The ever dying American comics

When Warner Brothers gained the ownership of Detective Comic, or just DC, they didn’t buy it for the comics. They bought it for the IPs and all the money that came with them. The comics were, and still are, just a side gig for the main purpose: to farm out the comics of their usable material and make proper bucks on television, movies and merch. Marvel has, ultimately, become the same kind of entity for Disney, though Marvel was this kind of IP farm well before in the 1990’s before Disney’s purchase was looming in the horizon. It’s a rare industry where it was intentionally screwed over my marketers and CEOs that had nothing do with the creation of the comics themselves. Then again, your normal comic writer and artist isn’t a jack-of-all-trades and often suck with the business side of things, which often can lead swift downfall of a label even if the books were well made.

Then again, the comic book industry has always been full of people who want to abuse others, steal someone else’s thunder for their own gain, stab people in the back to undermine deals and such. While this is somewhat common in every field, the American comic industry is marred with people and stories of someone effectively screwing their partner over because of money. One of the best examples is Bill Finger, the person who effectively created what is recognised as Batman nowadays, with Bob Kane’s original concept being trash and trashed. Another would be Todd McFarlane, who quit Marvel with other writer-editors to create Image Comics in order to fulfil the dream of creators owning their characters. McFarlane is a massive hypocrite for championing such cause, but then claiming that other writers and artists were only hired to create characters for him. The American comic book industry is full of stories of creators turned business, and they become the exact same kind of businessmen they hated while being under their heels. Some of the stories that float around or have been discussed to lengthy extends, like in SF Debris’ Rise and Fall of the Comic Empire series, are more fantastical than the comics themselves. It’s no surprise that an industry that carved itself into the American culture found itself loathed and shunned, only to be used like a cheap whore whenever their parent companies needed something to be squeezed out.

The sad thing is, the mainstream American comic industry deserves every bit of loathing and mocking it gets, if not for anything else but for essentially starting its own slow, painful death that’s still going on and only somewhat saved by the digital revolution. The single most destructive thing the American comic industry saw was the removal of comics from general grocery and drug stores and segregating themselves into specialised comic stores, which then became livelihood to some alongside the comic merch, card and board games and some such. Diamond, the distributor with a monopoly position, is the only lifeline these stores had for the longest time and the current world situation is rocking that fragile balance, especially now that Marvel seems to turn to digital more and more with their comics. It’s a situation that the industry and the very core customers have cultivated throughout the last decades, and now they have to face the fact that it isn’t all that viable. The best selling comics now have the same number of sales as most of the cancelled titles in the 1990’s or earlier.

It doesn’t help that the writers and artists themselves are unprofessional, to put it lightly. These are people who can steal someone’s life defining work for themselves because of money and (relative) fame, so it isn’t surprising these same people lash out at the general population and at their own fans. When a writer tells straight up not to buy their comic for whatever reason, the comic stores feel the hurt. Harassing your own consumers and raving on the social media falls into this category as well, and it’ll never end as soon as these people keep getting all that attention. It’s one of the reasons why, in general, both the American and global culture has deemed these mainstream American comics as not even worth the paper they are printed on.

Both the comics and its creators are the reason why American comics are regarded as low-tier entertainment with little intelligence to them. The mainline American comics had almost solid full century of laughable content. Yes, they had great stories and deep explorations of human psyche. Yes, they had absolutely marvelous artwork and broke ground and defined a whole visual style. At the same time these great stories were also extremely childish and directly made for kids, their exploration was weak at best. The artwork was still marvelous, and then co-opted by “real” artists to be actually defined and used. Andy Warhol being the best example of an artist who plagiarised comic panels by blowing them up in size and making millions on other peoples’ works. Nobody blinked at this, because at the time, and barely even now, comics were not considered art. The perception of comics being for children with their colourful pages and less-than stellar writing, hasn’t exactly changed, but it has morphed into that comics are for fat nerds who haven’t left their parents’ house and barely have any work. As inaccurate as that is, to a large extent, the comic book stores don’t help with this. On the contrary, it might’ve been the originator of this view as well as the continuing perpetrator. Just shower yourself before going to a comic or game store, please. That alone helps a lot.

The fall of the American comics in the late 1990’s and early 00’s were one of the reasons why Japanese media, both comics and cartoons, took so much hold of the new millennium’s ten’s. With a new generation seeking something new as well as offering an alternative to languishing American comics, which also had constant down spiral of quality to the point of breaking some of the characters completely, it’s no wonder the Eastern media managed to carve itself a niche. Of course, this wasn’t a new thing, Japanese media had been making its way to American mainstream for several decades at that point, but until then it was either relatively underground or heavily localised to the point of being unrecognisable from its source material.

