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JasonWanderer

Just Got into Hellblazer...

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Christian    752

Yeah, that's definitely the case.

That's why this "diversity" argument is so stupid! When you go to the bookstore are white, straight, male non-genre novels the only thing available? Of course not! The idea is just plain stupid.

The idea that there can't be male superhero titles featuring long-running characters while also existing comics featuring female lead characters which appeal more to female readers (but can also be enjoyed by males) is as ludicrous as arguing that there shouldn't be crime fiction novels because a lot of people prefer to read fantasy novels.

The sorry state of most of those long-running superhero characters, however, is another issue separate from all this nattering about "diversity".

Female Thor had worked out pretty well, as it was part of Jason Aaron's longer plan, and Aaron is a really good writer.

Which is what it comes down to.....strong creative talents with a strong vision for the characters. You can have white, straight, male characters and black, bisexual, female characters and everything in between and across the cosmos, but if the creative talents are lacking and they don't have a long-term vision for the characters and why they exist, then the books are going to lose readers. It's not a difficult concept.

Instead, Marvel feel that a big cross-over event and a yearly relaunch are the way to get fans interested in the product.

The fact that "comics aren't for kids" anymore is a reason for ever-declining sales. If you want to sell a sub-par product to readers and replace the older, wearier fans (who probably have other financial obligations rather than wasting lots of cash on a bunch of comics each week) you need to have a ready-market of young readers. The fact that comics have outpriced the ability of kids to read the comics means that the comic market won't be recovering anytime soon.

It's funny that outside of the "New 52" speculator boom, the comic market has been dwindling since around 2002. That was about the last generation of comic fans who grew up reading comic books in large numbers. In 2002, those of us in our late-30s and early-40s (like me!) were still youngsters. What happens around that age? People start getting married, buying a house, having kids, working long hours at a job.....the money or time for comics starts to erode. So, the comic readership loses a number of people each year who "outgrow" comic books.

Back when we were kids....the 1980s, the early-1990s....we were the ones replacing those older readers who decided to stop buying comic books. Now, that market is gone. Kids can't afford to replace the readers in their late-20s and early-30s anymore, with comics costing $4 for one issue.

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Lou K    1,064
18 minutes ago, Christian said:

Female Thor had worked out pretty well, as it was part of Jason Aaron's longer plan, and Aaron is a really good writer.

 

I actually like this character because there is a definite story, a real reason for her character, and I am looking forward to how it resolves.

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Christian    752

Also, what classic stories do today's comic readers have to look back on?

Older readers had:

"The Galactus Trilogy"

"The Dark Phoenix Saga"

"Dangerous Habits"

Now.....

"Iron Man gets written out-of-character in Civil War."

"Spider Man gets written out-of-character in One More Day".

"Captain America gets written out-of-character in Secret Empire."

"John Constantine spends twelve months looking for the Djinn."

No wonder less and less people care about comic books (or, mainstream comics, at least) all the time.

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dogpoet    463

That's mostly because (as I said) the publisher is milking the old shit rather than coming up with new shit.

The dark pheonix story was not just a threadbare pastiche of Lee and Kirby's (rather shoddy, if we're honest) 'sixties X Men stories, but pastiche is all marvel are doing these days.

If they want to give Sony a fuck off gesture, they could start by knocking up something different that fills the same role as the Fantastic Four did. It'd work a lot better than all of this stuff about inhumans being cooler than mutants, wouldn't it?

(Hell, as we're supposed to be talking about Constantine in here, they could set up Jennifer Kale as some sort of roving occult troubleshooter who deals with stuff that brother Voodoo and Doctor Strange wouldn't dirty their hands messing with.)

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Christian    752

Which is why I keep alluding to the fact that Marvel editorial are absolutely clueless and should have gotten the axe from any job which was run half-decently. Marvel's editors pretty much do absolutely nothing and keep getting paid. If I were them, I would be begging to not be fired, instead of posting arrogant messages blaming fans for not buying their books.

Which is just another sign of how unprofessional the people running Marvel are, as it's a commonsense part of running a business that every small business owner in my area realizes, that you never insult your customers.

One bad decision after another...."Hey, mutants suck, Inhumans are so much cooler!". "OK, fans aren't buying this, and the X-titles sales are in the tank. What do we do?". "Hey, guys, we know we told you that mutants suck, but we were wrong. We're going to fix that now, ok?". Yeah, too little, too late. The fans realized that the X-Men do suck, but they still know that the Inhumans suck too. Whoops!

However, Marvel is owned by Disney, who simply care about the profits they make from the movies, so the editors at Marvel Comics are allowed to make as many piss-poor decisions as they want, and face zero consequences.

