Saturday, May 11, 2013

Why Do People Quit Reading Comics?

On many occasions, I've written a post about the rather lackluster state of comics from the big two and invariably, the post will generate comments from people saying they've completely given up on comics "...ever since they cut off the Joker's face, or Avenger's Disassembled or DC 52, or..." you get the idea.

 

 I totally sympathize with the frustration people might feel about the lack of quality coming from Marvel and DC (though the actual change in quality might not be as huge as you think it is, all things considered.) What I don't understand, is how this leads people to just give up completely on the genre itself.

People don't quite watching television shows because they didn't like how LOST ended. So why is it that so many people quit comics altogether because Doctor Octopus is now Superior Spider-Man?

 I suspect the answer is that a large part of the readership isn't really that enthralled with the genre in of itself. That's why independent titles languish, but umpteen Batman titles reign supreme. It's not the genre that people like, but the idea that Batman and his universe is something they are partaking in.

The problem with that comes when writers do something with Batman that no longer fits with how you perceive his universe. Then you are left with nothing.  Which is sad, because in many ways, we are currently in a new Golden Age of independent comics.

I would definitely encourage anyone who has "Given up on Comics!" to try some new independent comics.  You might find yourself really enjoying the experience of discovery all over again!

- Jim

15 comments:

Crize2foi said...

Couldn't agree more, Jim. I've lost a bit of interest in the main titles from the Big Two, but I've been discovering some excellent independent comics/graphic novels like : The Bluesman by Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo; The Circle Series based on the books of Ted Dekker; reMIND by Jason Brubaker, and Vision Machine by Grek Pak and R.B.Silva. Comics and Graphic Novels are still an excellent genre, we've just got to look a little further for the excellent material that's out there.
Chris

Valero said...

That is exactly how I fell. Now 47, I began reading comics when I was 6-7 y.o. What I liked is their universe. Oliver Queen is not Oliver Quenn anymore. Don't see much difference betweent Barry Allen (new 52 and Wally West (pre 52. Still sticking around but... And don't get me started on Booster Gold...his last serie was so great.

Loved the legacy concept at DC now it's feels so much more Marvel or, worse to me, Image.

Still read comics but not with the same pleasure.

MattComix said...

Because there is only so many times you can see your favorite characters treated like garbage or even the idea of the superhero itself treated like garbage before walking away is considerably less painful than continuing to watch it happen over and over again.

..and paying an ever rising cost for the experience.

The love for the genre and the characters remains. But I don't have the stomach (or the wallet) to be a Wednesday warrior anymore. Hell I even have to walk away from just reading comics news at times when it starts to feel like every article might as well be titled "..and here's how DC/Marvel are going to piss on your favorite character this week!"

Trey said...

Comic books have always changed: the Golden Age wasn't the same as the Silver Age and the Bronze Age was different from either of them. Inevitably, some people are going to find these changes too much and want to quit comics.

I completely support the idea of "giving something new a try" but I'd completely turn the question around: "Given the inexorable link between comics and superheroes, why would someone keep reading comics forever?"

After all, people might keep watching TV if they didn't like the ending of LOST, but they don't have to keep watching LOST>

MattComix said...

Obviously comics are medium and not a genre. But if superheroes are your favorite genre the indy press doesn't really give you a lot of other places to go when Marvel and DC are cranking out crap. In that sense if you are superhero fan you become a comic reader without a country.

I ended up finding an alternative in the form of Japanese tv superheroes but I miss having actual comics that I would want to keep up with. Sure there are back issues but really if DC and Marvel were doing there jobs right there would be something for the old and new reader alike. Rather than an ongoing list of jumping off points.

I wish there were more things like the Flashback Universe going on both in digital and print. I will say that so far I have enjoyed what Archie has been doing with the Mighty Crusaders.

JP Cote said...

The artwork from today's top artists is spectacular. The rest of it is questionable quality - weak story lines, questionable character development if any. What's killing comics is the outdated business model.

