Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Point-counterpoint on corporate comics

Batwoman“I really don’t understand why people keep trying to tell Marvel and DC how to do business. These are wholly owned subsidiaries of major multi-national entertainment conglomerates with a poor track record of rewarding the contributions of the individual. [...]

Not all comic book companies can be all things to all people. And it is increasingly obvious that Marvel and DC do not want to be anything but superhero publishers selling superhero comics to superhero readers through the supply chain that they have spent two plus decades optimizing to do so. And yes, this limits the amount of money they bring in from demographics outside what they consider to be their core target – straight white males. But it’s not as if Marvel and DC are the only game in town.”

RM Rhodes at The Hooded Utilitarian, advising readers to stop telling Marvel and DC what to do

“These characters are part of our collective consciousness. They represent a lot more than just people in suits. Most of us grew up with them, and we want to be able to see them reflecting narratives that we identify with. For those of us who’ve recently acquired or who are still fighting for certain civil rights, for those of us who are still subject to a lot of discrimination, seeing the characters we love and grew up with fighting those same battles is gratifying in a way that seeing new characters we don’t know is not. It’s great that those stories are being written and told, and I appreciate every one of them, but there’s something much more powerful about seeing those stories told through the lens of characters that are practically part of our everyday lives.”

— A commenter named Tea, explaining why readers still care

It’s well worth clicking over and reading the whole article, as well as the comments, because both sides present their arguments cogently.

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Comments

17 Comments

To clarify: “Stop telling what publishers to do in a business context.” You are probably not subject matter experts on publishing. Pointing out where and when they do sexist/racist/homophobic/tone deaf stuff – that’s a lot of fun to watch and should continue.

Ah…does this fall into the “if I want my favorite Comic book characters written a certain way, then I should just write them myself?” category? Because that’s idiotic. Yes, Comic Books are a business, and as such, need to produce a profit. However, blindly eliminating a whole passel of potential customers simply because they do not fit the preconcieved notion of the publishers is simply foolish.

And treating the creators of those comics poorly, reflects equally poorly on the company.

Certainly Marvel and DC *should* reflect the diverse nature of humanity in their comics, but don’t expect them to until and unless they find something in it for them.

Or: Go ahead and complain, but don’t expect them to change just on your say-so.

And frankly, most fans could stand to broaden their horizons beyond the characters they loved when they were 12, regardless of their demographics. If I’d never done that, I never would have discovered Astro City, Invincible, Hellboy, or even most of DC’s stable (I was a Marvel zombie back in the day).

Idealism is nice and well intentioned but amounts to little more than spitting in the wind.

I’m with Tea.

Tea’s feelings are valid… but we don’t live in a world built on sincerity.

Sometimes you have to let go of the things you love. It’s like the point Alan Moore echoes when people say bad movie adaptation “ruined his stores”:
“They’re not ruined, they’re right there on my bookshelf.”

Current corporate Marvel / DC can’t take away a fan’s memories or appreciations of stories, characters and creators.

As a reader and a person, you grow, and that means leaving Marvel / DC behind (even though its hard).

Pay it forward:
Cherish the stories that you grew up with, if you want hold onto copies of them
Actively support the creators you’re a fan of — it’s best to support their creator-owned work b/c the money goes directly to them
If you’re feeling truly audacious, make your own comics, make the stories you want to see… and if you don’t give a damn about copyrights, then make your own “tribute/parody” versions of classic characters and say “to hell with copyrights!” (Just kidding… kind of)

I agree (Is that possible?). As a Cartoonist on the fringe and a consumer of the little guy…of course there are other flavors. Hell yeah you should try the other stuff. However, Superheroes (especial the ones at DC & Marvel) are not just for a small segment of the population, not just the responsibility of an unwieldy conglomerate. I want to read Optic Nerve & All New-X-Men. It’s OK to have diverse taste. It’s OK to challenge these creative forces to do better…or the right thing. It’s OK for them to ignore us. But we may stop buying.

Sorry to piggy back…but I may have actually said something smart and related to day on my blog. Check it; http://bcranco.tumblr.com/post/60900840581/superhero-analogous-to-america-in-its-twilight-years

The problem people have with Didio and by extension DC is less the stance on “illusion of change” vs. linear character progression (though people do have their opinions on that in general) than it is specifically how a crass and cynical world-view has dictated the tone of the entire line. This idea that the only good superhero is a miserable one and the only good superhero comic is basically a horror movie in superhero drag. That any sense of fun or measure of victory even in the heroes personal lives is somehow completely antithetical to having drama and action in the books. He would even seem to view revenge as the only worthwhile motivation for a superhero.

Now this might be one thing if it was a single creator who had a cynical vision of a superhero but Didio and co. are doing this with those characters who are a part of are collective consciousness. Characters that are ideally meant to appeal to young and old alike (and not just a ever narrowing sliver of 45 year old white males who view Watchmen and DKR as the holy style guides of all superhero storytelling.)

DC Comics is WCW in the late 90s

RegularSyzed Wayne

September 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I still like the characters I did when I was 12-15. How do I relive that? I went and bought the collections of the runs from that era. If I feel nostalgic I go and open those books. I know better than to try to force my nostalgia on the IP farm in the supply closet down the hall at Warner Brothers.

I admire things of beauty and have nothing but contempt for those who destroy beauty. What DC has done to their own characters is corporate vandalism.

It’s like people have Stockholm Syndrome, except they’re not actually being held hostage and are free to leave at any time.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to one color: GREEN. Money apparently talks, so if you want something good to come out of the companies, you need to replace the execs in charge–by buying them out. If DC and Marvel weren’t owned by Warners and Disney respectively, we wouldn’t be having these ‘problems’.

Other than that, I still say that ever since they were bought out, the Big Two have been under the thumbs of the Peter and Dilbert Principles.

I think the gallery of legacy capes that “represent a lot more than just people in suits” is dwindling. The “comics industry” isn’t profitable right now because of comic books — it’s because of feature film and television adaptations and the merchandise they can move.

Those characters exist, certainly, but not for the reason/purpose they originally did.

Also, the argument for character progression should always be made… but unfortunately, the context of superhero comics is almost never the time/place for them. Capes books occur in vacuum where characters don’t exactly age, face real-world problems, or have personal relations that in any way reflect how things actually are. As much as I would love to see an over-the-hill Batman making-do or Grandma Batgirl futzing with the DVR, it’ll never happen, because the “norm” for capes is that nothing ever really changes.

Marvel & DC are intellectual property farms for publicly-traded companies. They exist to help move the needle on stock prices. People low on the foodchain, close to the ground, can care about these characters, but their fates are in the hands of those who do not.

In our house, I got my kids hooked on comics because of my memories of loving Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. in the 70’s and 80’s. They found modern Marvel to be cynical and off-putting (too many death/resurrections), and are making their own memories with IDW and Boom titles and characters like Atomic Robo.

Like I just pointed out in that article, many people who read superhero comics do read other books too, and it’s always funny when that section of the comics blogosphere (HU, TCJ, etc) believes otherwise.

Also, it’s one thing to keep reading something if you absolutely hate it, and another to let the actions of assholes drive you away from something you like. That just means they win.

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