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Old 2011-04-12, 00:38   Link #1
solomon
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American Comics Today

You know after doing some digging I realized...............WE ACTUALLY DO HAVE A COMICS INDUSTRY HERE!!

I could have sworn it died out after that last hurrah in the 90s with the collection fetish.

Ok I know that's an exaggeration and I know that graphic novel formats have lead to money being made for the big comic houses. That being said, I never see or hear many kids actually pick up the darn things to read. You're much more likely to see kids read a VIZ import than something stateside in schools (and im not just talking about the nerdy kids).

Anyways, can anything be done to reinvigorate the industry here stateside. I don't dislike the leotard leagues that prance around in like EVERY SERIES but it seems as if the medium is suffocated by the superhero set.

Whats more, the movies have done NOTHING to elevate the level of genuine consumption.

Naturally I doubt it can become the level of Japan but you'd think we could at least have one as visible as France and Belgium.
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Old 2011-04-12, 01:01   Link #2
Alchemist007
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I only liked a couple comics in my younger days, and they were fairly simple (I think it got as complex as Sonic the Hedgehog, lol). But then there were the comics with like a million colors in one panel (all shades of dark colors) and stuff of that sort and it was just a pain to read. If there's one thing I can appreciate about the Bleach manga, it's that I know what the hell is happening in the majority of the panels

Yeah, I prefer manga, but I suppose I haven't looked at the old comic book for a long time now.
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Old 2011-04-12, 01:55   Link #3
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Well some mangas are barely intelligible as well, but generally speaking yes manga style is simple and easier to read (although the layout with the speech bubbles is really annoying).

I really want to see more French comics, they have a lot of genres and story types.
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Old 2011-04-12, 02:02   Link #4
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Comic books are too expensive, too focused on superheroes (and "adult" fans), and have too limited distribution. The writers and artists lost the kids market in the eighties (or maybe even earlier) and now the whole industry is dwindling away chasing a smaller and increasingly older core group of fans.

One of the reasons manga is successful is because much of it still targets kids, something lost on the American comic publishers who seem content to push out yet another "Crisis Ad Infinitum" where the "heroes" kill and rape each other.
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Old 2011-04-12, 03:33   Link #5
Samari
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Originally Posted by TurkeyPotPie View Post
Comic books are too expensive, too focused on superheroes (and "adult" fans), and have too limited distribution. The writers and artists lost the kids market in the eighties (or maybe even earlier) and now the whole industry is dwindling away chasing a smaller and increasingly older core group of fans.

One of the reasons manga is successful is because much of it still targets kids, something lost on the American comic publishers who seem content to push out yet another "Crisis Ad Infinitum" where the "heroes" kill and rape each other.
I think the adult themes now and days have just grown with the country and society. With manga, you also have to think about the licensing of cartoons that are also associated with it. Would manga really be as popular here if the anime craze wasn't so viral here as well? I remember ten years ago there were that many manga in comic book shops compared to today.

As far as American comic books go, I don't believe it's necessarily the themes that have imploded the market. If you still had comics that were mostly targeted for younger readers, you'd lose the adult market. And would kids now and days even read them anyways with the internet and video games occupying their attention? I don't think so. That's what took the industry by storm. Technology.

It's the format that has a strangle hold on the industry, not necessarily the medium also. Which is why digital comics are probably a way of the future. Doing the monthly periodical is just not enough time for artists, inkers, writers, colorists etc. to crank out month to month without issues like missed deadlines and the like. Trade paperbacks are becoming much more popular for the consumer as well. They don't have to wait month to month to get the entire story arch. I think it's just a question of sales. When is the tradepaperback going to outdo the monthly periodical. I think with other places like Europe where they'll release one really well done graphic novel a year sometimes is a good format. Or at least every couple of months I'm guessing. Just seems a lot more practical. I don't want to the periodical to go away, but I wouldn't be surprised if it eventually did. At least in paper form.
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Old 2011-04-12, 03:42   Link #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurkeyPotPie View Post
Comic books are too expensive, too focused on superheroes (and "adult" fans), and have too limited distribution. The writers and artists lost the kids market in the eighties (or maybe even earlier) and now the whole industry is dwindling away chasing a smaller and increasingly older core group of fans.

