Debate and Discussion

Being a super hero isn't fun any more.
subcultured at 8:25AM, March 30, 2007
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the emphasis is “great power comes with great responsibility”…it teaches kids that they have to be more responsible in thier actions. i think it's a good move from the big 2, it helps them create a more believable world with repercussions.

i would rather have good story telling than the formulatic villan of the day and everything comes to normal in the end. those days felt like watching a sitcom that never changes, characters never evolved.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:01PM
ozoneocean at 9:39AM, March 30, 2007
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Stupid emo super hero characters… That's why I only liked those comics when I was little: back then it was fun!

Why have crazy powers and freaky costumes if you're always going to be painfully serious? It's so weird… Ah, people do love soap operas though don't they? They're much more popular and long running than sitcoms ;)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:26PM
rainingbells at 9:42AM, March 30, 2007
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I have a couple thoughts in what follows, but I'm at work and typed this up around two rush jobs, some prepress work, and tinkering with a cranky machine, so sort through if you can….


I actually stopped reading superhero fare for a good while because so much of it was formula. Back in the 70s and 80s Marvel pretty much ran on a 3 year arc. The names and the books would change, one year it would be this book in which something bad happened, the next year it would pretty much be the same thing in another corner of the universe, and then the following year would come the really big nasty that altered the universe…until three years later when something major would shift again after two years of little shifts. Look at X-Men back during the 100 and 200 issues.

Every now and then you had your Gwen Stacey, but overall….

It was black and white, mostly thanks to Werthiem and the rules of the Comics Code that followed - the US industry's attempt to self-regulate to avoid government censorship in the 1950s. Though there has been some debate over the years as to whether or not the push for the code was done by companies who wanted to kill competition from EC and the horror books that were selling so well but which would not pass code. If true, in the long run, the other companies crippled themselves as a result because the code was so purposefully vague it could be negatively applied to so many things. But, tangent aside, that's what has lead to the industry slowly dying since the 1950s. It's been bad. Books sold in the millions back in the 1940s. Now most books are lucky if they top 50,000. Marvel's almost hit bankruptcy a few times, and from what I was told in the 1990s by a guy at Acclaim Comics, Wal-Mart even tried to strong-arm Marvel into not creating a mature reader line of books. If true, it worked for a while. Money lost that could have helped.

The notion that comics are not complex, that the stories are simple, straightforward, and lack any type of real weight, goes hand in hand with the notion that comics are for children, which has been no small part of the stigma of being a comic fan. Video games…50 and 60 year olds are playing video games, but comics…those are for kids.

Which, while not so true any more, is unfortunately the common thought. That's why we get comic book stores that get raided by the cops. Or an artist who is tried and convicted on obscenity charges.

The generations are changing. The writers and artists in the industry today are the kids that grew up loving this book or that book, but they've seen the simple stories. They read it all when they were kids. They don't want to do the same old thing. We're inundated with the hardships in the world and the repercussions of our actions via cell phone, email, YouTube, and 20 different news stations. You try to do even a good thing and it can go horribly sideways on you. And one person's good is another person's evil. We're aware of this now more than ever. That's one of the side-effects of being open-minded and tolerant; we suddenly become incredibly sensitive to the notion that there is no fixed boundary for good and bad.

That coupled with the uncertainty within the industry itself, facing the people there…the hardships they deal with financially and emotionally just doing what they love…that's going to be reflected in the material they create. The characters and their worlds become more complex as they see the complexities of our own world, and attempt to deal with it. Sort it out in the work. Art has always been a therapeutic outlet for its creators, and a way to comment on or sway the opinions of the society around them.

I, for one, am glad books have shifted more towards the “realistic”, because it's brought me back to being a reader of comics again.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:00PM
Kline at 11:11AM, March 30, 2007
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ian_feverdream
Being a super hero isn't fun any more.

I got to the library recently and raided the stacks for the graphic novels and single issues, I had not read. I found a strange trend. When did comics for older readers get so grim?
What I read: DC's Identity Crisis. Where someone is stalking the families of the superheroes and family members get killed or hurt. ….

Do you see this trend of grim story lines as good for the industry? It seems to be selling and that's all that matters, right?

Am I misreading the themes? Is there something else in those stories I am not seeing?

