Robot 6

Quote of the Day | ‘We publish comics for 45-year-olds’

kamandi-pope“Batman did pretty well, so I sat down with the head of DC Comics. I really wanted to do Kamandi [The Last Boy on Earth], this Jack Kirby character. I had this great pitch … and he said, ‘You think this is gonna be for kids? Stop, stop. We don’t publish comics for kids. We publish comics for 45-year-olds. If you want to do comics for kids, you can do Scooby-Doo. And I thought, ‘I guess we just broke up.’”

Paul Pope, relating his attempt to pitch an all-ages (or perhaps young-adult) title to DC Comics, during his Comic-Con International conversation with Gene Luen Yang.

Pope has previously mentioned his idea for Kamandi, a collaboration with writer Brian Azzarello that he described as “a violent adventure story for young readers with a boy lead character.” He’s even revealed a few pieces of art from the pitch. However, as the artist noted in 2010, “if DC would’ve given me & Brian Azzarello a Kamandi series, I’d never have created Battling Boy.”

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79 Comments

Huh. That’s just kinda sad and shortsighted.

On the flip side, I guess, Brevoort is getting into fights daily on his formspring on how the heroes have to be eternally young, or young-ish, for the new generations of readers.

DC comics doesn’t publish comics for 45 year olds anymore, at least not this 45 year old. The New 52 pretty much killed DC for me, so I don’t know who they’re publishing for right now, and I don’t think they know wither.

I guess some people would prefer DC pretend it’s still 1959 and somehow magically the market will become all kids, not the actual customer base of 45-year olds that supports the industry. Sorry reality doesn’t fit your expectations, but if you think making all the comics kid-friendly would make sales go up, you are wrong.

Comics! They’re not for kids anymore, period!

Maybe they’ll re think this after they see the success battling boy is going to have.

DC does a pretty terrible job making comics for kids in general. Anything slightly appealing to children or that could potentially get them hooked is axed in favor of ultra dark Batman storylines or mastubatory teenage dreck. And yet there are bright spots (Animal Man, JL Dark).

Simon DelMonte

August 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I’m 44 and I am grateful that DC publishes things for me. That’s all I have to say.

Hey Simon, out of curiosity, what DC comics do you currently read and enjoy?

Tell Boom! Studios that comics aren’t for kids.

Boom is also the company with the No. 1 movie in America.

This is why we can’t have nice things, DC.

I don’t think this is a value judgement on Pope’s behalf. It’s pretty common knowledge that DC’s readership is middle age. It’s disappointing they wouldn’t take a chance with a exciting project like this but I’d prefer an original concept from Pope in any case and I’m extremely excited about Battling Boy.

I guess Darwyn Cooke was right when he said DC needs to “stop catering to the perverted needs of 45-year-old men”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgMZl0FJsx4

DC, Dumb Comics truly.

So apparently DC’s management really *does* understand who their (and Marvel’s) core market is.

I’m just glad there are other publishers and individual creators who are trying to expand the market beyond the boys who started reading superhero comics in the 1970s and just never stopped.

Pope was in an Argentinian convention this weekend, he said the same thing abou dc and kids comics. Their loss.

Jake Earlewine

August 6, 2013 at 4:07 pm

The reboot sure wasn’t to please 45 year olds. The reboot pissed off the vast majority of readers who had been following DC characters more than a few years (at lease the ones I know from the LCS).

How I wish DC really did make comics for adults. DC is like a ship without a rudder.

Is it really that shortsighted? or just the reality of the marketplace?

A lot of people over age 35 felt chased off by Flashpoint‘s consequences.

It’s a reality of an old and fading marketplace, one that ignores that while having books for adults is fine, having ONLY books for 40 something adults and ignoring the 20 year olds and kids, is short sighted and dumb.

Young readers have abandoned mainstream comics publishers in part because mainstream comics publishers abandoned them.

And the big houses are too chicken to invest the time and energy it takes to develop a customer base for underserved markets. That takes years, plural. Over the last 10 years the very few attempts to develop underserved markets have been axed often before a year is up.

They turned down something like this?

To the (lunk)head of DC at the time–I’m changing your job title to door-watching troll, effective immediately.

What a weenie!

@Salgood Sam
Don’t forget the competition from things like video games and vapid TV shows.

DC’s entire superhero mainline should be young adult. But I guess that would prevent them from using Watchmen and DKR as go-to style guides for frickin EVERYTHING!

This is why I quit the comics business.

Great plan by DC. Will be even better in twenty years when their audience has shrunk even more and they are writing superhero fiction for 65 year olds.

