Comic Con step aside: C-U hosts convention

Comic book fans gathered at the Eastland Suites in Urbana on Sunday for The Urbana/Champaign Comic Book Convention. This was not your conventional comic book gathering; there was no one dressed up as a superhero. Instead it was a place were comic fans could casually come to buy or sell their items.

Alan Morton organizes the convention twice a year — one in the fall and one in the spring. But it hasn’t always been a bi-annual event.

“Back in the ‘90’s, we would have them every other month,” Morton said.

However, he says due to low attendance, they stopped having the convention in the late 1990’s. The convention came back as a bi-annual event in 2005.

Morton said the convention has something for both serious comic book collectors and “people who just want things to read that they don’t wanna pay three bucks for.”

For the second group of people, there was a large selection of used comic books, most less than twenty years old, being sold for 50 cents or $1.

For the more serious collectors, comic book dealers from throughout the Midwest were at the convention. Generally, the older a comic book is, the more valuable it is to collectors. Another factor is the condition the comic book is in.

According to Earl Liles, a comic book dealer who goes to similar conventions around the Midwest, with his wife Amy, many dealers have the condition of their comic books judged by the Certified Guaranty Company, or CGC.

“They assign a rating out of 10, based on the condition of the book,” he said.

His own edition of the third issue of Popular Comics — a series from the 1930’s — had a 6.5 rating from the CGC. It was being sold for $775.

Another thing many collectors look for is what Amy Liles referred to as “pre-code” comics. In 1954, the comic book industry established the Comics Code Authority, a committee to self regulate the comic book industry due to growing concern about comic books popularity with children. Comic books published before 1954 “were much more risque” than what came after the Comics Code Authority began censoring comic books, according to Amy Liles. They were more violent as well, she said.

Many people immediately think of Superheroes when they think of comic books, but Amy Liles wanted to emphasize that there were many other popular genres, such as horror comics and comedy.

With such a long and varied history for the medium, most collectors “tend to focus on a specific era or genre”, she said.

Champaign resident Jennifer Wells said she tended to focus on comic books that were popular when she was growing up in the 1990’s.

Comic book collectors often travel to conventions in different cities. Wells said she has traveled to different conventions with her boyfriend.

“We came to this last year, and we were also at the Chicago comic con,” she said.