Previously, I linked to John Seavey’s first installment of “How To Save Marvel Comics,” as it was a good thought-provoking read and I think he’s mostly right.
Now, I link to parts two and three similarly. Go forth and scan with your eyeballs.
I thought the first one was stupid. It was “abandon your entire current audience and distribution system in the vague hope that you will suddenly be able to pull a new audience, despite the fact that your previous attempts to reach that audience (Marvel Adventures, Manga universe, M2) have sold at near cancellation levels. Because adults are not going to buy your ‘new content’ and new lines — it’s been the holy grail to create new characters that sold as well as the iconic old ones, and no one has been able to do it. And kids aren’t going to buy your repacked for 12 year olds iconic comics, because _kids don’t have access to comic stores_.
Marvel does absolutely need to get into the bookstore audience and distribution model that gives Naruto half the top ten list every month. It’s not going to get there by his method, though.
I’d say 90% of what I’ve bought in the last 5 years has been through Chapters, whether online or at their store, so this kind of confused me. At the Chapters closest to me, the comic spinner rack’s near the coffee shop (though the magazine racks are too), but they’re both ten feet from the door, near the featured and discounted books. The trades and hardbacks are off in the same section as fantasy, sci-fi, and the more mature mangas. And there’s another store, Curious Comics, I think, that’s in a mall, sandwiched next to a impulse buy dollar store kind of place and I forget what else. The actual comic shop in the town I live in is actually just across the street from the high school, and it’s maybe a block away from a middle school. My situation seems like such an outlier, the way everyone talks.
I can agree with advertising, though. And I can agree with toning down some of the mainstream books. I don’t know if doing away with hero vs. hero entirely is such a good idea, since it seems like the sort of dumbing down you’d want to avoid to make everyone who’s a ‘good guy’ Super-BFFs.
Getting stuff out the door on time seemed like something worth touching on. The omnipresent drive for better editors seems like it’d have to involve knowing talent, and knowing who can manage a weekly or monthly schedule, and who really needs to be on a bi- or tri-monthly schedule. I don’t much mind that the Ultimates were so grandly delayed, but this short attention spanned kiddy market that’s the panacea to all of comics’ problems probably would lose interest and go back to WoW or something if their books didn’t come out on time as much as they do now.
1) I think aggressive promotion of the children’s comics Marvel produces already (expansion, as well, though they’re already doing that) is a great idea, and could be done along the lines he describes it.
2) However, I think there’s no reason to stop publishing teen-and-up comics with Marvel’s big names, because I think there’s a potentially much larger market available for them too. The twenty-somethings who go to see comics films in droves, for example.
“Marvel does absolutely need to get into the bookstore audience and distribution model that gives Naruto half the top ten list every month.”
You know that isn’t going to happen. Naruto is the Obama to Marvel’s Mitt Romney. Naruto does so well because it cross-pollinates across media (TV, Movies, Comics, I think there were some novels, associated soundtracks, ect), age, and sex. And while there is certainly a portion of the population that has no intention of ever giving Naruto a chance (often playing the race card) they’re minor and are made even more so by the influx of young people and people who professed they would never be caught dead with a comic voting with their dollar.
Marvel, on the other hand, has a difficult time invigorating its own base to actually purchase the comics they read, and any time they screw up they try to blame everyone but themselves. Remember when they tried blame ‘manga’ for they’re tribulations a while back. Also, Joe Quesada; kind of a douche.
I think this guy is to cure an ailment he hasn’t correctly identified yet.
Onion: You lost me when you said “often playing the race card.” Could you explain that?
When trying to talk to die-hard ‘western comics’ fans (unsurprisingly this usually means Super Hero fans rather than fans of the medium) about the stuff coming out of Asia it isn’t unusual to run into some incredibly xenophobic and blatantly racist commentary. Usually it goes something like-
“Read any manga?”
“I don’t read those Japanese porn cartoons/the Japanese are a bunch of pedophiles/the Japs are a bunch of fags (a twofer; racism and sexism just because the men don’t all look like Wolverine)/ etc.”