One of the reasons manga is successful is because much of it still targets kids, something lost on the American comic publishers who seem content to push out yet another "Crisis Ad Infinitum" where the "heroes" kill and rape each other.
I think much of it has to do with the fact that 40 or 50 years later, you still have the same superheroes in both marvel and DC comics. Manga has a lot more diversity in that each hero has his own story and when it comes to an end, the author tends to go on and make a whole new story with all new characters. The longest manga I know of is Hajime no Ippo, and that started in 1990. Manga plotlines are short-lived compared to comics which is what makes them easier to read and appreciate imho.
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Old 2011-04-12, 03:56   Link #7
Samari
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I think much of it has to do with the fact that 40 or 50 years later, you still have the same superheroes in both marvel and DC comics. Manga has a lot more diversity in that each hero has his own story and when it comes to an end, the author tends to go on and make a whole new story with all new characters. The longest manga I know of is Hajime no Ippo, and that started in 1990. Manga plotlines are short-lived compared to comics which is what makes them easier to read and appreciate imho.
Interesting perspective. I don't agree though. I mean guys like Superman and Batman or the X-Men are loved immensely in the comic book realm and it's not like people have gotten bored with them. People like to see writers take spins on characters and people like to see how characters grow with the changing times and changing society. New characters are introduced all the time, it's just that none of them really take off because they don't have a history like Batman and Superman when comic books were actually read more often compared to now and days. There are just too many other distractions for people to take notice. Unless it gets made into a film or a popular cartoon people aren't going to know because no one really reads comic books anymore.
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Old 2011-04-12, 04:07   Link #8
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Don't get me wrong pal, there is some good work done in the superhero realm. Much like how I love Snoopy and Bugs still being alive, there is something to be said for timelessness of certain cartoon characters.

Although people like Bill Waterson and John Kricfalusi have (probably rightly so) made depricating observations of how pretentious and overly dramatic and laboriously over developed the stories have become.

Only problem is that (generally speaking) comics=superheros in this country, it's a near unilateral universal law that's even more narrow than Animation=Disney or reasonable impression thereof.

My mom is a huge comic book nut (god bless her) and she goes into the riot act whenever Hollywood butchers her favorite franchise (remember the butchering of the X-Men Phoenix deal?) and I keep telling her......NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE ORIGINAL WORK!

It's a shame really.
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Old 2011-04-12, 04:12   Link #9
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Interesting perspective. I don't agree though. I mean guys like Superman and Batman or the X-Men are loved immensely in the comic book realm and it's not like people have gotten bored with them. People like to see writers take spins on characters and people like to see how characters grow with the changing times and changing society. New characters are introduced all the time, it's just that none of them really take off because they don't have a history like Batman and Superman when comic books were actually read more often compared to now and days. There are just too many other distractions for people to take notice. Unless it gets made into a film or a popular cartoon people aren't going to know because no one really reads comic books anymore.
As much as people love them, you have to consider the audience that's into them the most. The fact that there's been a decline in comic books, as you said, kinda tells me that perhaps the new generation isn't into them as much as the older generation. New characters don't make it very far because they get involved with the old ones. I do believe that if the comic books worked a bit more like manga, with different characters and their own stories, they would still be very popular like Spiderman and the others were when they first started off.
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Old 2011-04-12, 04:18   Link #10
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Originally stuff like Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and X-Men were radical new wave style of comics because they humanized characters and treated them more as average joes having to deal with the day to day shit life brings you.

I don't want to say it got away from that entirely it's just that there's like what 8 writer and artist teams working on their own individual take on Spider-Man and whomever, with their own super developed universe. It wasn't always like that. Frankly that hardcore inbred development is not noob friendly in the least.

(Devil's advocate, you could argue Gundam is the same to a lesser degree).

