Monday, February 12, 2018

What happened between me and comics: a love story

You never forget your first love.  For me it all started with the stack of old comics under the coffee table and Saturday mornings watching Spiderman and friends.  Loved watching the reruns of Superfriends and Christeropher Reeves' Superman.  The incredible Hulk was a family favorite.  But these things were just puppy love.

X-Men on Fox changed my world.  It was awesome.  I didn't have a local comic shop but there was a drug store that had the spinny rack of comics.  I would mow yards and collect cans in order to by my next months issues.  I enjoyed my Uncanny X-men, but couldn't live without my Spider-man 2099 and Generation X.  You see, these comics launched at that pivotal time when I was really getting into it.  I was there from the beginning with these titles. 

Peter David wrote Spider-man 2099 at the time and he really made the character similar yet distinct from the original spider-man.  I later followed him over to his run on Supergirl.  I don't think you can go wrong with a Peter David Story.  Rick Leonardi's art was a perfect match and really popped off the page.  His design has lasted through the years and is a huge factor in the staying power of the character twenty years after the comic was originally cancelled.

Generation X was built to play off of the popularity of the character Jubilee.  She was an out front character in the animated series and Marvel thought she would do well in her own team.  A pattern that they used successfully with Kitty Pryde/Illyana Rasputin in The New Mutants.  Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo hit homeruns with this comic.  I felt that it spoke to me and my generation in a way that Uncanny or adjectiveless x-men did not. 

I got a job in high school and spent a majority of my check on comics, and I continued after high school to drop in every Wednesday for new comic book day.  I had found local comic shops and could spend hours inside talking about my love for comics with the people that worked there and other customers.  I subscribed to Wizard Magazine and read it from cover to cover.  I learned so much about the history of comics.  One of my college papers was on the comics code. 

Then I got married and had kids.  Goodbye comics.  Then my kids learned to read and I introduced them to Bone and teen titans go (my little pony and Manga for the younger one).  My kids know that Jean Grey is the Phoenix, that Kitty Pryde is Jewish, and that there is a Green Lantern that is a planet.  They know that Wade Wilson is the more popular ripoff/satire of Slade Wilson.  The have watched the entire run of the X-Men and seen every recent comic movie with the exception of Deadpool. 

But, I have not been able to "get them into comics."  The reason is that there aren't any stories or characters that speak to them.  I have tried and the best success I have gotten is with G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel. I read it myself and enjoyed it until it got to the Civil War II storyline.  We tried squirrel girl, nope, we tried Spider Gwen, nope.  Silk, nope (this one was okay, I thought), we tried Captain Marvel (vol 1 is horrible, I don't know about the rest) , and recently we tried America (almost unreadable). 

I guess comics will just be my thing, I am glad that my kids have an appreciation for some of the classic storylines, but sad that they never found their "me book" or "me character."  The comics industry is struggling and this is why.  My generation is still out there and we still love comics, but the characters that we love have been transformed into something else and pushed aside.  I understand that this was an effort to get younger audiences on board.  What happened was that my characters, as I loved them, disappeared and where replaced with characters that my
children's generation just doesn't care about.  So comics not only failed to get new readers, it lost a bunch of existing ones.  In a panic, they started forcing events, because events got press and led to a temporary spike in sales at the expense of pissing off people that aren't already collecting every book.  Then putting a $5 price tag on the things.

I want to still love comics, but at the current price point, I can't justify following more than one or two titles.  A big crossover event where there are 12 books involved  equates to $55 extra for however many months of the event.  That is insane and just not going to happen.  Comics is competing for my entertainment dollar and $55 is 5 months of Netflix or Hulu where I have a plethora of movies and entire TV series.  I can get 8-9 paperbacks that provide many hours of enjoyment.  I can get 5 months of moviepass that allows me to see one movie a day in theaters (including the newest comic book movie).  For the monthly price an event comic will cost me, I can get Netflix, Hulu, Movie Pass, and some paperback novels.  Comics doesn't stand a chance. 

So I still want to support the industry but can't spend unlimited dollars on it. What can I do.  How can we all help each other.  Well we can #movetheneedle.  If you buy and like a book, let people know on social media.  Tag it with #movetheneedle so others know that they are getting something quality.  I know this idea comes from my generation and currently points to books that people in my generation would like, but I have found with my children that great storylines with well developed characters destroy a generational divide.  A lot of the comics I was bringing home to them hoping to gain their interests were not great and sometimes not good at all.  I was shopping blind.  #movetheneedle prevents that, and if you tag the comic companies it gives them a metric that they otherwise wouldn't see.

 Comics readers will continue buying a comic for several months after it starts getting bad, but #movetheneedle will show them what the fans like in real time.  "whao what happened to super-lad and dog-wonder, sales went down over the past six months, oh look at this, it stopped moving the needle in August.  Isn't that when we started the planet under water storyline that is set to go on for the next year, maybe we should wrap that up." Or, the S-Men comic was doing great, but sales are down, we stopped moving the needle during the S-verse crossover that lasted 3 months, it looks like people just stopped reading when that happened and didn't come back, maybe these events are spiking short term sales, but hurting our long term sales. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll remember #movetheneedle
That's great you got your kids into the comics. I stopped buying by the time I got to college, but with ebook comics now, I do get a few and some graphic novels. I still remember my first comic - Justice League. Been a DC fan ever since.

Unknown said...

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