Friday, October 18, 2019 

Unlike today's industry representatives, Stan Lee protested Fredric Wertham's positions

I hadn't noticed this earlier, but CBR published an interesting history item almost a year ago about how Stan Lee for one reacted to Fredric Wertham's anti-comics positions in the 1950s, even as his own company, then still called Timely or Atlas, was among several which complied with the demands of the Senate hearing that took place in the wake of Wertham's now discredited Seduction of the Innocent book:
Throughout his life, Stan Lee was a vocal proponent of the Freedom of Speech and as it turned out, he had a very prominent opponent on that topic during the late 1940s and early 1950s in the person of Fredric Wertham, the infamous psychiatrist behind The Seduction of the Innocent. Rather than taking Wertham's attacks on comics quietly, Lee did a number of awesome protests in the pages of Marvel Comics (then called either Timely Comics or Atlas Comics) from editorials to comic book spoofs of Wertham. [...]

Over the course of late 1948 and throughout 1949, Stan Lee responded to the increasing popularity of Wertham's views about comic books in a series of editorials in every comic released by Marvel Comics (whatever the company was being called back then) at the time.
It's a fascinating history piece, but what's really sad is that, if you consider Lee's refusal to criticize Marvel's conduct in the years after he retired his position there, that's why it's hard to say he kept up his anti-censorship positions, since he never protested Joe Quesada's early examples like banning smoking when he took over as EIC in the early 2000s, among other "moral" positions that were hypocritical at worst, like Peter Parker "never having sex" with Gwen Stacy, even as the latter is inexplicably depicted having it with Norman Osborn. That's one of the most shameless double-standards Quesada ever concocted, one Spider-Man may never have recovered from.

And what do today's contributors to comicdom think of Lee's anti-censorship positions, no matter how he conveyed them? I have no doubt few on the left in the medium show any genuine appreciation for the late veteran's efforts, seeing how badly they've all mangled his creations long before he passed on. That's the biggest oxymoron - selectively or not, they actually agreed with Wertham all along, at the expense of medium they're working in.

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Thursday, October 17, 2019 

Kevin Feige promoted to Marvel's chief creative officer, yet Joe Quesada remains employed

Well, not that I expected any more positive changes anyway, but now it's been announced that Marvel's film studio head Kevin Feige, who's already earning some notoriety for his plans to turn their movieverse more SJW-oriented, has been given a promotion he doesn't deserve any more than Joe Quesada, who looks like he's getting a vice-presidential promotion at their company:
In a reflection of his growing authority, Marvel president Kevin Feige has also been named the company’s chief creative officer, Disney announced Tuesday. The move puts the overall creative direction of Marvel’s storytelling and content creation across mediums including publishing, film, TV and animation under Feige. [...]

The consolidation has been coming for some time. Marvel Entertainment’s chairman Ike Perlmutter had been moved away from any film input after Feige threatened to leave in 2015. And while Marvel’s TV shows on ABC have been consistently underwhelming, and its Netflix slate of shows cratered, Feige this summer took charge of the new slate of shows that will be appearing on Disney+. Those series will be tied to the wildly popular cinematic universe on which Marvel and Disney have been surfing on in recent years.
I honestly wonder what problem Feige could have with a guy as pretentious as Perlmutter happens to be? Probably just greed for what roles he had at the studio, coveting them all for himself, as could be expected from these inter-company rivalries. And lest we forget, some of the worst staffers are still there:
For the time being, Marvel Entertainment’s creative leads remain the same. Sana Amanat, vp content and character development; CB Cebulski, editor-in-chief and head of global editorial; and Stephen Wacker, vp creative and content development, will continue to report to Buckley. Joe Quesada, executive vp and creative director of Marvel Entertainment, also reports to Buckley.
Ah, so besides Quesada's continuing shadow, there's also propagandist Amanat and a pretentious staffer like Wacker to contend with. Buckley's decidedly also bad, since he allowed much of Marvel's disasters to happen after Bill Jemas left in 2004. The more things change, they remain the same, laced with nepotism. As expected, there's nothing to look forward to here.

