Friday, 23 August 2013

Comic Book Confidential: Oh, Canada, Oh, Comics

The Justice League of America from DC Comics will soon be no more, and in its place will arise...

Should you care?

Probably not, even if you're a comics fan.

It's yet another one of the never-ending series of "events" that comics publishers grind out to spur brief upticks in sales so they can say that they're still in the comics business and not in the business of feeding the more lucrative movie and TV franchises with characters.

If you're just a casual comics fan who has been out of the loop for a while and think that this event is your way back in, you probably shouldn't care either.

Like every other event storyline it will probably require detailed knowledge of every other event going back to Crisis On Infinite Earth in the mid-1980s, even though DC promised to have rebooted everything back to their roots with their New 52 event.

Plus, it shouldn't last too long anyway because they probably have five more events in the hopper for 2014.

Which brings me to the fundamental problems with comics.

They're too hard to get. You either have to order them online or go to any of the dwindling number of specialty shops to get them. The days of casually browsing and buying them at the corner store are deader than a dodo. Chain retailers don't even want them anymore because their size and profit margins make them more hassle than they're worth.

They're too hard to get into. If you're a kid who like superheroes forget trying to get into superhero comics, because too many require specialist knowledge of story-lines and characters that occurred before your birth. If you want to get into an A-List character you better be ready to pay, because the really popular ones can appear in over a dozen separate titles, and if you can't keep up with all of them, you're going to be shit out of luck knowing what the hell is going on when the next event occurs.  

Even if you do wade through all the tons of material you need to fully get a character you like, then POW, they have an "event" kill off, change, or replace the character you like for cheap publicity that rarely interpret into increased sales.

Then there's the whole "we don't need kids" attitude found in the comics industry.

Where do you think new readers come from?

Right now comics are targeted at 30-40 somethings and the younger people needed to replace them aren't coming. Kids crave stories of good versus evil, the more outlandish the better, it goes back to all that Joseph Campbell "Hero's Journey" stuff which is probably hardwired into our brains.

What do comic books offer kids?
Usually ridiculously over-sexualized characters and situations that will make the kid's parents toss the comics in the trash for being trashy.

I have nothing wrong with a something being sexy. My family's latin motto translates to "Hooray for Boobies" but there's a line where you go from being sexy to sleazy. Not only that the exaggerated anatomies and ridiculous poses are insulting to women and to the intelligence of readers. Plus it makes the people who do buy comics look like perverts who are unable to use the internet to find pictures of real nikked ladies.

Comics are in the business of selling stories, preferably fast-paced stories of excitement and adventure with fantastical characters and settings. They are the gateway drug for readers, especially the genres of science fiction and fantasy.

Lose the young readers, and eventually you'll end up with a lot of dead franchises no one really cares about that you can't revive no matter how much money you throw at them.

Like The Lone Ranger.

No one wants to repeat that mistake.

1 comment:

  1. Once upon a time, there were enough comic stores to support a decent number of independent comics that had nothing to do with superheros or were even openly antipathetic to them. That was before Marvel decided to kill off the comics distributors to increase the bottom line and DC decided to kill Superman and actually murdered the mom and pop comics stores instead.

    Now, with Marvel-Disney raking in huge grosses and the rest of the big superhero franchises controlled by mega media Time Warner you'd think they'd push more resources to helping create more small outlets for dead tree product as a long term guarantee of future sales.