I can’t begin to acknowledge how much a comic book played a positive role in my childhood and maybe even yours. To this day comic books remain a fantasy getaway for the creative mind young and old, male and female. From the games you play, movies you enjoy, pieces you collect and characters you idolize, most if not all had some humble beginning in a book.
The current movie sensations together with TV series after TV series featuring the most iconic heroes of Dc and Marvel have audiences at the edge of their seats. With this being said I take this opportunity to share the thoughts of a key voice in the comic book circle of Trinidad and Tobago Mr. Shaveed Mohammed- Ali -Host of COMICFEST April 2015 on the comic book world today and more specifically comic book interest in Trinidad and Tobago.
Tell us about yourself as it relates to comic books.
I got started in comic collecting at the age of 13. There was a guy on High Street, San Fernando that I used to pass by on afternoons after school that had a stall on the pavement. One day I was passing by and a cover of a comic book caught my eye- Ghost Rider #18. I picked it up and that was the beginning of my comic collecting journey.
Tell us about the general interest among the public in comic books today compared to years ago. Has it changed for better or worse, remained the same?
Comic books in the recent years have enjoyed a surge of interest thanks mainly to the live action movies from Marvel and Dc. In terms of change I believe it has changed for the better.
Based on your answer elaborate why you think so?
Most people think that comics are for kids. While this may have been true during the 60’s through 90’s, publishers realized that their core audience was growing up and needed grittier/mature themed stories, so comics are now geared towards the young adult/ older audience with offerings such as Warner Brothers kids titles for the younger audience.
From your experience in comics over the years locally, how popular is “collecting a comic book” today differ than that of the past? Does “buying” a comic differ from “collecting” a comic?
I’d say collecting is pretty popular, and it doesn’t differ much, but it comes in 2-3 flavours. There’s the wagonist collector, the casual collector and then there’s the serious collector.
The wagonist collector-This is an individual who buys what’s in at that particular time and is only interested in key comics, collecting the complete story to which the key issue belongs isn’t important. Most times the quality of the book isn’t important either but they have an idea of what condition the book should be in. They think the movie happened before the book and try to convince you that they’re right.
A great example would be when the Christopher Nolan Batman Dark Knight Rises movie was coming out. Sales in the storyline Batman Knightfall soared. In particular Batman issue #497 [where Bane breaks Batman’s back] which was part 11 of the 19 issue long arc, was in high demand.
The casual collector -This collector is interested but not too interested. Likes a good story but doesn’t have the time to hunt down individual issues to complete storylines and as such will stick mostly to TPB’s/Graphic Novels but will still scoop up a key comic or two if he/she happens by one [at the right price]. This collector also has a pretty good knowledge of his favourite character and laughs when the wagonist tries to convince them that the movie came out first but will still try to show the wagonist that it didn’t.
The serious collector -This collector knows about comics. They will spend time sorting through comic boxes at conventions/sales looking for that particular issue to finish a storyline. He/ She has in-depth knowledge of numerous characters and is willing to share info. Knows about grades and how to handle and store their books and they will buy graded/signed comics [CGC] and attend conventions to get their books signed by their favourite artists/writers. Grading is important to this collector and it also affects how much they are willing spend on a book. They ensure that all books are bagged and boarded and if they’re not, seek to find storage supplies. They usually assist the Casual collector in collecting and join in the laugh when listening to the Wagonist, all the while trying to educate them.
With the advent of the internet allowing for the availability of any comic title at your fingertips, how has this affected the comic circle in Trinidad and Tobago?
I would have to say it’s had a positive impact. Now you can research any title you’re looking for on the go, keep your wish list on hand so you can search for that missing title if you stumble across a sale by accident and generally keep abreast of what new storylines are coming out that may interest you. Back in the day if you didn’t know someone who knew an event was happening you’d probably miss it. And if you did stumble across a sale and didn’t have your list or an idea of what you were missing you’d probably end up buying an extra copy of a book you already had. [yes, speaking from personal experience here..]
I overheard a comment sometime ago where someone was thinking twice about attending a comicfest because they believed that comicfest here today are simply back issue sales with sellers simply returning with the same stocks as previous events. Your opinion on this.
There is some merit in this statement but it’s not all true. In the earlier events, sales were limited to back issues as most of the interested attendees were interested in just that, back issues and at the time prices for new issues were too high. Also, hardly anyone was interested in the new stuff because social media and the cellular network wasn’t that big back then.
Since that time however social media has erupted into the giant that it is today and cellular providers have upgraded their networks to ensure that you can stay connected and up to date with information as it happens [ie new storylines, upcoming projects, etc…]. To this end there have been a few exhibitors who have stepped up to the plate to fill the needs of those who wish to collect new issues namely Alternative Universe run by Dion Herbert and Media and Variety Emporium run by Mark Amarali.
Any words you would like to share with the public/ comic enthusiast about comic books?
It’s a great hobby! And it’s something you can share with anyone. So pick up a comic and dive into the experience!
Thank You Shaveed for this great insight and we hope to all be a part of many more comicfest to come.
Shaveed owns one of the hottest stores in the south side- REWIND COMIX- so if you feel the need to read then call Shaveed.
Figurett welcomes any and all readers to participate and ask questions about any issues relevant to each blogpost.