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Warren Ellis exploits Alfred Pennyworth to channel Batman's critics

Ellis has always struck me as an overrated comics writer. Now, in a miniseries titled The Batman's Grave (which may take place outside current pseudo-continuity where Alfred perished), it looks like Ellis has not only exploited Bruce Wayne's famous butler to convey the beliefs of the Masked Manhunter's detractors, he's even got the blatant nerve to use drunken alcoholism to disguise a wretched viewpoint that's an insult to every decent contributor to Batman, all the way back to Bob Kane and Bill Finger. As seen in the 2 panels below:
He makes Alfred oblivious to how these "poor, impoverished people" Batman pursues happen to be criminals, with the most notorious in Batman's world surely being Joe Chill, the hoodlum who gunned down Bruce Wayne's parents (something that may have been retconned away during Zero Hour in 1994, which I think was ill-advised). It even teeters close to making a separation between the "poor" crooks and gangsters who could drawing them in. Then, in the 2nd, a bizarre contradiction is blurted out, where Alfred thinks it'd be better to just "kill them all". It sounds vaguely like the time Bill Willingham made an embarrassment out of Leslie Thompkins post-War Games, concocting the "reveal" that the doctor let Stephanie Brown die to teach Batman a "lesson" in 2005, and DC presumably thinks this time they can get way with it because unlike last time, it's not a woman who's been denigrated here.

And all this out-of-character nonsense is done under the defense that Alfred's drunk, I guess, even though it is possible for people under the influence to still maintain a modicum of coherency in conversation. It's offensive because it makes it sound as though being a pauper actually justifies criminal offenses. It could easily have been written by a follower of the now defunct Occupy movement. If they really had to reflect the contemptuous arguments of the anti-Batman crowd, it should be through a character of Ellis and company's own creation, not an established character who's meant to believe in justice as much as his boss. I notice Ellis and his other creators chose to make use of the very lowercase lettering Marvel dumbed their books down on in 2003. This Batman comic stands out as the most recent DC book I know of to use that kind of lettering approach, and it's just as lazy as many of the others.

And this Ellis-penned mini is nothing more than another example of Batman becoming exploited for liberal propaganda that practically insults every innocent millionaire, and ignores all the impoverished innocents attacked by the criminals of the same status in real life. Of all the DC creations that've been run into the ground for 2 decades now, Batman surely suffers the worst, and is by far one of the most overused in comparison to others. For heaven's sake, put the Masked Manhunter to bed already; there's plenty of other supeheroes out there who could use the focus he gets, and whose visions are far less dark too. Indeed, Batman serves as a leading example of how woefully overused darkness is in popular fiction.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019 

Batwoman TV show flops on its 2nd episode in ratings

The new Batwoman TV series took a huge nose dive with its 2nd episode alone. A pretty steep drop from the premiere, that's for sure. One of the reasons why is because star Ruby Rose just had to open her big mouth and insult a potential supply of audience that might've ensured ratings were better - at least if there were any story quality - if she'd had to audacity to just keep quiet:
The Orange Is The New Black star had also been slammed for ‘not being lesbian enough’ to play the first LGBTQ lead in a live-action superhero series but the 33-year-old star has reminded fans that ‘the show is not about a gay superhero, it’s about a superhero’.

‘Some people might not see themselves on the screen and therefore not see the point. But there’s obviously plenty of shows for people like that. There’s plenty of shows for white old men,’ the outspoken actress said.

Her being gay, it’s definitely part of who she is, and it’s definitely part of the story and establishing why she’s not in the military anymore.

‘But the show is not about a gay superhero. It’s about a superhero.’
I'm sorry, but it's no use. No matter what she says, there's only so many products like her program where homosexuality is largely all it's about, and indeed, she's talking out of both sides of her mouth. And virtue-signaling by insulting whites will not win her any more audience than the leftists who may have already attacked her for not being enough of a lesbian, which was clearly just an excuse to antagonize somebody for the sake of antagonism.

