By the numbers
The year the format was introduced with “Famous Funnies.”
Estimated sales of comic books in North America in 2012.
Year comic books hit the online market with the launch of Marvel Digital Comics.
The average cost of a comic book in 2013.
Cost, in cents, of a comic book in the 1930s.
Number of films based on comic books released since “Adventures of Captain Marvel,” a 12-part serial from Republic Pictures, which debuted in 1941.
Number of dollars the 2012 movie “The Avengers” grossed in 2012, setting a record for a film based on a comic book. “Iron Man 3,” released last year, is next at $409 million.
Average cost of a graphic novel, which has a full story; comic books generally have stories ending in cliffhangers.
Sources: Marvel.com, DC Comics and various websites
Action Comics, No. 1
Price when published in 1938: 10 cents.
Estimated value today: $2.89 million.
Why valuable: Superman made his first appearance.
Detective Comics, No. 27
Price when published in 1939: 10 cents.
Estimated value today: $2.23 million.
Why: This story introduced the world-renowned crusading detective, Batman.
Marvel Comics, No. 1
Price when published in 1939: 10 cents.:
Estimated value today: $572,000.
Why: This was the first Marvel Comics comic book. It also introduced the Human Torch , the Angel and the Sub-Mariner.
Amazing Fantasy, No. 15.
Price when published in 1962: 72 cents
Estimated value today: $447,000 (a copy in mint condition sold for $1.1 million in 2011).
Why: This was the story that introduced Spider-Man.
“The Strain”, No. 1
Price when published in 2011: $1
Estimated value today: $899.99 according to online auction site eBay.
Why: Guillermo del Toro, known for his films “Pacific Rim” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and Chuck Hogan, who wrote the “Prince of Thieves”, wrote this comic book. The copy at this price is signed by del Toro. The estimated value of an unsigned copy is $193.
Source: Nostomania , an online comic book price guide, unless otherwise noted.
Movies based on comic books to be released this year
- “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (Tonight)
- “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (May 23)
- “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Aug. 1)
- “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (Aug. 8)
- “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” (Aug. 22)
- “Big Hero 6” (November)
Thoughts on comic books
15, Empire High School freshman.
Everyone loves a hero: “Little kids dream of being superheroes. ... I would say they have a stronger appeal to geeks, but superheroes are a major part of popular culture.”
What a good comic book can do: “It should let them feel like a kid again. It should be a work of art, something to be savored.”
Why comic books matter: “They can be ground-breaking. They can tell stories that a regular book can’t. … That is the fun, it leaves nothing unexplained and it lets you follow the action better than a book.”
41, owner of Fantasy Comics.
The Old Pueblo: “Tucson always has been a comic-book town.”
Movie jump: “Now that it is more popular to watch ‘Ironman’ on the big screen, it is easier to go into a comic- book store because the taboo is gone.”
52, Tucson comic-book creator.
On the appeal of paper: “A lot of people want that hard copy to read or collect. They want a tangible thing. I don’t see that (digital) ever replacing the comic book itself.”
Tucson’s comic artist scene: “Right now, it is a very fertile, active time for creators in this town. I feel that there are more local creators than any other time in Tucson.”
The sky’s the limit: “A lot of the local people have gone off to do bigger things. I think getting support from the local shops really helped that.”
47, writer and creator of Tribal Force, the first all-Native American superhero team.
On the move to online: “It is scary, because everything is technology- based and we are in a shift. We are finding our place. We are in the wild, wild West.”
Comics are gaining more respect: “The graphic novel has been a well-respected medium in Japan. They use it in schools. They use it everywhere, and we are slowly going to that.”
24, Heroes and Villains employee.
On the popularity of comic books: “The nerds have won.”
A sign of changing times: “I live in a world where my mom knows who Hawkeye is.”
60, owner of Charlie’s Comics.
On a growing online fan base: “They may read all their comics digitally, but when it is someone’s birthday, they say ‘Yeah, I just read this really good Batman comic and I want to give it to my buddy for his birthday. I’m not going to email it to him in a PDF, I am going to go to the comic shop and get him a graphic novel for $20.’”
The appeal of comics: “I think people come into comic-book stores because comic books are cool.
”Diego Rivera, 31, employee at Showtime Cards.
On the future of Tucson Comic-con: “Phoenix (Comic) Con is doing 50-plus thousand (people). I think in the next 10 years we could possibly do that, if not more, but we need to market right and have the right leadership.”
Mike Saxon, 25, drama teacher at Gridley Middle School, actor.
Why he thinks paper comic books will be around for a while: “There is a certain feeling and smell when you open a book and hold a page in your hand.”
Toby Canto Jr., 27, Tucson native and Austin-based filmmaker.
On changing attitudes: “The geek community has always rallied around these comic-book characters, and what was once said to be not cool is becoming cool.”
Rick Keefe, 51, owner of R-Galaxy.
It’s still a tough draw: “In terms of the overall (comic-book enthusiast) population, no I do not think it is really growing, and I think one of the reasons is, is the high cost of comic books these days.
“This is not a growing industry; it is an industry that is trying its best to survive.
“While the industry has profited by movies, they are using the comic books merely as launching pads to make themselves richer without enriching their customers, which are the retailers, and their end customers.”
Michael Camp, 46, owner of Heroes and Villains.
Going digital: “The loss of the newsstand, that hurt us for quite some time. … Digital has come out and replaced the newsstand as the new primary tool for getting new readers.
“As digital has risen in popularity, so has the interest in our comic books.”
George Mares, 41, owner of Showtime Cards.
Collectors want paper: “People want to physically pick it up, the social aspect from being here and browsing, and they are collectors. They want to collect. … That is what (comic books) are all about.”
Let’s talk: “People want to be here to discuss characters (and) art. … People want to hub to their local comic store.”