Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett looks at the state of DC comics for kids and Marvel newsstand comics.
If I could have attended the DC Retailer Roadshow my only question would have been, "Are the Johnny DC titles going to be apart of the digital day and date program?" I mean, the idea is supposedly to attract new comic book readers so shouldn't DC be trying to get them when they're young? We can't sell great numbers of Cartoon Network comics but I'm guessing they would do significantly better if they were promoted online where kids already are like, say, on the Cartoon Network Website.
I'd also love to see the Looney Tunes comics available for download. In the past I've expressed indifference towards licensed titles but the other day I sat down and read several recent issues of Looney Tunes and was startled by just how good they were. They also featured wonderfully on model versions of Bugs and company that manage to be classic without looking dated.
The comics do a much better job of that than The Looney Tunes Show cartoon currently running on Cartoon Network. Their Bugs is colored a light purple (which seems like a test market approved compromise between his original gray color and the baby blue version usually reserved for kids merchandise) and Daffy has lost his signature slobbery, exaggerated lisp, out of fear of offending someone I suppose. I'm a lifelong Warner Bros. animation fan so it's a little embarrassing to admit this but I didn't even notice it was gone until I read an issue of DC's Looney Tunes where it's still in place.
It's a cartoon sitcom with Bugs stuck in the role of bland straight man and Daffy the sort of entitled arrogant idiot that's become a staple of programs in the network's Adult Swim block. So far the stock situations have been painfully predictable and the scripts have managed to waste the talents of people like Kristin Wiig who while voicing Lola Bunny unfortunately got to utter the immortal line "I've got to pee." I believe that's a first for Cartoon Network.
But if I was going to be reasonable I'd admit the Warner Bros. cartoon characters have been changing since their inception so it would be a little disingenuous to complain about them changing once again. So far the ratings have been solid, good news for the long term viability of the brand, but more importantly there's been actual improvement in the series. Last week's episode, "Casa de Calma" actually managed to shake Bugs awake and provided Daffy plenty of opportunities to get mangled old school style.
Apparently the Clark and Lois marriage is currently "being re-examined." If so, it's a gutsy move if only because there’s a whole generation of people for whom they’ve always been married. It's usually maligned by comic book guys but I've always been on board with the marriage; still, a Superman/Wonder woman relationship has the advantage of having never been done (in the regular universe, anyway) and having some real story possibilities.
Uncanny X-Men but frankly I'm a lot more interested in the news reported on the Bleeding Cool website that Marvel is getting back into newsstand comics in a big way. With both Hastings and Barnes & Noble becoming de facto comic book shops they plan on supplying them with a line of titles featuring two to three previously published comics for only $3.99.
Supposedly they'll include Marvel Adventures, Marvel Chronicles, Marvel Classics, Marvel Essentials, Marvel Family*, Marvel Heroes, Marvel Icons, Marvel Initiative, Marvel Knights, Marvel Legends, Marvel Milestones, Marvel Power, Marvel Redux, Marvel Select, Marvel Silver, Marvel Spotlight, Marvel Techno and Marvel Wonders. This isn't the first time they've done something like this but it's interesting they would try this when print is being assailed by e-content.
Of course there's the matter that those newsstands are getting a more attractive format and price break than we are, though I have to admit even if that format was offered to us (with new material) it's unlikely our customers would ever abandon individual titles. Unless they were forced to that is. But the comic book as we know it remains the backbone of comic book collecting, it's why we're all here in the first place, so it's unlikely these new Marvel titles will be any real competition for us. And if they are actually able to generate new comic readers so much the better for all of us.
* As Bleeding Cool put it "Marvel Launches A Marvel Family Title, DC Doesn't." I would really like to think that this is an intentional slap at DC Comics, owners of the original Captain Marvel Family. But truthfully I really couldn't tell you if there's anyone currently working at Marvel who knows that much about old comic books.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by ICv2 on June 21, 2011 @ 10:55 pm CT