Thursday, January 23, 2014

Readers' Write (13): What Would It Take to Get Bronze Age Babies Back Into Modern Comics?

While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's Open Forum is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, the Open Forum is for broader topics.  For example, in the past we've started conversations such as "The Role of Inkers" and "What's So Great About the Bronze Age?"  Start a conversation that is broad enough to elicit an ongoing conversation, and that even might lend itself to tangential musings.

Thanks for holding it down for us!

Osvaldo Oyola would like to know:  For those whose collecting/reading days did not go past the Bronze Age, what would it take for you to get back into buying comics?


Anonymous said...

While the focus of this site is Bronze Age Comics and I love it both for the memories it helps me to relive and the wisdom its community frequently imparts in the comments, there are several of us here who never stopped collecting, or stopped for a while and then started again in recent years (I am in the latter camp, though my second time collecting is now longer than my first!). In various posts, some folks have also mentioned trying to start again and being turned off by modern comics.
So here the question up for discussion:
For those whose collecting/reading days did not go past the Bronze Age, what would it take for you to get back into buying comics? Is there a point in the stories/continuities that the Big Two would have to go back to and continue from? Would characters have to be aged? Totally rebooted? Would the prices have to come down? (What price point?) Is there a change in format you’d prefer? (A change in paper, only trades?) Are there certain writers/artists who would have to come back or go away? Something else?

For those who still read/collect contemporary comics: What keeps you with it? Did you stop and return? Are there any comics that give you a Bronze Age feel?

I will return with my answers later.

Fred W. Hill said...

I'm among the former camp, having been a collector of 10 to 20 titles a month from 1973 to 1985. At this point I don't think anything will get me to collect comics at that level again. These days I mostly get collections that intrigue me for whatever reason -- of course, I usually only become aware of them from various comics-themed websites.

Redartz said...

A thought-provoking topic, middlespaces! I fall into the latter category; occasionally picking up contemporary books as the budget (and interest) allows. I did stop collecting for about ten years, but returned when my sons got caught up in comics in the 90's. I was reminded at the time how comics collecting, at its' best, is just plain fun. Reading a good story and admiring the work of a good artist is a fine way to spend some time. In addition, the 'treasure hunt' involved in finding desired books is a game in itself.

As for what keeps me coming back, it is simply love for the medium. These days the books I purchase new may not be from Marvel or DC. Boom! comics have done some great things; I bought their new Peanuts comic for example. IDW has a nice Popeye book. I've bought some recent Archie books,Simpsons,and various independent comics. From the big two, I kept up with Superior Spiderman, and sampled Hawkeye, Batman and Justice League under the new 52. Still nothing that has caused me to buy regularly; if the price went back to , say, 1.99 I'd be more inclined to do so. I don't really need glossy paper and heavy cover stock; baxter seemed to work fine in the 80's...

Humanbelly said...

I agree w/ our colleagues above, M-Spaces-- really an excellent topic for discussion.

There may be a distinction worth clarifying between "collecting" and "buying". Collecting, for me, is the aspect of the hobby that focuses more on filling in missing issues, trying out titles or runs that you hadn't considered before-- kind of back-issue focused. "Buying" tends to make me think of staying current and keeping up w/ new issues as they come out every month. But naturally both camps have major crossover going on.

I still consider myself a "collector", but have stopped being a "buyer" for about two years now (maybe? Pretty much at the beginning of A VS X?). There was a good chunk of stuff that I was enjoying well into the Modern Age, but it was a perfect storm of industry elements that drove me off for good.

Price point was huge. The books, honestly, are irresponsibly expensive for anyone with anything like limited means to be purchasing. That's not really our household-- but I simply can't justify in any way being mindful of stocking up on bread when it goes on half-price, and then blowing $20 at the LCS for 5 comics that will take, maybe, a half-hour to read nowadays. "And we'll be paying for college. . . how?"- is the refrain that rings in my ears. Two dollars an issue is really where that tipping point still stands for me. All of the things that make the printing and publishing so much more expensive? The glossy paper? The high-end computer color separation? The abandonment, for the most part, of ad revenue? Please-- there were plenty of masterpieces done (perhaps most of what we consider the significant ones?) done on the old pulp paper, w/ surprisingly innovative hand-separated coloring, in books w/ X-ray Vision Glasses ads in them. Having Rolls Royce product packaging at Rolls Royce prices may look great--- but the VAST number of folks out here are looking for Toyota Corollas and Ford F150's.

