That is, if they trek out at all. Increasingly, grownup comics fans pursue their pleasures on eBay or shop online dealers like Denver-based Mile High Comics, where founder Chuck Rozanski stocks about 10 million books and gets 300,000 unique visitors to his website each month. He claims to have the vast majority of every comic printed since 1960 in different grades ranging from Fair to Near Mint and priced accordingly. Mile High specializes in books that cost $5 or less, Rozanski says, and the online store draws many collectors looking to fill gaps in a run of The Atom or Hawkman.

The site also carries rare and hard-to-find comics like The Spirit, from the 1940s. A recent price check found a 1962 Aquaman (original price: 12 cents) offered at $100.80 in Very Good condition, while a Very Fine edition was set at $312. I winced when I spotted a 1982 Wolverine, which I once owned, going for $100.

Rozanski, a lifelong comics fan who began selling books at 14, says many comics readers lose interest in the genre during their late teens, then come back to collecting in their 20s. He has many steady customers in their 40s and 50s.

Comics, he believes, take adult readers "back to that freedom of youth, when you didn't have so many commitments. You get the psychic reward of stepping away from the real world and just chilling out."

the dynamic duo studio has been creating comic book-style art for advertising and editorial usage ever since the husband-and-wife team of arlen schumer (who designs, draws, and hand-letters) and sherri wolfgang (computer coloring) founded the studio in new york city in 1986. for more info about them and their work, go to www.­
readers spent $100 million on graphic novels in 2002, and at least $130 million in 2003.