Matt Price’s Word Balloons column celebrates 10th anniversary
Every Friday for the past 10 years, readers have been able to find out about the world of comic books in the pages of The Oklahoman.
After starting at The Oklahoman in November 2000, my column about comic books, “Word Balloons,” was approved by Entertainment Editor Gene Triplett and began Feb. 2, 2001 — my birthday. While a lot has changed in newspapers over the past decade, one thing that’s remained constant is this weekly dose of comic book news and commentary.
Comic book sales were starting to come out of the slump they’d been in through the late 1990s, and graphic novels were becoming more a part of the accepted parlance. Perhaps most notably for this column, the “X-Men” movie had been a hit. Bryan Singer’s adaptation of Marvel’s mutant comic book had become the ninth highest-grossing film of 2000. “Spider-Man,” to be directed by Sam Raimi, had started filming just a few weeks before, with few suspecting it would go on to make more than $800 million dollars worldwide in 2002. This success opened the floodgates for comic-book films, with dozens more hitting the silver screen throughout the decade.
Changes happened not only in the multiplexes, but in the bookstores, too. Graphic novels were one of the fastest-growing categories in bookstores throughout the decade, and sales to comic shops trended upward from 2001 through 2009. According to Comichron.com, yearly sales of the top 300 comics and top trade paperbacks to comic shops went up from $207.49 million in 2001 to $335.47 million in 2009. The graphic novel growth in comic shops was even more pronounced, from $20.51 million in 2001 to $77.65 million in 2009, again according to Comichron.com.
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