Thursday, 7 October 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #609: Comics, TV, & More Comics

Welcome to the show folks...

Time to look at some little stories, and then my little mind can offer my little opinion.... Wait a minute?

Anyway, let's get down to business.


DC Comics has chopped the price of their 32 page issues from $3.99 to $2.99.

The fact that this is big news definitely says something. When I was a kid my earliest comic book related memories was buying Batman, Brave & The Bold, Justice League, Justice Society, and World's Finest* for 45¢ Canadian each. In my youth I could get a comic book, a bottle of Coke, a bag of chips, and a night with a prostitute for $2.99. Okay, I kid, it wasn't the full night.

However, this really doesn't do much to solve some of the problems the comics industry is facing.

Reason #1. Retailers. There aren't enough of them. Back when I was spending $2.99 on comics, junk food, and wild living you could find comics in every corner store. Now, I would have to go on a 3 hour drive from my house to find a place that sells monthly issues on a regular basis.

Why do I have to travel so far to find a comic book?

Reason #2. The Physical Product. Non-specialty retailers hate, and I mean HATE carrying monthly issues. They're flimsy, they damage easily, they don't fit on their magazine racks very well, and the profit margin on them is razor thin of not non-existent.

Reason #3. The Creative Product. Comics can't attract new readers. It's a simple fact of life. People will pay to see the movies made from comics, but when it comes to buying the books themselves, it's a very different story. They go to their nearest comics shop see that the character they're interest in is featured in a dozen different monthly magazines, each one in the middle of their own elaborate multi-issue story arc that requires full understanding of a continuity that goes back, in some cases, decades. The average new reader literally doesn't know where to start.

While the price cut may help DC sales for a little while, I just think that when it comes to solving the big problems the industry is facing, they might be a day late and a dollar short.


NBC's legal drama Outlaw has gone on a "production hiatus." Basically the network ordered them to stop making new episodes, and while they haven't officially canceled it yet, they don't seem to making any plans to air anything beyond the 5 or so episodes they already have in the can.

I tried watching the premiere of the show for two reasons, chiefly Conan O'Brien's Conaco company was producing it, and I thought he could use the support, and because the star Jimmy Smits was always a reliable and likable presence on the screen.

Then I saw the premise in action. Smits plays a conservative Supreme Court justice, with a gambling problem that the media hasn't pounced on like a cheetah on a lame gazelle for some reason. This Supreme Court Justice has one of those Ebenezer Scrooge epiphanies, learns the errors of his ways, quits the highest bench in the land, and become a street level lawyer fighting for the down and the trodden.

That's not a premise for a hit show. That's the sort of premise you sell to folks at the Beverly Hills Country Club, not at the Peoria Municipal Golf Course. Here's why I knew it was doomed to fail in the first five minutes. Even if a conservative Supreme Court Justice was visited by the ghosts of judges past and has a change of political philosophy, they are extremely unlikely to leave the court. They just simply vote the other way. Case in point, George H.W. Bush appointee David Souter, who was expected to be a strict constructionist, but instead voted with his more liberal colleagues more often than not.

And let's not forget flyover country, where the bulk of the TV audience lives. A lot of polls are showing an increasingly conservative population, possibly not as socially conservative as many expected, but definitely more conservative, small "L" libertarian, and strict constructionist than Hollywood would care to admit. When they see a character who they might have agreed with, shed all that they would have agreed with, and then claim to be a repentant sinner, they are going to feel that their beliefs and intelligence have just been insulted.

And let's face facts, Hollywood's record at handling the whole liberal/conservative divide hasn't been exactly all that great in a very long time. The audience knows that little tidbit, and they tune out accordingly. The only people who don't know this, is Hollywood.

It doesn't matter what side of the political aisle you're on, it's just plain bad strategy. That's why I thought the whole thing was Conan O'Brien's plot to get revenge on NBC, tricking them into spending millions on a guaranteed bomb.


Former Marvel Comics mastermind Stan Lee is doing a new project, creating 30 new superheroes in partnership with the National Hockey League.

The plan is for Lee to create an NHL themed superhero for each of the NHL member cities. Then they're going to do you know, stuff, with these characters, and supposedly watch the cash roll in.

Sorry I can't share their excitement, here's why.

1. 90% of the time obvious product placement creations fail, because they lack any real creative calories being burned over a sincere passion project.

2. Stan Lee hasn't exactly burned up the charts with new creations in a very long time. In fact, I'd peg it sometime around the late 1970s when things started to fizzle out for him. He needs partners like Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby to produce the sort of magic he did in the 1960s. Without them to nudge along the good ideas, and shoot down the bad ones, he's at a loss.

Personally, I can't blame Stan Lee for doing stunts like this. He spent decades seeing others become rich off his creations. If he can't coast on his past for easy money in his golden years, then nobody can.


*Yes, I was a DC rat, still am for the most part.

1 comment:

  1. If a NHL comic have the Red Wings Superhero laying a smackdown on the Colorado Av's. Then I might check it out.

    This sounds as bad as the TRS-80 Wiz Kids comics by DC which were nothing more than ads for radio shack products with a PSA thrown in.