I'll be frank with you my main window into DC and Manga universe was through the largely kickass animated adaptions of the 1990s, not the books themselves.
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Old 2011-04-12, 05:45   Link #11
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Only problem is that (generally speaking) comics=superheros in this country, it's a near unilateral universal law that's even more narrow than Animation=Disney or reasonable impression thereof.
Think about it though. America for the longest time has been the epicenter of movie production and the like. People would never go, or probably never have gone for comics of other genres like drama or romance that would come out monthly like the superhero genre. Why? Because we have movies. We have television. And for the longest time that comic books have been around, it's been that way. I don't think Japan really had that during the majority of the 20th century. Comic books here were originally intended for children, which is probably why it started out as tales of superheros and have stayed that way with the success of comics coming from the superhero genre. There are other genres out there now, but obviously no one reads them here in this country because the superhero genre has been around for so long and it just dominates the market.

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As much as people love them, you have to consider the audience that's into them the most. The fact that there's been a decline in comic books, as you said, kinda tells me that perhaps the new generation isn't into them as much as the older generation. New characters don't make it very far because they get involved with the old ones. I do believe that if the comic books worked a bit more like manga, with different characters and their own stories, they would still be very popular like Spiderman and the others were when they first started off.
Of course this new generation isn't into them as much. The internet and video games have really landed a severe blow to the comic book industry. There are just too many other things to do so to speak. I disagree about the manga method. People are attached to characters like Superman and Batman and have been for such a long time and want to continue seeing them in more adventures. It's not the characters and their longevity that have screwed the industry. It's other distractions like what I said earlier. A lot of new characters that would be created today wouldn't have a strong chance to stick around and get to the prominence of a Spiderman or Wolverine. Why? Because they would be a new creation during a time when comic books aren't read that much anymore, and the second reason would be because they wouldn't have that history to propel them forward like a lot of characters have/had back when comics were read a lot more than they are today. There are a few exceptions to this like Hellboy though. It's very rare however.
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Old 2011-04-12, 06:21   Link #12
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The main issue with american comics is that they keep desperately trying to keep people's interest with new "events" and give certain writers almost complete control of the universe. Dwayne McDuffie (R.I.P.) got screwed out of a job writing one of the best comics on the market because of that, and how many people do you know who read R.E.B.E.L.S. while most comic book fans are keeping up with Brightest Day (I admit, I am too, I'm just really tired of John's run on GL).

American Comics have created new characters, in the 90s almost every single character got a reboot, and then seriously declined in popularity. The comic industry is in too much trouble to do something crazy right now, so they keep playing it safe doing the same thing over and over and over again, which still loses them fans.

Of course there's still some amazing comics on the market (Morrison's Batman/ 5th World Epic for instance) and there will continue to be. After the comics boom of the 90s (which coincidentally was filled with some of the shittiest comics ever made) they had a bit of a collapse, but I have no doubt they'll be coming back eventually.
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Old 2011-04-12, 06:50   Link #13
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Of course this new generation isn't into them as much. The internet and video games have really landed a severe blow to the comic book industry. There are just too many other things to do so to speak. I disagree about the manga method. People are attached to characters like Superman and Batman and have been for such a long time and want to continue seeing them in more adventures. It's not the characters and their longevity that have screwed the industry. It's other distractions like what I said earlier. A lot of new characters that would be created today wouldn't have a strong chance to stick around and get to the prominence of a Spiderman or Wolverine. Why? Because they would be a new creation during a time when comic books aren't read that much anymore, and the second reason would be because they wouldn't have that history to propel them forward like a lot of characters have/had back when comics were read a lot more than they are today. There are a few exceptions to this like Hellboy though. It's very rare however.
I won't argue with that too much because there is some truth there, but scraggy summed it up very nicely. The only reason they're not trying anything new is because as you say, the comic book industry is suffering from too much of a decline and are trying to play it safe. You tell me this, however: If there's so much love for Batman, Supes and other classic heroes, why is there such a decline in the industry? If it's as you say, I'd have thought the industry would remain at least stable compared to the way it's been 2 or 3 decades ago. Truth is, less and less people are retaining an interest in them anymore, and it's too late to make any drastic changes because there's too much of a risk involved, so they're trying to extend their lifeline by relying on the classic heroes. It's kinda like DBZ without an end. Try and imagine that
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Old 2011-04-12, 09:11   Link #14
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The main issue with american comics is that they keep desperately trying to keep people's interest with new "events" and give certain writers almost complete control of the universe. Dwayne McDuffie (R.I.P.) got screwed out of a job writing one of the best comics on the market because of that, and how many people do you know who read R.E.B.E.L.S. while most comic book fans are keeping up with Brightest Day (I admit, I am too, I'm just really tired of John's run on GL).