I share the feeling. I read IC and thought it was embarrassing. If you really want adult drama then maybe a comic with characters in bright costumes with names like Deathstroke the Terminator and Wonder Woman isn't the best vehicle. Read real adult comics like Cages and Acme Novelty with real adult themes and then read Identity Crisis. No comparison. I used to read Hardy Boys and similar books as a kid but eventually I moved onto other reading material as I aged. As a kid I loved super hero comics! I bought all the trading cards with character bios and stats. Nowadays those cards would have to be about who raped who. The thing is I grew up and instead of expecting these silly comics to grow up with me I found other comics that I could better relate to. I've been reading some super hero books again for the hell of it because I missed that goofy stuff and I could do with out the dull dreary jaded shock content. I feel like yelling, “Let go you old farts and let the kids have some fun!”

That's all personal opinion, as a reader, though. As far as if it is bad for comics? Well it does seem short sighted to keep going to the same well of aging readership while all the kids grow up reading Naruto and most likely will graduate to more manga. Plus the thing pushing sales right now is the big events they do. It's just one right after another. Any longtime comics reader probably has an idea why using gimmicks to inflate sales is a bad longterm strategy. If DC and Marvel push other initiatives outside of the super hero crowd to reach different readers I can't see how it would hurt. But the comics landscape has changed anyway where TokyoPop and Scholastic seem to be doing well in the book market. If the direct market relies on this stuff alone to get comic readers in comic stores you might be looking at the continue slow death of the American comic store. This is all just wild speculation on my part.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:19PM
subcultured at 11:29AM, March 30, 2007
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the comics you grew up were the ones under a fascist code. they were the censored comics.

i think if the code didn't prevent a lot of the creators/writers/artist to censor themselves, the characters would have evolved in thier own way.

look at how the 2 great comic archetype were first created:
Someone
“Batman was originally written in the style of the pulps” and this influence was evident with Batman showing little remorse over killing or maiming criminals and was not above using firearms
the code made batman all campy

Someone
Although not as cold-blooded as the early Batman, the Superman featured in the comics of the 1930s is unconcerned about the harm his strength may cause, tossing villainous characters in such a manner that fatalities would presumably occur, although these were seldom shown explicitly on the page.

now that the code is no longer important a lot of writers are able to explore the characters more deeply. make them more human. I don't miss the days of bamf! bam! whap!, those were the comics that made me not read comics anymore.

and as for the costume, it's like a uniform for a group of individuals. you wouldn't make fun of a soldier for wearing a uniform would you?
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:01PM
Vagabond at 11:58AM, March 30, 2007
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I'd kinda rather have… well, more human superheroes than have “Batman and his super-family!” (seriously, a Bat-Dog?)
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:38PM
skoolmunkee at 1:43PM, March 30, 2007
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I suppose they're all phases really. In 20 years they'll probably be all stupid and campy again. :)

Currently though the trend for almost all comics is to be grim, and the more independent the better. The only superhero comic I ever read and liked was Powers, and that's gotten really too “the world is too horrible to live in anymore” for me to want to read much anymore. That and it hasn't been able to stick consistently to its supposedly-monthly schedule for a couple years now.

Guys like Chris Ware are the popular comic-makers now. I read Jimmy Corrigan and I just wanted to kill myself by the end of it, it was so depressing. There isn't anything feel-good about that comic at all, none of the characters end up having changed, and everyone's lives are in fact worse by the end. I'm sure Chris Ware is a talented guy but he must have been beaten and emotionally starved as a child or something because there's not a single non-depressing page in that book (which is huge).
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:39PM
Kline at 2:17PM, March 30, 2007
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A lot of this is personal tastes so I'm not sure it is actually worth that much arguing. I don't care for a lot of this stuff but plenty of people do and I have a selection of alternatives I do enjoy so to each his own.

It is a bit of a straw man to suggest that because I think super heroes are best as all ages entertainment and worst when excessively drab and dreary that I want them to throw characterization out the window or stick to simplistic Biff BAm Pow!. There are plenty of examples of good smart all ages entertainment in Harry Potter, Miyazaki, the various DC cartoons, and the new Spirit comic that are not unwilling to deal with tough or dark subject matter yet are still not over grim and gritty and dreary.

I just think that the super hero genre has a host of elements that make it great for a young audience. Big spectacle and adventure, colorful costumes codenames, and cool powers. It is fantasy based, the origins of most heroes defy adult logic and all reality. The entire genre is a plot contrivance designed to have costumed heroes outwit and overpower evil doers. It offers a simple setup for creators to play with. Like I said, when I was a kid I bought all those Marvel cards, traded them with friends, jabbered away endlessly about the back history and all that on the school bus. I loved the costume designs and villains galleries. By focusing on an adult audience, making things grim and gritty, more cynical, and shocking and trying to play things too straight I think the mainstream is making a short sided decision based on adults who simply can't let go. Hell, I don't even have a problem with new super hero comics aimed at adults. I just think the turn they have taken with super hero books as whole is a poor one. And I just didn;t find IC particularly good.