But lesbian or not, I still don't see why she has to look so unattractive, and her attitude - which in the past would've been seen as a serious PR mistake - has obviously already cost her some viewership. To maintain as best a ratings reception as possible, you can't go around alienating any segment of your audience or act as though the production can literally rely on just a small portion of any part of the population. Yet this is how today's showbiz industry operates, and it's only driven down the quality of art all the more.

And it looks like this series builds on the premise used in the comics that the character was an army reject, making it a political statement about the military, even though that's been far from an issue for years, so the program's already out of date. Besides, the whole role of Batwoman became irrelevant ever since Barbara Gordon as Batgirl became the leading lady protagonist in Batman comics in the late 60s, and her role was developed far better than Greg Rucka's cynical excuse for making statements that would work better as independent comics, and this scrap pile of a TV show.

At this point, it's clear the DC movie and TV adaptations have become as politicized as Marvel's soon look to be, and it's a waste of time to bother about any of them.

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Seriously: superheroes are everywhere?

The Baltimore Sun's brought up the local comics convention, decidedly exaggerating the recognizability of superheroes in pop culture, or at least how much the public pays attention to them:
Face it, comic-book superheroes are our civilization’s modern mythology, and we can’t seem to get enough of them. Every time characters from the Marvel Universe appear onscreen, it seems, movie studios can count on raking in a cool $1 billion or so: of the top-10 worldwide box-office hits of all time, four are “Avengers” movies, topped by the $2.8 billion “Avengers: Endgame” brought in (“Black Panther” just missed hitting the top-10, holding down spot No. 11 with $1.35 billion). And they aren’t all Marvel movies, either: “Aquaman” is No. 22, at $1.15 billion. Have any doubts about the pervasive cultural presence of superheroes these days? Try counting the number of Spider-Men, Wonder Women, Batmen and Hulks that show up on Halloween night.

Yep, superheroes are everywhere. And nearly all of them trace their real-life origins to a medium that got its start right here in the good old U.S. of A., back in the 1930s, when Superman made his debut (1938, to be exact).
I'm afraid that's an awfully superficial way of putting it, since, while they may be recognizable as merchandise and films, they're not widely read as comics. That's huge letdown, one today's industrialists make no attempt to modify.

Besides, as I've noted before, with story and art merit in such horrible decline over the years, that's why the audience is abandoning the genre. But again, this is but an example of a mainstream press outlet with no interest in stressing these facts in depth. And then, if the medium collapses, they'll probably wonder why without providing satisfactory answers, before quickly dropping everything.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019 