American Comics have created new characters, in the 90s almost every single character got a reboot, and then seriously declined in popularity. The comic industry is in too much trouble to do something crazy right now, so they keep playing it safe doing the same thing over and over and over again, which still loses them fans.

Of course there's still some amazing comics on the market (Morrison's Batman/ 5th World Epic for instance) and there will continue to be. After the comics boom of the 90s (which coincidentally was filled with some of the shittiest comics ever made) they had a bit of a collapse, but I have no doubt they'll be coming back eventually.
I don't see how comics can rebound to their height of excellence in the early 90's. Too many things have changed. The world is just moving on it seems.

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I won't argue with that too much because there is some truth there, but scraggy summed it up very nicely. The only reason they're not trying anything new is because as you say, the comic book industry is suffering from too much of a decline and are trying to play it safe. You tell me this, however: If there's so much love for Batman, Supes and other classic heroes, why is there such a decline in the industry? If it's as you say, I'd have thought the industry would remain at least stable compared to the way it's been 2 or 3 decades ago. Truth is, less and less people are retaining an interest in them anymore, and it's too late to make any drastic changes because there's too much of a risk involved, so they're trying to extend their lifeline by relying on the classic heroes. It's kinda like DBZ without an end. Try and imagine that
Because of the internet, video games and too many other things to do now and days. People just don't have time or interest for the industry anymore. That's what it is plain and simple. It's not really the stories or plots as much. That is always going to be around. Even in the early 90's there were a bunch...and the writing these days is much better compared to back then with the type of people involved writing for comics now.
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Old 2011-04-12, 09:29   Link #15
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I don't see how comics can rebound to their height of excellence in the early 90's. Too many things have changed. The world is just moving on it seems.
But while the comic book has turned into an industry, it's still an art form, and not a very old one at that. It's a young medium with a niche fanbase in a hard economic time, but I'm sure once the american economy gets back on track (who knows how long that will take though) the industry will do better, and be more willing to take risks, which could lead to another boom (hopefully with better talent than the last one).
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Old 2011-04-12, 09:39   Link #16
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I don't see how comics can rebound to their height of excellence in the early 90's. Too many things have changed. The world is just moving on it seems.
...what was excellent about comics in the early 90's? I question the excellence of any era where Rob Liefeld was active.
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Because of the internet, video games and too many other things to do now and days. People just don't have time or interest for the industry anymore. That's what it is plain and simple. It's not really the stories or plots as much. That is always going to be around. Even in the early 90's there were a bunch...and the writing these days is much better compared to back then with the type of people involved writing for comics now.
While that certainly might be a factor, I'm always leery about people passing off the decline of an entertainment medium due to the development of new ones.
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Old 2011-04-12, 10:17   Link #17
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I think the problem with bringing new fans is the immense amount of plot baggage both the DC and Marvel universes possess at this point. The storylines have been 'rewritten' (example Crisis on Infinite Worlds) in the past to make it more simpler, so the comic industry definitely recognizes it as an issue, but inevitably as time goes by and more writers put their own spin, with their own side stories and background characters, the complex plots will be built back up to the point of being... well, less than newbie-friendly, let's put it that way.

