But here we are over 50 years later and comic books continue to thrive and take up a decent spot in popular culture. But I think what Wertham only marginally go to towards the end of his life with regards to his examination on Fanzine culture is that this elements of popular culture do have something to offer. More importantly, like other avenues of study and culture, they are becoming more legitimate forms, not just through mass exposure, but through serious inquiry and exploration. Much has been written about the various academic approaches to comics, whether it's the college-level class (which some of you who are reading this are in), or the academic articles and books (of which I have added to in some small way) or the academic conferences (again, been there, done that, have a t-shirt actually--and no, it's not my Batman t-shirt either). These have been covered at length throughout the net, but lesser so is the rise in institutions--particularly, nonprofit institutions, that are present to encourage the study, exploration, and usage of comics. Most recently, two organizations have launched with overlapping intentions. The Institute for Comic Studies is a nonprofit organization who looks to support in a variety of ways the further study and examination as comics while Reading With Pictures is an organization attempting to raise awareness of comics at education tools either directly connected with reading or any applicable field of knowledge. Both are run by some of the well-known people in the field of comic studies and they clearly illustrate (pun intended) the desire to push comics beyond their most recent (and most replicated) conversation (which many within comic studies hear repeatedly) about comics not just being for kids.
The Widened Range of Comic InstitutionsThe rise of such institutions indicates a clear shift and hopefully larger trend wherein cultural objects can be better understood for their potential merit and not their worst or at least less-reputable examples. These aren't the only nonprofit organizations dealing with comics but I tend to think these show a clear shift from previous examples such as Prism Comics, which is a fantastic group that looks to promote GLBT theme comics. Kids Love Comics is another solid organization that looks to increase awareness and tap the potential of kids to enjoy comics. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund comes to mind. This organization raises funds and provides legal advice to a variety of people within the comic industry from artists to comic book store owners whose First Amendment rights are wrongly assaulted. These organizations are mainly concerned with increasing awareness (and protection) and encouraging certain populations to pick up the comics and appreciate their value. The later organizations seem to take the value for granted or rather are looking to enhance our overall value of comics by supporting research.
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