very first comic books. Some customers and their children even dressed up in colourful superhero attire for occasion.

For Victoria Miguel, 24, the comic bug began when she started reading her older brother’s Spider-Man collection. Soon enough she was buying comics with her own money, making the jump from Spider-Man to characters such as Deadpool. Miguel, a Comic Book Addiction employee, dressed up as Harley Quinn from the Batman universe.

She says more girls are drawn to comic books than when she began working at the store. Miguel attributes the growing interest from females to the portrayal of courageous female Characters, inspiring girls of all ages to reach for a comic book.

“I know a lot of women like to see strong women into their comics. They are drawn to that,” says Miguel.

Geof Isherwood is one of the lucky few able to make a living from his passion for comic books.

“When I was 16 my family took a trip to Manhattan,” he says. “I went to Marvel’s offices and met with artists who pointed out things I should work on.”

Isherwood ran with their advice and later cut his teeth working for Marvel writing and illustrating stories for well-known titles such as Web of Spider-Man, Thor, Silver Surfer and Conan the Barbarian. The appreciation of the art developed at a young age has clearly paid off.

The artist was brought in all the way from Ottawa by owners of Comic Book Addiction to be a part of the celebrations.

The festivities at Comic Book Addiction included a sale on in-store items, free baked goods, an artist doing caricatures, and a for Marvel comics illustrator. Some of the store employees were disguised and a man dressed as Darth Vader greeted customers.

Comics books span generations of fans with their universal appeal, unique storytelling and art.

“With comics, there is something for everyone young and old, male or female,” says comics enthusiast Gabriel Chiasson.

With the torch being passed on from parents to kids, the future of comic books in Durham Region appears to be in good hands.