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Tuesday, May 05, 2020 

Sonora Union Democrat sugarcoats more young adult fare, along with industry business procedures

The Sonora Union-Democrat published another of the Captain Comics propaganda columns, where he speaks in fluff-coated terms about more comic-related items. For example, the Creators4Comics hashtag campaign:
One of the most heart-warming stories (if you love comic shops) was the #Creators4Comics saga. It was a Twitter-based, grassroots charity auction, wherein comics creators would donate comics, original art or personal experiences (like a Zoom chat with a writer or artist), with proceeds going to comic shops in financial distress. According to the New York Times, @Creators4Comics raised $430,000 before closing its digital doors.
No mention here of all the awful names involved, like Brian Bendis. But maybe more annoying is his gushy promotion of DC's young adult propaganda:
I can't list every new book that's come out during the shutdown, but you can see for yourself by clicking Books/Comics & Graphic Novels at Amazon, or the equivalent at other online retailers. (Hint: "Batman: Last Knight on Earth" just came out, and it's a winner.) But I will mention the explosion of middle-school (MS) and young adult (YA) graphic novels, as exemplified by big players DC Comics and Random House, since there are a lot of kids home from school with nothing to do.

DC has released a plethora of youth-oriented GNs recently, including "Zatanna and the House of Secrets" (Feb. 18, featuring a middle-school Zatanna Zatara and her dad), "The Oracle Code" (March 10, starring Barbara Gordon fresh to her wheelchair), Gotham High (April 7, with teenage Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle and Jack Napier), "Anti/Hero" (April 14, a completely original story about two completely opposite, super-powered, middle-school girls) and "My Video Game Ate My Homework" (April 28, another original story about middle-school kids trapped in a video game). I've only read the first two; I enjoyed "Zatanna" well enough, while "Oracle Code" blew me away.
Yes, so he's already told. No matter how insulting to the intellect the latter is, and how much the same the former could be, he's decidedly made up his mind where he stands on books like these. Please, do tell us about it.
They have four more coming in May and June. The list includes "The Lost Carnival: A Dick Grayson Graphic Novel" (May 5), "Superman Smashes the Klan" (May 12), "Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed" (June 2) and "You Brought Me the Ocean" (June 9, a "coming out romance" starring Aqualad).

Of the four, the Superman book excites me the most. Based on "Clan of the Fiery Cross" from the "Adventures of Superman" radio show, it is exactly what it sounds like. (Yes, I have the radio shows on cassette. Don't judge.) The art is more cartoony than I'd prefer, but then again, it's aimed at a younger audience than me. I've read the first chapter, and I'm ready for more. (There's a trailer on YouTube if you're interested.)

Random House has also gotten into the MS/YA graphic novel game in a big way. The publisher doesn't have a comic book company lying around with creations going back to the '30s to adapt, so all of their GNs are original intellectual property.

I've already read "The Runaway Princess" (March 3), and given it a positive review, especially for parents wanting to co-experience the book with an elementary-age child. I have "Aster and the Accidental Magic"(March 3, MS) on deck, which will be followed by "Witchlight" (April 14), "Stepping Stones" (May 5, MS), "Suncatcher" (May 19, YA) and "Kerry and the Knight Forest" (July 7, MS)

Of the group, "Suncatcher" is highest on my list, as it involves rock 'n' roll. It features teenage Beatriz, a teen who starts a band, and discovers her grandfather's soul is trapped in an old guitar. That's a twist on the age-old trope of a soul being trapped in a sword (See: DC's Katana).

That's just two publishers, and just their MS/YA offerings. So you can see that there's plenty of print material in the pipeline for all ages, if you know where to look. (And I just told you.)
What he's told us is about quite a few items we'd do better to avoid. If it turns out the book starring Aqualad is built on the same social justice mentality the recent rendition from 3 years ago is, that's exactly why the sane parent won't want their children reading that. Some "all ages" material, indeed.
But the publishers have been very careful about NOT letting digital push out the print, because publishers, creators, fans and collectors really love print, and because no one wants to put thousands of comic shops out of business.

So most publishers have been careful during the shutdown not to damage the future sales of current (but unavailable) print product by releasing it as digital. We will simply have to wait for the regularly scheduled issues of our favorite titles, in both formats.

But there are exceptions.

Take for example Dark Horse, which is taking advantage of the captive audience by releasing a cornucopia of first issues in digital ... for free. I can't sum up their offerings any better than their press release: "From now until April 30, 2020, enjoy the work of an array of writers and artists in stories ranging from Umbrella Academy, Witchfinder, Stranger Things and American Gods, to young readers selections like Disney's Frozen and Itty Bitty Mask, to graphic novels like Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction, Beasts of Burden Volume 1, and Empowered Volume 1!"
Well at least this might provide an alternative to the trash DC/Marvel have been putting out. But while I do prefer printed books myself, that doesn't mean all readers have a problem with digital, so what he's telling here is simply laughable, enforcing an insular perception of the audience we'd be better off without, and besides: no matter what one thinks of digital, it won't - and doesn't have to - put an end to print, when you have the whole option of paperback/hardcover books sitting right there as a viable option. Nor would it put specialty stores out of business when they could make the switch to selling more paperbacks than monthly floppies. The question is whether pamphlets is still workable, and for the most part, I'd say no. This part of the column is just so much apologist drivel that only ends up insulting the consumers' intellects.

With laughable newspaper "commentaries" like the above, it's no wonder the industry won't be able to move towards more workable solutions for printed products. And the more propaganda these YA adaptations of superhero comics are full of, the more unsuitable they'll be for younger readers.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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