In terms of the comics code, well that put competing genres like horror and crime fiction out of business. Super hero comics thrived under the comics code. And now that the comic code is mostly dead, creators have moved on to do stuff like Preacher, Sin City, Eightball, Love and Rockets, Acme Novelty, and Fun Home. Material that not only is free of the code but free of the constraints of the commercial super hero genre that existed under the code. They don't need to use characters with super powers who dress up as bats to tell adult stories(although Sin City is kind of super hero-ish.

*But you know, I was thinking I'm partly being a big hypocrite here. I dug Weapon X by BWS when it came out and that's a pretty grim story. I suppose the difference for me was that that was an exception rather than the rule as it now seems to be.


(Actually, Jimmy Corrigan I thought ended on a hopeful note when the coworker tries to engage him in conversation. For the character it may be a huge turning point if not for the reader. But I agree that his stuff can be painful and yet often funny,sharply satirical, beautiful, and cathartic. It isn't what I expect all comics to be or characteristic of all I read. Part of what I am talking about is that I don't want “dark” or “depressing” to automatically be viewed as good. That comics can be light and fun and be good as well.)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:19PM
Aurora Moon at 5:40PM, March 30, 2007
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In a way, I agree.

it's one thing to have grim and dark stories… but it's a whole other thing competely to have it ALWAYS be dark and grim, etc….

I remember reading one of those comics with superman in it that was all depressing and stuff, and it actually made me HATE superman!
the reason why it made me hate superman was how when this little boy had his parents trapped in an burning building… superman made an promise to the little boy that he'd be able to get his parents back for him.
so he goes into the building, finds nobody, and then goes out back to talk to the cops.. turns out that the parents died before he arrived, and is already in body bags.

here's where I thought that he should had gone and talk to the little boy about how he wasn't there in time… but instead, he chickens and takes off, never to talk with the little boy again. And the little boy sees him fly off, happy because he thinks that superman will bring his parents back again. He's grinning, without knowing the reality.
the cops talk nearby, going: “what? Superman told him that? and he didn't even explain the situation to the boy…. damn, that's gonna scar the boy for life!”

I could easily picture the boy's reaction when he finds out that superman didn't live up to his promise, and didn't even try to explain to him that he could only do so much… and it was then I hated superman for a while there.

I know this might seem silly… but… I just happen to think that supers shouldn't make promises, just say something like “I'll TRY to get your parents back for you safely!” not like: “I can bring your parents back, for I am Superman! I can do anything.. so I promise I'll do that for you!”
I'm on hitatus while I redo one of my webcomics. Be sure to check it out when I'n done! :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:10AM
rainingbells at 7:54PM, March 30, 2007
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EDIT TO PREFACE: After rereading it I realized my post could be construed as a little…intense. My intention is really not to be cranky, I'm just…passionate.




In the day, if you didn't sport the code you didn't get distributed, and if you didn't have a distributor, you were dead. No store would carry you. It was like being blacklisted. No store would carry you because if they went outside of the distributor to pick up a book, the distributor could and would refuse to sell them what they in turn carried, which was pretty much everything that sold. Sure you had your underground comics, the stuff that came out in the 60s and 70s that gave the Code the finger and pretty much existed nowhere outside of head shops. No comic book stores.



Part of the problem with arguing against the aging readership and for the younger readers is that, I'd wager, at least half if not now the majority of comic readers are the older ones. The younger audience is going towards manga and anime and video games more than comic books. I can't tell you the last time I saw someone under 20 in the comic book store. Actually, I take that back, aside from my 10 year old (soon to be step) son, who had never been in a comic store until week before last (his first convention a month and a half ago), and the son of a regular at the store who was there for his first time about two months before that…I haven't seen anyone under 20 in a comic store in at least the last 6 years. Not across 5 different stores in three different cities. Go into Borders or B&N and the kids are sitting on the side of the aisle reading manga, while the people standing there reading the TPBs of DC and Marvel books are in their 20s and 30s.

