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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Comic Books are NOT supposed to Grow Up With You Part 2


Last year I wrote a blog stating that comic books aren’t supposed to grow up with you. Some comic fans took offense to that statement.

I stand by my word. Comic books are NOT supposed to grow up with you.

32-page comic books, are designed primarily for CHILDREN.

Here’s the deal: Comic book characters are like an American Mythology. Each generation reads the tales of these legendary characters doing incredible feats.

And each generation uses these characters to make social commentary about the social ills and social injustices of their time.

And each generation passes them down to the next generation. Adding to the mythology. What works stays, and what doesn’t gets charged to the game. Comic fans grow older and pass their comics and the characters in them onto their sons and daughters.

 And they go and buy their own comics which make social commentary about the social ills and social injustices of their time.

But that stopped happening around the 1990s. Instead of passing the characters on to the next generation, Generation X and some of the Baby boomers decided to hold onto these characters instead of passing them on to Generation Y and the millenials.

This narcissistic need for some members of the two previous generations to hold onto comic books and the characters in them has led to a disconnect between the current two generations. And because of this disconnect two generations never got into comic books.

And over the last 20 years the void from comic books was filled with other products featuring video game characters, pro wrestlers and literary characters like Harry Potter and the Monster High characters.

The big problem with comics today is that people want THEIR characters from the 1960’s, 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s.

But it’s 2014. Kids want their versions of the characters. And they’re more likely to see their version of comic book characters in a movie or a TV show, not in a comic book.

What is culturally important to an 8-year old in 2014 is not the same as  a 35-40 year old who discovered comics in the 1980s.

This is why I say comic books are NOT supposed to grow up with you. Kids don’t see the world the way people saw it 50 years ago. Heck they don’t see the world the way they saw it 20 years ago. Living in a world where computers, social media  and cell phones are a part of everyday life, They don’t relate to the stories in today’s comic books, most of which are using a 30-year-old story model from the late 1980’s.

Sure a 35-40 year old can relate to a story with a 1980s story model but an 8-year old who is used to tablet PC’s and cell phones and Facebook as the norm is not going to relate to that kind of story. Their world is different. Their world isn’t being reflected in modern comics.

And the comic book industry needs kids 8-13 to start reading comics again. That’s the only way to reverse the two going on three-decade slump the industry is in.

Comic publishers have to show kids THEIR world if they want new readers, not their fathers.

But comic editors like Dan Didio say comics are for 45-year olds. And Kids comics are silly stuff like Scooby doo.

Not understanding YA and Independent reader authors like myself produce content that is far from dumbed down. Kids can understand the same type of content in a comic. book. But someone has to make an effort to publish it and market it to tweens and teens.

The comic book industry has always relied on kids. That’s how they sold most of their comics like superheroes and teen comics, the big moneymakers for the business  for close to 75 years. They had the most disposable income of any demographic.

Sure there were books for older readers who enjoyed the comic storytelling medium, but they were marketed as such.

And again, they never sold as well as comics targeted to primarily to kids because kids have several streams of disposable income. Driving kids out of the industry has driven up prices, and prevented new readers from discovering comics.

This is why a 32-page comic costs $4 today. 40,000 40-year-olds are buying comics as opposed to 250,000-500,000 8-13-year-olds. When there’s a bigger supply of customers demanding comics the price goes down.

And when younger customers demand comics, it ensures the medium can survive for another generation.

All of this contraction in the industry could turn into expansion if older people let go of 32-page comics. There’s clearly a market for comic stories featuring adult themes and more complex storytelling.

But Shoehorning superheroes and children’s characters into these kinds of roles has prevented the industry from reaching that audience of adult new readers.

I see a big market for Original graphic Novels in America just like in Japan and in Europe. But the industry has to take the risk.

And the readers have to realize they’ve outgrown 32-page comic books.

Personally I believe there’s a market for comics for everyone in America like in Japan. But 32-page comics for the most part need to go back to being for kids. They need to return to being the gateway to reading. Comic books aren’t supposed to grow up with you. But you can still enjoy the comic storytelling medium in other formats such as the graphic novel.

8 comments:

  1. But your covers look like they were made for kids. Are your books only for kids? No! you would beg to differ, but you can't make an argument that comic books are for kids, when your covers look drawn for kids by kids.