Beyond that? Geeze-- I don't know. I feel like the MU is damaged beyond any hope of repairing it and returning it to the place that I once found so appealling. It's now far, far too late to undo the cascade of events represented by Brand New Day, DisAssembled, and Civil War (and the concurrent perpetual upheavals in the X-verse). And that darkening and coarsening of the MU made it so bleak that it was no longer a bit fun. How can that old spirit be recaptured? I don't think it can-- it was lightning in a bottle and it captured a certain audience at just the right time.

A total re-boot? Bleah. I have, literally, my entire collecting life invested in THAT universe and all of its joys and complexities. That's where my passion is rooted. A re-boot back to pre-Initiative/BND? I suppose, but--- that simply tosses the current readership completely under the bus. Honestly, that's not fair to them-- nor would it help. It would simply lead to even faster purge of willing buyers.

Ah, the gloom. . .


Edo Bosnar said...

Ah, I see you set the old alarm clock, Osvaldo.
Good topic - and lots of questions. I guess I fall into the former camp, as I do not follow any ongoing series, especially not superhero comics. Like Fred, I doubt anything will change that, either, due to a combination of factors: the cost mainly, but I also just don't want to accumulate a lot of individual comics, and I'm not living in the US any more, which makes following any monthly American series more difficult (and also more costly). And so much would have to change with the way superhero comics are being written today by the big 2. I can pretty much second everything HB said on that topic - and perhaps just add that Marvel and DC comics just have to recapture that elusive quality of being "fun" again, and also go back to being all ages books.
As it is, though, I do buy more recently published comics, but generally they're not superhero books, and with a few exceptions they're almost never DC or Marvel publications, and they're always self-contained stories, i.e. graphic novels. (Although, one company that almost has me tempted to start collecting regular ongoing monthly titles, and I may just begin buying their tpb collections, is Dynamite - I've read mainly positive reviews of their series that feature old pulp heroes like the Spider, the Black Bat, Domino Lady, etc.)

david_b said...

Nothing, would never work.

It's like asking for a Beatles reunion back in the '70s.

My beloved devotion to this genre is based on who I was and how the world unfolded back in the early '70s.., and uncovering through back issues what happened in the years before.

I know Daredevil's creative team has really gone Bronze in their approach which sounds fun.

Like HB, much more a collector than buyer.

As for a 'total reboot'..? Why..? Let today's collectors have their own fun, we had ours.

With all the talk of the printed comic media going away anyway, economics of today's comic fan has again made this a moot point.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I was a big fan of camp growing up, though I leaned much more towards sleep away than day camp. It was probably the ride home in the van with all those smelly people that killed the joy of the day. But that's not why I called.....

My heart and my interest is/was/are (done been being) is in the 70s to 80s. That's when comics both came alive and died for me. I've started buying the Essentials line through Amazon or the Half Price Bookstore; it seems as though Marvel is going to put as much of the popular 60s and 70s stuff out there as they can. I know I'm missing out on the color but I can live. And like Colin mentioned, you can access so much of the Bronze Age (or any Age) online now that it's almost silly to "buy" a comic. I guess video really did kill the radio star.

I know Doug has gotten me interested in the "Under Siege" storyline but enough to pick up the TPB? I don't know yet. CF is working through the Dissembled storyline. The art looks amazing but again, enough to make me buy the issues/TPB?

And because of my Christmas episode, I've discovered how much that I not only have, but have yet to read. I have a crap load of comics!!!! (And exclamation marks)

I will say this about the digital, when the snow drifts are four feet high and the skies of November are gloomy, when the power is lost and the wind is howling off the big lake they call Gitche Gumee there's something to be said for lighting a candle and turning the pages of a Marvel Triple Action No 6.

Quick question to Colin, on your tablet, does the spiral go across the top or down the side?

The Prowler (trying to find the box with his Iron Man in it).

And a freaking P.S. why do we have to prove we're not a robot, can't we just answer "yes" or "no". A robot, being a robot, would have to answer "yes", thereby solving the problem.

J.A. Morris said...

They've done too many stupid stunts and "shocking" revelations/reversals to ever get me back.

