Nick Bradshaw spends his days huddled in a tiny room in Moncton drawing some of the most popular superheroes in print.
The world-renowned Marvel comic illustrator, who says he is currently working on revamping Spider-Man for a new generation, is surrounded by walls covered in the artwork that inspired him to begin reading as a child.
“I learned to read through comic books,” he said. “I learned to associate the pictures with the words and it made it a lot easier for me.”
It’s a big reason why Bradshaw has embarked on a mission is to inspire more kids to read and help improve New Brunswick’s dismal literacy rates. According to the provincial government, up to 30 per cent of young children in the province have difficulty reading.
“It’s about getting kids to read, but it’s also an acceptable medium in the family for kids to be able to read,” he said.
Four years ago, Bradshaw started a not-for-profit comic convention in Moncton to help spread the word about comics and inspire more kids to read.
“We have a teacher who works in Hillsborough, Scott Tingley, who tried comics in the classroom, and he tries to expose his students to comic books,” he said. “So he sits on our committee. We get his point of view on it and we are constantly trying to attract people who work in the school.”
Bradshaw said there was a time 20 years ago when comics were considered taboo.
“You had your little den of friends, fellow nerds hiding in the basement reading comics. Now with the movies and the TV shows there’s tons of television shows that are comic-related,” he said.
“It’s mainstream, so comics are cool again.”
Free Comic Book Day will be held around the world this year on May 7, and local comic book store manager Remi Vienneau LeClair said it’s so popular that lineups are usually out the door.
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“I get a lot of parents and teachers who come in here and they are buying for their kids and for their classrooms because it’s the only thing they will read,” he said.
Bradshaw says because comic books are fun, it’s easy to get kids excited about reading.
“It’s a great segue for kids where you can sort of trick them [and] they are getting an education. They are learning to read,” he said.
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