IGN's fluff-coated review of Paul Allor's GI Joe relaunch premiere

Here's a recent IGN review of the premiere issue for Paul Allor's reboot of the GI Joe series, replacing the continuity Chuck Dixon's run may have gone by, and it sure sounds like a predictable leftist metaphor for the Trump era:
Following its reboot of the Transformers franchise earlier this year, IDW is now hitting the reset button on G.I. Joe. The old continuity that began in the 2008 Chuck Dixon series is gone, as is the shared Hasbro universe that once connected the Joes to other properties like Transformers, Rom and MASK. For a franchise that's been trapped in a perpetual identity crisis for years, this fresh start is just what the Dr. Mindbender ordered.
But what if the politics Allor employs aren't? It's regrettable they threw out Dixon's visions, if you ask me, for the sake of this new one where Cobra's in charge of the government.
The first time around, IDW made the mistake of trying to find a happy medium between the classic G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comics and a more grounded tale of military espionage. That combination never fully clicked. And particularly once IDW revived Real American Hero and let writer Larry Hama continue where he left off in 1994, the core G.I. Joe books never felt all that essential. IDW's one real accomplishment in its rebooted Joe-verse was the graphic novel Cobra: The Last Laugh, which is quite possibly the finest G.I. Joe story in any medium.
As expected, no mention of the PR disaster Aubrey Sitterson caused with his insult to people devastated by 9-11, nor any questions whether his heavy-handed politics had a negative impact on anything outside the Hama material. If it hadn't been for all Sitterson's idiocies, they might've at least offered something serviceable, but he just had to open his big mouth, and it finally cost him the gig. So in the end, what "core" books are there now, apart from Hama's? IDW made a whole mess out of everything.
Cobra offers a clear case study of how to revive the Joe franchise and reinvent it for a new audience. The most important lesson being this - don't be afraid to break the toys or subvert expectations. With G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero still trucking along, fans have their outlet for classic. The rebooted G.I. Joe needs to take more risks and veer farther from the beaten path. And that's exactly what writer Paul Allor and artist Chris Evenhuis seem willing and able to do. Rather than lead off with a traditional tale of rival paramilitary organizations, the new series introduces a drastically different landscape where Cobra is in the process of conquering the US and the Joes are a ragtag band of resistance fighters.
But breaking toys is exactly what Sitterson did, and look how it turned out. Doing it as described in the following is little or no improvement:
The new direction feels fresh and engaging in a way not all Joe projects have in recent years. There are just enough of the classic trappings at play to justify the G.I. Joe name, but the tone is almost completely different. We've rarely seen the Joes this badly outmatched. And in its own way, the series manages to feel extremely timely. Allor and Evenhuis seem intent on using the new status quo as a critique of a complacent American public who keep going about their daily lives no matter how many existential threats come knocking. There's a surreal quality to the way the protagonists fight a desperate battle for survival while bystanders barely acknowledge the chaos in their midst.
The reviewer clearly doesn't have the guts to acknowledge this appears to be a metaphor for the Trump administration era. And funny how the same leftists who may insist on "realism" abandon it when they want to make a statement against right-wingers, if rank-and-file citizens act oblivious to what goes on around them here.

I'm sure it's possible to write up a story where the Joes find the odds stacked against them, and it takes time to overcome all the obstacles to achieve victory against Cobra. But the metaphor Allor and company chose to employ here is something that would be better avoided at this point, after all the anti-conservative propaganda of the past few years ultimately backfired and didn't garner the best of sales for the industry. If Hama's doing better so far with his title based on the original continuity, I'd say it's best to stick with that and pass on Allor's offering.

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Monday, October 14, 2019 

Some history of DC's jettisoning of Jason Todd, before he was later resurrected

Screen Rant wrote a history item covering DC's decision to throw 2nd Robin Jason Todd under the bus in 1988, quite a landmark direction that succumbed to people who couldn't distinguish between a fictional character and the writers responsible for what he/she does in the four color pages of a comic (to make matters worse, the site's headline reads as "why DC let the Joker kill Robin" which doesn't improve on the lack of logic the earlier time around):
Jason's backstory was rewritten in 1986 in the aftermath of the Crisis on Infinite Earths epic. But behind the scenes there was a major editorial change at DC Comics, with former Batman and Detective Comics writer Denny O'Neil overseeing the franchise. O'Neil had a very different approach to Batman, drawn to a darker style that came to define the Dark Knight for generations to come. And Robin began to seem increasingly incongruous.
That's an awfully peculiar thing to say, when they never gave up on the whole sidekick concept, and later replaced Todd with Timothy Drake almost a year after his demise.
Matters came to a head in 1988, in what proved to be one of the most controversial comic book stories of all time. "A Death in the Family" saw Batman pay a terrible price for his heroism, with Jason Todd brutally murdered by the Joker. The decades would make it a part of accepted comic canon, and more or less reversed. But why would DC endure the PR nightmare of killing Robin, and why did it all go so wrong?

Comic books were getting darker and more mature, and Denny O'Neil wanted Batman at the forefront of the movement (understandable). He brought on board a new writer, Thanos creator Jim Starlin, who frankly wasn't at all interested in Robin. Speaking at a New York Comic Con panel in 2016, Starlin explained that from the costumes alone, "going out and fighting crime in a grey and black outfit while you send out a kid in primary colors was kind of like child abuse." Starlin ignored Robin for as long as possible, and only wrote Jason Todd when he was pushed to do so. His version of Jason was a little more aggressive, and his morality was a LOT more questionable.