I collected from the late 70s to 1995. I built up long collections of Amazing Spider-Man and Uncanny X-men. I believe I had every X-men issue from 109 through 323, every ASM from 130 to the early 400s.

I nearly quit a few times in the 80s and 90s. Venom "spawning" Carnage so Venom could become "good guy",Cable Wolverine being 100+ years old,McFarlane going overboard with his McFarlane-ness.
But the final straws were the 2nd Clone Saga and the Age Of Apocalypse. Those storylines made Secret Wars II look good.

Since I quit, here's what's happened:
-Peter Parker got his powers because the Spider-Totem chose him.
-Bucky is alive.
-Norman Osbourn is alive and had twins with Gwen.
-Jean Grey is dead and Cyclops is dating Emma Frost (that's just wrong).
-Parker unmasked in public,then Mephisto wiped out his marriage to Mary Jane...which also wiped out his unmasking...and resurrected Harry Osbourn.
Cyplops has a rapidly aged brother named Vulcan.


A few years back, I read most of the Joss Whedon-written Astonishing X-men series. My wife is a big Whedon fan, so I figured I'd check them out. It didn't suck, but I wasn't impressed, nor did I worry for a second about Kitty when she "died" at the end.

I still read comics now and then, but like Humanbelly, it tends to be non-superhero stuff. I work near a shop, sometimes I'll walk over and buy a new Peanuts comic to read on lunch break, but I'll never collect new comics again.

Doug said...

Congrats, Osvaldo -- you waited a long time for this!

I agree with what many others have said about the economics of the situation. The single issue price of $3 was probably too high for me; $4 seems ridiculous.

I also don't care for the "Image influence" that many of today's artists portray. Just not my cup of tea. Muscles, yes. Muscles that have muscles (and speed lines - don't forget those!)... meh.

I like Silver and Bronze Age comics mostly for the art, but also for some of the fun storylines. And like the Prowler and others have said today and in the past, I have so many stories on my shelves that I've yet to read or haven't read in years (currently working my way through Avengers Forever as research for the Super-Blog Team-Up in February, and loving it!) that there is always a freshness about those old comics. As Karen has stated, we are in the Golden Age of reprints!

So like J.A. (again, and others), I'll stay on the new-book sidelines, perhaps forever. But like David offered, that's OK -- give the kids their due. It doesn't bother me that they like the newer stuff. It's just not for me.


Anonymous said...

Edo, I did not set an alarm! I just got up when my wife's alarm went off ;) I work at home, so she gets up earlier than I do. I also made sure to type up my topic ahead of time, so all I needed to do was cut and paste! :)

Anyway, all these responses are great! I was worried that someone would say, "We talked about this already, BOR-RING!"

I still follow a few modern titles (ranges from 6 to 10). I originally quit comics in about 1987 or 88 - but after reading a friend's issues of Hitman and Astro City (which is a title I think you BABers would love) in the late 90s, once I had a real job and some disposable income I started collecting regularly again in 2000.

I guess, using Redartz's categories, that I am both a buyer and a collector. When time and money allows I look to complete my collections of some Bronze Age series: Howard the Duck and the like and when that'd be too expensive I find nice trades if they exist (like Marvel Masterworks of Jungle Action) - but I really look at those comics as material artifacts of by-gone era - I love the covers and the letters pages and the ads - the trades never quite feel the same to me. I am currently working on finishing my collection of Power Pack and getting my hands on all the Asst. Editor's Month issues - gonna look for Powerman/Ironfist soon.

As for modern comics, I feel differently. The ads for Hondas (can you imagine trying to sell cars in Bronze Age Comics???) or Axe body spray or whatever are not as interesting and when there are letters pages they lack a certain something that the old pages had - so I have recently decided to slowly move to "trades only" for modern comics. The titles I am currently follow I will continue to follow monthly, but anything I add I will be waiting for collected editions, esp. indie comics.

Dark Horse and Image sometimes do this cool thing where they will re-print the first issue of a series they are trying to promote for $1 when the first trade comes out. It is low investment and if I like it I then get the trade. If I don't well, I waste $1 on a lot less. This is how I got into both Mind MGMT and Saga - two very different but fantastic series (neither are superhero series - one is paranormal spy/conspiracy stuff and the other is out of this world foul-mouthed adventure/space opera).

As for Marvel and DC: after China Mieville's fantastically weird run on Dial H I gave up on DC completely. It is almost as if they are purposefully driving that company into the ground.

