Saturday, 2 August 2014

Weekly Rant - The New York Times and the Comic Reader.

The New York Times just ran a very favourable article on the comic book movie. It's a short article but they managed to hit a few interesting points.

Here's the link:

Amid the slew of great superhero and comics movies this year it's become obvious to those who love the medium that we won.

Remember the guys and gals at school or college who didn't understand comics. How they watched sports or soaps or shitty action movies but couldn't comprehend how words and pictures sequentially worked?

Remember people in the workplace saying. 'Oh, you read comics?' Or the date that said 'Don't you read comics or something?'

Well I have news for you.

We won.

Not only are superhero and comics movies great where it counts i.e., critically. But everyone both watches and enjoys them.

There was even an motion capture Hulk in goal for the football (soccer) World Cup 2014 trailer.

You can't turn a corner without seeing a Batman, Thor or now a Racoon.

We've even got to the point where people think being a 'comic nerd' makes them cool. I have encountered a couple of tattooed hipsters who upon finding out my hobby have said 'Hey, me too, I am a big Comic fanboy(girl)'. They weren't and had never read a comic but we let it go as we bask in the glow of fame and fortune.

But where the NYT really spiked my interest is when they described reading comics as having a '....satisfying sense of subtle subversiveness.' A really interesting turn of phrase. Who among us hardcore fans hasn't felt a tiny pang of jealousy that the 'outside' world of the average Joe has discovered our little hobby.

Comics now (as the NYT rightly points out) are lucky to sell 100,000 copies. It's a struggling market that is mostly ignored by the waves of people queuing up to buy cinema tickets or computer games. This wasn't always the case. Comics have had real boom periods. The period around World War 2 for example or the big biceps and big guns period of the speculator market of the 1990s. Back then comics sold in millions (admittedly for different reasons) but they were everywhere.

I'm not going to harp on about why there is a sales slump. That's for those with bigger business brains than this reader. However what would help (possibly) is if this feeling of 'subversiveness' just packed up and went away?

I'm not exactly sure thinking about it that 'subversive' is correct? Perhaps another description is more relevant these days.

Case in point. A pal of mine reads comics, works in the TV industry and has done for 20-30 years. But he won't read comics in public. We joke about it and I tell him that it's cool now and that he's only hurting himself by dwelling in the ' Comics Closet' as we refer to it. He'll read a Doctor Who novel or a red top paper (spits) on the train or in a coffee shop but not a comic. It's a stigma. Reading a comic. Does it imply something of the reader? It shouldn't but do we feel that it does?

I've never been bothered. Even as a teen and keen to impress the opposite sex I was never bothered (different times I suppose - it was the early 80s and comics were everywhere back then). But even now I don't care. I work in a fairly macho environment and have on the odd occasion had some friendly banter from a colleague. I usually reply with a combination of humour/admission and a piss take of football? But I can see how some thinner shoulders than my own might buckle?

Another example comes from a couple of years ago. I was hanging out in a comic shop in Camden Town (North London's hipster capital) when a particularly aggressive junkie beggar came in asking for some money. The guy behind the counter shook his head and refused. Said beggar pushed the point and upon being asked to leave said 'You lot are sad c**ts who read comics.' He then made an unconvincing threat about coming back before leaving with his heroin addled pride still intact. I remember giggling as he chided our hobby through the pure ridiculousness of the situation. 

You know what I say. 

Fuck you. I read comics. I'm neither a virgin nor an idiot. I played rugby for my county and have been in far too many drunken fights to count. I have a great job I love and that pays the mortgage. It's not a weakness that I read comics, it's a strength. I wish everyone tried them, there are a lot out there who would love them I am sure. There's something for everyone out there if you take a chance.

Ass I write this Guardians of the Galaxy has just come out to great reviews and outstanding ticket sales.

We won.

Thanks for reading.


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