Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Problem with Comics Pt 2

From yesterday...

LEE I think this just confirms Thomm's oversaturation comment. But this is nothing new either, Hibbs (original post author) and Rusty (the local store) have both said it. I would argue that you would see a general increase in the sales if you chopped half the titles. People would be interested again, and those 2k people that supported Hawkeye & Mockingbird would now support Avengers.

As for continuity, the current universes are completely impenetrable to a newbie. Heck they are impenetrable to me and I grew up with the stuff. I think the death knell for me was when Bendis explained that Civil War was just the start of a five year plan! Seriously??? So to "really" enjoy that I need to read 5 yrs of back material???? Of course, as I type that I think of Sandman which was one 5 yr plus story that I never complained about.

THOMM But, Sandman was a largely self contained story that didn’t require finding a bunch of background material. There were some references to other DCU characters, but nothing that required finding out more than what was presented in the Sandman run. It’s fun to make reference to wider things in the world of comics. Literature does it all the time, too. It can encourage a reader to read more things. The problem with comics, especially now, is that you can’t read a title for the enjoyment of that title unless you’re reading a slew of other titles to know what’s going on. Sh*t, they could just put summaries of what’s going on elsewhere in the inside cover, but they’re not even that courteous to the reader. It’s all a game of trying to force the reader to choose between all or nothing. Well, I’m choosing nothing and so are a lot of others.

LEE I knew there was something that I was missing. I think of all the Dark Reign tie in's and now I remember. Because Lethal Legion was a necessary read... anyway. But, the same could be said of all the books. Why would I read Green Lantern these days? It's just building to the next big event. There is no motivation to get it when I know I will be required to buy six different books for the same story in six months.

Another problem that no one talks about, it has stopped me from reading current series because I can't tell the level of event meddling that is going to crush the book. It's why I stopped reading Peter David's X-factor and why I don't pick up Secret Six, I am afraid I don't know enough about the surrounding universe to enjoy it. The only one I am considering now is Giffen's Doom Patrol because Jim doesn't shut up about it. And, of course I ordered FFRRRAAANNNNKKKKEEEENNNNNCCCCAAAASSSSTTTLLLEEEE Because it appeared self contained... and maybe because of Greg.

THOMM Very true of the hero books. I haven’t run across it in Secret Six. The only event that’s crept in there was Blackest Night. Because that was only tangential to a more important fight with Waller and the Suicide Squad, it didn’t really make any difference whether the rest of Blackest Night was read. The reader might not have had any idea why these dead guys were running around but they were just a dues ex machine in any case. Somewhat ironic the lack of event ties to Secret Six, considering it originated in one.

JIM One comic versus 20, big difference

LEE So Secret Six is safe to read????? Greg? Jim? Gwen?

JIM Secret six is self contained 99% of the time. DP is canceled in about 2 months.

GWEN The reason Sandman worked wasn't just because it was self contained. You could skip issues here and there and still understand what was going on with the book. Gaimen wrote it in such a way that it was a viable monthly book that you didn't even see was all pulling together until the last arc or two. Heck even some of the older Legion arcs had a good method for building story over time. You'd have one or two main plots you’d be following while some of the (current) background characters would be mentioned as side notes until their story came to the foreground. Personally I blame writers like Grant Morrison who rarely write for a single issue. I could care less about events or the bigger story if I'm reading a monthly. If the issue doesn't generate some sort of interest on its own then release the story as a graphic novel.

THOMM True, though Morrison is only one of many who have succumbed to the large story siren. Oddly enough, I’ve never been all that impressed with Gaiman’s few forays into super hero works, nor Willingham for that matter.

LEE I can't believe I am going to do this... but to defend Morrison. His work on Doom Patrol was contained and All Star Superman may as well have been a collection of single issues. That worked. As for Sandman, the story arcs were always 6-8 issues long. That was huge for the time. Heck it's still long today. Gaiman was just phenomenally talented telling a story that had never been tried before in comics. It helps to be first.

THOMM Gaiman did throw in some shorter arcs to his stories. I can think of several, especially the ones he did in distant historical settings, that were stand alone or 2 issue arcs. Much as All Star is hailed as the best Superman ever by some, I wasn’t all that impressed. It picked and chose from Superman lore and put together a good story, but it wasn’t anything groundbreaking in Superman stories or stories in general. Best thing going for it may have been that it wasn’t an event that had a slew of other things tied to it.

In summary...
JIM As you, dear reader, can see we have some wide ranging discussions, but the bottom line is that the Union is in serious problems. We discussed the problems, but the solutions we have disagreement about. Still we have readers of different ages and genders and we are can see that the cape and cowl set is a stagnant beast that appears to be heading for a fall. The number one selling title in February had sales of around 70,000 and that is what the stores purchased, not what sold. That is a very low number and does not bode well for the industry.

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