Sunday, September 27, 2015

Contemporary Comics Consumerism

Doug: DATELINE - Lima, Ohio. Hand-written on a tag on a rack of comics and trade paperbacks was this sign:

"Looking for an entry point to the Marvel Universe? Try Civil War!"

UPDATE: So I whipped this post up in about two minutes right before my wife and I headed out the door. Just wanted to get some conversation going this Sunday. When I got back home, Osvaldo had left the first comment. I'll give my further explanation, which I intended to do anyway once I got home (which I now am). Got that? Anyway, he said:
Dr. Oyola said...Not sure what your point here is. . . that this is a bad point of entry? (I'd agree).

Anyway, it made me think of this article about how much it'd cost to get all the issues of the current Secret Wars series and related title tie-ins.

Short answer? Over a thousand bucks.

September 27, 2015 at 1:14 PM

Doug: Friday my wife and I took 1/2 personal days so that we could make the trek out of Illinois, across Indiana and into western Ohio to watch our son play soccer. We spent the night in Lima, Ohio (home of Ben Roethlisberger and Phyllis Diller -- how's that for a combination?). On Saturday we decided just to explore the town for a few hours before heading for home. I noticed that they had what appeared to be a nice looking LCS in the downtown area, so we went. Alter Ego Comics was indeed a great little full-service store. They had a little bit of everything, and their displays were very attractive. Nice staff on site for assistance, and they didn't seem to be hurting for customers. So if you're in the area, they have my recommendation.

Doug: To the question at hand... I at first had a wry smile cross my lips when I read the sign and was tempted to scoff aloud. And then I stopped myself. Looking around, it hit me that comic book consumerism in 2015 really isn't geared toward me. While they had a fair back issue section, it didn't seem like they had an abundance of Silver or Bronze Age back issues. They had no, to my recollection, back issues on the walls as shops often do. So I said to myself that today's comic fan probably is up on current events at the Big Two, and is probably fully-immersed in the lore of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And, given that Captain America: Winter Soldier was one of Marvel's biggest pictures and that next spring's Captain America: Civil War promises to be huge, maybe -- just maybe -- Civil War is a good entry point to the Marvel Universe.

Doug: Because as we've said, this really isn't my Marvel Universe, not any more. So that's where I was going with this. 


Dr. Oyola said...

Not sure what your point here is. . . that this is a bad point of entry? (I'd agree).

Anyway, it made me think of this article about how much it'd cost to get all the issues of the current Secret Wars series and related title tie-ins.

Short answer? Over a thousand bucks.

Karen said...

Civil War is now almost 10 years old. For many, it may have been "the story" of their comic book buying youth. Never mind the terrible mis-characterization of most of the leads, breakdown of moral lines, senseless deaths, etc...I will admit there was a kernel of a good idea here, but for the most part I felt it was completely mishandled. And of course, the cost of buying all the tie-ins was obscene. But I am sure it has sentimental value to many. So glad that my event book was the Kree-Skrull War. All contained in Avengers.

Hey Osvaldo, how about Marvel getting Coates to write Black Panther? I knew he was a Marvel fan, but that surprised me.

Rip Jagger said...

I think I take your meaning. Just the other day I was thinking how long it's been since I dumped The Avengers -- 8 years, time enough in the olden days for a monthly comic book to hit 100 issues. Fantastic Four first landed in 1961 and I started getting Marvels in 1968 (7 years). Even by the ancient measures it's been along time for me since I followed the company really up close. Since then, they've rebooted a few times, are in the middle of one right now. Fans know the movies, the movies are the context in which the comics operate, not the other way around. Marvel has shifted from a comic book company which wanted to make movies to being part of a movie company that publishes some comics. It's what Stan Lee always dreamed about starting but was just never quite able to get going. Marvel ain't what they were, and they like it that way.

Rip Off

Dr. Oyola said...

Doug, you've convinced me that I too may have been hasty in my judgement about Civil War as an entry point (though the revealing of Spider-Man's identity and the death of Black Goliath are unforgivable to me).

I mean, ideally I'd hand somebody the first 75 issues of Fantastic Four ;)

Karen: YES! I am so excited for the possibilities.

pfgavigan said...


It's a good entry point for someone with zilch knowledge of the Marvel verse.

You know, those kids who are not flocking to the comic book stores nowadays.

For someone who grew up with these characters . . . well, I told the writer of this that I still had a few cherished childhood memories connected with these characters if he needed anything else to urinate on.

Last time I went to a convention.



Doug said...

PFG -- Hahahaha!

