Author Topic: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline  (Read 6703 times)

Offline Curtis Metcalf

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 4490
  • One never knows, do one?
    • View Profile
Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« on: March 18, 2007, 08:53:39 am »
Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
Mar 18, 2007 04:30 AM
Brad Mackay

The superhero comics that kids once knew (and perhaps loved) are in trouble. Notwithstanding Hollywood's recent infatuation with big-budget superhero movies, for much of the past 30 years the monthly comic book adventures of Spider-Man, Batman and their kind have been suffering from shrinking readership and slumping sales.

For example, during the heyday of the late 1970s, a bestseller from DC or Marvel Comics, two of the biggest publishers, could expect to sell 300,000 copies. These days a similar title would be fortunate to move more than 50,000.

For an industry famous for tales packed full of muscles and melodrama, the situation has prompted an unusual amount of soul searching. The would-be villains are many. Some have blamed the sales slide on cultural upstarts, like video games, manga and the ever-present Internet. Others point to the increased popularity of bookstore-friendly graphic novels, sales of which have recently surpassed traditional comics.

But there are those who have begun to ask more complex questions, like how characters that are 40, or even 70, years old can remain relevant in an increasingly diverse society. This raises one of the oldest and most uncomfortable truths about the superhero genre: its surprising dearth of non-white heroes, particularly black ones.

<snip>

But for those working in the estimated $400 million mainstream comic business, the homogeneity of heroes is becoming harder and harder to ignore.

Just ask Reginald Hudlin. The writer and director behind such films like House Party and Boomerang and TV shows like Everybody Hates Chris has been frustrated for decades by what he sees as the gross under-representation of black heroes in comics. A comic fan since he was a kid (he owns more than 30,000) and the current writer behind Marvel's Black Panther title, Hudlin is perplexed by how one of the oldest and most "pop" of all popular cultures could remain so whitewashed.

"In every other medium, the most successful concept or product is black. Whether it's music, movies, TV shows: out of the top 10, four of them are black," he says from his office at Black Entertainment Television, where he is an executive. "Who are the biggest movie stars? Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy. Only in comics are blacks so under represented. Somehow, in this medium people are so out of touch with popular culture that they don't understand that black culture is popular culture."
...

Complete article here.
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

Offline zulu801

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 1221
  • No matter how hard you try you can't stop this..
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2007, 05:43:16 pm »
Brother Curt thank you for attaching this article.  The writer of this article did some homework and research to write a his POV of the comic book industry.  Major props to Alex Alonso for his faith and support for R and Black Panther (we all know AA has love for R and BP).  This is not the first time AA spoke highly about BP in the press.  Brad Mackay, writer of this article, could have written about Milestone, DMcD and of course Priest and their vast contribution in the comic industry just as R's contribution was documented in the article. 

AA has the ruff ryders anthem mentality for BP:  AA will "Ryde or Die" for R and BP and that's madd love, respect, faith and for all BP readers to know that BP is a major MU character.  A force not to be mess with. 

Offline Curtis Metcalf

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 4490
  • One never knows, do one?
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2007, 07:09:27 pm »
Brother Curt thank you for attaching this article. 
My pleasure.  I thought it was pretty good that somebody was writing about this in a newspaper somewhere.  Decent article too, though your suggestions would have improved it.
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

Offline Reginald Hudlin

  • Landlord
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 9864
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2007, 08:35:52 pm »
The writer sent me a link to his website with his ORIGINAL version of the article, which is far superior.  I mean, if I knew how to do all that link stuff, I would...

Offline Curtis Metcalf

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 4490
  • One never knows, do one?
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2007, 08:01:40 am »
If you send me the link, I'll do it.  Just forward the email if you like.  Remind me to show you how to post links, too.  ;)
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
"Be hard on systems, but soft on people."

Offline bluezulu

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2406
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2007, 08:30:48 am »
Yea I would like to see the true article.

Offline zeraze

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 428
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2007, 05:34:37 pm »
The writer sent me a link to his website with his ORIGINAL version of the article, which is far superior.  I mean, if I knew how to do all that link stuff, I would...


Rich Watson over at Glyphs found the original article which can be read here:

http://bradmackay.blogspot.com/2007/03/about-black-superheroes.html

Mackay is dead on that comics' resistance to racial diversity is making them less relevant and thus more likely to go belly up.