The American mainstream comic book industry would have died few times already if not for the fervent support of its customers. Customers they constantly keep attacking nowadays. It’s an industry that’s not exactly what we could call healthy, but it is invaluable as an idea farm for the big companies. All the negative and stereotypical stuff that’s touted about these comics since, well, from the beginning, still applies to them. It’s and industry that should’ve died few times around only to be rebuild stronger, but rather it has been kept on life support, along all the comic book stores. As sad as it is, the characters we see in the comics are not the ones that are integral part of the American culture, and to see their more iconic visages, you have to go to the cinemas. (If all that wicked tongue’s are true, that’s not going to last long either.) After all, the cinema is the highest peak American media can reach. Comic books, on the other hand, is at the bottom of the barrel alongside video game journalism.

Customers can be stupid too

I’ve decided that every hundred posts or so I’ll dwell into countering matter that I usually discuss. Normally you’d read me ranting about the service providers sucking at what they’re doing (like what Sony &co. are doing) but I really want to tell you that the customer base they have can be just as stupid as well. This might be somewhat harsh text, but hey, even I need to vent these things out.

Let’s take an example of the “hardcore gamers.” Let’s be clear once more; hardcore gamers do not exist. And why? Because the self-entitled HC gamers are nothing more than remnants of PC gamers. Why? Because the HD twins, and even before that, are nothing more than dumbed down PCs running dumbed down PC games. Why? Just to give a simple example; the PS3 is marked as a computer to avoid higher tax as they did with PS2. And UK court said nope. And I want to quote Kutaragi himself;

Recently, SCE president Ken Kutaragi went into great detail about how the PlayStation 3 is “clearly a computer,” not a games console.

“Speaking about the PS3, we never said we will release a game console,” he claimed in a recent interview with PC Impress Watch. “It is radically different from the previous PlayStation. It is clearly a computer.”

So yeah, the same applies to X360 by all means. Honestly, I would be completely fine with this. Both HD twins do have some games I wish to play. However, the customer base on all three platforms are just insanely stupid when it comes to both ignorance and sheer stupidity. They either do not acknowledge realities that are in their faces or they simply will not seek knowledge outside their opinions. They’re like religious zealots who can’t see past their own noses.

The Wii was the first proper home console since the NES. Both MegaDrive and SNES were already more PCs than their predecessors and PlayStation sealed the deal. 3D has always been more PC element that console element, and always will be. This is why Nintendo always fails when they release a console that concentrates on 3D; they’re going away from their arcade roots that sells. People wish to play arcade and console like games on home consoles. PC games have not vanished or PC gamers have not vanished; they’ve just moved to consoles.

And the customers are stupid enough not to notice this.

This is part of the problem, as many industries listen to customers the wrong way, especially the game industry. Yes, the industries’ are having a crisis because the rampaging creativity and all the bad it brings with it. Remember, it’s not the creativity that creates a good product, but research and craftsmanship that have little to none to do with creativity. The customers are blind to certain aspects they do not like to think and are victims to to their own idolization. Certain comic writers have become like gods in the industry that are allowed to do anything they want at the cost of the quality of the product and sales. One person who is like this is Grant Morrison, who is a good writer but is currently undermining the Action Comic by his behaviour. Morrison does not tell DC what is his plans on Action Comic and on Superman, which undermines another writer’s job and is being rewritten on number basis because Morrison is an asshat diva who is treated as creative god. Same with Miyamoto; the guy can do good games when he is forced to, but when his creativity is allowed to shine we get games that do not sell and of low quality. And the only people we can blame is the customers who idolize them.

Same with designers, where certain names always pop up. These guys always gets the god status due to their creativity, but only of them actually have proper reason to be at that state, as they actually spend half of their work hours just researching what they could do better for the customers, y’know, like a craftsman should. A service provider should never be a creative artist like the customer sees, because customers are idiots who can’t do research and do not know the difference. The industry has to know the difference, but as people from the customer side enter the business side, the industry begins to lose its integrity and the creative artist view takes more control and the quality of everything just drops like a dead fly.

If we want to keep having quality products, we the customers have to become more strict and face the truth. Let’s stop this god bullshit altogether and let’s start demanding better games, movies and comics. I want to see a new 2D Mario, but with the same budget and work that 3D Mario sees. Nintendo doesn’t like to do them, but honestly, fuck them if they don’t want my money. Just like Capcom. But as long the customers are bullshitting themselves with these terms of “harcore gamer” and “casual gamer” and thinking that the creators are some kind of gods, we’re never going to see anything of high quality again.

What we, the service providers, need do to fix this? First of all, stop bullshitting ourselves and stop jacking ourselves off to the creativity crap we’re loving so much. Let’s stop making pandering crap people keep talking about but never purchasing, and straighten out all the misconceptions that lead to low quality products. In other words; let’s start making good products and tell people that we’re listening, but not only the vocal minority that keeps circle jerking themselves.