DC Comics will be relaunching 52 titles with first issues in September, combined with an aggressive marketing campaign and same-day digital release. The company hopes to improve its market share, and create a new base of dedicated readers to help prop up dismal sales.
It saddens me how comic books have fallen in popularity over the decades. There are many factors to blame, including cover price, accessibility, and inconsistent product. Once distribution became a monopoly, folk had to actively seek out specialty stores to pick up an issue; I was first exposed to comics at a depanneur spin-rack, an impulse buy that certainly changed my life.
Comics used to be directed at 'all-ages'; material was sometimes sophisticated, but could be appreciated by just about any reader. Helpful notes and thought balloons scattered throughout a given issue kept the reader 'in the loop' with what was going on, encouraging them to track down past issues referred to. Stories were constructed to be 'timeless', and could be reread without feeling overly dated.
Comics today have become overly-complex, continuity-driven (without clear explanations), and feature antagonists with questionable motivations. Creators claim that this makes the books more 'real'. but the reason I personally read comics is for escapism. Most books published today are confusing, badly paced (spending multiple issues to tell a story that could be told in one), and lack 'super-star' artists; when I started collecting, artists like George Perez, Frank Miller, and John Byrne were at their prime, producing absolutely fabulous work.
At one point, folk aspired to work in comics because they genuinely loved the medium; nowadays, a gig in comics is a stepping stone to 'Hollywood', or a temp job until something better comes along.
I guess the spiralling demise of the industry has served to inspire me; since companies no longer publish the types of books I picked up as a youngster, I guess I decided to try and create them myself. After reading thousands of comics from all eras, I figure I have an inkling of the ingredients required for an entertaining comic book. Of course, my stories may be simple or derrivative (and my concepts a bit lame), but I feel strongly that a fun, appealling comic book that any kid can pick up and immediately get into should be 'sellable'. My daughter's enthusiasm at whatever concept I tinker with is proof enough for me.
Perhaps the comic book as I knew it growing up will eventually fade away. Regardless, I feel a genuine love and respect for the medium, and I think I always have ever since that first issue I pulled from a spinner rack. I have no idea how far Sore Thumb Press will go, but I am proud of myself for trying something.
Next week: Concept 4