Yet it has mostly been associated with nerd culture. The escapist fantasies of lonely boys and obsessive males etc. A fantastical escape from a less than fantastical life. Yet the superhero may well be one of Americas great inventions, a flight of imagination, opening up a whole new world of fiction, while capturing certain shades of the American dream in the process.
Yet the comic seems to have been isolated in popular consciousness to this particular fate, stories of super heroes, a pulpy genre for children and overgrown children.
Yet there is an aspect that has always remained defiantly individual, using the medium not only to defy the laws of gravity, but also to break from convention and perpetuation of standard narratives.
One of the great towns for comic book innovation is Portland, home to many of the industrys most creative individuals.
The town is home to one of the indie publisher Dark Horse, which has consistently published some of the most off kilter comic books of the past decade, with a strange ensemble of super heroes, all with a good dose of humanity. Usagi Yojimbo is a rabbit samurai, though much more recognizably human than most human characters portrayed in modern fictions.
The writer and creator Mike Mignola used to reside in Portland and created what is now one of Dark Horses most popular characters and best selling franchises, the acclaimed and accolade Hellboy. Hellboy is a unique and enduring semblance of pulp reference, using propaganda, folklore, and some horror to create something rather distinct and altogether perseverant.
Now Portland has also become home to one of the pioneers and most heralded writers in the burgeoning world of the web comic. Chris Onstad, the writer of the online sensation Achewood, moved to the town two years ago and since then has particularly made it his home, appearing for signings and setting up book deals with Dark Horse.
Every year the town is host to one of the best comic conventions in the country, bringing in some of the biggest and hippest names.
Next years guest announcements are already under way, with Kurt Busiek so far as the most prominent, a man who has consistently been reshaping the Superman franchise.
The comic book festival often attracts a diverse range of creators, representing the mainstream, the indie heroes and the alternate faction. Hometown her Mignola often makes an appearance as new Hellboy storylines are tentatively discussed.
Then there is the conventions indie island which attracts names like Kate Beaton and John Allison, names that dont mean a great deal to a lot of folk, but a good deal to a few.
The comic book scene here is consistently bringing in fans to Portland, staying in hotels and Oregon rentals.