Thursday, May 14, 2009

HEY, KIDS! comics.

Today, the Spider-Man plushie swings from a grown man's rear-view mirror.

A teenaged girl walks past me, giggling, wearing a Batman backpack.

At the train station, a grown man rushes past me, darting his way through a sea of people. He is wearing an Aquaman t-shirt.

I walk into Target and half the men's t-shirt aisle is devoted to super-hero tees.

The day after Obama's inauguration I watched as folks lined up to buy a comic book featuring our President and Spider-Man.

The Justice League wants to sell your child Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese.

Wolverine is the current "Sexiest Man Alive."

This summer's box office began with your woman (or your man, I don't judge) feigning interest in the origins of an oft-naked, totally ripped superhero in a wifebeater, tight jeans and cowboy boots.

The movies expected to gross the most this year?

Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Terminator: Salvation. Star Trek. All have roots in the comics fiction world.

Our heroes are out in this world everyday, ingratiating themselves into the "civilian" world and despite their superhuman effect on the Hollywood bottom line, it has little effect on the bottom line that's helped feed my ass for nearly thirteen years.


What is about the comic book that doesn't speak to the greater part of society? Why do millions flock to the theatres and willingly hand over $11 to be told a Wolverine story while on a really good month, a Wolverine comic only sells 75,000 copies at nearly quarter of a movie ticket's price?

If the man in the Aquaman tee ever makes his way into an actual comic book shop, what do you sell him? Aquaman, currently, has no presence on on our shelves.

Now, I know that as intellectual property, superheroes are Marvel & DC's bread and butter but it seems to me that, instead of trying to create some sort of symbiosis with regular folks, they do nothing but encourage the notion that their comics division is nothing more than a boutique business.

A business once thirsty for the new and the innovative, allowed for the creation of a Wolverine, a Batman, a Superman, a Batman.

Are comics doomed by this new corporate mentality towards their own product?

Should I be shocked? No, I'm not. I realize these are corporations with bottom lines and all that comes with it but what gets me is how when the push comes to the shove, comics usually gets the shove while everything else gets the huge marketing push.

Are The Big Two still a business that commits itself to marrying itself to its intended suitor or does it now give itself away in the backs of dark movie theatres in two hour increments of time, hoping they'll really like them and respect them the next day?

I don't know. I just know what I see and it ain't translating into comics sales.


Bill said...

It may have to do with people not reading anymore. A coworker of mine is just the person you described in this post, he watches and loves all these comic book movies and characters. To be nice, I brought him a copy of the FCBD Wolverine, which he thanked me for, looked at the 'pictures' and then set it down saying that reading wasn't really his thing. A 9 year old could read that comic reasonably well, by why put in the effort when you can have it all spoon fed to you?

Viking Zombie Boyfriend said...

It also may have to do with a phenomenon I read about in "The Comics Journal" back in '88, during Superman's 50th anniversary. I think it was Jim Woodring who opined that Superman, like Mickey Mouse, has morphed into more of a brand or a mascot for the general public. Granted, Superman has (barely) more personality than Mickey Mouse, but I'd wager that tons of folks out there think the idea of Superman is vaguely charming or fun or cool, but they haven't picked up an actual Superman comic since they were kids -- if ever. I think the same thing is happening with Wolverine and Aquaman. Just enough pop-cult consciousness has been established with these super-heroes that non-comics readers can recognize them; they "register" with consumers as representing a vague super-hero concept, be it bad-ass/"fuckin' redneck" (Wolverine) or goofball/ironic (Aquaman). No comics reading required!