As long as Disney has that back-log of 1960s-1990s stories to regurgitate for movie theatres, and people keep going to see any superhero movie that hits theaters, they're going to be happy. The comic book product is just ancillary to Disney's interests.

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dogpoet    463
31 minutes ago, Christian said:

As long as Disney has that back-log of 1960s-1990s stories to regurgitate for movie theatres, and people keep going to see any superhero movie that hits theaters, they're going to be happy. The comic book product is just ancillary to Disney's interests.

That used to be DC's business model: iirc they were making such a loss on selling (or failing to sell) comics for most of the '70s that they were negotiating with Jim Shooter to sell him a license as Marvel managed to keep making a profit on their comics sales through the same period.

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Christian    752

The comic book industry in the 1970s was hit so hard by the recession. Inflation was spiraling out of control, while unemployment was increasing.

Based on what I read from Roy Thomas, it was his pitching the idea for doing a Star Wars comic which saved Marvel from going down the same route as DC. Marvel's editors said that Logan's Run was good enough and they didn't need another sci-fi comic. Thomas argued that they should ditch the Logan's Run license and pick up Star Wars instead, because he thought it was going to be really popular. Thomas said if Marvel's editorial department hadn't listened to him, Marvel would have been just as bad if not worse than DC.

Marvel's product did tend to be better than DC's at that point though, because DC refused to evolve. They said that comics were for little kiddies and that's what they wanted to continue doing, while Marvel had realized that they could get as many college aged readers (if not older) by striking that balance between kids and adults.

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dogpoet    463

Thomas was obviously ahead of the curve on that: I think everybody was predicting that Star Wars would be an "expensive" stiff before it launched and went ballistic, weren't they? That's the only reason Warners let Lucas keep the merchandising rights by most accounts. Hell, they'd even commissioned Alan Dean Foster to write a cheapjack paperback original sequel tying up the loose ends as there'd be no reason to do a follow up on film...

That said, I doubt that Joe Simon's gloriously batshit mid '70s output was aimed at primary school kids: even Steve Gerber wasn't doing anything as out there as Pres in '76, was he?

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Christian    752

Prez was insane in its own way, far removed from the insanity of Gerber. I'm not sure exactly who Joe Simon was aiming Brother Power or Prez to, other than maybe to Joe Simon. They weren't exactly "mature" books. I'm not sure what I would have made of those comics if I'd read them as a kid, instead of when I was in my 30s.

Omega The Unknown was from 1976.

Jim Starlin had already taken over on Warlock by 1975. I read some issues of Starlin's Warlock when I was a kid, and I found them incredibly weird and didn't really understand them.

I'm pretty sure I could have understood Prez at that age, at least.

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dogpoet    463

How about the two first issue specials Simon did at the same sort of time as Prez (I think, though I'm not sure, that Brother Power was a bit earlier) as mad stuff not aimed at kids go? I have no idea who the hell he thought the audience for that Outsiders comic was and I would hope that The Green Team was as raving mad as that cover makes it look as well.

My point, btw, was not that DC were publishing odder/more mature stuff than Marvel were but that they were doing some stuff that wasn't just samey superhero comics for a young audience: Ditko's batshit original run of Shade, the Atom being retooled as a sword and sorcery epic involving midget aliens and Chaykin's take on Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser and Ironwolf were all the mid '70s, weren't they?

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A. Heathen    1,131
On 11/14/2017 at 4:42 PM, Christian said:

 

"John Constantine spends twelve months looking for the Djinn."

 

Was that ONLY twelve months ???

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Christian    752

The Sword of the Atom comic was from the 1980s. The Chaykin books were from 1973, so edging towards early-1970s rather than mid.

Yeah, Dog. DC still published some good stuff too. Denny O'Neil was at DC through pretty much all of the '70s as well, and his work was usually comparable to the best of Marvel's writers.

Marvel's whole line, overall, was of strong quality. A lot of DC's books were tending to steer towards the "for kiddies" end of the spectrum, but certainly not all of their books. Of course there are exceptions to every rule.

I own quite a few of DC's books from the 1970s in my collection. They had a lot of good stuff too back then. I just much prefer Marvel Comics of the 1970s, overall.

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dogpoet    463

My bad, I thought Sword of the Atom was a lot earlier than that. Must be the Gil Kane art making me think that.

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Christian    752

There was the Mikaal Tomas Starman First Issue Special (by Conway) too. That story was pretty wild.

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dogpoet    463

There's a rather good Doctor Fate story there as well, unless Simonson did that one as part of something else.

