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Saturday, August 07, 2010 

Robert Kirkman admits graphic violence isn't appropriate for mass audience books

Kirkman, the writer of The Walking Dead, was interviewed for Gentleman's Quarterly, and lets know that he doesn't think the big two are right to soil their mainstream books with the kind of junk they've come to be known for this century:
The interesting part of the original statement you made about why people need to get away from doing the corporate thing, beyond the need for new characters and new books, is the idea that the audience for comics is aging, and that by sticking to work-for-hire projects, creators are contributing to the aging of that audience, and by extension the cultural irrelevance of comics in general. It seems like that was the most controversial part of that argument.

I think that's the most obvious part. When I was reading comics when I was 15, Superman didn't deal with rape so much, you know? There weren't a lot of dark elements to mainstream superhero comics. I think that it's pretty obvious that one of the things that's hurting comics is that the subject matter is so inappropriate for a mass audience. You know, Marvel just did an intercompany crossover which was supposed to be something all of their readers can read, and it had guys ripping each other in half and intestines were flying all over the place. That's the kind of thing that you would see in a Walking Dead comic. I don't want to see Spider-Man swinging around, tripping in intestines going, "Aw, crap! What a mess!" That's not the kind of thing that's going to get Billy down the street off of his Xbox. I think part of the problem is that the writers and artists that are doing these books want to write them for themselves, instead of for the audience they should be writing to. And I think that's a real problem.

So you think they're trying to have their cake and eat it too? That they want the creative freedom to write stories where guys get ripped in half, but also the comfort and job security of writing these brand-name corporate characters?

Yeah. And I don't fault them for it—I think it's cool to see superheroes rip people in half. Because if superheroes really had superpowers, that's the kind of shit that would happen, just on accident, you know? And so I created a book called Invincible that isn't meant for a younger audience, and has superheroes ripping each other in half. But I didn't try to take Superman and turn it into that book. I did my own book. I think that's the key.
Undoubtably, it is. And the big two's biggest problem is that, instead of writing and publishing special books that don't feature or intrude upon their core stable of characters, they tinker and tamper with established ones, draining the appeal or entertainment value so that in the end, they appeal to neither old nor new readers. And it's not only the fault of the writers in question, it's the fault of the editors too, for not having the strength to draw the line.

This also suggests that the writers who're foisting this kind of excess on mainstream comics don't have enough faith in their own material to sell on its own terms, so instead, they foist their jarring mayhem and other troubling ideas on what the big two have to offer, yet without even providing any meat-and-potatoes to their storytelling. In that case, I'd hesitate to think of what their creator-owned material is like.

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Boy, what a lot of spam this "Dolly" left here. Fortunately, it wasn't too hard to clean up.

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