Monday, October 4, 2010

Are 25% of Comic Readers Really 65?

Last week a study suggesting that 25% of Comic Readers are 65 or older caused quite a furor on various messageboards and comic news sites.

The comments on the study consisted mainly of two types:

Those who wholeheartedly agreed with the study used the results as a platform to demand that the comic industry produce more kid friendly comics and abandon the bleak and violent stories they seem to be peddling now.

And others who doubted the results suggesting that the questions in the study may have been poorly worded which allowed respondents to include Comic Strips in the definition of the word Comics.

I'm in the doubters camp simply because based on my own experience at conventions and comic shops, I would have to peg the 65 and over readership as no more than 5% or 10% at best. Personally, if I were to sit and think of 100 comic fans, I think I would have a damn hard time thinking of 10 that I have met that would be over 65. And if you think the list includes old comic creators, then you clearly have never talked to any old comic creators. ;)

But just for the sake of arguement, what if the study is true?

If 25% of your market is old enough to fondly remember an Uncle Sam who looks like this...

or even this...

Why would you want to foist a Freedom Fighters comic on them where the heroes look like this?

What's with all the black?! Four out of the six heroes on this cover look like they got fashion tips from Venom. Doesn't that sort of smack of lazy and unimaginative costume design? Isn't one of the old adages of comics that vibrant colors sell better?

Back on point - without really having access to the data from the study or knowing exactly how the data was collected, then all we can do is speculate as to the correctness of the data. However, I think it is safe to say that current trends in mainstream comic publishing (excessive violence, overwrought continuity, increased pricing) are not helping to bring in more younger readers. But even if you removed those factors, I don't know that comics would be able to compete against video games, the internet and television.

And just how important are younger readers? Because most of us discovered comics at a young age, it seems to be an accepted truism that you have to hook readers when they are kids, but is that really the case? Is that how Romance novels work? Maybe it's simply enough that kids learn to enjoy reading in general, then like the women who eventually discover Romance novels (or Twilight) they will gravitate to comics when they are ready for them?

Still, it would be nice to be able to donate my current stash of comics to the Carolina Children's Home like I used to, but more times than not, I find images like this recent Freedom Fighter's panel...

Hey Kids! Comics!

...that make it harder to just hand a comic over to some unsuspecting child. : \

On that note, enjoy the rather more pleasant Golden Age adventures of Uncle Sam from National Comics

[ National 26 ]

[ National 25 ]

- Enjoy!


Trey said...

While I suppose I would counted as a "doubter"--I would be wary of assuming that just because the people you know that many comic book readers 65 or over that the studies wrong.

You have to be wary of sampling error. The people you know, quite simply, or even the people at conventions, may not be representative of the people buying comics.

clark said...

People over 65 remember when comics cost a dime, when newspaper comics had cultural importance, when there was always a stack of comics at the barbershop that they wanted to read but couldn't finish before the barber whisked away the hair-clippings.

MattComix said...

I really can't imagine the average 65 year old comicbook reader finding any enjoyment in what either of the Big-Two has been putting out in the past few years. I mean really, a 65 year old making a mad dash to the comic shop for part umpteen of Secret Crisis Blooddeath Ultimatum Day or whatever?

Caine said...

Wow I've NEVER seen anyone older than in their fifties at a comic convention

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