In Batman #424, even the Dark Knight himself suspected Jason may have pushed one criminal to his death. While DC had received complaints regarding Jason Todd, they had no idea how widespread the opinion really was. The letters increased in number while Starlin was writing Batman, and all involved took note. When DC was looking to tell a high-profile story tying into the growing focus on AIDS in America, Starlin allegedly suggested Jason Todd to be one such hero affected by the illness. His request was overruled, but six months later Denny O'Neil came up with a solution.

The minds behind Saturday Night Live had recently launched a 1-900 number dial-in competition, and O'Neil liked the idea. He suggested putting a character's life on the line for the same contest, and swiftly decided that Jason Todd was the logical candidate. After all, he didn't believe Jason was popular with the majority of readers anyway. O'Neil considered it the perfect opportunity to get reader participation in the books, and Starlin was on board to write it. "A Death in the Family" kicked off in the double-sized Batman #427, which ended with Jason Todd double-crossed by a woman he believed to be his newly-discovered birth mother. He was instead ambushed and badly beaten by the Joker, and left in a building with a ticking time bomb. Batman arrived just in time to see the building explode... but not before Jason's fate was confirmed. The inside back cover gave details for readers to call in to one of two numbers: either keep Jason alive, or kill him off.
From what they describe here, it sounds like what I've sadly figured was the case at the time - would-be audience members who couldn't distinguish between fiction and reality, nor could they recognize why the real life writers are the guilty party in any faulty characterization. To be sure, not all were like that, and I'm sure there were some letterhacks who criticized the writing results, but no doubt, those were largely absent from the published letter pages.

But if we're to go by what the news site implies, it sure does sound like there were only so many narrow-minded idiots out there who not only couldn't make distinctions, they practically made it a nighttime career to ruin great comics with poor judgement, and editorial and scriptwriters made no attempt to explain to them how they were mistaken and where their complaints should really be laid. Pure cowardice that insults the audience's intellect. And Starlin didn't make things any better by resorting to such a narrow view of surreal storytelling, which ignored that Marvel had its own share of teen heroes who were coached by adults like Bucky Barnes in the Golden Age, and the X-Men's younger entrants. Even Johnny Storm could count, if only because he was mostly a teenager himself when the Fantastic Four first began.

So what happened after the deed was done to Todd? Already fact, but here we go again for the record:
Whether or not DC editorials realized their initial miscalculation, the votes had been cast. Once the dust and marketing hype settled, seeing Jason betrayed by his birth mother, beaten almost to death by Joker with a crowbar, and then left to die in an explosion... was obvious overkill. Readers sympathized with Jason Todd--a child, remember--and turned against the publisher. Press coverage became intensely critical, marketing and merchandise departments were now faced with explaining why DC had murdered a child, while also being left with entire ranges of Robin merchandise now losing value. Jim Starlin's run came to a swift and decisive end, although he never complained. He simply returned to Marvel Comics to kill half of all heroes in his classic Infinity Gauntlet saga.
Except that Thanos' deed was magically reversed, in contrast to how Todd's death stood at the time, no? One has to wonder if it was the very same crowd who complained about Todd in the first place, which would make it all a classic precursor to the damned-if-you-do-and-don't situations seen on Twitter these days. And if Jason was damned simply for killing a criminal who may have been a sex offender, that sure was alarming why a hero must pay a heavier price than the criminal himself. It even forces one to wonder if the complainants were some kind of perverts who sympathized with criminals. I don't think reliance on merchandise has helped comics artistically in the long run, but if it does matter, why indeed would DC take steps that could botch potential revenue?
The Batman franchise's darker direction--which included Jason Todd's death and The Killing Joke, a story that crippled Batgirl--ultimately proved to be a huge success, in spite of all these bumps in the road. Ironically, though, Jason Todd didn't stay dead; he was brought back to life in 2003 in a resurrection plot that saw him become a ruthless vigilante called the Red Hood. The character has recently made his live-action debut in DC Universe's Titans series, where he's generally considered one of the most complex and enjoyable characters.
And here's the most dismaying part of all. The likelihood addicts ensured that, despite the otherwise ill-advised approach DC editorial took, the sales would remain relatively intact, which would only ensure DC would continue to embrace loathsome approaches for the sake of sales and publicity. Today, it's been taking its toll, as it couldn't keep up for that long, but the damage has already long been done, and coupled with an adamant leadership who believe it entirely acceptable to stick with repellent directions set by tasteless events and crossovers, they've driven down the quality of superhero fare ever further, to a point where it will eventually have the worst impact.