For Marvel (which I was always a bigger fan of anyway) I don't need a comic to have a Bronze Age feel for me to follow it, I just need for it to take some chances in its approach and not be too tied into all the big events. I enjoyed the recent Young Avengers integration of tumblr/texting in its art/paneling. The Hawkeye solo series is fantastic and FF series is a helluva lot of weird fun. I will likely get the Mark Waid Daredevil series that david_b mentioned as trades at a future date.

Basically, I just like good stories and art and don't want to feel manipulated into buying terrible stuff. At this point, I just try to remember that back in the day when I got comics at the newsstand there was no guarantee that I'd get every issue in a series and had to fill in the gaps with my imagination.

So when Kitty Pryde is lost at the end of Whedon's run of Astonishing X-Men (which I loved, tonally at least and I love Cassaday's art) - no matter what happens later, I still imagine her floating in space. If she is featured in some later story (though I cannot imagine ever getting another X-title), it doesn't effect my love of the previous story - that is just some other time or dimension - it's the story that matters - I am SO over continuity. I don't want reboots - I want continuity gotten rid of all together!

Anonymous said...

Whew! This was long-winded.

Got cut-off by blogger!

Concise recap: I still buy modern suerhero comics, but could drop them if nothing good came along (but there is always something good, even if it is not superheroes). But I will likely always go back and fill in gaps and curiosities of older comics.

Edo Bosnar said...

Osvaldo, I definitely agree about Astro City - I have a few issues which I found in the local equivalent of dollar boxes here in Croatia. If I ever get the money to burn (which is highly unlikely, but I can dream), I'd love to just splurge and get every single Astro City tpb.

Anyway, to address your question about format, which I forgot in my first comment: as others have noted, the cost of a single 20+ page comic book is outrageous, especially since most modern superhero singles can be read in about 5 minutes. I think this venerated newsstand/spinner rack format should be discarded in favor of some kind of digest or prestige-type book that has 100-150 or more pages (kind of like the manga books) but with a reasonable (i.e. $10 or less) price tag. A tall order I know...

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the commenters...comics are just too expensive now (moreso up here in Canada); at the moment, I'm reading Waid's Daredevil and Walking Dead, nothing else. Like themiddlespaces said...I'll probably just keep checking out all the comics I missed the first time around from the Bronze/Modern ages.

Mike W.

Doug said...

As an extension of today's topic, we did "sort of" broach this subject two years ago. That certainly does not make today "boring", and it's not my intent to even come close to suggesting that. But sometimes it is fun to see what we wrote about our comics buying/collecting habits from other posts. Here you go!


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary said...

The only new comics I collect are Conan and some of the Valiant titles.
Marvel and DC are just too screwed up. These are not the super heroes I know and love.

The universes are to overwhelming.There are too many titles. Why do we need 5 Avengers titles and 20 X-Men titles?
Why do they seem to reboot every few years?
They are too dark. And some of my favorite titles are Grimjack and Miller's stuff so I'm not opposed to "grim @ gritty".
They cost too much. I'd rather spend the money on 70s and 80s back issues. Especially when many can be bought for less than the price of new comics.


Anonymous said...

Gary is right about being able to get a lot of older comics for less than new ones - as long as you don't care too much about them being Mint. I think getting comics that are Fine or even VG works for me

I have a personal rule. I like to pay $1 or less per issue for back issues (including shipping) and I NEVER pay more than $5 for a single issue no matter what it is.

As for why the reboots and multiple Avengers and X-titles? The answer is simple - marketing.

Marketing analysis, for better or worse shows that comics entitled X-something or [something] Avengers sell better than anything else. They can't make a Defenders or Heroes for Hire title sell any more, so they have "Mighty Avengers." They can't sell "Agents of SHIELD" so they have "Secret Avengers." They can't sell Marvel Team-Up, so they try "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up." They can't sell Super Villain Team-Up, so it is entitled "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" (great series, btw - so good).

Similar thinking goes into the reboots. #1 issues sell best - so why not have as many #1s a year as possible?

I am not saying it works as a long-term business model - in fact, I am pretty sure it doesn't - and it certainly the kind of thing that yields diminishing returns - but the old models don't work anymore (a top 10 title sells less than 30k issues!) - but as much as I hate it, I understand the thinking behind it - they just need someone (both DC and Marvel) to come in and do something innovative.

