Sparking a love for reading is a superhero's first job


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Famous Faces & Funnies comic shop owner Rick Shea recently brought illustrator/artists Kevin Litte and Timothy Nguyen to his shop inspire Quest Elementary School students.

The growing proliferation of blockbuster movies inspired by comics means the industry is more than relevant to today's youth. 

Beyond the plethora of dream jobs youngsters could pursue is something more basic. They are the gateway to love for reading, which in turn is the pathway to learning.

This is all according to comics aficionado Rick Shea, owner of Famous Faces & Funnies and frequent organizer of youth outreach events to the Suntree/Viera area. This and other area comics stores like Viera Comics in Suntree will mark the popular annual Free Comic Book Day Saturday, May 6 with celebrity appearances and popular illustrators demonstrating their craft on site.

“We're always happy to cross promote our store and our events, but more importantly, we want to get children excited about reading,” Shea said. “Comics is a medium that is very accessible to younger readers, and with a comic book of seemingly every cartoon, TV show, or movie, there's something for everyone in the comic industry. I think it's amazing that so many superheroes and other characters from comics are being seen on the big screen and even the small screen.”

Children are not the only fans who attend comic book events, but anyone alive who has ever been a child.

“Many of the most popular movies and TV shows are based on characters that many older fans have been following their adventures for 20 to 50 years. With heroes like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Flash and Arrow as some of the most popular characters in any media, it's definitely helping to bring new people into our store and to find out more about these characters and see what might happen next in the movies or TV shows, as most are based on storylines from the comics.”

Viera Comics manager Glenn Scanes jokes that he does it all for the fans, as in, he spends plenty of time in the gym to create the spider-enhanced physique of Spider-Man and other superheroes.

“Getting to see these characters really does create life-long fans. I know because I am one of them.”

And bringing artists to perform their craft and give out free drawings requested by children as souvenirs puts ink in the veins of future artists.

“We are very happy to see so many younger readers getting interested in comics,” Shea said. “Many become phenomenal artists after seeing so many amazing drawings of these characters in comics or graphic novels.”

Quest Elementary third-grader Trey Spratt of Viera is one of them after a recent event brought by Shea.

“It was so neat to be able to see how comics are made,” Spratt said.

For more information or a schedule of events, call Viera Comics, located at 7640 N. Wickham Road Suite 108, at 321-600-4567 or go to vieracomics.com; or Famous Faces & Funnies in Melbourne at 321-259-3575 or famousfacesandfunnies.com.