That's why I was particularly fond of the Ultimate Marvel (other than the Ultimatum fiasco) line of comics. It has far less baggage than the others, and is the most suitable for new people to get started on. Problem is, that line is now almost 10 years old I believe, and thus starting to gain a bit of baggage on its own. Still, taking the odd hour or two of free time every couple of days, you could catch up in a year or so. That'd be impossible to do with the other comic brands.

Speaking of which, have they begun releasing volumes of comics in e-print form yet? They really need to if not, as that's the best way to catch up on a series.
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Old 2011-04-12, 10:26   Link #18
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Speaking of which, have they begun releasing volumes of comics in e-print form yet? They really need to if not, as that's the best way to catch up on a series.
Both DC and Marvel began releasing comics available for download on the iPad, and then there's always scans online for the monetarily challenged.
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Old 2011-04-12, 10:39   Link #19
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You know after doing some digging I realized...............WE ACTUALLY DO HAVE A COMICS INDUSTRY HERE!!

I could have sworn it died out after that last hurrah in the 90s with the collection fetish.

Ok I know that's an exaggeration and I know that graphic novel formats have lead to money being made for the big comic houses. That being said, I never see or hear many kids actually pick up the darn things to read. You're much more likely to see kids read a VIZ import than something stateside in schools (and im not just talking about the nerdy kids).

Anyways, can anything be done to reinvigorate the industry here stateside. I don't dislike the leotard leagues that prance around in like EVERY SERIES but it seems as if the medium is suffocated by the superhero set.

Whats more, the movies have done NOTHING to elevate the level of genuine consumption.

Naturally I doubt it can become the level of Japan but you'd think we could at least have one as visible as France and Belgium.
As a member of the American publishing community who follows trends and demographics, allow me to share with you that the current generation of 18-35ers are no where near as interested in comic-books as the same demo was in the 1970s and 1980s.

The reasons for the decline are numerous, but much of it can be summarized in one word--content.

The 1990s saw a wave of anime that the US had never seen before, and with it came a swelling of interest in animated entertainment (like Pixar, etc.).
Comic book companies got a much needed boost during that time period with the introduction of manga-style works (Dark Horse comics, etc.).

As "animated entertainment" has become more sophisticated--starting with the debut of Americanized anime such as Starblazers, Battle of the Planets (US version of Gatchaman), and Robotech in the early 1980s--the "super heroes" that attract consumers have become more realisitic.

While the superheroes of Marvel and DC certainly have their core die-hard fanbase, that fanbase has given way to video game heroes like Master Chief, and Dante (from Devil May Cry) as well as anime heroes such as Spike (Cowboy Bebop), Kira Yamato (Gundam Seed), Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass).

Most of the heroes of Japanese anime are "normal" people in extraordinary circumstances. Even with their super powers, they're imperfect.
American superheroes on the other hand are perceived (whether correctly or not is immaterial to my point) as being muscle-bound, drop-dead gorgeous bomb-shells, who are infalible and never fail (I know that's not true of many comics, but it is the perception of the general public according to Publisher's Weekly).

Therefore it is clear that Anime and manga have also carved a large notch out of an already small niche of English speaking readers, particularly in the US.

As I said before, there are other factors that are contributing to this, but people are more interested in paying to watch Batman, Superman, the X-men, and other superheroes on the big screen (movies) than they are following a 100+ issue series of comic books.
It would seem that most people are willing to suspend their disbelief for a 2 hour movie or two, but not for a whole series of 30 page comics.
Besides, even with fabulous artwork, most people now-a-days are more willing to purchase a 300+ page hardcover novel for $25.00-30.00 US than they are to invest $3.99/issue of a 50-100+ issue series to get the whole story.

This gent puts into perspective the value aspects that comic books suffer from currently.

Entertainment "Bang for your Buck."

I doubt comic books will ever totally vanish.
Personally, I see the Marvel and DC titles eventually becoming more like Japanese manga.
It will be a slow transition IMHO, but I think it is inevitable due to younger generations be more inclined to "manga" rather then "comics." (I know they're basically the same thing )
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Old 2011-04-12, 10:43   Link #20
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I almost entirely agree with TurkeyPotPie. The only area where I disagree with him is that I think that superheroes are still quite popular (as shown by how Hollywood is adapting them into big budget live-action movies at a breakneck pace right now, and started doing so several years ago now). The problem is that DC and Marvel has to a great extent lost sight of what made super heroes (and their comics) popular in the first place.