Anonymous said...

Colin, I was being "punny". When I was growing up, there were two types of tablets, the "steno pad" that had a spiral across the top with yellowish paper and the guide to shorthand printed on the back and the Big Chief and Son of Big Chief that was pulp paper, again bound across the top. Then Mead came out with notebook that had the spiral down the left side.

The greatest impact on my comic collection was the bust in the collectible market. I had prowled many of the strip center stores so when many of those were going out of business, I would go in an literally buy comics by the box. Twenty bucks for a short box and you'd walk out with 200 to 250 comics. I helped one guy clean his store out and for a day's labor, I left with two long boxes, one of Iron Man the other of Spider-Man. Now I collect the Essentials and I can cheaply fill in gaps. I'm thinking of trying to "line them up" and re-read them in the order they Marvel released them. Like reliving the past one month at a time.

The Prowler (drowning in a sea of nostalgia).


Garett said...

Great topic!

I've actually read and enjoyed many new comics since 2000. Usually I buy TPBs, unless I luck out on a comic sale. I'd like to see comics sold for $1 on cheap paper like in the '80s, then collected on glossy paper at the current price for the trades. I'd like the writing in the new stories be more fun. I'd like the art to be more like in the Bronze age, hitting that sweet spot between realism and dynamic cartooning.

Hilights of the last decade (well since 2000):

Joe Kubert- Jew Gangster, Tor, Sgt. Rock the Prophecy, Yossel, Dong Xoai. Some of the best work of his life, in his 80s!

Howard Chaykin- Mighty Love, City of Tomorrow. Chaykin's best work since the '80s.

Astonishing X-Men, Planetary- John Cassaday's art, good stories.
Walking Dead- great writing by Kirkman.
Criminal, Sleeper- Noir series by Brubaker + Phillips.
Hawaiian Dick- crime stories in Hawaii in the '50s.

All-Star Superman- interesting art by Quitely, unusual writing by Morrison.
Parker, the Hunter- same hero as in movies Point Blank and Payback, in stripped down cartoony form by Darwyn Cooke.
Blacksad- cool Disney-ish art by Guarnido.
Justice- I like Alex Ross better when he pencils himself, but this collaboration has some impressive moments.

100 Bullets- Azzarello has a poetic/street lingo writing style that's unique, and Risso's shadowy art contributes to the mood of corruption.
El Cazador, Captain America- Steve Epting's art. Good pirate story cut short by the demise of Crossgen; I like the Cap stories by Brubaker...never cared about Bucky in the first place, so his return wasn't a big deal, as it was done well.
Olympus- Guice art, interesting modern day/mythological story.
Incredible Hercules- decent stories by Pak + Van Lente, with some of the humor of the Layton years to brighten up the seriousness of modern comics.

Conan- Busiek and Nord.
Authority, Ultimates- art by Hitch.

I also liked discovering Torpedo by Bernet, although that's a reprint. I stopped being a collector long ago, so I'm loving all the reprints like Essentials/Showcase/Masterworks, etc. I'm loving all the Jack Kirby reprints that have come out just in the last few years, like Crime and the Newsboy Legion, that would be impossible to find otherwise.

With Joe Kubert rising up in this last decade, there had to be someone going down, and it's Frank Miller. His '90s work like Sin City still had a pulse, but I wish he'd write/draw some good stuff like the Miller of old. Also after re-reading Hercules, I'd love to see Bob Layton get back on a regular series, writing and drawing.

Oh and I just picked up Booster Gold TPB 3 + 4 by Dan Jurgens--fun read so far, about time travel.

Garett said...

And after that long post, here's a hilarious video for Wolverine: The Musical! (a muppet-ish interpretation!)
Wolverine- The Musical!

Fred W. Hill said...

