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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Shawn Checks A Fanboy

I recently got a comment from an anonymous comic fan on my blog describing the sad state of affairs in the comic book industry . What I read clearly showed many of the problems related to the industry and why it can’t grow. Moreover, it showed me how selfish some of today’s comic fans are.

Their comments are in bold, mine are regular text.

The comics code single handedly almost crippled the industey

First off, the Comics Code didn’t cripple the industry. It set standards for that writers, artists and editors had to follow. Those standards allowed publishers to established guidelines for storytelling and maintain a level of quality in their finished products.

Thanks to the comics code retailers like supermarkets, discount stores grocery stores, and mom and pop shops felt comfortable about carrying comic books on their store shelves. Thanks to the standards of the Comics Code mothers felt safe about letting their children read comics and buying them with their allowances. The security and trust gained by winning over mothers allowed the comic book industry to grow and expand throughout the late 1970’s and 1980’s.

As the industry walked away from those standards and began presenting far more graphic material in the 1990’s the sales numbers started to decline. By the 2000s when the industry walked completely away from the code, sales hit all time lows.

No one feels comfortable buying comic books these days. All the graphic sex, gory violence, and profanity turn off all facets of society but the most diehard comic fans, 35-46 year old White males on the fringe of society. That’s roughly about 60,000-100,000 people in a country of over 340 million people. Not enough of a demographic to maintain the future of the comic book industry over the next 20 years. Hell, it’s not even enough people to maintain the future of the comic book industry over the next five. If the comic book industry is going to survive, new standards for content must be established along with guidelines that allow editorial to maintain a level of quality in the final published comics.

 i have been reading comics since i was 4 i am now 23 and i have rooms filled w nboxes upon boxes at my house.

I’ve been reading comics since I was 4 back in the late 1970’s. I have a couple thousand comics in my bedroom. But at the age of 39, I understand that the medium of comic storytelling needs to be passed on and shared with younger kids of the next generation.

That can’t be done if comics are selling at only 50,000-70,000 copies.

. as a fan i yhink its rediculous to dumb down these books whemost of the readers are older them.selves.

Comics aren’t going to be dumbed down if publishers like Marvel and DC target younger readers. They weren’t dumbed down when I was a kid back in the late 1970’s-early l980s.

In fact, there’s room for readers of all ages to enjoy comics in America the same way readers of all ages enjoy them in Japan. But American audiences are stuck in a one-size fits all mentality that’s crippling the industry.

The last generation that grew up with comic books is so selfish that they refuse to share the storytelling medium with children of the next generation. Comics have to be THEIR WAY to be entertaining.

And that’s the main reason why the industry is stalling. Most of the readers are older because they have put a vice like grip on the most popular characters in American comics and refuse to let go of them and share them with younger readers. Moreover, they put a grip on the storytelling medium of comics telling stories that they relate to, not the stories and experiences younger readers can relate to and identify with.

there are select issues of spiderman and barious other titles directed twords children.

Again, this is the selfishness I described previously. The kids can have Select issues of Spider-man. But those other titles featuring all the action in the primary Marvel universe are for THEM.

Why should kids just be limited to select characters? They should have access to the entire Marvel Universe, the entire DC Universe or the entire catalog of any comic book publisher like everybody else. It’s smart business to target these younger readers ages 7-18. They’re the largest demographic in America. They represent over twenty to forty million people. If a tenth of these youngsters bought comics on the regular it could pull the industry out of the two-decade long slump it’s been in. All that money is waiting to be made but no one in the comic book industry makes efforts to make it because they want the characters to be the way THEY want them to be, not write and draw them in a way that makes them accessible to larger audiences.

but i would hate for my monthly bopks which i spend aproxately 300 a month on get dumbed down and turned into titalating cartoons for children.

More of that selfishness. Moreover, this statement shows a sense of entitlement.

They’re HIS OR HER monthly books.

News Flash: Comic books are publications of stories featuring commercial properties owned by Time Warner, Disney, or other corporate enterprise. They don’t own them. I don’t own them. If the publisher offers us products featuring those properties we have an opportunity to buy them. That’s it.

They’re NOT your monthly titles. Whoever this is has grown accustomed to buying comics every month and thinks they are supposed to have a right to be able to buy comics every month. Their hobby has become a habit. Worse, I think it’s become an addiction. Boxes upon boxes of comics in your house? My God.