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Christian    752

The one with Steve Gerber writing it, that was featured as a back-up strip in some other DC book? Or, maybe Gerber only wrote some of the stories, as Marty Pasko's name seems to crop up on the cover of the reprints. I know Gerber wrote some of those stories.

It was reprinted as the Immortal Dr. Fate mini-series in the '80s (which is how I own it), that one?

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JasonT    443

 

On 15/11/2017 at 5:28 AM, dogpoet said:

If they want to give Sony a fuck off gesture, they could start by knocking up something different that fills the same role as the Fantastic Four did.

Didn't DC do that already with The Terrifics? Which hasn't been released yet, but whatever. Apparently Alan Moore's ABC character Tom Strong will be part of that team — hard to believe Tom Strong dates back to 1999. :blink:

 

On 15/11/2017 at 6:38 AM, Christian said:

Based on what I read from Roy Thomas, it was his pitching the idea for doing a Star Wars comic which saved Marvel from going down the same route as DC.

It helped that Marvel's Star Wars comic was f*cking sweeeet. What a classic. :wub:

 

On 15/11/2017 at 5:58 AM, Christian said:

One bad decision after another...."Hey, mutants suck, Inhumans are so much cooler!".

I don't have a problem with that particular decision. The X-Men weren't always Marvel's flagship properties, so it's fine by me if the baton gets passed to another element of the MCU.

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Christian    752

It's  not necessarily that Marvel is moving on from their over-reliance on the X-line that is problematic, per se. Lord knows the X-Men haven't been relevant since Grant Morrison was writing the title.

Although, the idea of actively attempting to kill an audience for what was once one of your highest-selling properties does seem counter-intuitive to a company whose bottom-line is the monthly sales charts....

It's the fact that Marvel just throws a ton of #1 issues on the market every so often, and expects them to sell. None of their books feel special anymore. What is Marvel's flagship title? What has been their flagship title for the past five years? You can't really name anything, because when you launch 50 books at one time, none of them hold any special place with readers.

The last time that Marvel had a book that stood out as their top book was Jonathan Hickman's Avengers.

Which also undermines the few quality books that they do publish (fewer and fewer each year that they may be), which slip under the radar. Their long-running titles may not have much to offer the comic marketplace currently, but some of their lower-tier titles have tried to do story-telling which makes them stand out from the pack. However, when that title is just another book in the new relaunch, and doesn't have the name brand of X-Men or Spider Man, then how is it ever going to find a core audience? Word of mouth on the internet isn't enough to get people buying those books. Or, at least not on a monthly basis as they're first published, which is what Marvel solely seems to care about.

A shocking gimmick, like "Cap is a fascist!", gets people rushing to the stores to pick up that issue, because speculators are always looking for the next "hot issue", but that's different.

It's not as if comics are 12 cents anymore. Most people cannot afford to just buy 20 comics a week, and have to pare their reading down to a few select books. They might really want to read that new series that Marvel is launching, but Marvel just launched 50 titles at once, and they have to pick and choose.

It's just a poor idea. A book like Unbeatable Wasp might have found an audience at one time, but when it's shoved out there with 50 other titles at once, and when you have Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, and Riri Williams Iron Man all competing with the idea of "girl genius", then some books are going to fall through the cracks.

An editor who was willing to do their job might think, "You know, Unbeatable Wasp sounds like a good idea, but right now we are publishing three other books featuring a girl genius character. Do you think the market will really have a place for another book featuring a girl genius? Probably not. It will probably sink."

That's not Marvel's publishing model anymore, because big cross-over events and yearly relaunches are all that matter. Marvel has decided, for whatever ungodly reason, that they should try to compete with themselves. Of course the real reason is simply that they are trying to flood the market with books to keep smaller publishers from breaking in at the level of a Marvel or DC and having to actually compete, but the net effect is that they're hurting their own business.

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dogpoet    463
13 hours ago, Christian said:

The one with Steve Gerber writing it, that was featured as a back-up strip in some other DC book? Or, maybe Gerber only wrote some of the stories, as Marty Pasko's name seems to crop up on the cover of the reprints. I know Gerber wrote some of those stories.

It was reprinted as the Immortal Dr. Fate mini-series in the '80s (which is how I own it), that one?

Nope, I've checked, and it was a first issue special. Walt Simonson and Martin Pasko rather than Gerber. They might have included it with the collection if Simonson drew both?

 

As for your other point: if Marvel have anything resembling a flagship book it's probably Spiderman and has been for a very long time now.

