Green Brains Equals Great Comics

Green Brain Comics, located in East Dearborn, does not have to try very hard to be visually arresting. One cannot help but notice the vibrant green awning bearing the store’s name, or the eerie font—reminiscent of a Karloff movie—that adorns the windows above it, letting you know immediately that this is not your daddy’s type of establishment (unless your father is really savvy).

Upon entering, you step into a large expanse of space with walls lined nearly end-to-end and top-to-bottom with a selection that would haunt any fan’s dreams. They carry traditional comic books, glossy graphic novels, and the type of manga that you cannot find in your local Borders. So whether you make your way to Green Brain in search of something specific, or just happen to be drawn in by the interesting storefront, the chances of leaving disappointed are slim.

The store is owned, and fantastically operated, by Katie Merritt and her husband, Dan, who are both life-long comic book enthusiasts. The pair has been running the store for the past 11 years, though they have a combined 30-plus years in the comic business between them. These are people who know their stuff and, more importantly, love it.

Dan, whose warm demeanor will make you forgot his somewhat intimidating stature in an instant, proudly describes himself as a comic book activist. In addition to having the distinction of being one of the most awesome descriptions ever committed to print, this entails the spirited promotion of International Read Comics in Public Day on August 28 and the co-founding of an annual June convention, called Kids Read Comics, that is geared toward getting age-appropriate comic material out to children in the Dearborn area.

Dan’s dedicated activism, along with a growing public appreciation for the unique method of storytelling employed in comic books, seems to be paying off. When asked if the sort of crowd that frequents the store has changed in recent years with the onslaught of successful film adaptations, Dan said, “We have a constant flux of all kinds of different characters and personalities coming through, all kinds of different age ranges, genders, walks of life. That's the biggest change. You know, the broadening of the field. People from all walks of life enjoy comics nowadays.”

Does this mean that it is finally time to retire the old stereotype depicting comic fans as scrawny adolescent boys starved for sunlight and hovering over the latest copy of Spawn? Absolutely. Dan will personally attest to the fact that his customers are “way cooler than that,” and it isn’t hard to believe him once you’ve stepped into the store.

Both Hollywood and the trend-hounding American public have taken more notice of the high entertainment value and artistry that die-hard fans of the medium have known about for decades. While getting wrapped up in the gritty urban fantasy of The Dark Knight or the high-flying action in the Iron Man movies, one cannot help but wonder how the entire country slept on such amazing material for such a long time. The unsung art may finally be getting its ballad on the big screen, but what took so long?

“It's a pretty sophisticated art form. Unfortunately, it hasn't been embraced like that in America,” Dan acknowledges. “You know, overseas in Europe and the Asian countries, the field has really had a chance to mature. We're dealing with decades of built-in sophistication of the European crowd that we couldn't replicate because we're too busy being thought of as a juvenile art form... it wasn't of any ‘artistic merit.’ It was just there to entertain the kids, and that's the way comics were kind of perceived for, maybe, twenty years.”

It is true that the comic industry long dealt with the same sneering perception given to science fiction novels and video games, but the way the public views comic books is changing, slowly, but for the better. Dan and Katie are doing all they can to speed the change along right in our own backyards, so whether you are a devoted fan or you are just curious because your best friend dragged you to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World this past summer, make the trip over to Green Brain. The folks there will see to it that you get what you need with a smile and a side of decent conversation.

Green Brain Comics is located at 13210 Michigan Avenue in downtown East Dearborn, or you can visit them on the web at http://greenbrain.biz. For more information on the Kids Read Comic convention, please visit http://kidsreadcomics.org.

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