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Comic Book Thread

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Thomas Grey:
I have a few things I'd like to rant about if people will entertain my thoughts...

1. Who is buying/reading/collecting comics besides me? What titles do you like right now? I would like to recommend a few titles I find to be extremely well written and drawn (outside of the Dark Horse SW comics, which vary). They are te following: The Losers (Wildstorm), Black Hole (Indy), Conan (DH), Batman: City of Light (DC/The Pander Brothers!), The Escapist (DH), The Moth (DH), Plastic Man (DC)... Notice please the lack of Marvel (other than 1602, I have no interest in Marvel).

2. The Slow Death and Immense Decay of Comics as we have come to know them...
Brief History: Comics come into being in book form from collected dailies. Sequencial art and storytelling becomes a lucrative business with unlimited possibilities. Heroes are born, heroes go to war while America is at war and they are popular and distributed everywhere. Comics have a tough time tring to recover from the end of the war. Horror and True Crime comics are the focus and they are eventually censored. Then we see ridiculous monster comics and then back to super heroes. The writing becomes very good and Stan Lee humanizes the hero. Comics become popular and are widely distributed. The 1980s. comics boom and start selling millions of copies per issues having to do several printings to sate the demand. They are at convenience stores, super markets, retail, drug stores. They are out there!!! They are advertising by being a fixture. Specialty shops are for the serious collector, but remain fairly covert.

Then Marvel has a great idea. Let's focus on the collector and forget the kids. Marvel decides that all they need is several thousand people to buy 3-10 copies of 'collectible' issues and they will do just fine. These select people invest as planned, but soon realize that there isn't a market for their 'collectibles' because anyone else interested has them or is trying to get rid of them. They stop buying comics. Marvel prints the few million or so comics expecting to have the continued effect and no one buys them. The market is flooded and there is no more demand. This makes Marvel  focus exclusively on specialty shops that order and pay up front and the distribution is taken from the public eye. Marvel goes bankrupt and almost kills the industry because the other companies followed Marvels lead. Indies fold, go under and suffer. Comic books are on life support.

They slowly creep back but stay limited to the specialty shops. Advertising by putting them in every retail store is gone. People don't buy comics unless they hunt them down in specialty shops. Graphic novels become the focus and the monthly books cut corners, artists and writers are hired for their speed and ability for meeting deadlines. The quality drops. Comics go from selling up to 2 million per issue in the 1980s and 1990s to considering good sales on a book being 15,000.

The movies come out and out and out and nothing is done to publicize the comic book industry. Comics are kept in a private world. 250+ million are viewing these movies and no one is buying comics because they can't get them. They are not there...

Rumors ripple through the industry that Marvel wants to focus solely on graphic novels and continue to focus on large corp. bookstore chains buying up front. The idea to stop printing monthly 22-24 page books is considered and could possibly come to be from Marvel.

DC stays true to form and doesn't want to shake things up. They are as concerned with quality as they are with profit. They sign the industtries best creators to contracts and recruit a house of legends by 2004.  Dark Horse also stays with the comic as an art form concept nad continues to put out quality books. Image is about the art and not the writing. But the art is worth the cover price.

Comics are hanging by a thin thread.

3. I love comics as a creator and a reader and a collector. I hope something is done to promote the industry better and to make comics more accessible to the average Joe.

I saw a kid (15 or 16) in a Borders bookstore reading a comic the other day. He had a mohawk going and looked fairly nerdy (who am I to judge). He was reading a graphic novel (more underground or independent).
I asked him why he was reading that comic and he said he liked the writing. I asked him if he collected or knew of a few titles and he said no. He was just starting to get into it. I asked if he knew where a local specialty shop was and he said... No.

My point is... The fan is out there, but the comics are not. This is going to be the demise if it is not amended. This art form must live on! I do not know if there is really anything we can do as fans. Just thought I'd air that out because it depresses me and makes me quite angry.

Hope the message is clear here. I tend to ramble when I'm all worked up.

Mikey D:
Extremely well written, Thomas.  I don't think I can argue with one thing you wrote.  I would say that Marvel is trying to escape their past ways and put out books that people can relate to, ala the golden age with Lee, Kirby, Dikto, etc.  Ultimate Spiderman, Daredevil, Ultimates (late shipping aside) and both the regular and Ultimate versions of FF are good stuff.  I truely believe Joe Quesada wants to move Marvel in the right direction and keep the fans happy.  This was evidenced when Waid got fired from FF and the fans spoke out.  Quesada righted the situation and now that book is one of the best there, IMO.

I have always been a Marvel fan almost to the point where all I bought was Marvel.  This was back in the day when I was dropping $30 - $40 a week on crap (Slapstick anyone?).  Then I went to college and I pretty much stopped reading and collecting.

I started up again when Devils Due re-released GIJoe and the glory days of reading and enjoying comic books came back.  I don't buy nearly as much as in the past and try to limit my grab list to select titles.  This doesn't mean I won't try something new, but I tend to stay with what I know.

Besides Star Wars, my top monthly grab is probably Ultimate Spiderman.  I wasn't on board from the beginning, but recommendations from the guys over at GH lead me to pick up the first TPB.  I was immediately hooked.  I've always been a fan of Bagley's art and Bendis' writing is one of the best, if not the best, out there today.  

