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Saturday, January 21, 2012 

Fox affiliate doesn't handle DC's degeneration the right way

A writer for MyFoxDC spoke about how DC is using vulgar violence and sex to sell their comics. But here's the sad part: they do it almost entirely from a "comics-are-only-for-kids" perception, and that even includes their clumsy take on Starfire:
The female characters are more sexualized. One of the most noticeable transformations is Starfire. The character goes from a kids Cartoon Network superhero in a full-length jumpsuit to a scantily clad, voluptuous version in the comic Red Hood and the Outlaws. This Starfire is shown in a barely there bikini or the equivalent of pasties over her breasts and a thong.

"Do you want to have sex?" she says propositioning her boyfriend's pal, and later says, "Love has nothing to do with it."

It is these kind of images and suggestive language that concern Bernstein.

"It's a misrepresentation of reality. It sends the wrong message," he said.

Relationships are portrayed as one night stands with rampant promiscuity. The treatment of women is more misogynistic.
While this can certainly make for a legitimate concern, and already has, it's not whether this is literally aimed at children that's the problem. It's that the writing is alarmingly juvenile and insulting to the characters' origins, which the people involved display a most astonishing ignorance of: Starfire already wore scanty outfits like those when she debuted in 1980 in the New Teen Titans. The difference then is that it was far from being depicted as gratuitously as it could be today, and back at that time, she had a personality, which is more than can be said of today's characterizations.

It doesn't get much better with the following:
The changes to DC comics appear to mirror the changes on the big screen. Remember the original Batman TV series? The superhero defeated the villains without a drop of blood shed. Fake punches came with a "Kapow" across the screen. Compare that to 2008’s Batman: The Dark Knight. In the comic world, that sells.
I don't get it, are they basing their perceptions on the old live action TV series from the late 1960s? The comics may not have been the bloodiest when they first debuted in the Golden Age, but to make it sound confusingly as though any and all of these products rose out of TV shows and not the other way around is really screwing up, to say nothing of insulting.

The following is better though, at telling just how short-lived any success they're having with the relaunch is:
"I think they're definitely trying to push the envelope, get people's attention with it," said Jared Smith, President of Big Planet Comics.

He sells hundred of titles at his Vienna, Va. comic book store, some for adults, some for kids. The re-launch of DC Comics he says drew a lot of attention. Sales surged for the new editions. A lot was driven by the hype, but sales he says have since leveled off. Many liked what they saw, but some turned off fans stopped buying.

"It made a lot of people unhappy with it or it was something they just didn't want to read," Smith said.

These types of changes seem to be cyclical with comics to drive up sales. Smith says DC Comics had fallen behind its main rival Marvel and wanted to make a big change. In the last five years, he said DC Comics has gone from a more "lighthearted" comic that is "fun adventure for everyone" to one that is "much more violent, and in some cases, much more graphic in the violence."

DC Comics was contacted for the story, but would not discuss its reasons for the re-launch or the content of its books. In a presentation, Smith says DC Comics "described what they were trying to do was to boost their sales, but they also wanted to bring back some old readers who may not read comics anymore, but also attract new people who have never read comics."

Based on his sales, Smith says the company was successful at getting lapsed readers to come back, but not necessarily bring in new comic fans.
Well they got that part right, and so long as people like Dan DiDio are in charge, and maybe even Bob Harras, who'll surely be remembered for the damage he helped bring to Spider-Man and many other Marvel series in the 1990s, not many old fans will return, and not many new readers aware of their reputations will be encouraged either. Nor will anybody be encouraged to try their books as long as "continuity" among other things is held hostage by the kind of editorial mandates they're resorting to now. As the above suggests, they're not even willing to cooperate with an interviewer; clearly, their insularity got the better of them.

The thing that's both funny and sad about this subject is seeing some leftist-dominated sites like Comics Alliance, Comics Beat and CBR attacking a Fox-based site over this report out of what seems more like an anti-conservative grudge than true concern for the medium. Anyone who did some careful research would see that Fox is anything but a conservative outfit (Their head honcho Rupert Murdoch has been chummy with Saudi prince Al-Walid bin Talal, who's hardly a symbol of democracy, and Diana West is one of the most outspoken conservative critics of Fox's), and for all we know, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, and other networks with a seriously liberal bent could have published the same story, and it's possible that the comics sites wouldn't have said anything negative about their coverage, if at all. Or would they? It probably depends on if they were even concerned about just how unappealing today's output really is. And for all we know, they probably aren't any more than most of the major comics sites themselves, whose own concerns about violence, overt sexuality and even politics can be very iffy at best. Plus, if we know where to look, there's plenty of liberals out there who couldn't care less about comics, so the comics sites' outburst stemming from anti-conservative bias seems trivial at best.

There's plenty of valid arguments to be made about DC and Marvel's resorting to gratuitous elements and how it's alienating for anybody and everybody with common sense, but it shouldn't be done solely from a comics-are-only-for-kids perspective. That doesn't mean concerns about the bad influence these stories can have on children aren't valid, but once again, a writer for a major news source has only insulted everybody's intellect by taking a narrow view of the medium and suggesting they don't have a high opinion of its true potential. And the major comics news sites that panned this only seem to be doing it out of anti-conservative sentiment, not genuine concern for the medium's image.

It's also very odd that the MyFoxDC writer had some of these maturely themed comics taken to a school where some children got to look at the content. Was that a good idea?

At least this part does have something to think about:
The content of the teen and teen plus rated comics seem contradictory to the audience targeted by the advertising inside. The images of bloodied bodies and sex scenes are accompanied by ads for Legos and milk.

"Why are we advertising for little kids in a comic book that's rated for mature teens? What's wrong with this?" asked Dr. Bernstein.
There's a legitimate point to made there. If they want to gear the story for adults, why don't they do the same with the advertising?

Labels: , , ,

Oooooh, the spectre Wertham, the evil bogeyman of Creepy Comic People.

Enjoy your declining fanbase, morons.

@Kookaburra What the hell is *that* supposed to mean? Are you another of these bizarre DCnU boosters?

The blogger is more or less on point. Fox's commentary was out of touch, like a weird throwback to pre-Code 1950s criticism. Politicizing the issue muddies the waters and gets away from the central problem of where DC is going with this reset of its universe. I think that the real concern they have is marketing driven - first, the Superman copyright problems, and second, the rise of digital, virtual reality, movie related media as well as integrated product placements.

Now, it's not all bad - DC is introducing an African charitable initiative, of course tempered by advertising aimed at the youth in key markets in Africa.

Also, some of the DCnU titles are showing promise, like Animal Man. But that could have been done without the reboot. The question is whether DC will still be a mouthpiece for heroism as a set of virtues, and what those virtues, if any, will be. I don't think that the current powers that be know what those virtues are, but I think as they drag the heroes through crisis apocalypses in 2012-13, some new virtues will come to light, in spite of the current editors.

That is, I have some faith in the creative process around these characters that is larger than the editors who currently control them. Also the characters will be here long after the editors and current writers are gone.

Well, I'm making fun of how the mainstream comic sites start screaming 'WERTHAM!' and 'CODE!' like they were mantras of pure evil.

These types do this whenever comic content is criticized as being too explicit. Creepy Comic People can't live without their steady diet of gore n' cleavage. Concepts like heroism, fun and virtue are largely lost on these crumbs.

You topic is nice. I think it help all network marketing

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