Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When a review becomes a rant

A quick link to Tim Marchman's article at the Wall Street Journal, which was nominally supposed to be about the book Leaping Tall Buildings, instead turns into a screed about the failures of the comic book industry.

"The people who produce superhero comics have given up on the mass audience, and it in turn has given up on them."

Sadly, he's not wrong.


  1. Very interesting article, thanks for pointing it out. Just a few random thoughts -

    "Where this audience went is a bit of a puzzle" - The plethora of other options can't be underestimated. Last night, I read a Young Justice and Uncle Scrooge (Carl Barks, oh yeah!) to my 5-year old). But it'll be while before we get back to comics, she has so many other options. She's never known a world without angry birds, without tv on a phone, or where everything didn't have a dot com. All I had was a few dog eared comic books to see me through those family car trips in 77 -- there is sooo much other media today. She likes comics well enough but I don't know, with all this other stuff, if they'll be as important to her as they were to me. I doubt it.

    "...a plot that makes no sense to anyone not familiar with ancient Marvel epics like "The Dark Phoenix Saga." The story is told in two titles..." I personally am ok with the ancient epics, but I hate the proclivity of publishers (and this is done for obvious money-making purposes, and was even done, to some extent, "back in the day") to spread stories out over multiple titles. I get the money-making aspect, but I think practice has hurt in the long-run.

    "For an industry that feeds on its own past to go 20 years without fresh characters or concepts is death." The concepts part, yeah, I can get on board with that. But not so much the characters. I think it is best for the major publishers to focus on the quality of their iconic characters. Espcecially for DC, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. IMO, DC's success rides on the quality of those characters, I don't personally want knew characters, I want to know what's happening with the icons. ('though I like a whole bunch of others... Cap. Marvel - the shazam one - is one of my favs).

    His comment about what's underground is interesting.

    Boy, you're right about becoming a rant - I guess he kind of liked the book, but it's hard to tell with how little he actually said about it vs. his opinions of the state of affairs in general!

    1. lol... Boy I typed that quickly - I no it is new not knew. :)

  2. Heh, I'm pretty much the last person to get picky about typos.

    The wealth of entertainment options is surely a factor, as is the stranglehold of the direct market on the comics industry. When I was a teenager growing up in the middle of Bumblephuque, Nowhere, I picked up a wide array of comics from the newsstands of various local convenience stores. These days, you pretty much have to live near a comic book shop, or mail order what you want. I understand the reasons why the newsstands are no longer an option, but it's still a factor in the increasingly insular nature of mainstream comics.

    I can't really agree about sticking with the old characters, though. The only time I really bother to follow any of said characters anymore is when a writer I really like is working on them (Morrison on Action Comics), and even then that isn't a given (haven't bothered with Morrison's Bat-stuff). Of course, I'm pretty much outside the mainstream of comics these days - not picking up any Marvel books at the moment, and only a small handful of non-Vertigo DC books (Action, LSH, All-Star Western). Pretty much everything else I get is from Dark Horse, Image, and the other various smaller companies.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond, much appreciated.