We'll have conversation about Ed Brubaker's Captain America later in the week. I have further thoughts from what we'd discussed back in February.

Karen's point about her entry point being the Kree/Skrull War is interesting. Mine was just a smattering of books for both companies, but my "regular buying" did commence with the "Celestial Madonna" arc, which was about the same time as "The Original Clone Saga". In either case, those arcs were contained within a single title as Karen stated, flying directly in the face of Osvaldo's point of anyone who wished to make Marvel's latest "Secret War" their entry point. Wow -- that's some serious cash!

Which then got me to thinking about other crossovers that would be accessible but without a ton of baggage. "The Infinity Gauntlet" could work, and would certainly be topical given the coming Avengers flick. What are others?


Doug said...

Oh, and forgot to say --

Rip, I really liked your comments. They ring truth, brother.


ColinBray said...

Anything beyond our personal reading event horizon is ancient history, that's the nature of youth. Heck, when I went into deep Marvel immersion in 1983 the Dark Phoenix Saga was so near and impossibly far away.

So yes, the 10 years since Civil War is an eternity if you are, say 16 years old. And Civil War is an entry point to the Bendis/Millar MU upon which so much is now built. From Civil War, a percentage of readers will still choose to go further back in time. For instance a work colleague of mine has a son of 22 years old who has just completed his run of Daredevil from 1963 onwards. And in his case it all started with Civil War.

A parallel might be Captain America in the Bronze Age - a proportion of new BA Cap readers would only read the current monthlies; a proportion would have sought out older stories, back to Avengers #4; and an even smaller minority would have sought out GA stories, wanting to go right back to the source.

I understand the situation is rather different these days with all the collected editions, but the psychology remains the same for any ongoing 'live' universe. The further back in time readers need to go the less likely they are to make the journey.

Which is such a shame given the immense riches that can be found in the back issues and collected editions. But I agree with Doug and others here in saying it isn't enough to say 'get off my lawn' - it isn't our lawn and hasn't been for a very long time.

Edo Bosnar said...

Yep, Doug may have a point about Civil War, but just the way these more recent mega-events metastasize over so many titles really makes it hard for me to wrap my head around them as entry points.
So I'm with Osvaldo: just recommend a really good, well-loved run; Silver Age FF is a good example, I'd add the Lee/Ditko/Romita Sr. Spider-man, or, for something shorter, I definitely agree with Karen about the Kree-Skrull War. An epic story, all contained in a single title, all fits in a nice tpb. In fact, there's quite a few Avengers arcs from the '70s that would make great entry points I think: Celestial Madonna, Serpent Crown, the Korvac Saga... In a similar vein, I think any chunk of the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne run on X-men would be a great point of entry, as would the first 20 or so issues of Byrne's FF.

The news about Coates taking over writing chores on Black Panther has me so intrigued. I knew he was a comic book fan (I recall him making some comments here and there in his blog posts at Atlantic), but I never knew he was actually interested in writing them. So I'm really looking forward to seeing what he's going to do.

William said...

Ironically "Civil War" was my jumping OFF point of Marvel Comics. I quit buying all Marvel Comics immediately after that series ended (except for Spider-Man) and I even gave that up a couple of years later.

I'm not really sure who Marvel Comics (or any comics for that matter) are written for anymore. Kids don't read them because they are too "adult" oriented. And these days kid's don't really read anything that resembles an actual book anyway. And "normal" adults wouldn't read them because they are comic books (which are made for children). And we comic book collecting "abnormal" adults don't buy new comics because they (as pgavigan said) "urinate all over our cherished childhood memories".

So that only leaves the people who started reading comics in 90's. Y'know those people that think Peter Parker's default status should be "married", because that's the way it's always been and shouldn't change. Those people.

And I guess they don't really mind Marvel messing with their childhood memories, because let's face it, if you STARTED reading comics in the 1990's, you really don't have that many "cherished" memories for Marvel to urinate all over anyway. (Except that Peter Parker being married thing).

Anonymous said...

Doug, I emphatize with your observations about most LCS. The one closest to me not only sells comicbooks but also westerns, young adult and romance novels. That's OK with me; the one complaint I have is that most of the back issues are from the 1990s, which is a comicbook wasteland in my humble opinion. Very few Bronze Age issues, and what few there are quite expensive.

As for Civil War, to me it's not the best starting point for a wannabe Marvelite, but if it's the only point where a reader jumps into the Marvel Universe, then all I can say is welcome, you're gonna enjoy the ride!

- Mike 'Civil Who?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

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