Pop culture for loan

Cockburn Libraries are dusting off their superhero capes for this year’s Oz Comic Con Photo: Katrina Tap.

In an Australian first, Cockburn Libraries will exhibit some of their library stock at this weekend’s Oz Comic-Con in Perth.

According to Comic Con organisers, a library service has never held a stall at one of their conventions.

The event is the country’s premier comic convention and has been running since 2012.

Cockburn Libraries senior branch manager Amanda Heptinstall says the library allows people to access a range of pop culture comics and graphic novels.

“Libraries are amazing community spaces,” she says.

“They’re a great place just for people to meet and a safe space for people to come and get together.”

Amanda Heptinstall

With the increasing cost of living, she says being able to provide these books for free is important.

The library boasts more than 5000 comic books and 300 manga films in its free collection.

She says comic books are a great starting point to get younger people interested in reading.

Ms Heptinstall says greater diversity of topics in new comic books and graphic novels are also resonating with a wider audience.

“I think the fact that it’s now covering a lot of themes that I would like relevant and pertinent to young people that comics didn’t used to do,” she says.

“They used to be strictly a superhero type thing, but now they’re going out into all sorts of other avenues.”

Cockburn Libraries anime club hosts the teenage anime community in Perth. Video: Katrina Tap.

Chaos Pop comic bookstore manager Aaron “AJ” Johnson says rising costs has been challenging for the industry, which still favours physical copies over digital.

He says rising shipping costs have put pressure on businesses, especially since the US is the dominant supplier of comic books.

However, he says the pandemic saw a rise in popularity of comic books, with more people at home to read.

The comic book industry has seen a bounce back from pandemic levels, with research hub WordsRated reporting comic book revenue in 2021 was 62 per cent higher than the previous year.

Chaos Pop manager Aaron Johnson will run a stall at Oz Comic Con this year with 40,000 comic books. Photo: Katrina Tap.

According to research by the Nielson Book Report, the Australian Graphic Novels sector grew by 61 per cent in 2020.

Fortune Business Insights reports that this growth is expected to continue, with the global market projected to grow from $22 billion in 2022, to $31 billion by 2029.

Mr Johnson says events like Oz Comic Con, which has not been held in Perth since 2017, are fantastic for growing the comic book community in Perth.

Ms Heptinstall says she hopes the event will attract more visitors to the library.

“We can reach this whole audience of people that wouldn’t have otherwise known about Cockburn Libraries.”