I also starting looking at DC more.  Back in the day, I always felt they were Marvel's b!tch and couldn't compete with them.  Then, as you said, they started hiring top notch talent to exclusive contracts and started to put out quality books.  If it wasn't for word of mouth, my DC grab list would probably not be nearly what it is now.  Hawkman, Teen Titans and Outsiders are all excellent books, both with character development and action.  I picked up JSA when they had a crossover with Hawkman a few weeks ago and was impressed enough to add to my grab list.  

And I'll always defend Erik Larsen and Savage Dragon.  He has put out a top notch, quality book for almost 120 issues and show's no sign of slowing down.  He appreciates the fans, as evidenced by the number 1 letters page in all of comics and knows that without them, he wouldn't be doing what he holds so dear.  The relavtively few (in comparsion) buyers of his book know they're going to get a treat every time.

And I'm always open for suggestions for something new.

All I can say is that The Watchmen scares the **** out of me.



--- Quote from: Thomas Grey on March  5, 2004, 12:41 PM ---I have a few things I'd like to rant about if people will entertain my thoughts...

1. Who is buying/reading/collecting comics besides me? What titles do you like right now?

2. The Slow Death and Immense Decay of Comics as we have come to know them...

3. I love comics as a creator and a reader and a collector. I hope something is done to promote the industry better and to make comics more accessible to the average Joe.

--- End quote ---


Great post.  I agree with your take on the comic industry: peaked in the late 80s, early 90s and has been decreasing ever since...

1) - I'd recommend ANYTHING by Geoff Johns.  IMHO, the guy is one of the best writers out there.  He currently writes JSA, HAwkman, and The Flash for DC and his Avengers run at Marvel was great!  

The guy knows and loves the Silver age feel and tries to bring the Silver Age story-telling into the books (not always the characters, but the sense of story first, hype second).

2) Marvel did mess things up.  Thanks again McFarlane Spidey (the beginning of the end!)  ::)

3) - I think that DC tries harder thatn Marvel to recruit new readers.  They have a whole line of Cartoon Network comics as well as the "Animated" style books for the Teen Titans, JLA, Superman, and Batman.

A few years back, I wouldn't have wanted my 6-yr old and 8-yr old nephews reading comics because the content was a bit too mature, but DC's line of JL Universe and Animated Batman adventures are great for kids (which are tomorrows comics generation).  My wife and I bought my nephews subscriptions to those "animated" style books and they love them!  There is hope out there.

Also, DC does a much better marketing tie-in with comics because of the cross breeding with the WB/AOL/Time-Warner.  They can use the WB cartoons and cartoon network to advertise their comics.  I have noticed that in WB stores, there are DC comics as well as mentions of big DC Comic stories in Time/Warner magazines like Entertainment Weekly.

I think they are improving in getting comics back out there into stores like B&N, Target, and other places.

Marvel, however, yeesh.  Ugh.  Marvel needs to focus more on hyping comics when movies are hot.  I can't believe that Spiderman the Movie made $400 million, but sales on the books only went up 2%?  Huh?  Why aren't the kids buying the books?

I really think Marvel needs to stop with the "Marvel Max" and "Marvel Knights" crap and start producing books that are appropriate for kids.  Kids need a book where Spider-man fights Electro and not discusses his marraige with MJ or other "adult" junk.  I wish Marvel would introduce a more "cartoony" line for kids.

Ultimates was a way to re-boot the Marvel universe for new readers, but eventually lead to the same crappy places: love-triangle with Cyke/Jean/Logan, etc.  They focus too much on character relationships for kids I think.

Back in my day, (uh oh, here it comes) Barry liked Iris, Hal liked Carol, Clark liked Lois, etc. Buth the girl always like the alter-ego.  That way you didn't have to deal with the whole Superman and Lois might get divorced crap.

Anyway, Just my $0.02,

Thomas Grey:
I am pretty old school as far as collecting and can relate to laying down $30-$40 a week Mikey D. I find myself buying more Silver age stuff these days, but do have a file at a local place. I think the Ultimate line is okay, but they stopped printing them on the primo stock to cut costs and it caused people to complain enough that they are bringing it back. I just think it's more of a 'What If' universe. They need to focus on the reality of the Marvel Universe. Daredevil has been the only Marvel title (in my opinion) that you can count on being solid each and every month. I just think Marvel is breaking in all these newer artists to work with established writers to save a buck or 2. It's just inconsistent and bums me out. Quesadilla is cool and I hope he starts to turn things around. Marvel was always the big dog to me until recently.

If I went to DC it was for The Watchmen, Swamp Thing, Miller's Dark Knight, Ronin, Animal Man, Sandman, Miracleman. DC put out the good epic stuff and Marvel made the good monthly books.

I read Daredevil and the Wolverine mini when Miller and Janson were on them, the Claremont/Burne X-men... I also loved the Indies; Baron & Rude on Nexus, Badger, Elementals, Judge Dredd, Mage, Grendel...

I am a fan to the core and just hope it can improve.


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