This has been something I have been going on about for almost 15 years now: The US comic industry has repeatedly failed to market OUTSIDE of their existing readership, and that readership is getting older and not really being replaced. The readers are and have pretty much always been the only sales people, passing on books to ther friends and saying, “hey, I know it's a comic but it's really good, you should give it a chance.” So there's one, maybe two victories, one or two new readers, who come in by way of someone who has been reading for 25 years. Two new heartbeats in 25 years…that's just going to hold off an otherwise dying market, when you consider that for every one person who reads comics beyond the age of 16 and/or their discovery of cars and sex, you're likely losing ten. Part of that three year arc I was talking about earlier, that was in place because three years was the estimated lifespan of a comic book reader. That was the window between when they got into comics and then lost interest in comics. If you're going to cater to an audience, you cater to your bankable audience, those are the older readers, not the kids that are here and gone three years later.

And the kids today read manga with anime and video game tie-ins. You get a few here and there who liked Batman the Animated Series or The Batman or JLU or Teen Titans enough to actually pick up one of the comics, but they are far between. Manga has 30 minute advertisements by way of every anime that airs on Cartoon Network. US comics have what? The now cancelled JLU, Teen Titans, X-Men, Static, etc? What's out there now? The Batman?

Even with JLU, they knew where their audience was, that's why they geared the show towards people in their late teens and twenties. They even said as much during the development of the show.

You don't need to “let go” of certain genres or characters as you get older, and there's nothing that says that the characters cannot grow or change with their audience, or as importantly, their creative teams. Besides, the generations change, as do their tastes, along with it the “bar”.

TV shows, for instance, that are on nowadays would have been cancelled within a few episodes not fifteen years ago for being too dark. Stuff like “Profit”, which was a great concept and only short-lived series, would fit right in with things like “Nip/Tuck” and “The Shield” and “24” now, but when it came out in the mid 90s, it didn't last six episodes. Just the same, the fluffy comics of the 60s and 70s would be laughed at by young readers today. Sure, you'd get one or two who dug them, but overall, it just wouldn't last. Just look at the content of the manga they read and the anime they watch. They're not all reading “Kiki”. “Bleach”, for instance. Sure it has its obligatory slapstick, in-between the epic amounts of angst, well…there's some heavy stuff in it in-between the multi-episode long battles. I saw up to about episode 60 before it was licensed, and I don't want to spoil anyone. But it's not cut and dry and simple and light.

You cannot apply the way you perceive comics should be for children based on where you were when you were a child because the kids nowadays are seeing and playing and interested in things that are well-beyond that. It's moving so fast thanks to the technology that is out there now, it would be akin to your grandparents judging what was out there when you were a kid by what things were like when they were children.

The code may just be a holder-on that exists mainly as a form of ratings now, but it still holds sway. A lot of DC books still hold the code. Just because you have a Preacher or an 8 Ball, that doesn't mean that the code isn't still important. When last I checked, given that was about two years ago, the code was still important when it came to newsstand comic sales, because newsstands wouldn't carry anything without the code. The guy I used to talk to in the area that would distribute comics and magazines to the grocery stores and mini marts in the area, nothing would be put in those racks that didn't hold the code. If a book in a series had heavy content that couldn't pass the code for one or two issues, those issues didn't go into the stores. Old ones just sat in the racks until the next code-approved issue came out.

The issue really is, as you have said, you have a problem with the idea of superhero stories as adult fare, and that if it's adult but has superheroes it somehow becomes less adult. It becomes some perversion of a childish genre to tell serious, more complex stories simply because there's a cape or some spandex. That's the “comics are for kids” mentality which is so prevailent. You've just decided that it's pretty much one whole genre instead of comics in general.

Superheros are just a modern recreation of the characters of myth that have existed for thousands of years across numerous cultures in stories that were not just told to children. They were tales of sorrow and warning. Some brutal, twisted stuff happened between gods and goddesses, demigods and mortals in those stories. Destroying cities, raping mortals, murdering their own families…throwing lightening, shape-changing, coming back from the dead, healing people with a touch…the characters that exhibited that kind of behavior are just the historical equivalent of superheros.

If you think of it, most fiction that isn't strict slice of life is pretty well absurd. Elves, killers that won't die, chains that come out of puzzle boxes, detectives that end up with every big crime in the world coming their way that the cops can never solve, constantly menacing aliens, undead pirates, walking and talking humanoid animals, humanity always being the one shining beacon possessing some great galaxy-saving quality that no other species has….

Really now.

All fiction requires a level of suspension of disbelief in order for it to function.

It seems perfectly okay to kid-up the messed up fairy tales of old in order to feed them to children. Disney's been doing it for decades. Not to mention more modern adult-geared material such as Aliens, Robocop, Terminator, Rambo, and Predator, all of which have been toys and at least a couple have been cartoons for kids.


