This wasn’t the article I was going to do but I need to get myself back on schedule so I’ll do that one tomorrow. Hopefully you’ll like what we have here.
When discussing comics, especially in blogs like this one or on YouTube, one can fall into hyperbole and pessimism when it comes to the future of comics. They’ve been declaring DC dead since Time Warner was bought out by AT&T is the big one that comes to mind. On the other side you have rabid defenders of the current state of comics that also isn’t accurate when you run the numbers and it’s really being defended by people who might not read the comics but love the social commentary and progressive attitudes of the writers whether it actually benefits the story or not. Some are too quick to condemn while others are too quick to praise.
Comic store owner Perch of Comics, By Pearch goes over a few of these comments that are being made, and as this is the feature post for today I’ll toss my own two cents in there as well.
While I’m not as optimistic as Perch is about the current state of the comic industry I do think we’re a bit quick to bury the living. Disney bought Marvel not just for the Cinematic Universe but supposedly to also be a publisher of Disney comics (though they’ve gone about it in a weird way). Marvel as a property is doing way too well for them right now to abandon the comics, since that’s where the testing ground is for new characters. And while people have insisted WarnerMedia really doesn’t care about DC Comics that doesn’t explain the shake-up with sending away Dan DiDio, considered the biggest problem there by a lot of longtime fans. While the crowdfunded path works great for independent creators they still need to have an audience ready to spend money on their work and still won’t get into comic stores. There are things DC and Marvel need to start doing, start doing again, and stop doing but I don’t think they’re going to die off just yet.
We’ve also discussed not only comic creators but movie directors telling us they will decide what we fans “need” (which is they stories they want to tell) and don’t care about what fans want and that’s where a lot of backlash has come from when it comes to long established properties. What fans need is a good adaptation of the characters they love taking part in entertaining adventures playing to the themes that held that audience. Namesakes, not-stalgia, and mockstalgia are not going to do that.
I’m more of a 70s and 80s comic fan myself, from the Bronze Age. The 90s were filled with EXTREEEEEEEMMEEEEEEEE storytelling, darker themes, linework that looked like someone inked the roughs while the colors were darker and crosshatched to death. And pouches. Lots and lots of pouches. There were also a lot of gimmicks to play to the speculator boom that sadly haven’t gone away like variant covers and constant #1 relaunches. If you like the 90s, that’s fine. There were some good comics from this time. However, the 80s are where indie comics got a boost, DC and Marvel were more willing to experiment with odd ideas, and a lot of it was more fun.
I’ve mentioned in both articles and even Art Soundoff that comics CAN comment on social issues but they don’t NEED to. The first responsibility is to entertain and when you make commentary and preaching your first duty you have terrible stories that nobody wants to read, so nobody reads your commentary if they agree with you. Are you writing a story or a Jack Chick style tract for your point of view? You lose more points if your heroes look like the bad guys or just jerks nobody wants to read about. Story is always first and commentary is at best your theme.
Perch nails the other two. Can we stop doing that?