Mackay also vindicates your comments over at CBR that Black creators outside the direct market are the best hope for Black heroes and by extension the long-term survival of comics.

http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=6763

zeraze
"The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time."

- Terry Tempest Williams

Offline Ed

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 414
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2007, 11:29:34 pm »
I'm more of a quality over quanity kind of person. The MU has what, 4 or 5 thousand white super hereos but how many actually matter? Like four hundred of them. That's about ten percent. Not very good. When you look at black superhereos they seem to matter more. Black Panther, Storm, Cage, Photon, Misty Knight, and I can go on. I think what these characters need is another way into the mainstream be it in movies or music. Just because you add a thousand more minority characters doesn't mean anybody outside of comics is going to care. The main reason why Black Panther got so much attention when it came out was because of its coverage in newspapers, magazines, and radio. That's why it's important to try and use those resources not to just sell one issue of a comic that has a death in it or an unmasking.

Offline Vic Vega

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 4139
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2007, 02:05:56 pm »
I think that part of what's happened here is that for the most part, comics are written for fanboys. Fanboys tend to be REJECTORS of popular culture in a certain sense.

Perhaps when the comics industry persues wider distrbution methods (like magazines and newsstand distribution), this will change.

If tooling aroung the Internet and Newsrama in particular are any evidence, the current fan base is kinda hostile to the concept of diversity.  Some are more blatant than others.

Offline Mastrmynd

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 8163
  • Check my new site www.top20takeover.VVCRadio.com
    • View Profile
    • http://arvellpoe.atspace.com/
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2007, 02:36:10 pm »
i JUST read the article.
verrrrrrrrry nice.

i will read the original version 2morrow.


Listen to my entertaining radio show, "The Takeover: Top 20 Countdown" at www.top20takeover.VVCRadio.com.

Right on to the real and death to the fakers!  Peace out!

Offline Open palm

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2980
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2007, 07:49:58 pm »
So how will independent creators and their characters fare now? 
Do you prefer a hero who will confirm your deepest fears? Or a hero who will inspire faith in humanity and goodness?

Offline PFunk

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 62
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2007, 10:25:28 pm »
I've discussed this with more than a few friends, some with publishing backgrounds.  And they also seem to agree the the article being on target (but missing somethings).  In fact IMO it seems like to me that the only ones disagreeing with this article are the typical fanboys (or fanbratty as someone called them).  Namely those from DC.  Who seem to take this article as a major offense to them.

But again that's only my opinion.

Offline PFunk

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 62
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2007, 10:29:40 pm »
I think that part of what's happened here is that for the most part, comics are written for fanboys. Fanboys tend to be REJECTORS of popular culture in a certain sense.

Perhaps when the comics industry persues wider distrbution methods (like magazines and newsstand distribution), this will change.

If tooling aroung the Internet and Newsrama in particular are any evidence, the current fan base is kinda hostile to the concept of diversity.  Some are more blatant than others.

Actually one of my publishing friends (whos not in comics) tends to agree with you.  And from surfing those and other comic message boards tend to agree with you.

They also feel that both the web and e-comics via downloadble PDF's are the future for comics.  Especially if you want to reach beyond the typical fanboy base.  Which he feels comics MUST do so otherwise they will be history ala shriking fanbase.

Offline Moose100

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 253
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2007, 11:07:10 am »
I like the parallel that Alonso brought up that the comics industry is right now like the music industry when hip-hop was being introduced.  He totally hit the nail on the head.  this is why im witnessing folks resisting even the idea of say a black superhero team. The naysayers totally disregard that the fundamental teams in comics are all(or originally) all white.  There has to be some sort of resistance to diversity within the industry.  I think comics is one of the most creative mediums around and yet decades after its inception there is a white focal point in all of the materials that are being released.

Offline stanleyballard

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
    • View Profile
Re: Hero deficit: Comic books in decline
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2007, 01:00:34 pm »
The original is the best...great points about the comic industry being in a rut and catering to a small audience without being wise enough to broaden its popularity or vision.  Very true.  Bringing people like Huldin into the genre can only strengthen its popularity, vision and multi-media exposure.  And the creation of more intelligent, dynamic characters who are Black would bring in a wider audience as we are another untapped market.