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  2. His covers look like that because HE did them himself. That still does not change the content of his books.

    When you don't have the money to hire artists-you take matters into your own hands.

    Now to the topic on hand part of the reason why Marvel & Dc ignore kids is because of what kids want versus adults.

    Kids want diversity. The adults don't. McDuffie's Justice League wouldn't get ripped to shreds by kids like adults did. A Green Lantern film with John Stewart is not offensive to a kid like it is to adults. We saw kids (especially girls) tune into a Young Justice cartoon with 10 minorities in the cast-you couldn't do that in comics without all hell breaking lose.

    The kids force you enter 2014. The adults allow you to stay in 1960.

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  3. The last comment pretty much sums up my argument.

    McDuffie's Justice League and Young Justice were winning over new younger customers. The 2014 tweens and teens that are desperately needed to revive interest in the comic book inudusttry. These are the new readers flush with boatloads of cash.

    But comic publishers keep trying to reach people from the 1960's-1990's. That's counterproductive. You go where the customers are. And the customers with money are not in the 40+crowd.

    If we had books like McDuffie's Justice League and Young Justice on the shelves comic shops right now they'd be selling in the 100,000,150K level and growing.

    I find it sad that every time a series like Batman Beyond, Young Justice, Static Shock or even McDuffie's Justice League shows the White males in charge a different demographic watching the show they cancel the show, instead of trying to market to that demographic. Clearly there's an audience with MONEY that wants to watch this show, target them and take the money they want to give you!

    On the subject of my covers:
    I design my books for all ages, just like old school comics. And the art is the best I can do right now. Like the Golden Age artists, I work with what I have. If I could afford an artist for covers they'd look completely different from what they are now. When my money gets better I want to contact some comic artists to design something better for me.

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  4. Comics are more nostalgic. Kids today have a lot of different avenues to get their superhero fix and honestly, mostly everybody prefers graphic novels if they want to read comics. Adults like diversity too, they watch movies, play video games, and buy the majority of the graphic novels.

    Your Covers:
    I get that you made them yourself as a necessity, but a paying customer who sees it on eBook retailer website has no idea that you made it to save money. If you saw your covers what would you think the stories lean towards age wise and the potential quality inside the book. You have to think like a customer. It's like saying you CAN'T afford an editor so that's why there are so many mistakes (not accusing you of this/talking in general) in your books. A reader only knows what they see and their experiences. Readers don't know or care about your business practices.

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  5. Everybody excuses bad behavior when it is convenient to them.

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  6. Well, I gotta do what I can until I can make enough money to hire out artists. Until I get a day, job this is what it's going to be.When you start out in business you don't begin with all the amenities. Many writers like Tariq Nasheed started out with basic covers. When they got money from sales they improved them. I'm trying to get to where I can offer better covers, but I can't get there without the support of paying readers.

    What I find odd is the same customer who complains about a 99 cent eBook cover from me will go out and spend $4 on a comic book produced by a major publisher with even POORER quality art and a HORRIBLE story, (DC New 52)

    But because that book has a corporate brand name on it like DC these same people who and whine and moan about my work will go back the month after month buying these same poor quality books from the same brand name publisher.

    I guess the brand of SJS DIRECT just isn't big enough.

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  7. I kind of said it in my post that the real reason why the New 52 ended up being a failure has to do with trying to win over the kids by rebooting titles instead of getting people who worked on the TV adaptations that appealed to them (Teen Titans and Young Justice) to write the New 52 titles in a more accessible format like webcomics. The statement that DC only makes comic book stories for 40 something readers could also explain why the stories have gotten so repetitive.

    Garden of Evil - A Critical Examination of DC New 52's failures
    http://fortressofserenity.tumblr.com/post/74704944503/a-critical-examination-of-dc-new-52s-failures

    And here's an article that pretty much proves your point to a degree:

    The Four Color Media Monitor: Alan Moore says superheroes are a "cultural catastrophe"
    http://fourcolormedmon.blogspot.com/2014/01/alan-moore-says-superheroes-are.html

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  8. What I do not understand is why the heroes are old, and now you have to go to their kids for kid's stuff. I personally want some stories about Superman doing Superman stuff, and not being as stupid as he was 20 years ago when he is now 20 years older.

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