A Roundtable Discussion on Comics (part 1)…
May 7, 2008

The following is a back and forth I was having this moring with a group of friends on the state of comics today. It started with a link to some info about the upcoming DC Final Crisis mega event and went from there.

The players:

Joshua “I’m too cool for an internet handle” Izzo – customizing genius and all around awesome guy
Matt “Iron-Cow” Cauley – customizing mastermind and pusher of Banes in trenchcoats
Pierre “Airmax” Kalenzaga – champion procrastinator and guy who writes this blog
Steve “Anubis8″ Morrissey – Flash superfan and, from what I hear, player of a mean guitar
Steve “SWASS!” Walden – customizing bad @$$ mofo mama-jamma and dropper of comedy genius

Anubis8: – http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20198166,00.html

SWASS! – how interesting…really like the omega symbol

Anubis8 – Agreed

Airmax – Huh, I’m not much of a DC guy, but I might check this out. Really like
that Darkseid redesign. And I’d forgotten how good of an artist JG Jones is!

Izzo – It’s been a damn long time since I’ve read any mainstream DC or Marvel
books. I was always a fan of the big summer cross-over
events….Infinity War, Atlantis Attacks…

But this new universe of multi-year, multi-title, multi-earth-shattering
whatever seems REALLY tired and hard to follow.

I know that every once in a while a book needs to mess around with the
stats quo, but think about comics from the 50’s – 70’s. They plodded
along, telling fantastic stories with insanely good art….and every
issue was relatively self contained.

Now, comics are self-referential and only talking to the same audience
that really has been buying them forever….I just can’t get into it.
I’m sure there are some stellar things happening in some of these books,
but it’s just too much….

Iron-Cow – Sounds like an awfully Skrully thing to say… GET ‘EM, boys!!!

Airmax – But that’s the thing, the only people who are buying comics are the
same people who have been buying them for the past 20+ years. I just
can’t imagine kids today getting into comics like I did back in the
day. I used to buy GI Joe comics at my local stationery store – if I
tried that today 1.) I wouldn’t find any there and 2.) when I did find
them at a comic store or book store, they’d be so packed full of
violence and sexu@l innuendo that my parents would beat me senseless
for buying them in the first place.

I’m not even sure how you can fix the problem – you’d think that with
the new slew of comic movies, this would be the chance to get
new/younger readers on board, but comics have never been *less*
accessible to new audiences then they are right now.

It’s a d@mned shame.

Izzo – I feel that. We had a place called the M&M Sweete Shop a few streets up
from my house, and it was a candy store and diner. They had 2 spinner
racks. My buddy Matt Freeman and I would walk there every Saturday with
our allowances, and buy comics. I was a Spidey kid, he was an X-Men
kid. Occasionally, we’d branch out and buy weird crap that had a cool
cover.

That just does not exist any longer.

Now – Secret Invasion…which through interviews with creators…was
planned, what, 4-5 years ago? C’mon man – it’s comics.

I love comics. I drop close to 25 bucks a week on them. All indie and
kooky junk from storytellers and creators I love, but I do it for the
fun of it. I KNOW there are folks that LOVE Spidey stories now…but
they just don’t work for me anymore. I wish they did.

Iron-Cow – something else to consider… I will pick up the first issue of a BIG EVENT issue… and almost always find myself not buying the rest, waiting for The Trade Paperback instead.

Problem is, by the time the TPB comes out, I’ve lost all interest…

Izzo – Good call.

Waiting for the trade.

This is SO disturbing to me. I LOOOOOOOVE an ongoing series. I do.
I’m no apologist about it…

Now, if I know a series is finite, I’m loving that too.

BUT – I loved the fact that I could buy Amazing Spider-Man for a year,
and have some undercurrents of a larger plot-line, but for the most
part, each story was self contained and fully enjoyable as a stand-alone
tale.

Anubis8 – I can remember the days of having 15+ books pulled a week that was a combination of DC, Marvel, Dark Horse & Image. These days aside from Madman I’m 100% DC and down to about 12 titles a month. After OMD from Marvel I dropped Spidey & this Silver Age revival crap from DC is leaving a bad taste in my mouth and I find myself okay with only picking up books every 4-6 weeks.

Airmax – I keep saying that I buy comics these days strictly out of habit. It’s
like watching a show you’ve been watching for years. You don’t realize
that you don’t *really* care about it any more, but it’s on every week
so you tune in.

