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Hey, K-Box! Can you list all the ways comics have gone wrong?

I can boil it down to ONE reason — most superhero comics are being produced BY and FOR an ever-narrowing circle of die-hards who are at once both a) non-ironically and non-self-reflexively in love with their own nostalgia for eras past, to the point that they're blind to the casual and unintentional but nonetheless very real racism and sexism of recreating status quos that, in many cases, existed back when things like Jim Crow laws were still in effect, and yet are also b) so ashamed and insecure about being grown-ups who are still fans of "children's characters" that they go out of their way to make them more "adult," via simplistic expedients such as rape, murder and intentionally unpleasant portrayals of characters whom they themselves loved as kids for being the exact opposite of all that crap, with the upshot being that we now have stories that are childish without actually being fit for consumption by children, and "adult" without being worthy of intellectual consideration by truly mature adults, all at the same time. It's literally the worst of all possible worlds.

If the children's storybook genre was being run by folks like DiDio and Quesada, we'd find out that Thomas the Tank Engine's motivation for signing on with the North Western Railway was to find the Conductor from The Polar Express, so that he could avenge Dora the Explorer, who was raped and murdered by the Conductor one Christmas for nearly exposing the same holiday child sex slavery ring that had claimed Diego's life. Also? Bob the Builder would start spouting Dick Cheney quotes, to show that he'd become an exploitative oppressor of the working class, and Miss Frizzle — who learned of the Conductor's exploitation of children on a Magic School Bus trip, before her memory was rebooted by the Jumanji board game — would lead the children in a Civil War against Bob and his forces, until Barney persuaded her to surrender by telling her that all the years she's spent educating children are meaningless, because she doesn't listen to Hannah Montana. And the only way ANY of these books would make any sense would be if you read ALL of them.


( 61 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2010 04:49 am (UTC)
BitB, you frickin' rawk.

This post recieves the Epic Win Award for the day. Simply awesome. ^.^
Jun. 22nd, 2010 04:54 am (UTC)
i think you just broke my brain
*drops mic and exits stage left*

......................i'll get back to you when i can formulate a response.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
Though you can't ignore the way Moore and Miller screwed over the entire industry by writing a pair of incredibly good but inherently pessimistic works, thus spawning a generation of grim'n'gritty imitators that the industry still hasn't gotten over -- yeah, I still agree with this post.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)
Not only do I not ignore it, but neither does Moore himself — every time Watchmen is brought up now, the first words out of his mouth are, "I'm sorry." The problem is, though, that Moore screwed over the industry not so much by being so pessimistic, but by melding that pessimism with a level of intellectual complexity that 99.9999 percent of the self-proclaimed fans of Watchmen don't even realize they're not getting, which is why guys like Liiefeld and Millar think that they can create the next Watchmen by simply adding sex to violence and misanthropy. When the "fans" of a given work are so goddamned stupid, who deserves the most blame? After all, if you hand a gun to a chimp and the chimp shoots someone, you don't blame the chimp.
(no subject) - keeni84 - Jun. 22nd, 2010 08:18 am (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 22nd, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
...yeah, sounds about right.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 06:07 am (UTC)
Can we send this out as a memo? Now?

Wow, well put.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 06:10 am (UTC)
Feel free to repost at will, as long as I get credit and a link back. :)
Jun. 22nd, 2010 07:00 am (UTC)
>>>is ded frum hed asplody!!!!11!!
Jun. 22nd, 2010 07:08 am (UTC)
Holy hell, I totally agree. This is just awesome.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 07:23 am (UTC)
The show must go on.
I think there is another way comics are wrong. It's not as big a reason as what you wrote but it's worth mentioning. I'm not as good at expressing my thoughts but I'll try to make this understandable.
Comics seem obsessed with three act storytelling. Set up, Confrontation, and Resolution are the basis for almost every story I've ever encountered. But with ongoing comics there can never really be a final act, never a resolution. Individual threats or villains may be overcome but there is always something that immediately takes it's place. This leads to writers trying to out do each other in terms of what the next trauma for the character is. Also because the story must continue it's become a joke that those who die will come back and the prisons are no more than a brief layover for the villains. Follow a character long enough and with a few exceptions nothing will ever get better for him/her. But they will get worse.

I'm sure somewhere in the very deepest darkest parts of the internet lurks fan fic very close to your second paragraph. Part of me wants to look for it. Another part is afraid of finding it.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 07:31 am (UTC)
I'd point to ongoing serialized television dramas — even of the sci-fi/fantasy bent, like Doctor Who — as examples of how you can have a) a never-ending narrative that runs for decades, b) an extended story arc that lasts over the course of a "season," and c) individual episodes that still feel like fully satisfying self-contained stories in their own right, all at the same time. What's funny is that Marvel clearly seems to be trying to emulate this to some degree with Amazing Spider-Man (see also: "The Gauntlet"), and yet, the results are still absolute shit to behold.

