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 assesses the chances for Gotham Academy and reacts to the new female Thor.
Well, it's my birthday this week, not that I expect it to mean much to anyone else, seeing as how it doesn't mean all that much to me. The usual people have remembered though, like the State of Ohio; once again they wanted $54.99 by my birthday if I wanted to keep driving. Of course I could have just mailed it in but as with all years previous I was incapable of getting my crap sufficiently together to do so, so I had to go to the nearest office of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Everywhere else I've lived in Ohio getting your license renewed is fairly painless, there are BMV offices in conveniently located strip malls, but in Cincinnati you have to drive to the middle of nowhere, look for a tiny sign then make a right down a poorly maintained side street. Once you're past the dodgy looking transmission place you look for an equally tiny sign with an arrow--if you've crossed railroad tracks you’ve gone too far. Then you drive several blocks until you reach a secluded wooded area; surprisingly enough, you're there.
On occasions such as these a certain amount of self-reflection is pretty much obligatory and at least for me the questions are always the same; am I, at long last, getting too old for this stuff, followed by (not to bring everyone down, man), have I wasted my life? The good news is my answers are "no" and "hell no" in that order, though I'll be covering them in opposite order. I certainly don't regret my life in retail, but, sure, sometimes I think I might have been as equally successful in careers as varied as advertising, stand-up comedy or broadcasting (I don't mean to brag but as they say, I have a face for radio). And while comic book retailing has never exactly been what you'd call "easy" (I could easily provide 800+ words about what sucks about it) one thing I have rediscovered while laboring in the "civilian" world is working with things you love makes it seem a whole lot less like work. And believe me, working all day, every day surrounded by things you love is a whole lot better than the alternative.
And as to whether I'm "too old for this stuff"? Nope. I honestly don't think I'll ever be too old for comics, the medium, though I definitely think I'm definitely too old for most of the event driven superhero stuff coming out of Marvel and DC right now. So it's nice both publishers are at least trying these days to court that untapped potential audience, like DC's upcoming Gotham Academy. Happily it's not part of the whole "classic characters as teenagers" thing that's so popular these days (Ever After High, Descendants, Monster High and leave us not forget Gotham High, the proposed animated series developed by Celeste Green and Jeffrey Thomas which had all the Batman characters as teenagers). Rather it's a teen drama set in Gotham City's most prestigious boarding school, a cross between Nancy Drew and Harry Potter by writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher and artist Karl Kerschl. According to an interview with the creators given to the Comic Book Resources site, characters from both the 60s Batman TV series and Batman: The Animated Series will appear in the series. Which admittedly is pretty cool, but I'm also hoping someone will remind them there was also a "Gotham Academy" in episodes of the Young Justice animated series as well.
I don't just want to see this comic, I want to see it do well, but not being a total newcomer to retailing I know this is exactly the kind of well-intentioned and well done comic that most likely won’t get the promotion it deserves. Previous experience indicates it'll last six issues after which the DC editorial department will do their well-practiced "at least we tried" shrug. I've seen this scenario play out dozens of times; seen it and seen it and seen it. The only thing different this time is that there appears to be actual understanding on a corporate level that ignoring the great untapped audience of girls and girls and teens (and teen girls) is just bad business.
New Female Thor") as being an attempt to tap into that market, the way Ms. Marvel was. l saw it more as being more connected to the impending new Captain America than anything else (see "Captain America Getting Replaced"), just one of those things big publishers periodically do to get a complacent readership interested in their comics again. But Eliana Dockterman apparently thought otherwise. In a piece for Time titled "Marvel Comics Writers Explain Why They’re Making Thor a Woman," she explains it this way: "Fangirls, it turns out, are the great untapped resource of the comic book world, and they want to see more characters that look like them; 47% of comic fans are female, and women made up 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters."
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 July 16, 2014 @ 12:35 am CT
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