Friday, May 8, 2009

Improves Digestion!

One of my fondest memories as a child was finding five WHOLE dollars on the ground in a supermarket.

Yes, as a child, when you're paying for everything in cuteness and smiles, five dollars to you, is five WHOLE dollars.

What did I do with this five dollars? What I wanted to do was pull a Daffy Duck and do like he did to Bugs Bunny when they found a magic lamp. I wanted to beat the hell out of my father and run away screaming, "MINE! MINE! MINE! I'M A RICH AND FILTHY MISER," all covered in gold chains while sitting on a huge ass diamond.

What happened, in actuality, was he asked me what I wanted to do with the money. After some debate, the answer was clear.

Comic books.

But where was I to buy some? Here I was, miles away in North Carolina, a hundredy-billion miles away from my local drugstore in Washington, DC and as far as I knew, all they ever sold in North Carolina was tobacco and salted pork products. What was a city boy to do?

Dejected, we approached the checkout aisle, my father getting whatever it was that old guy's got while his son had five WHOLE dollars burning a hole in his little pocket and then, I was rescued.

Superman. Batman. Adam Strange. Deadman.

DC Comics' superheroes. All in one place, the checkout aisle.

What I was seeing wasn't what I was used. With that I was introduced to the world of The DC Digest. I found hope in that checkout aisle. My summer had been saved.

I'd been introduced to the DC Universe proper.

Now, the things that struck me were many. The Batman presented within the digest was radically different from the Batman of the live action TV series I loved and that Batman was sort of different than The Batman I knew from the Super Friends cartoon I loved to watch.

Upon further examination (buying more comics) I discovered something awesome: each and every Batman was simply, Batman.

Somehow, after spending years with a live-action Batman who carried around a Bat-Alphabet Soup Decoder in his Bat-Utility Belt, I was somehow able to reconcile that the somewhat high-pitched voiced guy who hung out with Wendy, Marvin & Wonderdog was Batman, as well. Now, imagine how my mind must have felt as I encountered a Batman who hid in shadows and lived for the fear in a criminal's eyes.

I was hooked and I loved them all, equally.

Today, I don't know if this could happen. DC, for too long ,has clung to the notion that any new reader will become confused by differing takes on their characters. Supposedly, you can't have a swingin' 60's Titans one-shot on the comic racks while a cartoon series called Teen Titans is on the air.

Might confuse the kids.

Kids who might have five WHOLE dollars to spend.

What I propose is that we un-confuse them and actually give them something to think about.


DC, bring them back and let people (re)discover your comics, your heroes.

Put them back into the supermarket checkout aisles.

Put some of the better stories of the year in digest form, regardless of where they came from. Start a digest with Tiny Titans in the same digest as Justice Society of America #26, you know, the one where Stargirl has a birthday party. It was a good comic, one written by that Geoff Johns guy you're so high on.

DO a Batman digest spanning the many facets of The Batman. Include a Golden Age Batman & Robin story with The Joker, include a Silver Age Batman story where he visits far off planets and wears Batman rainbow-inspired costumes. Throw in an issue of the original Brave and The Bold where he teams up with The Metal Men. Throw in a Kelly Puckett/Mike Parobeck Batman Adventures comic inspired by the 90's Batman cartoon series and for God's sake, throw in an in-continuity Batman story. Heck, even have a cover where all of these Batmen are interacting together sorta like you did with that one Catwoman trade paperback that came out around the time of the Catwoman movie. Do it with Batman, though. People will care, then.

Take a step back and be small. Show the world what you're made of.

Don't underestimate yourselves. Start treating your universe as if a kid would wanna spend his five WHOLE dollars on it.


Siskoid said...

If I were a comic book company. I'd be totally inspired right now.

Bill said...

Couldn't agree more. Did you happen to read the Age of The Sentry mini-series from Marvel? It was absolutely fantastic and made me care about a character I had zero interest in by telling goofy Silver Age stories about him. Now I'm reading Dark Avengers every month! The Big Two are just a little too concerned with 'brand recognition' or something, which limits their ability to have fun with their stories, which is really the point, right?

Nik said...

Man, those digests were awesome, weren't they? Some fond memories of the 1982 (I think) DC Best of Digest, and all the great Dennis the Menace ones with Al Wiseman art.

Bill D. said...

I just found a few DC Digests at one of the local comic shops a few weeks back. He doesn't usually carry back issues, but he'd gotten a collection in to sell on consignment and I happened to hit just the right day to be there. He had sold a couple of other digests earlier in the day, but he still had 4 left, so I grabbed 'em up without a moment's hesitation... a Brave and the Bold one, Christmas with the Super-Heroes, Sugar and Spike (because I'll take S&S reprints anywhere I can get 'em) and Binky (because it also had S&S in it).

The best part? 50 cents apiece! Even when I do see these things at shows or in stores, the dealers usually want at least $10-12 each for these things. Jeez.

Anyway, I can't wait to dig into these things with my son.

Devon Sanders said...

@ Bill

Nope, haven't read the Sentry mini, mainly because it feels like they keep trying to force him down my neck but now that I know it's pretty good, I'll give it a look.

Bill D. said...

I agree with the other guy who has my name... Age of the Sentry was an awesome miniseries. The regular Sentry may very well be my least favorite new character of the last 20 years - yup, I even like freakin' Gambit better than this guy - but Silver Age Superman Pastiche Sentry was the New Character Sensation of 2008. Jeff Parker is a god among men for making that guy not just readable, but a lot of fun.