The last series I bought floppies of regularly was Too Much Coffee Man, which I happened to come across in a comics store in New London, CT, while stationed there (after returning to the states after 2 years in Greece). And writer/artist Shannon Wheeler transformed that into a magazine which I rarely saw after I moved back to Florida. Otherwise, I really have no interest in getting back into keeping up with any particular series. I might check out a TPB collecting a run by a particular artist and/or writer I like, but on the other hand I'm not going to get something featuring Spider-Man, for example, solely because Spidey's in it. Stories in which Gwen makes out with Norman Osborne and Peter makes a deal with Mephisto that saves his aunt but changes the world so that he was never married? Ugh! That an editor/publisher would force those sort of plotlines on a writer strikes me as horribly wrong. But that's the sort of thing that happens with characters who have been around for decades with dozens of people scripting their lives, changing their personalities such that our old favorites hardly seem to be the same characters but just someone else that has taken up the name.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed something about myself. Comics I read or owned as a kid have a lot more personal value to me than the stuff I bought later, some of which I got rid of just out embarrassment. But even a dorky comic where the Thing teams up with Morbius to battle the Living Eraser has a goofy charm to me. It's like the music you grew up with, I guess.
But the Spider-man saga? Not so much. Charm waved by-by to THAT title a long time ago. Ditto for DC.
Still, as others have pointed out, there's still a few cool comics coming out. Astro City was a case in point. So was Morrison's Justice League.

Anonymous said...

I meant Spider-Clone Saga up there, but, it kinda works either way.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, it would take a lot for me to even start thinking about buying any new comics. Unless it's a title that has a lot of good buzz, I'd probably only buy an issue just out of sheer curiosity.

For me at least, my tastes have always run towards older comics. Anything from the 1990s onwards (with very few exceptions) just doesn't appeal to me. I remember buying Brubaker's Immortal Iron Fist Series and some assorted Hercules titles some years ago - and nothing else. I was actually satisfied with that meagre haul simply because most of the other new stuff didn't interest me. Instead, I was looking forward to the old stuff I had missed when I was a kid.

Like Doug, most of the artwork leaves me cold. I personally think most artists are too sketchy with their art. As for all the reboots/relaunches/whatever they want to call it now, it's just a vain attempt to get new readers. Most comics companies realize they have to compete with more distractions in this Information Age, so they'll do anything to increase readership, quality being the very last thing in mind and the first thing to be sacrificed.

- Mike 'vintage dude' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Graham said...

I collected from around 1971 until 1983 or so. To be honest, in 1983, I was in college and just didn't have time (or the inclination) to get into all the crossovers into multiple series, the crisis storyline, the character revisions, the new companies getting started, etc.... What I know about most of it was what my brother told me was happening (he was just getting started and still collects a few today).

From what he tells me today, it doesn't sound like things have improved much and I would spend most of my time trying to find out what the heck is going on. What I have picked up of his collection to browse through convinced me that I needed to move on. I'm apparently no longer the target audience.

Anonymous said...

There are always just a few things out there just to pique our interest and keep it going. The Batman '66 was discussed here recently. There was also a nice Batgirl comic series a few years back that had wonderful art and writing. Some mini-series like Injustice: Gods Among Us was a pretty good what-if story. I personally like FF Marvel Now, because it's goofy and cool at the same time.
Guardians of the Galaxy seems interesting to me. Not the same team I remember, but I think Gerber would've appreciated a talking raccoon! M.P.

Teresa said...

I'm not looking for comic books to go backwards. I would like the creators to learn from past experience and build off what has worked.

1. Reign in decompressed story telling.

2. The $4 price tag is too much for a 5 minute read.

3. Lower the body count. Stop with the gore already. It lost the shock value years ago. Now it just distracting.

4. Ease up on the constant snarky grim dark dialogue. A snarky, mean spirited JLA is weird. Suicide Squad? That's perfect dialogue for that title.

5. Go back to a standard page/panel breakdown. Multiple double splash pages in a single issue is a cheat to cut costs.

6. The reboots are out of control. They were intended as jumping on points for new readers. We have the internet, we don't need reboots.

My regular buying habits coasted to a stop after Final Crisis and Civil War. I buy the occasional TPB based on reviews.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Teresa.
I would also add, enough with the sex. That's not what comics are for. Kids don't need to see that, and adults can see it somewhere else if they want to.

William said...

I pretty much quit reading most new comics right after Civil War. That's when I finally realized that I wasn't the audience they were making comics for anymore. I stuck with Spider-Man for a couple of more years after that, but eventually even that became impossible for me to continue reading.

The only modern title I currently read is Mark Waid's Daredevil. And I don't read the individual issues, I wait for the trades and buy those. I have all 6 volumes that have been published so far.

Aside from that one book, it would take a lot for me to get back into reading new comics on any kind of a regular basis.