Jason may have been resurrected over 15 years ago, but the sad part is that they still don't really have a good direction for him, and tying it in with awful crossovers like Infinite Crisis where Superboy of Earth-Prime allegedly revives him by "hitting walls of reality" doesn't make for anything organic.

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Sunday, October 13, 2019 

The BBC's sugarcoated coverage of Marvel's 80th anniversary

The BBC published a pretty biased item about Marvel's 80th year, which even celebrates some of the recent propaganda tactics they've engaged in this past decade:
Recent movies like Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame made more than a billion dollars each at the global box office.

Which isn't bad going for a company that nearly went bankrupt in the 1990s.
It's just like them to gloss over the pretentious of the CM movie to boot, without acknowledging that, at the US box office, at least, it underperformed. It didn't take in quite as much as the Wonder Woman adaptation starring Gal Gadot.
But Marvel's characters and stories tried to do more than just relate to its readers. They also reflected social change taking place in America.

"There was an emphasis on quite important issues of the time, issues of social justice, fighting prejudice," says Chris.

"Characters like X-Men and the Black Panther were challenging issues of prejudice in a divided nation."

The X-Men, hated for powers they were born with and have no control over, have been seen as a metaphor for prejudice against minority groups such as the LGBT community.
Ah, look at that, they're even perpetuating the LGBT hijack of the X-Men. It's not enough the mutant team serve as metaphors for race relations, it just has to be homosexuality as well. No wonder the citation of social justice, even for its time, conveys a sense of dismay at this point. One of the reasons why comics were an early victory for social justice propagandists was not only because it's an overlooked medium, but also because practically everyone involved allowed it to be. Now, here's where the article really goes sugary:
In recent years, it has introduced more diverse characters like the first black Spider Man, Miles Morales and Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan) the first Muslim character to have her own Marvel comic book.

"These newer characters are bringing a breath of fresh air into the superhero genre as a whole," says Chris.

"They have started to redefine what it means to be a superhero for the 21st century, in a similar way that the heroes Marvel presented in the early 1960s felt like a breath of fresh air. It feels like they are challenging conventions and stereotypes."

There are also characters like Hulkling and Wiccan - both members of the Young Avengers - who are in a gay relationship and X-Men member Dust, who is from Afghanistan and wears a niqab.

So far, these diverse characters haven't appeared in Marvel's on-screen offerings, but there are plans to bring Kamala Khan to the small screen in her own TV series on Disney's new streaming service.
Just like them to fawn over that propaganda, that's for sure. What they don't even dwell on is how untested the Muslim Ms. Marvel was to begin with, if she got her own solo book straight out of the gate, and it sold little more than 20,000 copies or less most of the time. The Muslim Ms. Marvel, Dust, Hulkling and Wiccan are not even challenging stereotypes so much as they are pushing propaganda in favor of corruption and perversion. There's more:
And then there's Squirrel Girl, a plus-sized computer science student who has a tail, can chew through wood and control an army of rodents.

Doreen Green made her first appearance back in 1991, and was eventually given her own series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, in 2014.

"In some ways, working for Marvel was better than I hoped because Squirrel Girl was a strange book that nobody had many expectations of. There weren't a lot of rules," Erica Henderson, who drew the first 37 issues of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, says.

