DOOM or could a person be more wrong?Posted: February 28, 2009
I don’t think I’ve read something as full of shit as this article about the incoming DOOM of the comic book industry. Honestly, I found myself wondering if a person could so misunderstand what they are talking about more than Devin Faraci.
His piece does not start off well:
In the years that I’ve been writing for CHUD I’ve gone from a guy who bought a lot of comics on a weekly basis to a guy who was a trade waiter to a guy who buys almost no comics at all. I may pick up a highly regarded trade when I need something to read, but the only book that I actually follow anymore is Scott Pilgrim, and that is almost over. I could attribute some of this to growing up, and certainly my intolerance for the bullshit that is superhero comics is a side effect of waking up one morning and deciding that being an adult isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Here’s a rule: if a writer spends the opening paragraph(s) of their piece talking about how they are at once an insider and an outsider about some topic you can pretty much guarantee that the rest of whatever they write will be full of shit. If they precede to insult whatever they are discussing as they distance themselves from it then you can pretty much bet the farm on their missing the mark.
Things don’t get much better as we move further into the piece:
And this is very, very bad. Superheroes are very, very bad. They’re like 50 year old hookers chainsmoking on the corner: used up, their best days behind them, appealing only to the most debased, most awful people. The fanbase for superhero comics in this day and age tends to be a devolved group clinging to degrading psychosexual power fantasies that take them away from their daily powerlessness. White males on the sidelines of society who are attached to juvenile escapades and repetitive, stunted storytelling. I’m beginning to look at adults who are deeply immersed in superheroes the way I would look at a grown man eating baby food for lunch. Except that I would say the baby food guy is at least getting some nourishment.
*YAWN* Man working for a website dedicated to obsessing over films insults comic fanboys… pot calls kettle black. News at eleven! Look at how cool and smart Faraci is. He can take cheap shots at fanboys and their “psychosexual power fantasies”. This retorical move is so obvious and overplayed it really takes away from the delicious irony of an employee of CHUD going after comic book fanboys for their obsessions.
But really that’s all just fluff, the crux of his argument is the following: (the sentence in bold is my doing)
When Marvel and DC fall (and for me it’s when, not if. I guarantee to you that ten years from now the idea of going to a comic shop to buy part 17 of a universe-spanning crossover event will seem as bizarre to readers as it would be for readers today to go to a grocery store to pick up Night Nurse), the world of comic books is going to be in serious disarray. Local shops that haven’t already branched out into geek interests beyond comics will be destroyed almost overnight; hybrid stores that offer everything from video games to baseball cards and maybe have a social element – coffee shop for instance – will be left standing, but barely. Spider-Man will go on to star in five more movies, and there will be some sort of comic tie-in for them, but that’ll be tertiary marketing. The Big Two will still be publishing something, but it won’t be monthly pamphlets in the way we know them today – maybe we’ll get endless reprint trades and occasional new graphic novels.
STARBUCKS will save us! Comics are doomed and baseball cards and turning your local comic shop into Barnes and Noble save the medium. Baseball cards! BASEBALL CARDS. I wonder if Faraci really has stepped into a comic book shop in the last decade. As I understand it the sports card industry is actually doing worse than the comics industry. I worked in two comic book stores (that were successful and had a diverse stock) and sports cards were treated on the same level as Marvel Masterwork cards from 1997. I don’t see how diversifying your stock into another failing product will save comic book stores Faraci is predicting.
The comic world will seem like a wasteland for a while, but those independent mammals will have positioned themselves perfectly for the next phase. I don’t think these books will become suddenly profitable overnight; I know that many creators struggle to make ends meet while producing their books. That won’t change. People will still have day jobs and will write and draw on the side. But suddenly, without the superhero choking everything, these books will find the opportunity to grow. The artistic drive that makes people want to tell stories will continue, and a new economic model for these books will be created – hell, it’s already being created. And I don’t think that this means comic books will suddenly become an endless series of stories about being abused by your dad or about having no luck with girls; there will be adventure and science fiction and horror and romance. Getting into writing and drawing mainstream comics today is like being in a cover band – you want to do your version of Aquaman. When the superhero dies, it’s going to be like being in a garage band. You do it because you love it, because you have songs to sing. And maybe somebody will take notice and you’ll make some bucks off it. And just as it is with music today, the ways that you sell your art to people will be different. Just like bands no longer rely on Sam Goody to carry their CDs, comic creators won’t be stuck with Diamond and comic stores. Again, this has already begun.
It may take a decade or it may take a year, but eventually the connection between superhero and comic book will fade, at least to the point where we’re going to find ourselves in a place where the idea of mainstream publications, critics and readers taking notice of comic books will no longer be astonishing. When superheroes die comic books will have finally left behind their long, ugly, awkward adolescence and will be ready to join television and movies as mainstream storytellers. And just as movies and television encompass many genres, it will become widely accepted that comic books can tell stories of all sorts, for many different audiences.
The bottom line is that Faraci wishes the comics industry would just die and a new one rise in its place – one that better serves his tastes. My heart goes out to Faraci because I to wish much of the shit published today would vanish and be magically replaced by things more in-line with my tastes – I wish the same thing on the music, film, and book industry too. But such terrible hopes are a delusion and have no bearing on the future doom (or success) of the comic book industry.
Basically, Faraci’s article is a waste of time. There is a lot wrong with the comics industry and a lot about its future is up in the air. But Faraci’s piece does nothing – not a fucking thing – to contribute to the discussion. It is just bunch of hot air about fanboys and their “psychosexual power fantasies” and the coming indie revolution (a revolution that has been coming since time immemorial). There’s not real – i.e. substantive – discussion about sales numbers, the strengths of Marvel and DC in these difficult times, the second coming the speculator market or any of the other productive angles one could take on what Faraci is supposed to be “discussing”.
What we get from Faraci is an article that his film buff (film fanboy?) editors can nod and smile remorsefully while Faraci gets to feel cool and smart for his “insights”. What a waste of bandwidth.