The discussion of several installments of Comicsape have caused me to think a bit more deeply upon the problem of why kids aren't into the super hero books like they used to be. It seems that the only people reading comics are males in their 20's - 30's with a few youngsters and girls sprinkled in.
So what's wrong here? Where are the readers? Why aren't new readers jumping on board? I don't know, but I have a theory.
It all starts way back in 1945, when World War II, Electric Bugaloo, ended. Suddenly the world was safe for democracy, or communism depending on where you lived. Things were looking up and the Greatest Generation was horny, really, really horny. So horny in fact that between the years of 1946 and 1960 there was an average of 4 million babies born every year, or one every 8.5 seconds. THAT is a lot of sex.
Something related to my blog happened while all those babies were growing up - comics started to totally rock. For the first time since innocence was seduced in 1954 interesting and original heroes were appearing in the funny books. With all this awesomeness many of those people who were the side effect of massive sexual activity started reading them. In fact enough of them got hooked that the spandex clad heroes saw a massive boom in popularity, evidenced by all the crappy cartoons and now collectable lunch boxes.
Now these kids grew into adulthood and many comics tailored to their tastes rose up about the same time. Darker heroes, horror comics and such laughed at the comics code and hooked up this maturing demographic. At the same time, as the birth rate fell, the readership of more standard super hero books sagged. So much so that DC almost went under.
Something else happened during this time - the baby boomers started doing it. Yep, they discovered their parent’s favorite past time and started humping away. Hump, hump hump and what do you know? Gen X was born. This boom echo was big. Now they wanted entertainment and guess where their parents pointed them? That's right! Back to the stuff they loved when they were kids - COMICS!!! In the late eighties super heroes began to see their popularity revived as evidenced by all the crappy cartoons and moderately collectable lunchboxes. Comics started selling again, leading to increased printings and books available.
These kids loved comics so much that they would buy almost anything the publishers threw at them. That's where the 90's and shiny covers come in. It's so bright, I have to own it!!! But then these kids started growing up and finding other interests, like sex, but more on that in a minute, and the industry collapsed. As these guys grew up the ones that stayed with comics demanded books that matched their maturing tastes. The big difference this time however was the comic publishers had thrown up a big middle finger at the Comics Code Authority, innocence be damned, and took their heroes in a much darker direction.
Now it's almost present day, and guess what these Gen X folks start doing? HAVING SEX! The big difference though is they aren't having kids as early as their parents and grand parents did. The kids of Gen X average 4.2 years of age, but they are doing it a lot so that number will continue to rise sharply.
So what does all this mean? It means that a big group of people who grew up reading comics in their youth are have kids that are reaching a reading age. That's right folks, generations of massive sexual activity have a chance to pay off again.
I'm 29, and as an overachiever I have a daughter that is turning seven next week. Care to take a guess what she's getting from me? If you said TPB's of Marvel Adventures you are correct!!!
Remember, YOU can save the comics industry. HAVE SEX TODAY!!!
In an attempt to save the world from reading crap comic books I’ll be putting up short reviews that tell you how I feel about the book in question, why I feel that way, and a grade.
Amazing Spider-Man #542 – Marvel – A
Without giving away the payoff, I have to say this was the best ending possible. I was sure going in that Peter Parker would have some realization about why he shouldn’t kill Kingpin and the whole “Back in Black” storyline would have been a waste. I was wrong. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
All-Star Batman & Robin #6 – DC – B
He gave it a B? How could he have given it a B? I’ll tell you. After reading this issue I have come to realize something, Frank Miller hasn’t been writing a piece of garbage like everyone thought. He has put together the most scathing, sarcastic and poignant commentary ever on super-hero comics as a medium. He rips apart deconstructionism (something he helped start), decompression, and action saturated stories without remorse. Either that or I’m way off the mark and it’s a piece of garbage like everyone thought.
Annihilation Conquest - Starlord #1 – Marvel – B
Forget Quasar, whatever the hell Wraith was supposed to be, and even Nova – Starlord is THE book for AC. Funny, interesting, well written with great art, this is good stuff. Ii has Rocket Racoon!!! Need I say more?
Continuing my short reviews for this week’s comics:
The Order #1 – Marvel – B
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the new trend of disposable super teams where the membership is in constant flux. On one side, there is a tension impossible in books like JLA, but then do you really care if someone dies or gets fired. This first issue of The Order is well written by Matt Fraction and nicely drawn by Barry Kitson, but seems it will likely sit firmly in the disposable hero niche. On the positive it stays well away from the long, drawn-out “putting the team together” stories I’ve read so often.
Countdown #41 – DC – C-
I realize not every issue can be a big one with huge story changing revelations, but the set-up issues should be the exception, not the overwhelming majority. I’m getting bored with Countdown, and the scattered nature of this issue didn’t help. It’s time for this story to take its own direction and stop being a rundown of everything else that is happening in the DC universe.
The Programme – Wildstorm – C
AARRGGHH!!! Who edits this stuff? The art is good, the story is interesting, but the presentation sucks. The pacing is off. I kept going back and forth to see if I missed a page. I give it a C for its promise, but be wary on this one.