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dogpoet    463
5 hours ago, JasonT said:

 

Didn't DC do that already with The Terrifics? Which hasn't been released yet, but whatever. Apparently Alan Moore's ABC character Tom Strong will be part of that team — hard to believe Tom Strong dates back to 1999. :blink:

There'd be nothing to stop Marvel doing something like that themselves, though: have one of the girl geniuses fill in for Reed, replace Ben with a female brick (Thundra might be good for that), bring in a female pyrokinetic and switch Sue for a token guy.

And you're right that the original run of Star Wars comics were a lot better than they get remembered as being: lovely Chaykin, Infantino and Simonson art, some very inventive stories (massively at odds with almost everything else that's been published or filmed since, of course, but that's a big part of the fun) and the writers obviously having a great time telling stories where they don't have be careful about fifteen years of continuity getting messed up if they do anything left field.

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Christian    752

Spider Man comics aren't really about Spider Man anymore. For all those people who were upset that Iron Man was replaced by a teenage girl, that's because Amazing Spider Man was publishing the Iron Man stories. So, they had to stick something in the Iron Man book.

Spider Man has been ruined as badly as X-Men, Marvel just never decided to tell readers that they shouldn't like Spider Man anymore and that they should read, oh I don't know, Moon Knight instead, because he's so much cooler. Everything you loved about Spider Man comics.....struggling Peter Parker, large cast of supporting characters, love interests.....has been removed from the Amazing Spider Man comic. He's now a corporate CEO, who is too busy being Spider Man and running a trans-national corporation to have any friends, and he thinks girls are icky because they may force him to make another deal with the Devil to save his aunt's life. Plus, Dan Slott is going to write the main book for another 40 years, at least.

The idea of Peter Parker finding some success in life as he gets older (considering he is a scientific genius) was a fine idea. Turning Peter Parker in to Tony Stark-lite was another poor idea.

Plus, Marvel's decision to downgrade the X-Men looks like even more of a stupid idea now, considering that their next big event is the return of the original Jean Grey and the big reveal of "Marvel's biggest comic book EVAR!" Marvel Legacy was that the original Wolverine was still alive. It seems that Marvel is trying to go back to their old comfort zone of trying to rely on the X-line to carry their books, even though a year ago Marvel was still trying to convince readers that mutants were inferior to Inhumans. Stupid ideas abound!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yeah, the original Star Wars issues from Marvel were great fun. The first fifty issues, written by Archie Goodwin were absolutely must-read for Star Wars fans, because they capture what made the original trilogy so beloved. Then, the David Michilinie run (however you spell his name) that followed on from Goodwin was also very much worth reading. I felt that the book went steadily downhill from after that point, but that's a good 75 issues worth a reader's time.

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dogpoet    463

They didn't even let being completely unable to do anything to advance the plot after the second film left a load of lose ends unresolved for the final sequel cramp their style too much, iirc.

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In a slightly more on-topic note, I've been re-reading my Hellblazer trades in the evenings after the kids go to bed and my wife's in the shower, and I'm currently up to "Tainted Love".  My wife, who normally doesn't care anything for this funny book hobby of mine outside of her obsession with the Flash and Daredevil TV shows, saw the rather random page of John and Kit's break-up scene and asked what was happening in the story.  So I went into the broad strokes of the John/Kit relationship, knowing she's a sucker for romantic drama, and she became very interested.  She actually asked if she could read the series, so I pulled out "Dangerous Habits" and told her to start there.  I don't think she's cracked it open yet, but she's got her bookmark placed in the middle of the volume where Ennis's run begins, so I have hopes that I may have finally converted her.

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Christian    752

Until she sees that after the breakup, John goes catatonic, becomes an alcoholic, and wants to kill himself. Sometimes the women just do not understand the complex emotions of men and our dependency issues.....

I converted my girlfriend to reading comic books. Comics do a terrible job reaching out to new readers. Unless you have been reading comics for years or have a friend who reads comics, it's almost impossible to really know what the world of comics has to offer (other than mainstream superhero books).

I've made her a fan of Grant Morrison, Sandman, Alan Moore, Hellboy, and a few other indy books. Some books she has discovered on her own, like she loves Bitch Planet, but it's a book I had never read. However, I still have not broached the very delicate Hellblazer subject, as of yet. I've told her about it. She's not much of a fan of horror fiction, but I think she would enjoy the Jamie Delano run, with its social criticism, and a lot more quiet horror. Someday. I'm sure she would not be a fan of the Garth Ennis run.

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dogpoet    463

Just tell her it's a book written by guys (apart from Denise Mina, but she wrote guy-ish on that comic), about a guy, for guys, and that the last writer doubled down on the guyishness to the exclusion of everything else, Christian.

I mean seriously, what's the problem there?

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