Blog: Dan Merritt

In the comics, as in life, actions speak louder than words. From toughing out road construction projects to the digitizing of print, Green Brain Comics co-owner Dan Merritt covers the survival of the superhero of American art forms, the comic book.

Post 1: Take that, you foul and baseless cliché! is truly amazing how the Detroit area comic culture has evolved over the decades. We have evolved from a loose group of enthusiasts buying comic books from a spinner rack at a drugstore to the upright collection of professional artists, writers, retailers and consumers that we are today.

Detroit is arguably the birthplace of the modern comic convention, Detroit Triple Fan Fare,  and currently plays host to several local and regional conventions. Over the years, the Detroit area has also been home to some of the most amazing creative talent working in comic books: veterans like Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom and Keith Pollard, along with more recently acclaimed creators, Eisner award winners like Guy Davis and David Petersen. Also worth mentioning, in 2010, Ann Arbor-based comic book retailer Vault of Midnight became the first Michigan retailer to be awarded the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award, so named after the creator of The Spirit and the person that popularized the term "graphic novel".

Green Brain Comics has itself been awarded several Best of Detroit awards from local media outlets like the Metro Times, Detroit News, and CORP Magazine as well as being nominated twice for the above-mentioned Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award.

Stating these achievements is not meant to toot my own horn or inflate the importance of my peers, many of which are also personal friends. I mention these things as a starting point to demonstrate where we are now in the perception of the public, the media, and how widely accepted this comic book art form has become. For example, Art Speigelman, the creator of the MAUS graphic novel, received a Pulitzer Prize for that work back in 1992. And over the next two decades, almost every major literary award has recognized the achievements in graphic novels. Even the New York Times now includes a Graphic Book Bestseller list. It seems that we may have finally arrived.

Our biggest challenge remaining is in changing the last residual prejudices against the comic book culture. The Android's Dungeon and its owner, "Comic Book Guy" from The Simpsons cartoon, typifies most of the remaining obstacles standing in the way of the whole industry. Like most stereotypes though, there is a grain of tru to it.

For instance, there may be some customers hanging out near our front counter, having a spirited conversation with my wife and I about some recent comic book or super-hero movie. Whereas now, that person is more than likely to be a factory worker, engineer, religious leader or even a high ranking public servant. And increasingly likely, that customer may be a woman. We can now quantify that our clientele demographics include more than 25% female readership. Take that, you foul and baseless cliché!

And finally, a few words about comic book readers. At Green Brain Comics, we do everything in our power to increase and diversify the clientele, appealing to every race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status or sexual orientation. We don't differentiate whether you have a birth certificate, green card or are registered to one political party or another. Consequently, we never know who is going to walk through the door next.

It might be you.