And semi-related, some numbers:


Batman sold 77,000 copies in December. BATMAN.

X-Men sold 78,100

New X-Men sold 38,100

Walking Dead sold 21,200

Ex-Machina sold 19,200

Strangers in Paradise sold 8,900


By the next month almost all of those books saw sales drop, half of them were drops of almost a thousand copies each if not more. Batman's sales were almost 95 thousand in November, and only around 75 thousand last month.


In 1997, in February, X-Men sold 196 thousand copies. Batman sold 63 thousand. The top 15 books sold over 100 thousand copies each for that month. The aforementioned X-Men was the best seller of that month.


February of 2007…5 books sold over 100 thousand. Civil War was the highest seller, at almost 266 thousand copies sold.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:00PM
Kline at 7:56AM, March 31, 2007
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rainingbells
It becomes some perversion of a childish genre to tell serious, more complex stories simply because there's a cape or some spandex. That's the “comics are for kids” mentality which is so prevailent. You've just decided that it's pretty much one whole genre instead of comics in general.

Oh I do think there is adult subject matter that could be handled far more sensitively than in a melodramatic construct using corporate licensing properties that have largely been used as kids entertainment. Using rape as a plot point to up the ante seems pretty cheap and exploitive to me rather than all that sophisticated. A lot of this stuff seems more sensationalistic and cynical than adult to me which is where the perversion comes in.

But did you miss the part where I said that I had no problem with super hero comics aimed at adults or adults reading super hero comics? That I simply think it is shortsighted to take characters that have been very successful for decades as all-ages material and alter them to fit a jaded aging readership? Or selfish of those readers to expect characters they read as a child to either still entertain them and so conform to their adult world when they do not. (I realize I generically tossed the “super hero” phrase around which may have obscured my point)

Because comics aren't just for kids. The super hero genre isn't just for kids. But these properties have long been for kids. (And suspension of disbelief is the whole problem! You have people who have to relate every bit to “reality” and tell stories about psychotic ex-wives and rape and brainwashing to explain why a character was always so goofy.*) Or how about where I said a comic can be all ages, even silly, and still maintain complexity and good characterization or cover darker themes? Or that regardless of my own personal tastes as long as Marvel and DC find other ways to bring in other readers this trend probably won't hurt all that much and not much matter?


My own take on it is that these books and this audience has been around a while and going by the sales aren't doing so good on their own and are now resorting to steroid injections every year in the form of mega-events to prop up sales.

But you have your tastes and I mine and I admit that I have my own prejudices about this stuff. No offense or crankiness was taken. We all are passionate about comics and wouldn't be arguing about this stuff if we weren't. You raise some thoughtful points and while they don't change my general feeling that companies would do better to use these books or others in inventive ambitious ways to target young readers, they certainly temper them and give me food for thought. I realize that books like The Authority, Ultimates, and Bendis' Daredevil have managed to successfully find adult audiences and I wouldn't deprive people of material they enjoy but I do think that to go that way as a widespread trend is also depriving the industry of young readers. I've got to get to work so I'll leave you and anyone else the last word(s).

*Identity Crisis reminded me of a History Channel special about lost Bible books. How in order to explain things like how Cain and Able could have kids fundamentalist literalists created these stories involving incest which ended up being far worse than the original problem. Although according to this DC editor it was done entirely for sales.

http://tinyurl.com/2wqgcc

How very adult.










last edited on July 14, 2011 1:19PM
Alexis at 9:12AM, March 31, 2007
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Personally I think there is room for some of everything. In my opinion what happened is that the average age of the comic reader has gotten older, and the stories had to get darker and more sophisticated to hold the fans. This produced some great stories, like The Sandman, or Transmetropolitan, or The Dark Knight Returns, but it also produced a ton of wierd, soap-operaish story archs that only true fans could follow. Personally I don't miss the days of the Camp Crusader, but I think comics aimed at a younger audience are important to keep the industry alive.

