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   Mon, June 21, 2004

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RVD talks comics
Universal appeal: Reader

At 6 feet, 220 pounds, WWE superstar Rob Van Dam's beefed up the stereotypical image of the average comic book fan yesterday at The Toronto Comicon. The wrestler, who recently opened RVD's 5 Star Comics store in California, said he was at the show to bridge the gap between wrestling and comic fans.

"(My store) turns a lot of wrestling fans onto comics because they come to meet the superstars that are doing the monthly autographs shows . . . and then they see the comics," Van Dam said.

The Comicon ended yesterday in the Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place. More than 500 visitors had the opportunity to mingle with the makers of well-known comics staples such as Batman and The Punisher.

Will Eisner, creator of the original comic-novel hybrid, A Contract with God, said comic books offer people an intimate reading experience, something that other mediums of storytelling lack.

"Print has an intimacy that film or the Internet doesn't have," Eisner said. "It's a medium where the reader can contribute something."

Despite the typical image of the comic book geek as someone who was unpopular at school, 28-year old Mark Van Dooren said the appeal is universal.


"Just the fact that there a lot of stories that don't fit elsewhere, fit in a comic," he said.

For fans, the love of comics is one that is built in childhood. Van Dam echoes this sentiment as he fondly recalls purchasing Ghostrider #27 when he was seven years old.

Whether it's the plastic slip and cardboard backing that preserve the comics' quality or the fantasy aspect, ultimately most fans admit that their devotion stems from the love a good story with pictures.

As Darren Racioppa, 10, picked up action figures and comics with his dad, he explained why Spider-man is his favourite character.

"He's strong, he's cool, and I like his villains," Racioppa said.

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