I’m down to maybe $6-$10 a week (on a good week) on comics and there
is still some mainstream stuff in there – but I stopped being invested
in it ages ago. They can kill Mary Jane if they want, they can reveal
that Superman was the first Skrull – whatever man. A year from now
none of it will matter and they’ll be on to the next “BIG THING THAT’S
GUARANTEED TO ALTER EVERYTHING WE KNOW ABOUT *insert character name
here*”

Strangely, the quality of comics has never been higher in my opinion –
we’ve reached an incredible balance between writer and artist and
there are so many talented people working. So I don’t want to change
everything about comics, but it would be nice to get back to funny
books.

Izzo – Well said brother. Like Steve, I have a few books I am dedicated to.
Madman and the Hellboy universe. Outside of that, I pick up a few
interesting things here and there…but the ones I WAS buying by rote
have all gone the way of the dodo.

Man, there’s a shining moment – around maybe 1992 – when the original Tundra Madman book came out.

I was going to Time Warp (yay Gene!!!) every Saturday with my dad….and my pull box was FILLED. I mean, filled with everything.

Spidey – every title
X-Men (Jim Lee run)
X-Factor
Tick
TMNT
Madman
ALL Image titles

I was dropping 50-60 bucks. It was insanity….but MAN, that was a golden age.

Now…not so much.

*to be continued*

TAGS:
Pierre "Airmax" Kalenzaga
Pierre "Airmax" Kalenzaga is the most bomb diggity customizer you will ever see, son!
Read other articles by Pierre "Airmax" Kalenzaga.

 

 

 

6 Comments »

  • The Superfly says:

    NERRRRRRDDDSSSS!

    just kidding. This is an interesting topic…I agree with much of what has been said. At one point I was getting 30-40 books a month, a dozen different companies. Now I’m down to pretty much only DC, Hellboy and the Joe book. And only about 15 titles a month too.

    Maybe it is just out of habit?

  • JuliusMarx says:

    Part of the problem is that comics are SO d@mn expensive now! Back in the day you could trade’em with your friends or leave them out in the rain or roll them up and put them in your back pocket. Now that EVERYTHING is $3-$5 you/kids wouldn’t do that. Plus the STORAGE that is required for them. I keep almost ALL of them that i have ever read… yet there are really only a handfull that I would really go back and read multiple times. I honestly have 17 long boxes back at my folks house (and they SO don’t want them there!)

    I also wish some store chain would have the guts to reintroduce the spinner rack.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    I hear you guys. With me, the good old days were spent at a U-Totem mini-mart (7-Eleven clone, long gone) in Southern California. This was in 1981, comics were 50 cents, and they had no Internet sites hawking them, no trade magazines, yet there were DOZENS of publishers putting out stuff month after month since 1938!

    Somehow, Marvel and DC kept all their series running for decades with little advertising or promotions. There were no “blockbuster” events, no massive crossovers, nada. How did they do it?

    Kids. Kids were their target audience. Half the people paying to see Iron Man last week are comic fans since childhood. There were no Marvel toys or movies back then the likes we have right now. The industry survived because kids bought comics. Lots and lots of ‘em!

    That’s where we need to go with the current momentum Hollywood is giving us, right back to our children.

    And by all means, bring back the spinner rack!

  • JuliusMarx says:

    U-Totem! Wow. Haven’t thought of THAT store in forever. We had those in Oklahoma too. There was one 2 doors down from my dad’s electronic store when I was a kid. I bought a LOT of comics and Star Wars cards from that place!

  • Texgnome1 says:

    A lot of your conversations mirror those I’ve had recently with my old friends. Sure, there’s a LOT of good storytelling potential in both Secret Invasion and Final Crisis. But the problem is, they both may undo so much of what we know. I’m all for changing the status quo occasionally, but it really seems like at this point, BOTH of the big two are just trying to see who can upset the norm more than the other.

    My kids read a couple of the books I do, but that’s about it. They are both around 10, and I have to say at an age where comics would be a perfect medium. But there’s just not much for them to read. Too much sex, violence or language for them. I just don’t want to expose them to most of the stuff on the shelves. Which is REALLY sad, because I know at their age, I was reading dozens of comics a month.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    You too, Julius? U-Totems around here turned into Circle K’s, then vanished altogether. They kept comics in a really wide shelf behind the counter, with all the Marvel corner boxes and DC bullets neatly laid out in rows. The guy who worked there was really cool. He let us know when new books had arrived and was always very friendly.

    They also had a “dime store toy” spinner rack where I got stuff like a Spidey flashlight (w/ wall mount to hang it on!) a Scooby-Doo keychain, and a pack of Fantastic Four bubblegum. Came in four flavors, I even remember the Thing’s was watermelon! There were ads for it in Marvel comics around ’83 or so.

    And yeah, it was a neat source for trading cards, too. I got the Star Wars: ROJ ones, some Topps baseball, and Atari sticker packs there.

    Good times, man! Good times!

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