Comic Books, R.I.P.?
- Indian Comics Irregular #56
Everyone knows comics are for kids and other emotionally undeveloped
people. Confirming the point is a note about "Black Scorpion," a new
TV series on the Sci-Fi channel. From the LA Times,
[Co-creator Roger Corman] insisted the show have broad commercial
appeal. Hence, the cool cars, chase scenes, special effects,
constant action and tiny outfits.
"It's a little T&A, but only a little," said Bonnie Hammer, the
network's general manager. "It's meant to be comic book in style.
It's not meant to be a serious, profound experience."
The results of this poor image are painfully obvious. From the LA
[Comics are] struggling with dwindling circulation and a host of
rivals: video games, the Internet, the World Wrestling
Federation, Harry Potter and every other competitor for the
time and money of young people. Last year, comic book sales in
the U.S. were in the neighborhood of $375 million, down
significantly from the boom days of the 1980s and early '90s, when
the total peaked at $1 billion.
If the connection between juvenile storytelling and plummeting sales
isn't clear, another quote makes it crystal. From the LA Times,
Ken Dychtwald--author of "Age Power: How the 21st Century Will Be
Ruled by the New Old" and head of Age Wave Inc., a research and
consulting firm--noted...that the youth market is shrinking as a
percentage of the overall population, "[so] any company trying to
grow share against the youth market is making a very big mistake."
The upshot: Comics need to change or die. They need to grow up, as
one retailer put it--to portray the real world in all its political,
social, and cultural complexity. If they don't, they can kiss their
dwindling market share, perhaps their very existence, good-bye.
For more on the subject, go to
Kid Stuff, or...?
A reader's comment on my "Fill-in-the-Blank Heroes" message (ICI #54)
and some snappy responses:
Please remember that with a bank robber you have a clearly
recognizable villain. Where is the recognizable evil doer to
battle in poverty or disease? Comics are above all a visual
medium; if it doesn't show in artwork it doesn't go in. Kids of
any "race" or cultural background (still the largest purchaser of
comics) need to have a recognizable bad guy to hiss at.
1) WATCHMEN, SANDMAN, FROM HELL, LOVE AND ROCKETS, ASTRO CITY,
CEREBUS, BONE...many popular and acclaimed comics don't feature
conventional supervillains in spandex. Mature comics featuring
conventional bad guys--MAUS, DARK KNIGHT, Alan Moore's ABC
line--also fare well.
2) That kids form the largest group of buyers is a myth. At least
half of today's buyers are adults 18 or older. They
want comics geared for them.
3) Again, comics need to change...or die.
We welcome yet another Native expert to our advisory board: Firehair
Shining Spirit, aka Sheila Spencer Stover. Ms. Firehair, whose
ancestry is Delaware/Minisink Band/Turtle Clan, is a teacher
and genealogist. She also runs an e-mail list in which she shares
her many opinions.
I've just posted the 500th page on the PEACE PARTY website. It's a
blurb from the Occidental College magazine--most appropriate since
Oxy (as we call it) is where my multicultural ideas took shape.
Check it out at http://www.bluecorncomics.com/oxy.htm.
Blue Corn Comics