Patrick Gerard

August 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm

No worries, Brad. I’m sure they’ll be cloning 65 year-old at that point. ;-)

I think we maybe all missing the fact that DC is not publishing comics for anyone but Warner Bros. anymore. Their books are seen as gateway drugs to alternate media outlets that are far more profitable. Video games, TV shows, movies, etc. is where the money is, the comics are little more than the toys in a happy meal to WB.

When I was a kid (70′s and 80′s) you could pick up an issue of almost any comic and get caught up in the action without being lost. If the Fantastic Four were lost in space and fighting against the Sphinx but also crossing paths with the Champions of Xandar or being shot with an aging rays by the Skrulls, it really didn’t matter. They were fun comics. I didn’t have to read three pages of talking heads from some writer who was in love with his own dialogue. Do some of those comics stand the test of time and read great to me as an adult? Of course not but they appealed to a kid who continued reading comics over the years and isn’t that kind of the point?

It almost feels like Marvel and DC recognize that most kids will play video games, play with toys, watch cartoons and movies with their characters but won’t read the comics. So they stop making comics inclusive to kids. Basically, here’s your “kid’s table” of comics with the Johnny DC line and whatever Marvel replaced Marvel Adventures with. I could read Spidey Super Stories as a kid but I could also read my older brother’s Amazing Spider-Man. So if a seven or eight year-old kid likes the Avengers movie of the Avengers cartoon and really likes Hawkeye do you think they would really enjoy Fraction’s Hawkeye comic?

I would’ve loved Hawkeye. Totally.

Kyle Baker, I’m sorry to hear you quit comics; you have such a great style and wit! “Why I Hate Saturn” and Cowboy Wally forever!

A comic that’s ostensibly for kids, but which had Azzarello and Pope attached, would sell to 45-year-olds, too. It’s not like DC has done much with Kamandi since the ’70s anyway.

SO DUMB.

APoehler: “I guess some people would prefer DC pretend it’s still 1959 and somehow magically the market will become all kids, not the actual customer base of 45-year olds that supports the industry. Sorry reality doesn’t fit your expectations, but if you think making all the comics kid-friendly would make sales go up, you are wrong.”

This mentality is precisely the problem. Lots of other companies, from IDW to First Second to BOOM! to Top Shelf and even including Marvel, have done a great job of marketing comics to kids (as well as adult women and other audiences that DC seems to actively want to drive away). DC is the *only* major comics company that has this attitude of open indifference and hostility to younger readers. This is why they are rapidly becoming irrelevant.

I love Paul Poe’s work and honestly, I never thought he needed Brian Azarello to shine.

I’ve repeatedly tried to convince DC to let me start a line of all ages comics using a variety of characters from their big stars on to no longer used characters and teams, such as Challengers of the Unknown, Batmitw, and Kamandi (which is my dream project as well). There’s a lot of feigned interest at first, but no actual interest in following through. I even suggested doing it as a series of stand alone digest sized graphic novels rather than batches of monthly titles. No response.

It’s a real shame and a real list opportunity. I don’t know where they think their new readers are going to come from when the current crop of 45 year olds moves on or dies off. The current adult reader of their books came to super heroes as children, when the whole appeal of secret identities and super powers was developmentally appropriate. I don’t see today’s eleven year olds suddenly taking an interest in costumed crime fighters when they reach adulthood, especially without any nostalgia for characters they loved in their childhood.

Do none of you realize this conversation probably happened back in 2006/07? He mentioned Batman – as in Batman Year One Hundred. Think of where DC was at the time. It was steeped in a direction (like it or not) aimed for its hardcore readers. How many direction changes has it had since then? How many “heads” have changed since then? Some of you are too kneejerk to even aim your anger properly. Sheesh.

Funny how, 2 years into the DiDio/Harras/Lee leadership regime, the attempt to draw in “new and younger” comics readers with the New 52 reboot line have devolved into narrowcasting their sales focus on those existing (majority Male/ White/Single) Mainstream Comics buyers…

Funny, but tragic for what once had been DC Comics..

BUT: I’d rather have a BATTLING BOY comics creator-owned by Pope than a DC IP-owned Kamandi series anyways. (And thanks, Paul for that free BB shirt that came w/the comic that you signed for me at last month’s SDCC!)

Not much has changed at DC with the new 52.

The same people still in charge of the company. With the added awfulness of Bob Harras.

Mikael-

I’ve run all ages books by DC for years, including when I was writing for the initial launch of the new 52. They are not interested.

The relaunch should have been aimed at kids, not the same adult audience that DC alienated by telling them that the stories that kept them lifelong fans no longer mattered.

