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  1. #61
    Anthonynotes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Liu View Post
    The question is where would they revive Young Romance or Funny Stuff or any non-superhero title? They can't go to the direct market with them because nobody will buy them and they know it -- that market wants superheroes, and more specifically they want the icons. Nobody new need apply, and no new audience is going to seek out those marketplaces searching for something that's not superheroes. That leaves a sane, rational bookstore policy or a serious attempt to carve out a profitable space in digital publishing, and neither DC or Marvel seems to have any idea what they're doing in either. The books could be terrific (and there are lots of creators out there known to both companies who could do them), but it won't matter because they think (partly correctly) they have no avenues to distribute them.

    As for CMX, if VIZ Media has to downsize 40% of their employees when they absolutely own the manga bestseller charts, the manga publishing field is not as healthy as it might seem. CMX had a few decent licenses, but they didn't do themselves any favors when they censored/edited some of the books and a lot of their manga really seemed like the castoffs and leftovers that the big players left on the table. Like I said, DC really doesn't seem to have much of a clue on how to break into the bookstore market for books that are not titled Sandman and Watchmen.
    If that's actually the case, sounds like they've painted themselves into quite a corner---only emphasizing one genre (superheroes, usually with a nasty tone) that only that appeals to a narrow group of fans (and not new ones) via comic book shops (vs. places the general public would actually go to, like supermarkets or bookstores). Doesn't seem healthy for the long-term survival as a company (the same group of fans can't keep shoveling out for expensive crossovers *forever*, if their numbers are slowly dwindling...).

    While I know they have to stand on their own as comic companies (vs. relying on their corporate parents), wonder if Time-Warner should show *some* concern about the long-term future of their movie-and-TV-show-character/story-generation-subdivision (aka "DC Comics"). Then again, unlike their competition Disney, "synergy" (or "strong marketing") doesn't seem to ever have been in the vocabulary of Time-Warner (considering they've let their most famous set of cartoon characters---Looney Tunes---become virtually-unknown to today's grade-schoolers, among other things...).

    Too bad... wondering what an updated "Young Romance" or "Funny Stuff" might've consisted of... :-p

    -B.

  2. #62
    TheVileOne's Avatar
    TheVileOne is offline Peace Loving Shinobi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiyonder View Post
    Doesn't matter. Sometimes if you (again, not you specifically) want something, you have to put your pride aside (choosing a good story over a mainstream line).

    I'm aware that you yourself don't fall into that category, but most fans let their pride (wanting their cake and eating it too) and attachment to the character limit their chances of getting the stories they want.

    And even then, comics like Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are part of the mainline.
    Blue Beetle WAS part of the mainline.
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  3. #63
    Antiyonder is offline Amalgam Universe Overlord
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheVileOne View Post
    Blue Beetle WAS part of the mainline.
    Regardless of the miswording, it was still part of the line which readers want, and thus they had no excuse not to pick it up. Both it and Booster Gold was and is the best of both worlds (mainstream and not excessive with the violence).

    Now my point is that if the higher majority would buy copies of Booster Gold, then it would give DC the incentive to publish more titles that aren't so extreme or tone down the extreme content in their other titles.

    Or look at the Spider-Man/Human Torch miniseries prior to OMD. Sure it was a miniseries, but it certainly takes place in the mainstream continuity (with the final issue set in the "then" present day), and again isn't a super dark story. Yet many of the readers clamouring for more uplifting stories didn't purchase the mini-series.
    Deadpool on the "genius" of Hollywood: Everything's turned into a movie these days. -- Old TV shows, board games, candy bars. And let me tell ya, I'm totally stoked for Butterfinger The Movie.

  4. #64
    Leaping Larry Jojo's Avatar
    Leaping Larry Jojo is offline Searching for a map
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brainatra View Post

    Too bad... wondering what an updated "Young Romance" or "Funny Stuff" might've consisted of... :-p

    -B.
    Marvel has released a few one-shot, lame-ass stabs at "updated" romance comics, but they inevitably are packaged in the stereotypical "suggestive" covers that appeal more to their core audience than females. The recent manga-style Mary Jane comics are the closest thing to "successful" female-targeted comics, but the inconsistent execution and the dreaded "2nd rate alternate universe" stigma probably didn't do it any favours.

    I bet if Marvel properly promoted (not just drop a one-shot reprint once in a blue moon) and started reprinting Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo's Millie the Model, old art and covers intact, they'd probably end up selling like gangbusters with young girls who are currently into Archie. Or maybe I just wish they'd release an Essential Millie the Model. Heck, Dark Horse took a wild stab in the dark with Little Lulu and now it's one of their most popular series of books--they've been milking it to death the past 2 years--they've even started RE-REPRINTING their reprints that just started only 3 years ago!!!