And at the end of the day, of course, it's good writing and good art that make a good book. Dark or light, shitty writing is shitty writing, and there's a lot of crap out there.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:49AM
Rydel6 at 10:19AM, March 31, 2007
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I just feel like they've pulled a Harry Potter. I mean, that as the readers get older the story gets darker. Granted it took a long time, but I'm glad they did it. Most comics were too “cookie cutter” for me.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:15PM
subcultured at 11:40AM, March 31, 2007
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the most memorable stories are the stories that reflected the times and troubles of that decade. speedy becoming a drug addict, lex luthor became president, proffessor xavier bineg beaten up by humansupremasist, the death of superpeople in “kingdom come” with superman's eyes through the gray fog, and the lost of rights in civil war.

the less memorable stories would be supervillans that come on for an issue or 2, do some damage, superhero comes in and rights everything.

if you look at the decades and how comics reflect from trying to sweeten everyone's perspective from the 50's (leave it to beaver) to the more political aware and cynical of the 90's. we now know that people in charge can lie to us, so we take everything the gov't/media with a grain of salt. so the stories reflects the writer POV more so because they don't have to “obey” the code.

and as for the code, it's a well known fact that it was also design to put those “mature” comic companies out of business (because they were out selling the big 2)…and it did.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:01PM
rainingbells at 12:19PM, March 31, 2007
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Comics became kids' fare because of the code, not out of any particular design or want. That's part of what has been killing the industry for decades. It would be as if someone up and said, “no more movies can be made that would receive a rating above ‘G’.” The only reason G movies do well anyway is because theaters get a twofer; the kids can't go alone so their parents have to go as well. Given the choice, you'd be hard pressed to find many adults that want to make their movie-going experience general audiences.

The problem is that the companies are not finding bank with the kids, and they also lose the older readers who have seen those easy stories for twenty years. A window of a few years per consumer is not anywhere near as stable as a character a person can go back to throughout their entire life. And sure, you can have good general audience material, but it's rare to find one that doesn't feel like someone's watering it down, pulling punches, just because they also have to make it “kid friendly”.

I mean, Batman is about a little boy whose parents were murdered in front of him. A boy who sat there by the dead bodies in a cold, dark alley until someone came. This is a boy who has been so traumatized, who hates so much; he's turned into a fanatic waging a holy war. This is material for kids? How about we do a book about a Middle Eastern boy whose family was killed by Allied soldiers? He grows up angry, hateful, and becomes a fanatic waging a holy war, recruiting and manipulating others…. We're talking about a cultist at best, a terrorist at worst.

For the most part, I do agree with you Kline, I think we just disagree on certain aspects. Overall, though…the big picture…going either more kid-oriented (Marvel tried that a few years back, and it failed), or overly adult is potentially dangerous to the industry. What we need to be doing is making less extreme runs at the spectrum and try to get an even spread of content. But that alone will not succeed. We need to advertise outside of the preexisting readership to pull in new readers who will purchase that new content, because otherwise it will fail as the current batch of consumers continue to buy the same old material. We have to spend the time and the money to convince a population which believes comic books are just for kids that such notions are no longer true and have not been for some time.

Personally, I'd like to keep books like X-Men growing naturally with the tastes of each generation, but have, say, a Marvel Max line equivalent title with the same characters. Same with all the heavy-hitters from both companies.

Nostalgia, idealist notions and fanboy/girl love aside, comics are a business. If sales are dying and have been dying, you are doing something the readership doesn't like. You are doing something they have seen before. You are doing something tired. So you either change or you go along the same old way to maintain the integrity of the characters as figures continue to drop to the point where people lose their jobs and companies go under. Very noble, but all those people can't pay rent and heat and groceries with noble. For what? To hold on to the way things use to be? To hold on to the way of things which are not working? So that someone who can afford to buy the characters from the dying company can go in and retool them anyway? The tone of the books change every 5 to 10 years as is. The X-Men now is not the X-Men of the 90s is not the X-men of the 80s or the 70s and 60s before it. They change to fit the tone of the time.

Right now the tone is darker and sensationalistic. Yes. But look at the news; it's not old Walter Cronkie being a straightforward anchor anymore, it's flashy graphics and two level sets and giant video screens and fake tits. It's Anna Nicole Smith as much if not more than what's going on in Iraq. Video games aren't Zaxxon or Pitfall anymore, it's Halo and DOA and Gears of War and Grand Theft Auto. YouTube is crazy popular, with junkie Kermit and girls doing strip teases and high schoolers beating the crap out of each other. That old innocence just is not there anymore. Hell, it wasn't even really there when I was a kid, it's just that we didn't have the internet to talk about and post videos of it all over the globe.

Rarely can you go back, only forward.

As for the link, I don't doubt at all that something such as that took place. But more than anything what I see is someone who cannot separate being a fan of comics from comics being a buisness that has to change, to adapt, or die.

If you love comics for love of the form, and you want to maintain some sense of that purity, stay out of the industry. Do comics online for personal giggles, chat in IRC with other comic fans, and maybe, on occasion, self-publish some of your stuff…so long as you're not doing it to make money, or be part of the mainstream industry.