-that. I’ve been buying the stuff for over a decade (around the time the Spidey Clone Saga was starting and viz graphic novels cost about $20 each) and I keep hearing the same tired racist remarks over and over by a bunch of people who claim to know what they’re talking about AND never read manga. Often in the same sentence.
And that should be ‘their tribulations’. Why did I only catch that now?
Actually, I have nothing against the Japanese. I just think that Manga is often too simplistically drawn, ludicrously plotted, and/or horribly overly hyped.
And quite a lot of it is also very ugly.
Thanks for the links again! I don’t think parts two and three will get the same degree of comment that part one did, because it’s just not as controversial a suggestion to say, “Marvel needs to advertise and distribute better” as it is to say, “Marvel’s current advertising is aimed at kids, and its content is aimed at adults. That’s a recipe for failure.”
Because that’s the key point. It’s not, “Abandon adults for kids,” it’s “You’re already telling kids, ‘Come buy our comics’, and then when they do, they’re terrible.” There’s this huge disconnect between the public image of Marvel (cartoons for kids, movies for tweeners and teens, merchandise for kids) and their content (fanwank for die-hard thirty and forty-year old fanboys who insist that they want to read mature, grown-up stories…but that they have to involve Batman and Spider-Man, just like the stories they read when they were a kid. Seriously, does any other medium have this problem? Does Sesame Street feel like they need to pander to grown-ups who used to watch the series, but now want to see it become an edgy urban drama? Do people complain that ‘Highlights’ is too kiddified now, and they should have an issue where Goofus rapes Gallant? If you’re grown up enough to want mature comics, you’re also grown up enough that you shouldn’t need them to feature guys in tights punching each other.)
…but I digress. The point is, Marvel’s doing multi-media cross-promotion like Naruto, but it never gets kids into the comics because the comics aren’t on-message with the promotion. That’s the point of the first column; adults aren’t getting into comics en masse because they’re advertised to kids, and kids aren’t getting into comics en masse because they’re written for adults. It’s the worst of both worlds.
Sallieri: I don’t agree with you.
Regardless, I wasn’t trying to dictate your opinion to you. There is a significant difference between finding the offerings not to your taste and calling an entire race of people pedophiles. I was just noting that the race thing gets played as an excuse against both Obama(rama) and Naruto and that (more importantly) the number of people who do so is insignificant compared to the new people both manage to bring to their respective tables.
There’s this huge disconnect between the public image of Marvel (cartoons for kids, movies for tweeners and teens, merchandise for kids)
I don’t even agree with this; Marvel’s movies are clearly not aimed at “tweeners”; they are aimed at the same 15-35 sweet spot that most movies are. Hell, their toys do too — kids may buy spiderman sheets, but they aren’t the audience for the most expensive sculpts and figures. They weren’t running an Iron Man ad during the Super Bowl to get the Hannah Montana crowd. Their public image covers the same range as their print audience. To abandon that entire range to focus on 12 year olds is not a recipe for saving, it’s a recipe for suicide.
I strongly dispute that there’s something wrong with to read mature superhero stories; the current product quite clearly demonstrates that the genre can be used in that manner. I quite enjoy mature superhero stories (I’m 20, by the way; I was introduced to the characters through the early 90s animation boom, and then Joss Whedon writing AXM brought me to the comics), and have only passing interest in other stories told in the medium.
There’s no reason why Marvel can’t do both; as I said above, I believe strongly that there’s a larger market out there for mature superhero stories too, the same older people (with lots of money) who go to the films. Brubaker’s Captain America is as fine a techno-spy-thriller as anything by Tom Clancy.
Thanks for clearing that up, Onion. Much obliged.
“If you’re grown up enough to want mature comics, you’re also grown up enough that you shouldn’t need them to feature guys in tights punching each other.”
So, what you’re saying is that there’s something inherently immature about superheroes and violence, and that mature comics will be completely free of either?
…and telling your readers what they _should_ want usually works so well!
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