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 talks about superhero comics, Original Sin, and comics worth a marketing push.
Over the years I have confessed all manner of offenses but there is one that I truly hesitate to make: I don't read a lot of superhero comics these days. My reticence to put this admission in print isn’t due to the fact it will undoubtedly disqualify me from writing about comics in the eyes of a lot of retailers, though I'd be lying if I said that wasn't a concern. No, it has more to do with the fact that I'm worried this is confirmation of my worst fear, that after a lifetime of reading superhero comics I've finally become too old for a product that’s now being almost exclusively made and marketed to hip twentysomethings.
I know that my judgment in this matter can't be entirely trusted, but I don't think it's just that this is confirmation of the fact I've graduated to geezer. Which would suggest that the problem is with the comics, but I really don’t think it's them either; I'll happily admit that most comics published today are better written and drawn than the ones I read as a kid. And it's not that I've just grown tired of the genre because I still buy superhero comics, old favorites like Fantastic Four and The Invaders (especially now that Marvel finally seems to be have figured out a way of making the series work in modern day, here's hoping anyway). And in spite of the fact that I increasingly recoil in horror at the very sight of an attractive teen, I still inexplicably find myself reading and enjoying both New Warriors and Ms. Marvel. And besides being "good" in my estimation, what do all those comics have in common?
I think it's the kind of stories they tell, or rather the fact that they're actually allowed to tell stories, not just isolated incidents connected to Marvel's latest event. I know that the publisher is promising "unprecedented levels of marketing and promotion"… "across multiple media medium platforms including social media, the internet, radio and television" for their latest (see "Marvel Goes Big for 'Original Sin'").* Which is all very well and good, and maybe this time all this extra effort and expense on their part will pay off in large sales and new readers making their ways to our stores.
But I have my doubts. Because all the promotion in the world won't sell a product to an audience that isn't interested in it; no matter how good "Original Sin" is, it's a comic designed to appeal exclusively to a small niche market. I know Marvel remains absolutely convinced that an endless cycle of ongoing events is a winning business model, a guaranteed means of retaining readers. But I'm just as convinced that along with being a crutch that stifles creativity and innovation, they’re also new reader repellant, an active way of discouraging them from reading comic books.
Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Something Other Than Else"), the comic based on a designed-but-never-built Disney attraction. But I was surprised by just how much I've enjoyed this odd fantasy by writer Brandon Seifert (creator of the Image comic Witch Doctor) and artist Karl Malone (he of many credits, my favorite being CrossGen's Scion). It's a sharply written fantasy featuring a pair of perfectly relatable tween twins that is both charming and unsettling, which should definitely appeal to kids. And according to a piece on the Newsarama website titled "Not Just Your Imagination: FIGMENT Jumps from Disney World to Marvel Comics" by Chris Arrant about the next entry in the Disney Kingdoms line, Disney Kingdoms: Figment, kids will actually get a chance to see it.
It quotes the line's editor Bill Rosemann as saying, "As part of our continuing efforts to reach new readers of all ages, issues of Seekers of the Weird are already available at various locations throughout Walt Disney World and Disneyland…" Never having ever gone to Disney's EPCOT Center I have to take it entirely on faith that the character Dreamfinder and his dragon Figment (see "Disney's 'Figment' by Jim Zub") are in fact "famous." But I have to say that I do like the sound of this steampunk miniseries.
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 April 2, 2014 @ 12:41 am CT