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Saturday, August 09, 2008 

"Low sales" was once a perfect disguise for bias by the publishers

Back in the early 90s, when DC published a brief series starring the Justice Society of America written by Len Strazewski, it was cancelled under the claim that sales were low after 10 issues (I own 7 of those 10). However, Strazewski revealed years later in an interview with Mike Aragona (via Comics Should be Good) that this was not the case: it had been cancelled, because, as he explained:
“It was a capricious decision made personally by Mike Carlin because he didn’t like Mike [Parobeck]’s artwork or my writing and believed that senior citizen super-heroes was not what DC should be publishing. He made his opinion clear to me several times after the cancellation.”
Wow. So Carlin pulled the plug on that brief but pretty good series simply because he didn't think that older heroes were worthy of a series, and he was probably one of the editors who decided to kill off a couple of the Society members shortly afterwards in Zero Hour too. Reading about this and thinking about it some more, I'm led to wonder: how long will it be before one day, it's revealed that Hal Jordan was booted from Green Lantern at the time, not because sales were low, but because editors like Carlin didn't want to publish books starring "older" superheroes?

So far, I have no information to attest to that. But it wouldn't surprise me if that turned out to be the real story behind the offing of Hal Jordan. Apparently, the mindset at DC at the time was that older heroes supposedly don't appeal to the general audience, a form of thinking that I question.

Carlin had previously worked at Marvel, and I suspect that this position of his arose from his experience at working there, this in spite of the fact that even Marvel's got its own share of "older" heroes such as Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and a few others, who appealed to a good portion of the audience for many years, and no one had a problem with the fact that they were older.

What's interesting about this moment in 90s history is that back at the time, DC was beating up on the older heroes for the sake of the younger ones when they killed some of them off in Zero Hour. Now, it's sort of the opposite - they're beating up on the younger heroes for the sake of the older ones, including a few of the teen heroes, when they killed some of them off too. And that's another example of how they still haven't learned from past mistakes.

As for the whole excuse of low sales, I suppose the good news is that, with the internet now in wider development, it can no longer be used to trick people. The problem is that now, they're resorting to different excuses to justify their actions, though the ones they're turning to now are much weaker.

Update: corrected some typos I made.

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About me

  • 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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