"I think for a lot of people, they liked seeing a character that didn't look like a traditional superhero.

"I wasn't trying to make a character who was fighting oppression with the shape of her body, it was literally just the introduction of a character who's weird and doesn't seem like a superhero."
But why does it sound like she's pushing "obesity acceptance"? And since when did most crimefighters battle oppression or anything with the shape of their body? It was with their battle skills and brains, not physique. This sounds awfully stupid, which is par for the course among people like these.
But that universe could have been lost forever when Marvel hit financial problems in the 1990s.

"The comics industry had been massively overvalued for years," says Chris.

"Comic collectors had been buying multiple copies of issues, believing that they were going to be valuable in 10-20 years time so they were investing."

The first appearance of Spider Man, in 1962's issue 15 of Amazing Fantasy, once sold for $1.1m (£895,000) and the first appearance of characters like X-Men, Iron-Man and The Incredible Hulk have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But that wasn't the case for comics being printed in the 1990s, because Marvel - and other companies - were printing millions of copies of titles.

The 1991 X-Men relaunch was published with five different covers - none of which would ever be rare.

Chris adds that Marvel had also taken risks by moving into the toy and merchandising business - which didn't pay off at the time.
Well today it's still way overvalued, and to be sure, some of the propaganda books Marvel's published since are too. They certainly aren't bound to gain value on the stock market as a result.

At the end of the puff piece:
Chris admits comic book sales "aren't what they were" but says he believe there's little chance of them disappearing from shelves.

"The comic book remains culturally significant and relevant. It's a way that people like to consume stories," Chris says.

"I think there will always be comics, and I'm sure as long as there are comics Marvel will have a stake in that world."
Oh, that depends. If Marvel's still going to even remotely publish books that are meant to shove bad ideologies down people's throats, they won't have a significant stake in anything in the future. At least somebody's willing to admit sales are a far cry from the past, though based on all my own past findings, who knows if they ever were a true success story when a lot of individual titles never sold over a million for years? And if the industry keeps relying on monthly/weekly pamphlet formats and doesn't make a shift to paperback/hardcovers, it never will be.

In the end, what also matters is that, due to the machinations of Quesada and company, Marvel's latest anniversaries aren't worth celebrating.

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Saturday, October 12, 2019 

Are there signs of San Diego Comicon's demise, or signs of DC's?

The San Diego Reader did some coverage of this year's SDCC, which suggests it could be failing in attendance, but also points to the slow collapse of DC as a publisher:
If the death of Horton Plaza and the slow failure of Seaport Village have proved anything it’s that nothing lasts forever in downtown San Diego. Now some say Comic-Con, another downtown institution, may be starting to show signs of decline.
With the movie industry in decline, it's no surprise one of its biggest consumers and representatives today, the SDCC, could be suffering along with it. On the subject of DC, who moved their booths to smaller, less prominent spot at a farther end of the convention halls, they mention:
Yousif is a former comic shop owner turned real estate investor; he’s been buying and selling at the Con since “The Death of Superman” hype in 1992.
That's what got him into the whole hobby? When the motivation is overhyped events, it doesn't sound very altruistic, let alone smart. On the subject of DC's film adaptations, here's something eyebrow-raising:
“For DC, it’s been a bad year,” Khang says. “Shazam! underperformed for them at the box office, and their DC Universe stream has been sort of a disappointment.”

According to Forbes, Shazam! grossed a total of $364.3 million since its release in April, while the initial investment to produce the movie was reportedly $100 million. DC Universe is a streaming service that enables the $7.99/month subscriber to access digital comic books and DC Comic-inspired films, TV shows, and merchandise.
I assume Forbes was talking about the worldwide gross, but if it's the domestic box office in question, that's fascinating. So it wasn't the success they were hoping for, even though it wasn't as expensive as the Superman and Wonder Woman films? I know Shazam contained traces of social justice elements, and just as troubling, was based on at least a few elements from Geoff Johns' otherwise abortive reboot from several years prior. That could've contributed to the underwhelming domestic grosses.
“This Con was a chance for DC to be part of the conversation again,” Khang continued, “and fans need to know that they’ll be rewarded for having faith in the DC brand. They have some of the most iconic pop cultural characters — including: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Suicide Squad, Flash — in their pantheon, but we won’t see them for awhile.”