  5. #65
    Ed Liu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheVileOne View Post
    Yes because those aren't their main line of books. They are essentially fringe books for them.
    If your argument is that they aren't calling enough attention to their all-ages/younger-reader-friendly line of comics, or that these comics aren't very good, or that they aren't successful with their target audience, that's one thing. It just seems to me that you're arguing that they don't matter because they aren't in continuity, which I may be mis-interpreting. If so, though, that just doesn't make sense to me, because that would mean The Dark Knight Returns can't matter either, since it was never in continuity or in DC's main line of books.

    In any event, I think we're quibbling over semantics and missing the big picture, which I'll tackle in a second.
    Is it any less fair than accusing editorial and fandom of being racist for the recent changes in the superhero roster?
    I'm assuming you're referring to comments over in this thread here, but I've explained my reasoning in detail behind whatever statements I make. There is also repetition several times about the distinction between the non-judgmental "racist" I perceive vs. the judgmental "racist" which I (mostly) do not, which is important context that's not present in your statement here. If there is a flaw in my reasoning, I'd be happy to clarify more or adjust my opinion accordingly, but I haven't been presented with an argument yet to convince me that there is a flaw in my reasoning.

    I never said anything about editorial in that thread, though, and am not calling them racist in either sense of the word. Most of the DC editors who are knocking off the non-white versions of iconic superheroes are the same editors who approved and edited the books with them in the first place, and they gave them a solid chance in the marketplace. Can't say anything about them other than that they approve some truly terrible stories, and that they may not be aware of the subtle messages they're sending, but I'm not calling them racists at all, and if others are, I don't agree with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brainatra View Post
    Too bad... wondering what an updated "Young Romance" or "Funny Stuff" might've consisted of... :-p
    Oni Press has put out quite a few rather good romance-oriented comics (I liked Love as a Foreign Language by Teen Titans Go! writer J.Torres and Three Days in Europe), and Image has True Story, Swear to God, which has the benefit of being a true story (or at least an autobiographical one). For humor books, BOOM! has Muppet Show comics, but most of the others I know about are very much oriented towards the adult audience. We have updated Young Romance and Funny Stuff comics now. They're just not from DC or Marvel (Spider Man Loves Mary Jane excepted).

    It occurred to me that there's an underlying assumption behind a lot of the discussion here, which is that the bulk of DC and Marvel's superhero comic book output SHOULD be aimed at or suitable for children. I don't think that's right, or necessary, for both historical reasons and philosophical ones. If you follow the history of comic book publishing (Comic Book Comics is a nice place to get the summary of it, or Men of Tomorrow if you want the juicy details in prose), it seems to me that the average age that the comic book companies, and DC and Marvel specifically, consistently got older as time goes on. The crime and horror books of the 1950's weren't aimed at the pre-teen set in the same way that the early adventures of DC Comics' books were. The establishment of the Comics Code Authority was purely based on the assumption of "comics == kids," but I think that assumption was increasingly wrong even at that point. By the 1970's, DC and Marvel began trying to push the envelope of the Comics Code Authority, telling stories that pass the letter of the law, but were definitely not aimed at the elementary school set. I can't believe that stuff like Doctor Strange: A Separate Reality or even stuff like the O'Neil/Adams and Englehart/Rogers noir Batman stories were aimed at anyone younger than high school. The CCA may have ensured that they were written in a way a 5-year old could understand, but I don't think they'd find them all that appealing.

    The trend accelerates in the 1980's with The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, which really broke open the idea that superhero comics could be written for and read by adults, and accelerates through the grim-and-gritty 90's, when DC and Marvel seemed to morph from "(superhero) comics aren't just for kids" to "(superhero) comics aren't for kids at all." Things are definitely weighted towards the adult side from DC and Marvel now, but there are a non-trivial number of all-ages/younger readers books from both. Whether anybody is reading them is an open question, but if they're not, I don't think it is any reflection on the quality of the material.

    The most common reason why people argue that superhero comics SHOULD be for kids is that Marvel and DC are scuttling their own potential audience. This is where it's important that we had this same discussion about 10-15 years ago. Back then, "comics aren't for kids any more." There are DC and Marvel comic book readers now who were not reading the books back then, and have started relatively recently, but they're high school or college-age. If Marvel and DC were scuttling their audience back then, where'd these new kids come from? By now, there should be NO younger readers of their product, but there are. If they're coming from cartoons on TV and big-screen adaptations, who cares? A comic book reader is a comic book reader. Are there not enough of them? Well, that's a distribution problem, not a content problem. There's lots of published material for adults that finds a sustainable audience.