Now I was a comic fan for close to 35 years. I’ve never spent that kind of money on the hobby, even in my prime from 1988-1994. The most I ever spent was about $30 a month tops when I was in college. Other things like classes and work took priority. I have about one longbox and three milk crates of comics in my room and about four or five trade paperbacks along with a small box of Archie double digests. That’s about it.

And I’m pondering getting rid of them now that I know the industry is irreparably damaged and on its way off a cliff into the deepest abysses of Hell. No need for reference material for a job I can never get. Especially now that I realize that Comic book writer is at the bottom of the publishing food chain. When you can’t write anything else you write comic books. Another tidbit of sad but horrible truth.

Besides, I realize being a 39-year old guy with a comic collection isn’t cool. It’s just pathetic.

Since you’re just 23, I’m going to give you some advice Comic Fan to Comic Fan: GET OUT OF THIS HOBBY NOW. Seriously, it’s just a waste of time and money. At 23, there’s a whole life ahead of you. Those boxes and boxes of comics featuring the imaginary adventures of imaginary people are going to keep you from enjoying life in the real world and connecting with real people and having relationships with them. Stop wasting your time with this bullshit and get a life.

These comic book publishers today do not value you as a customer. They see you as a joke. They don’t care about the quality of the books they publish. And because they know that you’ll buy anything anyway regardless of quality they take advantage of you.

Seriously, have you been to a con? Have you seen how the editors, artists and writers act all aloof and condescending at the panels like their shit doesn’t stink? Like they don’t have to care about the products they produce? The Comic book industry is the only business where people treat customers like shit and they still come back to spend more money with them.

If the people in the comic book industry tried their unprofessional approaches in any other business, they’d be out of business in less than a few months and their reputations would be in the toilet. Comic fans just don’t have the BALLS to let these publishers know that their money is valuable and their time is precious.

And here’s another news flash: Comic books were always titillating cartoons for children in America. Sad but horrible truth.

Most comics, especially superhero comics are supposed to be directed towards children primarily. Yeah, they’re allegedly designed to be all-ages entertainment, but the primary audience for comic books was supposed to be children ages 7-18. Once people start going to high school they usually grow out of comics and into YA novels. And When most people go to college, they usually stop reading comics altogether. Once they start reading stuff like literary classics, contemporary commercial fiction they don’t need comics anymore.

As I started reading novels and African-American literature, I began walking away from comic books. The material was just richer and far more mentally stimulating.

If you’re over 21 and you’re reading comic books as your primary form of literature then well, you’re just fucked up. Stranded in a stage of adolescent arrested development. And if you’re spending $300 a month on comics there’s a problem. I can think of a dozen other things to do with $300 over the course of a month. The way I’ve been budgeting my money these past few years to survive until I can find that next job I can tell you I could live off that much money in a month. It deeply saddens me to hear that you’re wasting so much cash on comics.

Seriously, take some of that cash you spend on comics every month and take a writing course to work on your horrid spelling and grammar. Take a cooking course and learn how to cook exotic and unique foods. Buy a gym membership and work on building your body. Put that money in the bank and build a savings. At the end of the year you’ll have $3600. In ten years you’ll have $36,000. That’s enough money for a brand new car or put a down payment on a house. And if you’re seriously dabbling in investing, you could probably buy two or three T-bills and double your money. All of that beats having boxes of comics in your house.

Whoever you are, stop making other people rich buying these worthless comic books and enrich yourself. Life is too short to spend it following a bunch of fictional characters in their imaginary adventures. Go out and have some adventures of your own. 

1 comment:

  1. These comic book publishers today do not value you as a customer.

    Actually they do as long as you buy $30-100 a month of books of certain characters. Who happen to be a certain skin color and not an alien.

    As long as the 25 & up white male keeps buying Superman, Batman and others. They will cater to them. Look at the state of minorities in comics-especially after what was done to Black Panther & Static.

    Static's fan base contains the very kids you speak about-kids who should be reading comics to keep the industry alive. The kids who don't get upset when they see Miles Morales, Aqualad, Rocket or any character of color in the screen.

    Marvel & Dc won't go after them because they would mean losing some of those white male fans. Who hate diversity.

    I would love to use comics to encourage black kids to read too bad I can't find any with us in them.

    A famous award winner author once told me-there are VERY few books for young black males that are not the standard crime/hood/gangsta books. Dc could have taken that market with Static but we all know what happened and fear of fans have pretty much benched Static.