Dan Buckley sounds like he's parroting DC's excuses
Video games and movies are being launched at the Con and the guests of honor include Stephen Colbert, Stephen King, and Wes Craven, but comic books are the main event, specifically superhero comics published by Marvel (weighing in with 44% of the marketplace) and DC (weighing in with 34%). How do two companies control such an enormous slice of the pie? By bumming everyone out. In recent years, Spider-Man has killed Mary Jane with his carcinogenic spidersperm. Batman has become a single parent. Captain America and Iron Man are hashing out national security issues by hitting each other in the face while rounding up unregistered superheroes and sending them to a Gitmo-style prison camp after a superpowered September 11, 2001. The once cheerful Elongated Man saw his wife raped, then burned to death. And the new Batgirl is an evil, lesbian junkie. No wonder Superman has spent the past year with his forehead buried in his hands, weeping softly.Absolutely correct. Whatever their success in sales, they're letting down a lot of the audience, old and new, with joyless storytelling that's otherwise devoid of any real mirth.
And Dan Buckley doesn't make things better with the way he's making excuses similar to what DC's Dan DiDio may have made:
"It's dark out there," said Dan Buckley, publisher of Marvel comics. "But the stories go where the stories go." And fans want them to go somewhere full of grim and gritty relevance while still wrapped in comfortable nostalgia. "Books that lean more toward the humorous don't do as well in the hobby market," Mr. Buckley said. "It doesn't mean we don't want to produce those books, but we have to sell to our readership."I strongly disagree with Buckley that none of the audience is interested in comedy, if that's what he's claiming. Mainly because it's misleading: I've noticed that those books that actually do feature the humourous tend to be these "smaller" books* whose audience might be less compared to the higher profile titles like Superman. These could include the erstwhile Plastic Man series, and possibly the All-New Atom series. But here's where the problems come in: see, the former series was helmed by Kyle Baker, who once made some vicious statements following the time when he was the artist on Marvel's Truth miniseries. And because the latter brought in a new character at the expense of the Silver Ager who preceded him, that's one reason why I couldn't bring myself to bother with them, certainly not with the former series. But, that aside, another problem is how DC seems to be using humor selectively: in other words they're using it in a lower profile series, yet in a higher profile series like the Flash, it's either trying and failing to be funny, or, it's devoid of comedy altogether.
Now is that fair, that a low profile series can have laughter, but a high profile series cannot? To me, this could be a good reason why comics aren't doing well - because they're not offering comedy value fairly. We the comedy-seeking audience don't just want humor being dished out according to specific books and whomever's writing it; we want it to be able to find it in any and every book where it could work, both high-and-low profile, and with all writers, artists and characters who could handle it.
(That could also be a reason why I'm not exactly encouraged to read Manhunter, which may have once featured Batman smiling, but in a series other than his own, no less! If he can put on a happy face as a guest star in another book but not as his own character in his own books, then something could be wrong.)
The NY Sun article then says:
By basing their books on world events, the comics industry has recently driven up readership among the faithful, a trend that hit its peak this Wednesday with the conclusion of Marvel's "Civil War." Spanning seven months and approximately 124 different issues, this series used superheroes to make a sweeping and awkward metaphor about post-September 11 civil rights. The core miniseries sold around 200,000 copies per issue, and tie-in titles got a sales bump of about 20,000 copies per issue.They do get it right that the metaphor was awkwardly handled, yet that's putting it lightly. It was very cynically handled, if you ask me. Not to mention that I wouldn't pull my punches in how Civil War ended, or rather, didn't. Some might think that by having Captain America surrender in the end, that they were ruling in favor of the crowd in real life that's against illegal immigration. Alas, the problem is that it's an insult to Steve Rogers, whom I think would also uphold the law and would be against illegal immigration too. In any case, the whole miniseries was uncalled for and, like only so many other crossovers of recent, makes it impossible to tell a decent story in a single series without being interrupted by something that may not even fit the bill with certain characters and series.
Those who took to Civil War without qualms over the political biases it's got seem to be Mark Millar and Brian Bendis addicts, not to mention people who think that a company wide x-over is like a big party or a carnival with tons of ice cream to eat and everything can be celebrated without reservations. It's this kind of ludicrous addiction that's destroying comic books, as the companies use their incoming dollars as an excuse to keep on with the kind of political biases they're doling out now.
"They were mostly an influx of lapsed readers from the 1990s," said Mr. Buckley. "Although we did get some new readers from the mainstream press we received." DC Comics, home of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, has also made use of current events for their comics. With names like "Infinite Crisis," "Identity Crisis," "Secret Wars," "Civil Wars," "World War Hulk," and "World War III" their comic series have become an inaccessible haze of wars and crises only a true believer can follow.But just how long do any of these newbies last? Not long from what I can tell, and the latter part of the paragraph certainly alludes to that.
I do hope though that the last line in the article is truthful:
"I don't think you'll see anything quite like ‘Civil War' out of us again," Mr. Buckley said. "It's exhausting for the editors. It's been great, but it's exhausting."If so, then if they're smart, not only will they start making repairs to any of the characters they've damaged for who knows how long, but they'll also quit publishing crossovers for at least ten years. Nobody should have to be finked out of their money over tommyrot like this.
* Does She-Hulk's book count in this case as a smaller book too?
Labels: marvel comics