I'm sure somewhere in the very deepest darkest parts of the internet lurks fan fic very close to your second paragraph. Part of me wants to look for it. Another part is afraid of finding it.

I have found pornographic fan art of Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus online, and I have masturbated to it.

"Don't cry for me ... I'm already dead."
(no subject) - salad_barbarian - Jun. 22nd, 2010 08:22 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: The show must go on. - kirke_novak - Jun. 22nd, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: The show must go on. - hyperactivator - Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 22nd, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
You know whats a telling point for Marvel? Disney buys the company and then has BOOM continue to put out their brand comics...
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
To the best of my understanding, ip properties are licensed for chunks of time. For example, if a film studio buys the rights to adapting a book, they have until x year to make that film before the rights go up for grabs again. So BOOM still has the Disney license. The question is whether Disney will renegotiate with them when that license expires or whether they'll move their brand comics over to Marvel.
(no subject) - box_in_the_box - Jun. 22nd, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:15 pm (UTC)
B does help explain some of the baffling treatment of the customers.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
When Joe Quesada first took over at Marvel, he gave this profoundly baffling speech to retailers in which he projected like mad onto his audience, saying, "We ALL look in the mirror and are ashamed to be doing this for a living." Cue hundreds of retailers saying, "Um, no, that's just you."
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
Have I mentioned that I love your posts? This one especially, but in general, there's a lotta love here.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
The history of the comics industry is pretty much them shooting themselves in the foot over and over again, from the self-censorship in the '50s to the speculator boom/bust of the '90s, to the current race to see who can crawl up their own ass the farthest.

The Wikipedia article on the Direct Market is a pretty good overview of how comics publishers gave up on the mass market in favor of the niche market, because the latter was easier and (in the short term) more profitable:

Jun. 24th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
Oh good lord I hate the Direct Market. If I were a publisher, I'd tell Diamond & its shops to get stuffed. Selling only what someone who's already a fan pre-orders? Someone who's already a fan of some other book in one of only two dominant genres, both of which are worn out?

It's a perfect way to be embarrassingly outsold by a few stupid small-press outfits that can't even advertise properly. The manga importers figured this out a long time ago.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
I'd say the problem was far more 'b' than 'a'. If not for 'b' then the older characters could peacefully co-exist with a newer, more diverse cast of characters. Railing against the desire of olders fans to read stories about the characters they are familliar with is counterproductive. There should be room for all the characters to play. It's a big fictional multiverse, after all.

Think back to when they brought Black Canary out of mothballs. This was a Golden Age character who adventured in the years just after the second world war. After the Silver Age split the older heroes onto Earth 2, Canary made the transition over to Earth 1, completely ignoring that she should have been roughly the same age as the parents of her new teammates on the JLA.

If there wasn't this huge push to make the books "more realistic" there would be no need to discard perfectly useable characters in favor of newer versions, nor would there be any backlash against the newer characters. Just bill the stories about the older characters as "previously untold" from their early days/prime/whatever and sell those right alongside the stories featuring the newer characters.

I personally think long, sweeping story arcs and massive crossover events have played a big part in damaging the comic industry as well. Gone are the one- or two-shot stories that made it easier for new readers to jump in without having to track down years of back issues just to figure out WTH is going on. And crossovers with multiple tie-ins ought to be banned. I know it seems like good business to lure your readers to buy books they normally wouldn't by labelling a couple of issues as tie-ins, but unless you pay off the promise with actual information vital to understanding the Big Event, you're just going to piss them off.

More than anything, the exclusive way comics are sold is killing the industry. Having comics only available at specialty stores places them firmly as fringe or niche literature. To give you a personal example, I grew up buying my comics at a newsstand. I had no idea I was part of such a small minority of readers that were female. All sorts of people shopped at the newsstand. Any of them, male, female, young or old might have been in there to buy comics. For all they knew, I was in there to get penny candy. No funny looks, no feeling out of place. Skip forward to the late eighties. I walked into a comic shop and got the same sorts of looks that a woman gets when she walks into an adult bookstore. I still feel weird walking into a comic shop. Some of them more than others, and it gets better each time I go back, but it takes nerves of steel to walk into a new shop that first time.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
commenting to agree hardcore with the bit about way comics are sold. I actually feel fine walking into my local store (pretty damn female friendly, which is awesome) but the specialty stores encourages that notion of boy's clubhouse as well as, as you said, presenting comics as niche and fringe. If I could get them at the supermarket just like I could a magazine, it would be sweet.
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Jun. 22nd, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
wow. Can't begin to tell you how much I agree. Nicely articulated.
Jun. 22nd, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
Is it bad that I would totally buy the book you described in your second paragraph?
Jun. 22nd, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
It only becomes a problem when the majority of children's storybooks become like this.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
It should be perfectly normal to read comics. As normal as watching t.v.,reading prose books and playing video games.

How does one make reading comics normal?
Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
Goddamn *hats off*
Jul. 21st, 2012 07:04 am (UTC)
I think I may have just fallen in love with you, sir.
( 61 comments — Leave a comment )


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