1. First, they would have to start telling real stories again instead of just creating massive "Events" all the time.

2. The art would have to return to something that resembles comic book art. These days most so called comic art I see is more like over-rendered, muddy illustration instead of the clean, colorful cartoon artwork that attracted me to the medium in the first place.

3. Stop with all the grim and depressing stories already. I'm tired of seeing my heroes being beaten down and "deconstructed". I want to have fun when I read a comic, and when I'm done, I want to feel happy not suicidal.

4. Also, they would have to stop the decompressed, soap-opera style of writing that has inundated the medium. I'm not paying $4.00 for 22 pages of characters standing around talking about their feelings, and saying ironic things about being a superhero. (Damn you Alan Moore for ever writing The Watchmen!)

5. Speaking of which, they would have to find a way to drastically lower the price. I'm sorry, but $4.00 is just too much to pay for a freaking comic book!! That's about 15 times the price they were when I started reading them. Nothing else has gone up even close to that much since then, (not even gasoline).

Anonymous said...

"When I get done reading a comic book, I wanna feel happy, not suicidal!"
That made me laugh, a little. I think William's just nailed it on the head! I hope somebody in charge read that!

Rip Jagger said...

Some very interesting stuff.

I'll echo what others have said. For me it would take a significant shift in the economic model. A comic book is almost never a good deal, but that doesn't mean that I don't still buy them once in a while. Doc Savage and First Watch I get now despite the low yield on pages for pennies. Classic Popeye is a somewhat better deal, but barely.

At the current prices trades are more cost effective, especially the super cheap ones like Showcase and Essential which transformed my reading habits totally. For the price of three or four single comics you can have twenty or twenty-five which are often better written and almost always better drawn.

It's just bang for the entertainment dollar. Comics have been changed from a mass produced cheap entertainment into a high-cost luxury item.

Rip Off

Sean Budde said...

what's wrong with new Marvel comics:

Characterization: Thor doesn't talk like Thor...Hercules doesn't talk like Hercules...and the Thing doesn't talk like the Thing (i'm referring to how the characters talked in the 1970's).

Decompression: The writing is decompressed to the point that a single issue might only contain a single conversation with nothing else happening. Ironically, this doesn't mean that there is lots of dialogue going on in that conversation.

Lack of action. There often, isn't much going on in today's comics, due to the decompression. This create a boring atmosphere, and doesn't attract single issue buyers who don't collect every month.

Covers: The covers are often dull and boring. Very static with no Marvel action going on to grab you. They often aren't very artistic, either. No real creativity. The current red banner format only makes it worse. Marvel covers have never looked worse. And no word balloons and humor, like there used to be on Marvel covers.

All this = lack of fun. Marvel comics are no longer fun like they used to be, and that's a shame. I don't see it as preference, as much as Marvel no longer being Marvel. Stan Lee's "Marvel Style" fun is not found in Marvel comics like it used to be when Marvel comics said "Stan Lee Presents..." on the first page.

'Nuff said!

Sean Budde said...

p.s. I agree with Teresa.

david_b said...

On the flipside, I do find some pretty cool gems these days in regards to covers.

That Vision variant cover from Avengers 24.1 (2013..?) stands out as incredibly awesome.

These types of covers are far cooler than anything WE had as kids 40some yrs ago.

Doc Savage said...

(1) Good stories that don't rely on gimmicks, 6 issues to tell what should be a 1-2 issue tale, or "shocking" violence.

(2) Good art and composition. Especially covers that are more than heroes glowering and scowling at us with their arms angrily crossed. And body types found in the human race would be a plus. And women who aren't dressed like strippers and hookers.

(3) Get rid of this awful shiny paper that reflects light into my eyes.

(4) Colorists who don't have eye defects that cause them to color everything in grimy greys and gravy-like browns.

(5) Prices that would allow me to follow more than 2 series a month--or at least keep the stories in one series so I don't miss parts if I don't buy the other 15 titles the story is scattered throughout.

For starters.

But it's not gonna happen and the fans will keep takin whatever they're given. Oh well. At least Archie is putting out The Fox and Mighty Crusaders nowadays!

William said...

Well said Matt Cells.

After reading most of the posts here, It seems to me that the general consensus, and the major issue, is that comics just aren't any damn fun anymore. As Sean Budde put it, the "Make Mine Marvel!" slam bang, tongue in cheek Marvel Comics of Stan "The Man" Lee no longer exists anymore .Somewhere along the line Marvel (and now DC) started to take themselves waaaay too seriously in a desperate attempt to appear cool to a wider audience. As a result they lost a lot of their existing readership.

