Tuesday, 24 January 2012

WHAT'S WRONG WITH AMERICAN COMICBOOKS THESE DAYS? LEMME TELL YOU...



What's wrong with modern-day American comicbooks? Well, it's
obvious, isn't it? They're sh*t! You don't need me to tell you that. But
why are they like that, you may wonder. One word: Adults. Yep. Adults
are/is the problem. (You can sort out the grammar for yourselves.)

Once upon a time, comics were
produced for a readership of kids
from about five to fourteen. There
were a few older people who read
them as well, of course, but most
of them tended to have no friends
and smelt a little odd. What's more,
the readership constantly renewed
itself; once you grew too old for
comicbboks (usually when you
discovered girls, Melvin), another
batch of kids were right behind you,
ready to take your place in the
scheme of things.

Then MARVEL COMICS hit the
scene and things changed forever.
Suddenly comics were cool, not to mention interesting. The comics-buying
public couldn't get enough of them, and, what's more, were reluctant to give
up on them even when the siren call of the opposite sex first made itself
heard in the hearts, minds and loins of pimply-faced males everywhere.
So they continued to read and collect them well past the age that former
generations of readers had traditionally abandoned them for other
pursuits, even into adulthood.

This created a problem. No grown-up wants
to be associated with childish interests, so the
readership expected  - nay, demanded - that
their comics grow up with them and reflect
their 'adult' tastes and sensibilities. Also, some
of the fans became writers and were only too
happy to oblige, being of a like-minded opinion.
On top of that, they  wanted to be seen not as
purveyors of simple kiddie-fare, but as creators
of an artform that was socially 'relevant'
and worthy of serious consideration.

That's when the decline set
in. Eventually, characters like
SUPERMAN and SPIDER-MAN
got married (no, not to each other)
because the 'creators-who-had-
once-been-fans' were married and
wanted to write about subjects
of which they knew and had
experience; that reflected their
lives and those of their friends.
Embarrassed by their roots and
origins as ephemeral amusement
for children, comics became
too serious (to say nothing of
pretentious) in their quest to be
regarded as legitimate literature.
Add to that the direct sales market
and the ever-increasing cost of what had once been the cheapest form of entertainment available, and whatever remained of any childhood or young
teenage readership simply dissipated over time.

That's the 'Reader's Digest ' account, but
you get the gist. So what's the solution? Simple.
Publishers need to get back to producing mass-
marketed, inexpensive comics for children (and
those who keep the spirit of childhood alive within
them). Forget fancy and expensive paper, socially
relevant themes, 'arty-farty', clear as mud, photo-
realistic artwork. Simply giive people what they're
crying out for - good, old-fashioned, entertaining
tales that diverts attention from life's harsh realities
and takes readers on a rip-roaring, magic-carpet
ride into worlds of fantasy and enchantment.

Remember...comicbooks sold in their millions when the above recipe
was the order of the day. Something to consider perhaps?


(The above covers represent, to me, examples of
when comics were more-or-less at their best.)

******

Don't miss the entertaining discussion currently under way on the
same topic (more or less) over on JIM SHOOTER's excellent blog at:
http://www.jimshooter.com/ - tell them Kid sent you. 

8 comments:

Don Hudson said...

Excellent post and great choice of covers! My opinion is no more celebrity writers and stop killing off the main/supporting characters!

Kid said...

Thanks Don. Something certainly needs to be done before the declining audience disappears completely.

Anonymous said...

There are too many good comics around to dismiss them all as "sh*t". Try Spider-Man, Avengers Academy, Sergio Aragonés Funnies, Journey Into Mystery, Punisher, Planet of the Apes, Jennifer Blood, Captain America, Action Comics, Batman, Simpsons Comics, Wolverine and the X-Men, Aquaman, Snarked, Batwoman, Batgirl, Green Lantern.....

Kid said...

Well, obviously I'm indulging in a little hyperbole for the sake of effect, but I'd certainly exempt Sergio Aragones' comics from the description. However, I bought a few of DC's new 52. They're still lying unread in a corner. I browsed through them and nothing about them compelled me to proceed any further. Same goes for the few Marvel's I still buy. They just seem so...uninteresting.

However, I devour my Marvel Masterworks and Omnibus editions, and I enjoyed DC's recent Jack Kirby sampler. Modern comics just seem so underwhelming by comparison.

Nick Caputo said...

Kid,

I agree that much of mainstran comics has been devestated by a lack of appeal to kids, an indulgence of the authors interests and - especially - a lack of storytelling skills. I do look over and read a few new comics (thanks to my brother John, who still collects and likes a lot of the stuff), but I find too much of it devoid of personality. Too many big events have replaced strong writers and artists - folks who grew up on things other than comcs and brought those experiences to their work. That's why I can revisit the stories of Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Wood and so many others.

Gee, you really got me started!

Kid said...

And you feel free to continue, Nick. Always a pleasure.

Mike said...

Not really into US comics at all, but from what I've seen of golden-age covers there used to be a "big event" in every issue! I imagine stands (with a newspaper blowing past them and a 'jukebox' yellow cab parked behind) awash with headlines like "THIS is IT! the ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN! the FANTASTIC FOUR versus THE DEVIL!". These days the covers are just a picture of a character and a reminder that the story is part of yet another mega-crossover so don't forget to buy all the other titles with it.

Kid said...

Another part of the problem is that comics nowadays are 'paced' for the collected edition instead of a self-contained issue. I just find them uninvolving.