At some point in the 90s, the North American comic book industry made a big shift towards appealing to the hardcore collector.

This is when you saw:

1) Lots and lots of fancy covers (i.e. metallic bits, embossed, one cover over another, etc...)

2) Big crossover events, at least once per year, often including a special limited run title dedicated entirely to that big crossover event.

3) Shifted from newspaper print style paper to glossy magazine style paper

4) Due to all of the above, prices getting jacked up considerably (well beyond what inflation alone can justify).


As a kid in the mid-to-late 80s/early 90s, I could go to just about any convenience store or grocery store or book store or mall and find loads and loads of comics there. Each of them would be between a $1.00 to $1.50, except for those that were larger than usual (which was fine, because you were paying extra money for extra content). Most comics you picked up could work well as a stand-alone (i.e. you'd get a full, complete story within the comic itself), or if not, they'd at least be up-front about it ("Part 1 of 6", for example, would be marked on the cover of comics that weren't standalone). The comic stories themselves were usually serious, but they had all the charm of classic super-hero stories, being fun, easy reads. They were generally not as "grimdark" as they have been since.

All of the above made comics very attractive and accessible to kids and younger teenagers. They were very "pick up and go", not a significant cost for most kids, and you didn't need an encyclopedic-level knowledge of a character's background in order to enjoy or fully get that character's stories.


What has happened since is that comics are now very bogged down with detailed and intricate continuity, they have a high price point when you consider the quantity of content most comics have (i.e 32 pages or less, some being advertisements), and they're increasingly grimdark and political in their themes. Some of this is great for adults who appreciate such depth, and connection to more serious real world issues, but they're barriers for kids.

For example, an event like Marvel's somewhat recent "Civil War", loaded with politics and political allegories and very grimdark battles between superheroes, doesn't exactly capture the imagination of a kid who would think it would be cool to be a super-hero. DC's infinite number of Infinite Crisis' doesn't exactly appeal to kids either.


Super heroes, by their very nature, appeal more to youthful wish fulfillment and heady adventurous dreams than anything else. Contrasting them with a darker and/or more grounded mood and atmosphere can be interesting and compelling (which is much the same reason why the anime Madoka Magica works so well), but too much of that can drain the genre of what made it appealing in the first place (which is also why I hope that Madoka Magica won't result in every magical girl anime from now on being similarly grimdark).

For example, right now, as we speak, Superman is walking across America, in the aptly named story arc "Grounded". Yes, the way to capture the imagination of kids who love the idea of flying and beating up bad guys is to feature the guy who inspired "Look! Up in the sky!" walking across America, talking to local news reporters and everyday people as though he was a politician campaigning for votes. I'd love to see Haruhi Suzumiya's reaction to how DC is currently handling its flagship alien. I think she'd be thoroughly disgusted, myself.


Manga has very wisely not lost sight of what made it popular in the first place, and hence has remained true to its roots. Some things have been refined - modern shounen titles progress at a quicker pace than the DBZ of old, for example - but on the whole, shounen still speaks to the male Japanese kid that dreams of kicking ass in cool adventures with awesome powers with a never say die attitude. That may be horribly cliche for adults, but for many kids, they haven't lived long enough to fully appreciate what "cliche" even means. Manga has also kept to the less expensive non-glossy paper, enabling it to keep its prices pretty low.


I sadly think that comic books can perhaps never get to where they once were, or where shounen manga is right now. But if they ever do, it'll be by recapturing what made them popular in the first place. In this vein, I would encourage Marvel and DC to take a good, hard look at their 60s through 80s comics, and really stop to ask themselves "What made these so popular? What did they have that modern comics usually don't?", and then work from there.
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Last edited by Triple_R; 2011-04-12 at 11:04.
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