From the cover, to the splash page, to the letters page, old-school Marvel Comics used to practically scream that you were in for a good time when you opened that cover. When you bought a comic back then you knew you were getting a fun fast paced adventure story filled with colorful characters, dynamic art, and wild action. Sure, you knew the heroes were always going to come out on top, but you didn't care, because they'd be in another jam next month. Then when something dark and serious happened like the death of Gwen Stacy, or Jean Grey, it actually had a real and lasting impact. Not like today, where "death" is a temporary condition that will be undone in a couple of months. Sheesh!

To me, it seems the worst type of comic fans have now gained control of the industry. And these people are intent on skewing things to their personal views of how comics should "really be" by basically writing fan-fiction "What-If" type stories as mainstream canon, then shoving them down our throats, and telling us that this is what modern comic fans want. NO! it's what they (the creators) want, and we don't have a choice in the matter. Yes, there are some people who actually like these kind of comics, but I believe they are in the minority of the general comic reading public. But they are being supported by another segment of fandom out there who will buy whatever is being published and tell themselves that they like it (regardless whether they really do or not) because they just can't bring themselves to stop buying The Avengers, JLA, Spider-Man, Batman, etc. This mentality helps keep the industry limping along, and it will most likely never change.

That's why I will probably never find myself reading new comics again on any kind of a regular basis.

Doc Savage said...

The worst aspect is the Stockholm Syndrome of many comics readers. One wonders what Marvel and DC would do if the readers who still buy every issue even though they don't like the content would vote with their $€£¥.

When a top-ten comic sells only 30,000 copies the industry is clearly doing something wrong, whether it's lack of access to the product, prices too high, or inferior content, or all three. You'd think this would be topic of the day every day at Marvel and DC: "How do we get new readers? what we've tried clearly doesn't work!"

Anonymous said...

There are some "fun" titles - at least Marvel has some - but they never seem to do that well or have very niche following.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man (in which Spider-Man has not yet appeared!) is great fun! and the now cancelled FF was great fun as was Young Avengers. The current Thor: God of Thunder series has a good mix of fun and grim, which I think is good for a tale of fanciful gods and cosmic doom.

I think balance is the key - and there has been little balance for too long - so that two or three niche titles carry all the sense of fun and Avengers or whatever can never be fun! I remember the fun of Wonderman and Beast staying out all night hitting the bars and singing (and in my mind, getting it on, but that's me) and suddenly seeing Red Ronin standing in New York harbor - it was a good mix of the silly and the suddenly COOL ACTION of a giant robot!

If there are different titles doing different things, then the grim in some wouldn't be that big a deal.

I don't want superhero comics to go backwards and pretend like the 80s and 90s didn't happen - but the best stuff takes a little from all eras with self-awareness and makes something new and compelling.

Then again, I _like_ the new paper and coloring techniques (well, sometimes)

Anonymous said...

Oh and thanks everyone for really coming through for my topic - all the responses were really interesting to read!

Doug said...

It is a fun topic.

Empathetically speaking, Karen and I always hope that when you (read: all of you) are in charge of a post, you see how gratifying and interesting it is when the comment total is high. I know sometimes we complain about a lack of reader action/reaction on some of our posts, but the proof is here -- this has been a fun read since it went live yesterday morning.


Vintage Bob said...

What would it take to bring me back to collecting comics? A time machine. Why? Because I consider modern comics to be nothing more than overpriced toilet paper. The "stories" (if you can call them that) are pathetic, the art is alien and deformed (either overly cartoonish or anime style)and the gimmicks being used are just sad.

Comics have been corrupted by the filth and vulgarity that is rampant in our culture. When I page through a modern comic at a newsstand, it makes me disgusted. I'd never subject adults to that sort of smut and violence, much less children.

Wertham might have been right, had he written Seduction of the Innocent in modern times.

Doc Savage said...

Almost forgot: aside from Archie's Crusaders and The Fox, Marvel's Daredevil and DC's Batman '66 are pretty good super hero comics. All of them hearken back to days when a story was told in one or two issues, aside from subplots spilling over, unless it was an epic.

Related Posts with Thumbnails