(Press) Comic Books No Laughing Matter

(Article featured in the July 15th Glens Falls Post-Star Newspaper by Bonnie Naumann)

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Two brothers, Ed and Chuck Brouillette, hosted the city's first comic book convention Saturday, attracting novices and experts from the surrounding Capital Region.

The Brouillettes said they organized the show because they wanted to share their love of one of the country's classically alternative, but increasingly mainstream medium of expression.

Though comics historically had a bad reputation, the brothers and many visitors to the modest convention said they could possibly be the future of literature.

"It costs nothing to make a comic book," said Darren Carrara, 29, owner of The Comic Depot in Greenfield Center.

That means the inexpensive publication opens a market for a broad range of socioeconomic classes.

And the increasingly wideopen conventions allow for a freedom of expression unparalleled by any other popular medium, said Ed Brouillette of Saratoga Springs.

"Now you can print things that would otherwise be riskier," he said.

Plus, their visual format makes the texts more welcoming to readers on a variety of levels.

"Reading comic books as a kid, I'd come across new words and go ask mom or dad about it. There were a lot of big words because they were made by educated people," he said.

But the stories are easier to follow because the illustrations must match the words, said Marc Weinstein, 27, also of Saratoga Springs.

Comics can draw even struggling readers to pick up a text because of the "pictorial storytelling," said Chuck Brouillette.

"You can study it at your own rate," he said. "Kids are able to visualize the story as they read."

Perhaps that is why it was difficult for many fans -- young and old -- to articulate which aspect they liked more: the artwork or the stories.

"It is just a little of both. I like them both the same," said Zachary Bond, 9, of Glenville.

They can also provide accessible, age-appropriate inspiration to aspiring artists or writers.

"I like trying to work with the different styles," said Zack Hays, 14, of Rensselaer County.

"I'm good at writing and artwork, so this seemed like the best thing for me."

Carrara, of Greenfield Center, said he thinks people like comics because they are "fast-paced, have identifiable characters and they can be filled with timely, relevant information or they can be the exact opposite and provide an escape."

With all of these powers combined, Carrara said, comics are becoming increasingly mainstream.

Even Captain America's funeral was prominently featured in mainstream media outlets such as USA Today, he said.

"It is a unique art form," Weinstein said. "It is like professional wrestling, which is an amalgam of all the things that make TV great.

Comic books are an amalgam of all that makes literature great. It is the future of literature."