I have no problem with an adult wanting to read Green Lantern, or Superman, but there isn’t any reason for a superhero comic not to be an all ages title. If you want to argue for an adult oriented Batman title, fine, but comics about people who can run really fast, or beat up bad guys with magic rings are adolescent power fantasies, read by, and marketed to people who aren’t adolescents. DC is only interested in properties that can be turned into box office winning movies that will justify their continued existence.

I will not be surprised if in a few years, DC will only be publishing Batman titles.

@John — that’s interesting, as I had the same experience (though I wasn’t as persistent as you!).

Over the years I’ve had three meetings there with three different people about revivifying their kids’ line in some way, and all looked at me like I was nuts when I brought it up. One editor asked me the interview question they love to ask — “Which title would you want to work on?” — and got ready to tell me that I have to earn my chops before I can have Batman. When I told him my dream title would be the Walker and Jones Supergirl series he kind of stammered and said, “But kids’ comics don’t sell!” I told him I might be able to help with that, but the conversation was basically over.

Now I’m glad I work for a comics company with a seven-figure-sized kid readership instead.

This is what’s wrong with the comicbook industry.

Paul has a better insight on comics than most, he did time with Kodansha in 1995 after I couldn’t get them to embrace the then top of their game Dinosaur creators – AKA Legend, Bravo etc artist/writers… We need kid readers.

But we need all genre comics for all ages of readers.

the whole redundant superhero bull decade after decade… it’s just out of sync with the new generations. if they wanna see superheroes they go to the cinema. if they wanna read good comics they buy image stuff. saga, walking dead etc, those are made for new & young readers.

I just don’t understand why these companies insist on limiting their audience so heavily. It’s like they’ve decided women and kids don’t read their stuff so rather than try focus their attention on fewer, better books for the existing audience and spread some talent to new ideas to try and increase your audience and long-term sales, they just make 52 books for that guy that buys their stuff.

So incredibly short-sighted.

Oh that explains why I don’t get the new 52. I’m only 40. It’s not targeted at me! :)

But let’s not kid ourselves. I LOVE Paul Pope’s work. Love it! But he’s niche…and then pairing him with the character Kamandi? Jim Lee & Scott Snyder would struggle to make Kamandi a hit. I think Didio was probably trying to let him down without just addressing it directly. Remember…this is the publisher of the company that fires their writers by email.

“if they wanna read good comics they buy image stuff. saga, walking dead etc, those are made for new & young readers.”

Concerning Walking Dead and Saga…how young are these readers?

They really just need to make comics APPROPRIATE for all ages, and most of the work is done. Why even pretend that the current customer base matters? Keeping them happy has all but killed the industry.

While I love the fact that Pope also loves Kamandi, anything he or anyone else creates will be an extremely poor bastard brother of the original Kirby classic. My advice – get the omnibus and create something new instead.

A market that routinely expects people to pay around three dollars for half a year just to get a complete story sure _sounds_ like it is targeted towards middle-agers.

“I don’t know who they’re publishing for right now”

Really creepy and unpleasant 45-year-olds, it seems.

Hahahaha, its nice/sad to see DC come right out and SAY that they only market their comics for the 45-year old fan. Great way to slowly kill off a once-great hobby…

“Now I’m glad I work for a comics company with a seven-figure-sized kid readership instead.”

There’s a comics company with a seven-figure-sized kid readership? What is it?

When I was a saucy associate editor at DC in the wild and wooly mid-90s, I tried to get Weezie Simonson to pitch an original all-ages comic. She was super nice, as always, but implied DC would not know what to do with such a title if they got one. (After all, a publisher has to understand and be able to support its titles. If they can’t support a book, they should probably not publish it unless there are other considerations in the mix.) I think she was right and I think DC now owns up to that. (Not in a press release or some such–they’re not dopes!–but in interactions like Paul Pope’s with his editor.) That said, I (46 years old) would have totally bought a Paul Pope-drawn Kamandi with a “for kids” angle.

Wow ! DC turns down a Paul Pope Kamandi series ?
What a bunch of idiots.
That would have been the only series I bought from DC and I’m 45.

In the Jack Kirby book Spirit World there’s a section by Mark Evanier about how in the early 70s they were basically having this same conversation. The comic industry is dying. Here’s a link i found. http://comicsbeat.com/breaking-news-the-comics-industry-is-not-dying/

Patrick Gerard

August 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Chris Duffy: rather than owning up to that, why not cycle in the talent and leadership who do get it?

Owning up to a weakness is meaningless if you don’t address it, particularly if all future opportunities hinge on correcting it.