For all of the tech advances in the last ten years, you don't hear a lot about book publishers or novel writers disappearing and look at the tremendous amount of crap put out there. People still buy books despite TV, radio and movies. Comic book sales should be going up instead of down because these days because they are a completely visual medium that is perfect of an ever growing visual population. So what's the problem? It always comes back to this once-a-month sales strategy DC, Marvel and whoever else can't let go of. There's a reason why they don't sell novels one chapter at a time over a 12 month span - no one would bother to by chapter two. Comics have to move to a more novel-like format where you the whole story at once instead of dragging this stuff out. The other option is to break the comics down into smaller pieces and release them much more often (once a week? a day?) to keep interest up.

The problem is that you can read a comic in less that 30 minutes and then you are expected to wait 30 days for the next chapter. Me? I can't be bothered anymore. The graphic novel is a much superior format to the single issue series. Yes, I lose the cool covers but if you just ditch the monthly releases and start each chapter in a graphic novel with a cover, comic book publishers would see sales take a huge jump.

JimShelley said...

Sorry to be late with responses guys - I was on vacation and despite the advances in phone technology, leaving comments on a blog via a phone is still a painful process. So without further adieu...

JimShelley said...

@Crize2foi - Yes, like you, I've definitely lost interest in the big two. Also, I've wondered about The Bluesman! I will check that out.

JimShelley said...

@Valero - Yeah, sometimes I wonder what is the point of bringing back a Barry Allen if it's going to be a completely different personality. That's probably not the best example, but the point remains. If all you are doing is using the name of a character to bring old readers in, but then changing everything else, how well does that pan out?

JimShelley said...

@MattComix - Good to see you back to commenting here! (Twice even!)
Yeah, I will admit that the drive to make every story newsworthy contributes to some of the burn out.
-------
I have looked at those Mighty Crusaders on Comixology. I haven't bought one yet because I wanted to see how long the series lasted. I'll check them out this week.
----
As to more Flashback Universe, probably the next thing coming down the pike will be NorthStars.

JimShelley said...

@Trey - If I accept the premise that comics are inexorably linked to superheroes (and for the majority of Americans, that's true) I would say that's exactly why they give up on them when the character they've invested so much time reading about over the years starts to change with the times. When they don't enjoy their favorite superheroes, they no longer can enjoy comics.

JimShelley said...

@JP Cote - Yeah, that's another issue (the diminishing value of comics entertainment vs other formats) I notice a lot of fans seem to be moving to reading their comics in collected editions. Recently, I bought the first trade of The Manhattan Project as a trade via Comixology. I still read buy some monthly comics, but buy a trade can save you some money.

Blakeney said...

Buying comics used to be a major highlight of my week. 2 things eventually pushed me away from them.

1) Was the growing sleaze factor. I could no longer in good conscience continue to support stuff that stereotyped. I have read comics were women were written as brave and admirable. But it felt hypocritical to see them drawn in ways and poses that seemed little to do with character, heroism, or even the action taking place in the story.

I have no objection to seeing people drawn as attractive or having (slightly) larger muscles (I don’t think Spider-man should look like a linebacker). But I do object to body parts being enlarged to the point of caricature. And to where the focus on people is in terms of body parts instead of whole human beings. I just can’t root for a hero that looks like some sort of joke.

2) Was the degradation factor. MattComix put it best. I got tired of seeing one hero after another get into drugs, turn crazy and murder people, etc. I like superheroes because they are supposed to be something better. I liked comics because it offered some escapism. If I wanted gritty realism I would turn on the news.

I still enjoy comic-based movies and cartoons. They sometimes seem to remember why people like superheroes to begin with. I wish mainstream comics would try to remember that as well.

Haven’t tried independent comics so far – I love the superhero genre and wasn’t sure if the independents offered this – but it may be worth a try.

Jon McNally said...

Hi, Jim. Found your pages via Trey's weblog.

I quit buying new titles from Marvel and DC a few years ago when I realized I was addicted to the soap opera storytelling but was gnashing my teeth with every issue. Generally, the pace of current monthlies is too slow and the imagery too highly rendered and/or insufficiently cartoony for my tastes.

Most of my purchases these days are careful selections from smaller publishers, foreign publishers, or directly from creators. Both my artistic sensibilities and my pocketbook are more at ease.

If I do buy Marvel or DC books, they're old back issues found on the cheap.

Andrew Purdum said...

Comics are evolving, and some don't like that. A lot of the character's have changed over the years. Be it looks, attitude, personality. In the era of the 'reboot', have we lost comic nostalgia? I actually wrote an article on this recently.

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