Thursday, March 01, 2007

Frank Miller's 300 Movie, "These Ain't Your Daddy's Comics Anymore!"

With the release of Frank Miller's 300 movie, comes the usual complaints...

"Comic books are too violent."
"Comics are supposed to be like Archie."
"Comics aren't for kids anymore." had this recent article, "Comics woo adults (and kiss off kids)." It points out that recent comic books have been successful due to their being more "edgier." However, the comic industry may be alienating the younger generation and therefore the future of comics.

I couldn't disagree more.

I have been selling comics for 16 years, and have tried dozens of ways to get kids to start reading comics. I invested money in comics geared toward kids, and nobody bought them. I tried to offer older back issues to parents and children. They didn't want them. I even wasted time at conventions arguing with comic creators about whether Batman and Superman should use the word damn. None of it worked.

No matter what we do, the majority of kids are just not interested in comics. Yeah, with five or ten bucks allowance you can buy 3 or 4 comics. However, the same amount of money will rent a video game for a week. It will also buy about 10 songs for their iPod. There is no way comics can compete (especially with the ever increasing paper costs).

So can we really blame the publishers for targeting the older readers who happen to have more disposable income? Of course not. On top of that, compared to movies and TV, comics really aren't that bad. For the most part, they would be rated PG13 or TV14. Still parents and the media complain.

The biggest obstacle to the public acceptance of comics is the public perception of comics. The same parent who won't let their child read Batman because he is now the "Dark Knight," will sit with their kid on Monday night and watch 24. Come on, Jack Bauer might as well be Batman. He is only missing the cape and cowl. And Batman doesn't make a practice of torturing people!

The other half of the civilian world (by civilian I mean non-comic fans) think comic books are only for kids. This is fed by things like the 1970s Batman television show and cheesy movies made by Joel Schumacher. However, these same people set their TiVos to record Lost and Heroes.

In my right opinion, the comic industry needs to embrace their maturity, not apologize for it. We need to advertise the fact that comics have great stories and deal with adult themes. Let’s tell the world know that most of their favorite TV shows are created and written by comic book writers and fans.

Somehow the video game industry has been able to reprogram the public. It is now understood that it is mainly adults who play video games. The vast majority of Xbox players are in their 20’s and 30’s. Does this cause anyone to question the future of gaming? No, it sells more games. We need to do the same thing for comics.

What do you think?


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Blogger Genevieve said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you. Comics are seen as "immature", which leads to a lot of condescending attitudes towards the books as an art form. A lot of really well-written and illustrated comics are ignored, even by other comic readers who become brand elitists. Humans are very visual, so it's beyond me as to why TV has caught on and not comics.

Personally, I think they're genious, especially in their portability. The only beef I have is that a lot of individual comic issues are full of advertisements for things I don't want. I would be more willing to pay 2 or 3 dollars for a comic if every page was plot.

You would think, too, that with handheld electronics as popular as they are that distribution of comics as a digital medium would catch on, but only the pirate crowd seems to like the idea.

10:02 AM, March 03, 2007  
Blogger Jim said...

I want to disagree with you and tell you that the only way to get the industry to grow again is to gain a new generation of fans, but I think you are right.

The question still becomes what is the target market and how do you get them interested in comics.

I did give two Star War comics from Dark Horse to two huge Star Wars fans at work and at least they seemed to enjoy them and now understand comics may have something to offer them. So exposure helps.

6:05 PM, March 06, 2007  

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