Ultimate Spider-Man #111 – Marvel – A-
The end of an era, and a good story to go along with it, a good way to send off Mark Bagley. Bendis is at his best, as conversation is where he really excels, and the sneak peak of new artist Immonem in a flash-back sequence was a great idea. The best part of the issue however was the last page of a Bagley drawn Spider-Man swinging across the city. Almost brought a tear to my eye.
Paul Jenkins' Sidekick Super Summer Spectacular #1 – Image – B
It’s Paul Jenkins doing comedy. Buy it if you want to laugh.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre - About A Boy #1 – Wildstorm – C
I would have given this a lower grade, but it touches on a point that needs much more exploration in American media: bullying and the effect it has on some people. Other than that, everything in the book is adequate, but not much more.
Creature From The Depths – Image #1 – B-
A decent creature feature, nothing less, nothing more.
I think it’s about time I followed through on my initial promise to blog and review on a somewhat regular basis, so today I will do just that.
Instead of writing one or two in depth comic reviews each week I’ll be giving a quick blurb. Enough so you know how I feel about something, why and a rating, but without much more. Hopefully this will help get the maximum amount of mileage out of these posts.
So, without further ado…
Zero Killer #1 – Dark Horse - D
I have a big thing for post-apocolyptic stuff. With that in mind I was excited for Zero Hour, a thirty years after the bomb story. It’s to bad that jilted dialog and no reason for me to become invested in the characters ruined the whole deal. The best part of the book was a newspaper clipping from the oppressive government newspaper about how to kill the people of the Zero Killer world. Not good.
World War Hulk #2 – Marvel – A-
Marvel is going to have to seriously screw this up for me to give it a poor score. Another great issue of Hulk beating the crap out of Marvel heroes is good stuff, and the fact that this isn’t a psyco rampaging Hulk but a calm collected one really put this apart from all the other Hulk smash stuff previous. This being said, I hope the issues behind the Green Guy’s anger gets explored more or this will end up being a wasted event.
World War Hulk: X-Men #2 – Marvel – C
This was disappointing and nothing made sense. Prof. X has his powers outclassed by Emma Frost and then later the Cuckoos. The dialog was weak. Nothing happened at all except people getting beat by the Hulk. After a solid set-up from last issue this was a solid let down.
Ghost Rider #13 – Marvel – D-
I would have given it an F but the last two pages show the people who sent Hulk away dealing with their sins. The rest is pure drivel.
World War Hulk: Frontline #2 – Marvel – A
I continue to wonder why Frontline does not become an ongoing series for Marvel. Between the Noir art, the behind the scenes view of the Marvel Universe and some of the most original back-ups seen in years (Korg and an NYPD detective solving a murder case) Paul Jenkins and crew have put together one of the most interesting human interest comics ever.
Marvel Adventures: Hulk #1 – Marvel – B
I know, I know. Marvel Adventures? Isn’t that the kiddy line? But if you haven’t checked these out you’re missing some fun reads. These books have clean, sharp artwork, updated storylines ala’ the Ultimate line and some of the most fun stories going. Sure it isn’t grim or realistic, but if you want comics that harken back to the days of Stan and Jack without all the dated dialog, then these are for you.
Super-Villain Team Up: MODOK’s 11 – Marvel – Incomplete
I can’t rate this one and I can’t recommend it either. This isn’t to say it isn’t worth picking up, but until something actually happens I don’t have anyway to tell you one way or another. Probably better to wait for the trade.
First off, if you don't want spoilers go away now. I'm going to be writing this without going into specific details but I can't write about Captain America without mentioning the big news that happens in issue #25. You have been warned.
Captain America is dead. He was shot in the brain and died. I could go into a rant or rave about Marvel's decision to do away with their most iconic hero but instead it occurs to me that the bigger issue at hand is what does this say about the current state of the union.
Captain America, the supporter of white picket fences and apple pie, was always about trying to defend that America. No matter how edgy or mature the title became, Cap stood for a ideal, one should always choose the right no matter the costs, that does not exist in our present.
Despite this, or perhaps in spite of it, he continued his fight for all that was right, for the big war machine that defeated evil in WWII, for democracy and family values.
The truth is, Cap wasn't killed in issue 25. He's been dead for a while and was finally faced with this fact in Frontlines 11. When Sally faced him down and confronted him with the true state of the U.S. he had no point of reference with which to respond. He was outdated, outmoded, and out of style.
I find this a chilling but honest editorial on the U.S. of today. We go to war for oil, not to save people from a madman who is killing people by the millions. We don't want white picket fences, we want iPods, we don't want meaningful dialog with our peers, we want to discuss the benefits of being a Paladin as opposed to a Shaman, we don't want a 6:00 dinner time with the whole family, we want and a healthy but satisfying lunch that can be had on the go for under ten bucks.
The America of ideals that people fought for has collapsed under its own weight, leaving a selfish, entertainment addicted society in its wake.
The death of Captain America is just one more nail in the coffin of the past.
I have been having a very hard time getting through some comics I feel like I should love. Eternals was like this for me. It is a well written story, but my interest kept waining. It wasn't until I forced myself through a few issues that I got into it.
I wonder if this is a symptom of small dialog, small story? Like the way Bendis will stretch a single conversation out over an entire issue.
When I have whole arcs or large portions of back issues together I rarely feel this way, but issue by issue reading make me depressed.
People tell me I should wait for trades, but then I see an issue and my compulsive nature kicks in.