It seems to me like the editorial philosophy that won out is (paraphrasing from conversations I’ve had):

“Comics are like hula hoops and yo-yos. They come and go. Nobody knows why. We make them for people who like them. If that stops happening, we close up shop and go home.”

Anyone in any business (including hula hoops and yo-yos) ought to be handed their walking papers for saying that. I don’t know why it passes muster in comics… And if that attitude were more diligently pruned, we wouldn’t be in this mess. We’d be in a different one… But at least not one predicated on intellectual sloth.

The policy is curious because WB has shown a commitment to “hook ‘em young” with books targeted to 4-8 year olds, not only with DC’s Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures (now canceled), but their partners who put out the Superpets books and this line of books: http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Woman-Dragon-Heroes-Quality/dp/143422760X/ref=sr_sp-btf_title_6_68?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375924944&sr=1-68&keywords=wonder+woman

So why give up on the 9-13 age group? They’re the ones who will grow into your entire line. The 6-year-olds will forget about you when they’re teenagers.

And I would argue that the DC in the New 52 is even LESS kid/teen friendly than it was when Pope was told of the policy, and DC was still putting out things like the Stephanie Brown Batgirl, Adam Beechen’s Robin, Teen Titans Go, and going back to pre-Didio Impulse and Young Justice.

On the WB side, the perceived failure of the Young Justice and Green Lantern cartoons in favor of yet another Batman show speaks to John Rozum’s concerns.

DC Comics needs new people with new ideas.
I’m tired of gimmicks and equivocated decisions.

DiDio, Lee, Johns and Harras must be demoted from their positions.

geez. No wonder the mere sight of Dan DiDio at last week’s Boston Comic Con filled me up with bile and disgust. The modern comics market is freaking disgusting. I love the medium, but both Marvel and DC (who control the vast vast over 70% of the market) have turned it into this sick sick game. What was the damned point of the whole reboot? Just to get a slightly bigger chunk of the shrinking market of straight white 40 year old men? Maybe get some of them 18-35 year old straight white males too? Obviously they don’t want to actually grow their market as a whole. They don’t want a healthy market. Just a quick fix of cash now for their own pockets. DC and Marvel are like the Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch of comics.

Hey Robert — that would be Papercutz, but we’re certainly not the first. Nick Mag (Chris Duffy’s kids’ comics mag) had a high 6-figure circulation, and Disney Adventures was 1.2 million when it closed. And we’re not the only, either — I don’t know the sales numbers for Viz Kids but they’re certainly up there, as well, and Archie’s newsstand comics still get up to 200,000. Lotsa kids reading comics!

The industry has run it’s course. We just like it because we had fun reading comics when we were twelve and we never moved on. Best to accept reality. I’m starting to write video games. Much more pleasant people in that industry.

Comics have got a lot to do better in, but please don’t tell me you think video games are more kid-friendly. They’ve done the exact same age switch from children to “for mature adults” that comics have, but it took them FAR less time.

Well, I’m 41 (soon to be 42), & I’m perfectly fine with the comics that DC puts out. Absolutely love the New 52.

I’m 54 years old and started reading both DC & Marvel around 1966 as a 7 year old, snot nosed kid. My 1st comic was a issue of Detective Comics featuring the 1st appearance of the Spellbinder . I got hooked because of the Batman TV show which premiered in January of that year. I stuck with both companies through thick and thin until a couple of years ago. DC killed it for me with the New 52 . Throwing away over 75 years of continuity and history just for the sake of a few bucks and to kiss Warner Brother’s ass , did the deal for me. Marvel on the other hand , kept on IMO, rehashing old concepts and I found their books to just be boring . I now just concentrate on collecting Gold and Silver age and refuse to spend any of my money on their product anymore. Dan Didio and Jim Lee are ruining DC Comics and should be fired ASAP ! Marvel on the other hand, should have Joe Quesada bought back as the EIC. I thought he was doing a great job.

It’s worth noting that Warner doesn’t make DC-brand movies for kids, either.

I’m reminded of remarks by the modern era’s greatest military tactician, Donald “Rummy” Rumsfeld. Warner seems to figure that: you publish comics for the audience you have, not for the audience you might want or wish to have at a later time. Who are we to question that profound wisdom?

The problem isn’t that DC dumped so many years of continuity. That was the smart part, because catering so heavily to 45-year-olds is holding them back. Sorry, dudes.

