Ryan (who’s site will be re-launched and updated soon…I promise) sent me this cool article from CBC on comics, Hey Kids! No Comics!, I’m currently reading a great book called “Men of Tomorrow” which talks about the birth of comics, and I can see very easily why comics are a dying breed. The guys who are in the industry are my age, while the founders of the industry were stunted kids, hell, one of the most prolific writers/editors in comics history, Jim Shooter, was 16 during his most acclaimed run on Legion of Super-Heroes.
Comics need to be like drugs. You’ve got your gateway drug marijuana (the Batman’s, Superman’s, Spider-Man’s, Bone), you’ve got your cheap, slightly harder gateway like acid (here’s where you get the kids hooked on something slightly more “mature”, more complicated plots like some of the Vertigo stuff, Powers, Dark Knight, Millar’s stuff), and then finally you’ve got the hardcore stuff like cocaine (Authority, 100 Bullets, Watchmen, Morrison’s stuff).
This is pretty much how I got into comics. When I was a kid I read Batman, it’s my first comic. Batman lead me into Teen Titans, Titans complex plots got me turned on to X-Men’s complex relationships. I still remember the day I discovered Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, I bought it at Les’ Variety on Wortley Road in the Wortley Road Village in London. After buying it, I read it in the little cafe there over a grilled cheese sandwich. The story was about a kid who summoned a little white sock monkey looking ape thing with an Ouija board which killed his family. It scared the crap out of me, and to this day the smell of a greasy spoon reminds me of that comic (also, Sock Monkey’s creep me out because of it). After that I got into Animal Man, and started grooving on Sandman shortly after that. I kept growing with comics, and as I grew, the comics I was reading seemed to get more complex and advanced, but now it’s harder to find those gateway comics.
Where are the easily accessible Batman’s? Where’s the cheap Spider-Man comics? Make no mistake about it, if comics were $4.50 each when I got into them back then, I would never have gotten into them. They used to be cheap, disposable entertainment. They were printed on crappy paper, and usually had popcorn stories.
Hey, I like Watchmen as much as anybody, but not every goddamn comic has to be Watchmen! Make comics for kids again! This doesn’t mean that Y: The Last Man needs to go, it just means that a cheap Batman comic should be on the shelves this summer, an inexpensive Spidey should be there already (anybody remember when the Ultimates line was going to all be $1.25?). Why would retailers carry these books? Because rather than selling 24 copies of the $4.25 Spider-Man, they could sell 100 copies of the $1.25 Spider-Man comic…that’s more money in the long run, and 3x as many customers.