    Disney did not buy Marvel Entertainment to appeal to kids, or to push into publishing. They are more than capable of doing both on their own. Marvel is now part of the Disney empire to appeal to the teen-to-young-adult male audience. Disney, apparently, does NOT believe that superhero comics have to be for kids. There is nothing wrong with having a niche, and having a specific target audience is critical for a niche. Horror films are a niche in the world of film, but nobody anywhere is suggesting that we should be making horror films for kids because otherwise, adults won't want to watch horror films.

    Finally, there's an even bigger unstated assumption behind "Marvel and DC superheroes should be for kids" that's worth challenging. The statement rests on the assumption that people can and should be reading Batman and Spider-Man throughout their lives. It's almost never said, but the idea is that a kid who reads Spider-Man at a young age will keep reading Spider-Man forever. How many books did you read as a 5-year old, a 10-year old, or even a 15-year old that you would still want to read as an adult in a non-ironic sense? How many book SERIES can do that for long? Superhero comics is the only genre that is expected to appeal to all audiences, forever, and that's a completely unreasonable expectation. In a way, what Marvel and DC are doing now is the ONLY way you can do that: with a separate publishing line that could still pass muster with the CCA, and then a newer line as the kids age into young adults and want more sophisticated fare.

    So, if you are willing to dispense with the idea that superhero comics should be for kids, criticizing something like The Rise of Arsenal (or the lack of it, if the plot synopses are accurate ) boils down to, "Gee, that's a really bad comic book." The rationales for the book may be bad, from "9/11 changed everything" to "kids like unmarried Spider-Man more," and bogus statements like that should be called bogus. However, even if those rationales were good, the comics would still suck.

    So, yeah, "gee, that's a really bad comic book." Good thing I have lots of other comic books to choose from if I want better ones.
    Edward Liu | Disney Forum moderator | Toon Zone News Interviews Editor

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  6. #66
    ryandcow's Avatar
    ryandcow is offline Senior Member
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    Is Booster Gold not mainstream? Because his book always sells out in the first 3 days or so in all 3 of my closest CB Shops. Maybe they don't buy a lot of issues or something....
    "There's no such thing as crazy, just behavior deemed socially unacceptable." -The Question, 52

  7. #67
    Anthonynotes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryandcow View Post
    Is Booster Gold not mainstream? Because his book always sells out in the first 3 days or so in all 3 of my closest CB Shops. Maybe they don't buy a lot of issues or something....
    He's mainstream, but since he's not a character with a bat-insignia or S-shield, they probably don't order as many issues (or he's popular enough that what they do order sells out, though I suspect the former)...

    Re: superhero comics are/aren't for kids: DCAU's all-ages approach (for the TV shows and comics based on it) seems like a positive way to go---appeal for kids, but still capable of a well-written, adult-appealing approach (a very strong one judging from the cult following it has among adult fans). Yes, there's plenty of other stuff for kids to read (superhero and otherwise, from DC/Marvel/elsewhere), but still wouldn't hurt for DC and Marvel to take tips from their competitors (or sidelines). Though in the DCAU's case, one reason for its strength might be a tighter control over its storytelling tone/what's allowed in its stories---not the (by now toothless) Comic Code Authority or similar censorship, but shock-value "Identity Crisis" type stuff kept at bay.

    -B.

  8. #68
    Shawn Hopkins's Avatar
    Shawn Hopkins is offline TZ Member of the Year 2013
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    No, no, no. It's not based on the idea that superhero comics should be for kids, even though I think they'd be stupid to not keep making at least some for kids because kids really respond to the inherently childish power fantasies in them.

    It's that even as an adult I don't want an outrageous snuff film aesthetic to dominate my reading material. It's creepy, it's sleazy, it makes the books it's in unreadable regardless of the talents of the people working on it.

    And DC seems to be pushing for it because to a certain part of the audience shock sells. It's a kind of self-cannibalization, though. Anyone else ever, as a child, do terrible things to army men and action figures? You get a little spark of interest from taking your action figure, let's call him Speedy, and dragging him through torture and amputating his limbs and then setting him on fire and watching him burn, but what are you left with after that? You broke the toy.

    When DC breaks its toys too much, it just pushes the cosmic reset button, but then they start right over again playing too rough.

    Also, yeah, I was around for the dark cycle in the 90s. I was around for it in the 80s, too. And it was bad both times, but what I've noticed is that it gets stronger each time. They have to top themselves and make things more nasty and meaningless, I guess. Infinite Crisis is a worse and bloodier comic than Zero Hour and Zero Hour is worse than Crisis on Infinite Earths.
    Last edited by Shawn Hopkins; 06-01-2010 at 10:39 AM.