The mistake was not replacing it with something more fresh and accessible to a wider audience. It was a great opportunity to introduce more breadth to their publishing line, giving it the same kind of variety that, say, a TV network has, with programming appealing to a variety of people (or even just people with varying moods): light-hearted action adventures, snarky relationship dramedies, crime-of-the-week dramas, slapstick sitcoms, slick prime-time soaps, etc. They could even do most of that with superheroes if they felt that was central to the DC brand. Instead it’s the same theme, the same tone, the same settings, the same overlapping cast, in all 52 slots.

I stand by the fact that all kids are reading comics, just not ones published by Marvel and DC. Marvel and DC isn’t the place where comics fans GRADUATE. If you have kids and want them to read comics you need to look beyond the borders of the direct market. Take them to bookstores and libraries that have ENTIRE sections of graphic novels for children including those published by Papercutz, Scholastic, Random House, Viz, Boom, Toon Books, First Second, Kids Can Press and so on.

I even co-wrote a book all about all the great stuff that’s out there:
http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Guide-Best-Kids-Comics/dp/1440229945/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375968278&sr=8-1&keywords=parents+guide+to+the+best+kids+comics

I have stated for many years about the short-sightedness of Marvel and DC in regards to quality, meaningful comics and graphic novels FOR KIDS. Notice how I didn’t say ALL AGES. ALL AGES is a meaningless term anywhere other than the direct market. But these companies are missing out in publishing material for the 9-12 audience – a HUNGRY group of readers wanting more and more. I’m a children’s librarian and see it every single day.

Dan Didio certainly needs to go. DC should be bending over backwards to get younger readers. After all, most of us started reading comics as kids…

I can’t help but think DC (or even comics in general) think kids are stupid.

I feel like DC is alienating everyone now. The de-aging of their superheroes is a great example. When I was a kid reading comics in the 80s, I never thought that I would be able to relate more to Superman if he looked like he was 18. I certainly don’t feel that way as an adult.

Kids and adults just want good comics. It can’t possibly be that hard to make a comic book that appeals to everyone.

Look at Battling Boy. Pope said he wanted to make a book for children OF ALL AGES. Parents are going to buy it for kids and 45 year olds are gonna buy it for themselves.

I don’t think Marvel comics are for kids either. But of course, this is CBR and we never say bad things about Marvel…

CBR gave ant-man season one a bad review. And in it they said it was a generic book and only kids may enjoy it.

If this is true, and there’s no reason not to take PP at his word (why in the hell would he make this up?), then DC is run by morons. Amazing. In 2010, they’re going to turn down Paul Pope wanting to work with one of YOUR PROPERTIES. Not creator-owned work. YOUR PROPERTIES. In 2010. Paul Pope, already one of the most established masters of the comic medium.

I really don’t even know where to begin with this.

wait john smith of indigo prime, revere & vampirella fame posted in this thread? cool. good job guys.

wait kyle baker of why i hate saturn, nat turner & the shadow quit comics? lame. bad job bros.

Kids don’t read comics. OR play with yo-yos. Or chess and checkers. Or watch opera.

Whats wrong with you people?

Comics are a tiny niche in the infinite space of TV, internet, video games

Andrew Allenpeat

August 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm

@Trey: Yeah, unless they do. The yo-yos and checkers arguments are cute, but irrelevant and inapplicable to comics. It was already stated above that Disney, Archie, Boom, Viz, and Papercutz still have young fans. At its height Disney Adventures was selling *Millions* of copies. One of the local comic shops where I live (Toronto, Canada) has opened a separate store catering to kids (Little Island Books: http://www.beguilingbooksandart.com/) When I go to my local chain bookstore, I see dozens of kids reading manga.

So, yeah. Kids read comics. What they don’t read are DC and Marvel comics. FTR, I’m 45 and I have no interest in reading the joyless faux 90s crap that DC publishes. If I’m their target audience, they’ve alienated me.

I love it! It’s so true.

DC *AND* Marvel, that’s what they do, that’s what the Direct Market is. A place for hardcore fans who are all white old men who are afraid to change in comics and want to keep comics stuck in the 1960s.

Bob Harras did us a great service by saying it how it is. Thank you thank you!

Why else would they charge $3.99 comics? No kid is gonna afford that. But the 45-year-olds can.

I don’t read comics, but I’m here because Linkara mentioned this in his latest AT4W episode.

So Comics are not for kids anymore? There were kids who went to see Man Of Steel. That was their introduction to the character of Superman. Your telling me that those same kids are not allowed to read the comics about their new favourite Super Hero?

Only people who have kids disagree with the policy that D.C. and the superior Marvel don’t deliberately create kid-friendly series. Parents tend to be like that; the world has to revolve around the fact that they were irresponsible and selfish enough to contribute to the overpopulation problem. Coming from this 41-year-old, it’s…well, childish.

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