Khang was referring to Warner Bros. and DC not making a superhero movie cast appearance at the convention’s Hall H where they’ve been continuously presenting since their Batman Begins panel in 2004. The notorious 65,000-square-foot hall is where fans wait in lines for hours, and sometimes days — in hopes to catch a glimpse of actors and actresses on a Q&A panel, and watch teasers or pilots of the soon-to-be-released movies.

“DC (and Warner Bros.) not repping at Hall H was a huge misstep,” Khang continued. “Even if they had a trailer from Wonder Woman 1984, or a sneak peak of the new Joker movie, or having someone discuss their plan for the next slate of DC films, or even bring up James Gunn for the new Suicide Squad movie — they needed the buzz to be relevant again, and they missed it. Plus, there’s still no word on Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman. This is why DC films don’t come close to Marvel films.”
What a load of bull. DC fans have not been rewarded any more than Marvel fans, when they keep retaining employment of such a loathsome figure as DiDio with his unappealing visions for the DCU. Sure, they may have made missteps at the con, but if they think promoting Gunn is a great idea, his past social media record suggests otherwise. And it's not getting any better with the following:
YouTube vlogger and DC fan, Dingus Bringus, broke it down further on one of his vlogs. “The main point is money,” he said, “it’s pretty expensive to go to San Diego and have these huge panels. And seeing that Warner Bros. didn’t have a huge box office smash [in 2019] — Shazam!... made three or four times its budget, but it didn’t make huge smashing blockbuster numbers …. and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as we are seeing is not performing all that well — so it really didn’t help those two movies being at Comic-Con last year. So I would understand why they wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money for Comic Con to promote smaller budget movies like Birds of Prey and Joker.”
On Birds of Prey, if I were a marketer, I'd be embarrassed to promote that anywhere with the social justice platform it's shaping up to be. Maybe that could explain their muted appearance at this year's con.
“It’s cliché I know, but it felt like we were in the Bizarro alternative storyline,” he says. “People weren’t really buying as much as they used to. I believe the last count was 50 percent lower than 2018 — people weren’t buying our DC comics and trade paperbacks, even at 50 percent off.”

Yousif remembers when Superman came back to life and DC Comics sealed The Adventures of Superman #500 comic in a white bag — “we all rejoiced at the 1993 Con that year.”
Oh, on this, did they rejoice at Green Lantern's Coast City being destroyed in the latter half of that overrated tommyrot? As I've noted before, this is something anybody who invested in The Death & Return of Superman could answer to - whether they found it disturbing that the whole balderdash served as a lead-in to one of the most abominable events of 1994. Near the end of the article:
Back in the day, it was common for attendees to lug around their 150-count comic boxes in the halls. Up until last year, Yousif and his buddies sold “literally tons” of comic books and trade paperbacks here. They hauled them in on pallets. Word on the San Diego streets is that the lottery ticket system to get into the Con results in more attendees that don’t collect and spend less than the previous generations.

“You didn’t see many people carrying around boxes of stuff they purchased,” Yousif said. “I think the Con has become more of a destination for experience, rather than a show to purchase your back issues and rare collectibles. It’s apparent on the surprise boxes that sell for $50 a box.”
So less people are buying items at SDCC than before? I guess that's telling. The more recent stuff from the Big Two is so bad, it's no wonder nobody wants it; they've become the paperback/hardcover equivalent of spam. Yet these dealers aren't dwelling on that? Then how do they expect problems to be solved?

Whether the issue in question is SDCC's slump, or DC's, or both, it'd do a lot of good if dealers and retailers would take the time to stress why the failures, if they know what led to them. Otherwise, I don't see why we should assume they're really worried about the collapse of notable businesses.

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