  9. #69
    Ed Liu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brainatra View Post
    Re: superhero comics are/aren't for kids: DCAU's all-ages approach (for the TV shows and comics based on it) seems like a positive way to go---appeal for kids, but still capable of a well-written, adult-appealing approach (a very strong one judging from the cult following it has among adult fans).
    I think the biggest difference between your opinion and mine on this is that you seem to be creating more of a separation between the TV cartoons and the comics, while I don't. I don't think DC and Marvel have to do the all-ages thing in print because I think they're already doing a pretty good job of that in the TV shows. It doesn't matter to me that DC and Marvel aren't pushing all-ages/younger-ages material in print because DC and Marvel are already pushing that material in other media. I'd like kids to read, and I'll admit that there are problems with fewer kids reading as a pleasure activity today, but I don't think that an influx of superhero comic book material written for and made available to kids is going to change that trend.

    As a side note, the DC and Marvel superheroes seem to be some of the very few fictional characters malleable enough to appeal to entirely different age groups for entirely different reasons. The only other ones I can think of off the top of my head are Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes. I'm sure there's something interesting to say about that, though this probably isn't the time or place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Hopkins View Post
    It's that even as an adult I don't want an outrageous snuff film aesthetic to dominate my reading material. It's creepy, it's sleazy, it makes the books it's in unreadable regardless of the talents of the people working on it.
    The simplest solution would be to stop reading. I read the pockets of the DC and Marvel output that still hold my interest, which means I end up self-selecting this kind of aesthetic (for lack of a better term) out of my reading material. It's the comic book version of, "If you don't like what's on TV, turn it off or change the channel."

    If DC and Marvel insist on gritting up their superheroes, all they accomplish is convincing me that the Super-Guy in print now is not the same Super-Guy that I like, so who cares what they do to him? That's not my guy. After a certain point, it doesn't matter what George Lucas does to screw up Star Wars or M. Night Shyamalan does to screw up the live-action Avatar the Last Airbender movie. Those ain't the characters I know and love any more. They just have the same names.

    I also think that books like Darwyn Cooke's Parker or Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Incognito have as much dark, ugly human dysfunction on display as Rise of Arsenal, and Watchmen was pioneering superheroics as a substitute/stand-in for sex almost 30 years ago (and I swear I thought of that before reading what Chris Sims had to say about this comic). While it may make reading those books uncomfortable, I wouldn't call them "unreadable," and I would go further and say that those books would be significantly worse, if not impossible, to do without that kind of ugliness on display. As I said, it's not the element of darkness or ugliness that is the turn-off to me. To pick an example of an old property getting grim-and-grittified, Alan Moore made Swamp Thing a much darker, nastier comic than the comics by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, and Frank Miller made Batman much darker, uglier, and nastier than he had been in the past. The difference is that those comics didn't suck. The darker elements of Rise of Arsenal seem a lot less important than the fact that it's just really, really bad.

    The fact that it's so bad that I can point and laugh at it is also probably why I can't find myself too worked up over this latest iteration of "superheroes are getting too dark." I also don't think it's quite as endemic as it was before, although I can see the argument of wanting to stop it now before it does spread everywhere.
    Edward Liu | Disney Forum moderator | Toon Zone News Interviews Editor

    "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble. It's the things we know that just ain't so."
    -- Josh Billings

  10. #70
    Antiyonder is offline Amalgam Universe Overlord
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    I also think that books like Darwyn Cooke's Parker or Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Incognito have as much dark, ugly human dysfunction on display as Rise of Arsenal, and Watchmen was pioneering superheroics as a substitute/stand-in for sex almost 30 years ago (and I swear I thought of that before reading what Chris Sims had to say about this comic). While it may make reading those books uncomfortable, I wouldn't call them "unreadable," and I would go further and say that those books would be significantly worse, if not impossible, to do without that kind of ugliness on display. As I said, it's not the element of darkness or ugliness that is the turn-off to me. To pick an example of an old property getting grim-and-grittified, Alan Moore made Swamp Thing a much darker, nastier comic than the comics by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, and Frank Miller made Batman much darker, uglier, and nastier than he had been in the past. The difference is that those comics didn't suck. The darker elements of Rise of Arsenal seem a lot less important than the fact that it's just really, really bad.
    There's more to it that. Comics like the Watchmen are more about telling a story. The content isn't used in a lame attempt to seem mature.

    To make an analogy, there are plenty of kids/teens that will speak with excessive profanity. They do it so that they can feel mature, when in reality they only end up looking immature.

    And that's the issue of this thread. Superhero comics for the most part are actually like insecure kids/teens that are desperate to prove "Look at us. We're mature."

    Stories like The Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, even the SLG Gargoyles comics (which have more freedom content wise) don't have to convince the reader of their maturity. They are mature, and they are secure with themselves in that regard.
    Deadpool on the "genius" of Hollywood: Everything's turned into a movie these days. -- Old TV shows, board games, candy bars. And let me tell ya, I'm totally stoked for Butterfinger The Movie.

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