Pro, indie, amateur and just plain fan are all different animals, with different masters.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:00PM
Phantom Penguin at 5:21PM, March 31, 2007
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I've always been a pro-grim kinda guy. Hell The Punisher is my favorite hero ever. Even more so with his newer even more gritty comics. But that doesn't work for every super. Like superman? gritty? That just doesn't work. Hes a dude in tights, that doesn't equal hardcore.

But thats just me i guess.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:42PM
Aurora Moon at 5:53PM, March 31, 2007
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Phantom Penguin
I've always been a pro-grim kinda guy. Hell The Punisher is my favorite hero ever. Even more so with his newer even more gritty comics. But that doesn't work for every super. Like superman? gritty? That just doesn't work. Hes a dude in tights, that doesn't equal hardcore.

But thats just me i guess.

yep, I agree. Superman strikes me as an serious kind of guy, but not grim.
I can see Wonderwoman as serious too.. but Grim? no.

it's just not… in their personality, if you know what I mean.

I'm a firm beliver that the stories should at least match thier personalitiy, in terms of mood, etc. it's okay to get grim once in a while, but not ALL the time if they're not a grim superhero.

After all, Superman had an good childhood. sure, he lost his father (at least in some series) but he still has his mother, and his parents raised him pretty good and he enjoyed the farm life while it lasted. so what does he has to be depressed about 24/7? the only thing that he would feel the weight of burden is feeling like the world depended on him.
I'm on hitatus while I redo one of my webcomics. Be sure to check it out when I'n done! :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:10AM
WingNut at 9:35PM, March 31, 2007
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Yeah, but it's still fun to be spiderman! YEEHAW!

-W
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:50PM
Phantom Penguin at 12:06PM, April 1, 2007
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Spiderman could be darker then others, But only by a little.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:42PM
subcultured at 12:27PM, April 1, 2007
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superman did die and come back to life again…that might make him a lil grimy
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:02PM
Neilsama at 5:34PM, April 1, 2007
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A little gloom every so often is fine, but I am getting a little tired of superhero comics being so consistantly gritty. It was fine for Watchmen, but jeez… Enough is enough. The superhero genre is one of complete silliness, so there's no shame in being silly. We need a little more sunshine in our heroes.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:10PM
Kristen Gudsnuk at 10:41PM, April 1, 2007
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meh, I don't read those kinds of comics. (generally because of the art style…) But I think it sounds lovely. It gets kind of annoying when it's the same repetitive storyline over and over, and plus, I'm a big advocate of extremely depressing storylines.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:22PM
subcultured at 12:37PM, April 2, 2007
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when i start readig a comic adn realize that there's a formula…i loose interest. becuase most of the time i'll fiure it out before the story ends. that's why i like reading things from ellis, becuase he does a lot of unexpected things.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:02PM
ccs1989 at 6:14PM, April 2, 2007
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Watchmen was the only “gritty” superhero comic I really like. It's because it was basically the first of it's kind. It was also self-contained, and therefore did not affect an already established continuity. Unfortunately it DID make comic companies think that “grit sells”.

I know this is going to sound tired, because I plug this book as much as I can, but if you don't like gritty superhero books you should be reading Robert Kirman and Ryan Ottley's Invincible
It's one of the most fun books out there. It's ongoing, creator owned, and fantastic.
It's basically the only superhero book worth reading anymore. Although I do buy other superhero books too. Irredemable Ant Man, by the same writer, is also a lot of fun.

The thing is, superhero comics SHOULD be fun. Superheros are ridiculous concepts. They're power fantasies; people in funny costumes go around beating up the bad guys. They can have some mature stuff in them, but overall they shouldn't try to get too connected to reality. The problem is the American comic industry has gotten so fixated on superheros. Instead of branching out into other subject matters where mature plotlines would work better, creators have been forced to adapt their more mature story lines to plots still involving men and women in funny costumes.

I'm hoping people start realizing that comics aren't JUST about superheros. I mean, it's good as a genre, but it shouldn't dominate. There's so much more that can be done. That's part of why I like Image and Vertigo so much. They have some superhero books, but they also have stuff in so many other genres. The same with manga, although manga has the whole “shonen” genre which is sort of like what superheros are in America. But they also have a lot of other stuff.


http://ccs1989.deviantart.com

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:38AM
kyupol at 9:21PM, April 2, 2007
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I find this theme depressing. With great powers, comes a greater load of misery and ultimately powerless to stop the bad things that happen. What's the point of reading about supers then?

