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Column on Comic Convention

October 08, 1988

Enclosed is my response to Around the Valley by T. W. McGarry, which appeared on Aug. 24.

I appreciated that my "last" miniature Comic Book Convention was covered at all. Except it wasn't covered. The author must have written 90% of it in his head prior to attending. He asked a few questions, but only two out of 50 really interesting answers got printed.

Opinion and half-truth is not what journalism is about, is it? When asked about the Senate subcommittee and the "great comic scare" of the 1950s, I indicated that the psychiatrist, Fredric Wertham, and the subcommittee operated from fear and paranoia (as many of us do) and caused what many in the industry believe to have been the finest comic group to go out of business.

Comic conventions do indeed cater to a younger audience with less money. While being located next to a Science Fiction Club (the oldest one in the world, 60-plus years) my clientele is 30 to 50 years old. They spend at least $15 to $30 each week for their habit of the imagination.

My store is not the size of a small bedroom. McGarry noticed the "new" comics room. McGarry missed the second room, which was off limits during my convention next door.

The Science Fiction Club, where the convention was held, is in a "clubhouse" built up and refurbished by the members of the club and their board of directors. In no way has it ever resembled a garage, though five to seven cars could fit inside.

Comic books are serious business. They are a billion-dollar industry.

The Comic Con I sponsored was generated by kids in the community. Kids are learning about business through collecting comics. They learn how to buy them cheap at a Comic Con and how to sell them or trade them to a friend to get other comics they want. An appreciation of art and literature is inherent in the collecting and reading of comic books. Comic books are both written and drawn. Some praise the creators as though they were Zen masters. And creating comics is a discipline that kids do emulate. Adults, too. Indeed, people are learning foreign languages from comics, as comics are printed all over the world and are highly regarded in Europe and Japan.

ROB GUSTAVESON

North Hollywood

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