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Subj: Re: December Sales, Yikes!
Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 at 01:12:31 pm EST (Viewed 165 times)
Reply Subj: Re: December Sales, Yikes!
Posted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 08:05:39 pm EST (Viewed 23 times)

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I don't think you're wrong. Ironically, what could save comics is getting it out of the hands of the professionals.

Let me explain. I was going through a few of the back issues that I have bothered to save. They were the Detective Comics 647-649, the first appearance of Stephanie Brown. The issues, which were printed in 1992 (19 years ago, yikes) and the paper was the standard pulp paper. So the physical quality of comics is better. I don't when the paper switch was completed. It sort of just happened without a lot of fanfare.

Then the art. The art in those Detective stories was, to be perfectly honest, not that great. But what it did do was tell a story visually. That's something that's been lost. A single panel of art might, on average, be better but those old-school journeymen like Jim Aparo and Sal Buscema really knew how to tell a story with flow. The action tracked. I have never been a big fan of Steve Ditko, but man his Spider-man stories' art really sold the action. His style really fit Dr. Strange, but that's another story.

As to the actual story of those Detectives, Chuck Dixon was and is a journeyman writer. He might not ever write The Galactus Trilogy, but he is a pro. Bill Mantlo defined a pro as someone who might not have hit out of the park every time, will produce stories of a sufficient level of quality and meets his deadlines. Dixon's story also makes sense. The motives of all parties make sense. The Cluemaster is a thief. Being a crook is what he does, so he took over a gang and committed heists for the money.

Steph is his daughter and has issues related to having a dad who's a dick and one she had to visit in prison. There's no hidden motive that will be explained two years down the road.(I'm looking at you Morrison). Batman is a noir book, the villain is a high-end thief who's motive is to get money because an honest job is too hard. The villain is not some immortal creature created in a ever widening circle of time loops that feed on each other creating further villains with even more widening loops feeding on each other.

You see Bruce became Batman because of a crook. The crook became a crook because Gotham is "cursed" to cruelty and corruption. Gotham is cursed because Batman shot Darkseid and Darkseid, before his death, sent Batman back in time to various points in Gotham's history. This created Dr. Hurt and Bruce crossed paths with a witch who cursed the Wayne family and Gotham, thus all events are circular, not linear and it's symbolic and full of Jungian symbolism, so the motives of the villains don't have to resemble anything in the real world and the stories don't have to leave clues that we understand as was done by Agatha Christie, etc. Oh, give me a break.

Finally the books are being written by middle-aged men (well mostly men, no disrespect to Gail Simone) for middle-aged men. When I was getting in the stories with the funny pictures, it was assumed the readers were around 10 or 12 or even 15. The cynicism of today's comics wouldn't have played.

The stories were about hereos who did the right thing even when doing that was hard. The stories were also about people I could relate to. They had school, friends, families. They went to movies and did real life stuff. Now all they do is act like gay cowboys eating pudding. (South Park alert.) No one has jobs or frieds. It's sitting around tables going "yeah", "I know", "Yeah, I know, who'd have thought", "Not me". And that's two pages of dialogue.

And you what, those old stories weren't being ironic. Those journeymen knew how to sell sincerity without it being corny. (I'm talking Marvel. There's a reason why Stan Lee and the boys ate DC's lunch. Geoff Johns getting rid of 30 years of story delvelopment to return everything to the way it was in 1980 is not progress. I'm not saying all changes were good, they weren't, but a lot of them were, and getting rid of Wally West to restore Barry Allen after 25 years is just bad marketing).

So when I say get rid of the pros, I'm talking about a certain attitude of cynicism and such. There's a difference between action & romance and sex & violence.

Bringing in some outside marketing pros might create a consistent tone and get rid of "Gigantic Stories that crossover" because we've hit the law of diminishing returns here folds.

Every now and then, the blog titled "The Hooded Utilitarian" will run columns questioning stories from a marketing point of view. They ask who's it for, etc. Comics is a business. Authors should think of their books as campsites, meaning you leave it in better condition than you found it for the next guy. Writing bad stories that don't follow the basic rules of good storytelling and then bringing everyone back to life is not the way to go.

Rule number 1 of marketing is DON'T DILUTE YOUR BRAND. Those 10 Bat books a month is pure brand dilution, but to be fair to the new guys, that's not new. If you go back 50 years, you'd have Superman, Action Comics, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olson, Adventure Comics (featuring Supergirl) The Justice League, guest-starring Superman. But still, Slavish devotion to Grant Morrison's story (something I don't like, but others do, this being a democracy that's fine, but sales are declining)just might not be the way to go. For several months in a row, the top seller didn't break 100,000. That tells me something is wrong.

Or I could be wrong, except the declining sales figures say I am. I mean every book by the big two should sell, on average, at least 1,000 per state. I mean Wyoming ought to sell 1,000 of each Batman book a month.

Awesome trip back down memory lane there. You're right about the storytelling changes. It would definitely be nice to have our heroes back in our culture. The morphing from what culture was though into some sort of dark, insincere or "ironic" mold isn't something that's just taking place in comics though. It's on TV, books, movies, in music. That's gonna be hard to change.

Yeah, marvel and dc have been diluting their brands forever. And it's been a bad thing forever. They should have someone at their companies looking at this and saying "whoa, the market doesn't support this many bat books, let's scale back a couple." Where are they? All I see is the short term "Brand new #1 with 1 to 25 incentive variant covers!" thinking that got us here.

The trend of bringing everyone back to life has just made it hard as a reader to care what's going on in subsequent issues. If something to the scale of Crisis can be undone, then how am I supposed to think there's any danger in an ordinary issue of Flash or Batman?

We're pretty much in agreement all around. I just don't expect any change. It's hard for new properties to get footing with the single market flooded. And the reason Marvel/DC are like this, is because they have no incentive to fix it. They're movie making companies now. These comics are secondary.

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