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Sunday, August 12, 2007 

Comic book stores may be dying

It's no surprise, really, when you think of all the factors that're leading to the downfall of comic books themselves. Gary Warth, a writer for the North County Times in California, wrote about a couple things wrong with comics today, including how some stores, sadly, have closed over the years:
The Con made me think of the days when I used to go in Thrill Books on First Street in Encinitas at least once a week to load up on new Batmans, Supermans, Green Lanterns and other titles, including non-superheroes from independent publishers.

After 17 years in Encinitas, the store closed in 2002. I tried to keep up with my favorites, but it was hard to find another shop I liked, and the rising cost of titles made buying an armful of comics each week a questionable priority.

"It's discouraging when you have to make choices," former store owner Tom Piper said when I called him to reminisce this week. "There's hardly anything worth reading anymore that's not $2.99. When I started, they were 75 cents. That was in '86."
There's practically little these days that is 3 bucks that's worth reading either. All because some ultra-liberals in the industry aren't willing to just keep their ludicrous biases to themselves, and just have to shoehorn them into any number of books, even spanning as far as a whole company line!
Also discouraging was the sense that the big publishing houses were treating our heroes like gimmicks. Aquaman grew a beard and lost a hand, just to be different. The Flash died a heroic death and was replaced by his nephew, so there still was a Flash. The death of Superman sold millions of comics but, oh, wait, he's not dead anymore. Nevermind.

But the ultimate case of poor care-taking came when DC decided to make Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, go nuts and start killing other members of the Green Lantern Corps. His replacement, a 20-something freelance graphic artist named Kyle Rayner, was an obvious attempt to attract younger readers and shove older fans out the door.

When things didn't work out, Hal was brought back as the Spectre and we discovered that he wasn't really bad but had been under the influence of the evil Parallax. And now they've brought back Hal in a complicated storyline you really don't want to know. I'm glad he's back but really, DC, just knock it off already.
More clearly, knock off all the executions that are just an excuse for making creative use out of the heroes when they're alive. There's a lot more Mr. Warth is missing, but in fairness, I realize that it may just be a case of having only so much space in the newspaper itself to talk about this. But now that he mentions it, that's actually what they seem to be trying to do with their "All-New Atom": an attempt to attract readers of specific communities while shoving older fans out the door too.

But now, what's this?
And now, Marvel has bumped off Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America. Tom said he doesn't think Cap is coming back because Marvel for years felt awkward that Rogers got his powers through an injection of Super-Soldier serum. Apparently, the assumption is that the drug epidemic was sparked by kids wanting to be Captain America. Someone owes Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey an apology.
I fear this may be getting a bit sensationalistic now, because the real reason they bumped off Cap had to do with moonbat mentality sinking in, but it does remind me that, in the late 1980s, there may have been a minor case of over-sensitivity that cropped up, when some writers and editors seemed to overly confuse chemistry for providing superhuman powers with drug use. Please. It isn't and I wouldn't go that far either. I suppose maybe what should be done is to establish whether most scientists who dabble in this kind of stuff have a license for it, but otherwise, it just misses the point about fiction.

If that's the kind of concern that's going to take effect about what comic book stories supposedly bear a paralell to, then that's one more reason why they've been ruined.
As we talked about all the super heroes that have died and somehow come back to life, Tom repeated the truth so many fans know: Nobody really dies in comic books, and the heroes always come back.

If only the same were true for the stores that sell them.
Agreed, but if it weren't for just how disrespectful various writers, editors and publishers were being today, perhaps the stores wouldn't be going out of business so easily. After all, while there may be zombies out there who'll buy a book no matter the quality, there are also those with common sense who realize why buying a book no matter the prices involved can only make things worse, and as sad as it is to see a comics store fall, if the writing is bad, they cannot take the risk of buying regardless.

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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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