Here's a thing though.

A demographic of comic readers are loners. Meaning… all they do or tend to do… is to fantasize themselves having super powers and being THE shit for a change. They escape the harsh reality of real life. Its a sort of escapism.

I used to subscribe to that idea of escapism when I was younger. Thats what got me doing comics in the first place. I was like… hey. Wouldnt it be cool if I had super powers? You know it is fuckin cool to be able to transform into a demon and kill everyone. And have this hot chick as a girlfriend for a change. Instead of spending all the time in this fucked up lame excuse of a world we live in. Hey. why dont I make my own imaginary world and run my own shit. :) And then woooahhh… I'd perhaps get flamed again for typing in emo shit on the internet. Used to do that. I kept yappin and whining on the internet about not havin friends, about people being plastic, about not having people to run to, about not having a girlfriend, about what to do if this that happens with my girlfriend. The stupid shallow pointless shit.

At least I was honest to myself. Somewhere out there, people have read my shit and liked it. And told me that they can relate to what I'm talking about. They told me via private email, private message, message board, MSN, personal chat, or the little comment box. I gained a bit of support. I became a bit “in” at least to some people on the internet who I share some common views with. Yeah. some people liked me, some hated me.




Anyway, sorry to stereotype. I know… and I've seen with my own two eyes… there are comic fans who are nowhere near the “outcast//loner//geek” label. Like this construction worker dude I know who likes Punisher and other dark storylines… who has a better social life than I do. Also some people who posted up their pictures in the picture thread… who look like they got a long lineup of potential boyfriends…





And on side note,from a writer's perspective, more problems and obstacles for heroes = more possibility for drama.

And there you have it. Drama is what makes a comic interesting. :)
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM
subcultured at 9:31PM, April 2, 2007
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Someone
A demographic of comic readers are loners.

where did you get that from?

I tend to see it as a hobby that not a lot of people are into…so comic readers don't like to talk about it openly because they might be stigmatize because the read “kiddy books”. just like how it was uncool to talk about video games, now even “hot chicks” who don't even play video games talk about video games (watch G4)

as more movies are made from comics like 300, sin city, v for vandetta and blade people will start to think of comics as more than just kiddy books and talk about it more openly.

what i'm getting at is if you look at comic conventions or friends who openly talk about comics they are not loners. they like to talk about stories and art, but it just requires the other person to be receptive of the topic.

just like I know not to talk about religion to certain people because they will take offence or go off on a rant…i don't talk about comics with people who aren't interested by it.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:02PM
ccs1989 at 7:10AM, April 3, 2007
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kyupol
Its a sort of escapism.

So is ALL entertainment. It's a leisure activity, but it's also around to take people's minds off real life. The books and movies and comics that usually sell the best create the illusion of another world competently enough to make the world seem really fleshed out, and therefore easier for a reader to “escape” to. Ever heard of that cliche phrase “reading takes you places” that libraries always have posters about to get people interested in reading? Well it's all about becoming immersed in a fantasy world. The reason movies are the most popular out of all of these escapes is because they don't require much on the part of the viewer, and groups of people can escape into the fantasy together. Same with video games, only more interactive.

So yeah, I think escapism and daydreaming is fine as long as you don't get so involved with the fantasy that you can't live your real life. But if you use those ideas to do something creative, well then that's great.
http://ccs1989.deviantart.com

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:38AM
subcultured at 7:21AM, April 3, 2007
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300 was serious, yet entertaining.

entertaining doesn't have to be campy. it can be deep also, you can learn from it.
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:02PM
Kline at 10:47AM, April 4, 2007
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subcultured
when i start readig a comic adn realize that there's a formula…i loose interest. becuase most of the time i'll fiure it out before the story ends. that's why i like reading things from ellis, becuase he does a lot of unexpected things.

Yeah, but the whole genre is in a way a formula. Super powers, costumes, fighting villains..It's all entirelly contrived set up that is dictated by the genre rather than reality. Grant morrison once said something about how writing super hero comics is basically finding new ways to tell the same story over and over again.

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:19PM
subcultured at 12:38PM, April 4, 2007
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the costumes don't make the character
uncreative people can only keep telling the same story over and over…while more creative people like ennis, ellis, and azzarello find different point of views/jumping off points that is why I get surprised on the development on thier stories. You find new ways to see the world through reading a comic book.

“more than one way to skin a cat”

btw that expression actually means skinning a “catfish”
Mark Twain used it in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” 1889
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:02PM

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