You mentioned in your book at the end that the current average age of a comic book reader is now 30, which is a lot older that it used to be. With that in mind, what’s the future of comics— is it all just nostalgia at this point?
It’s hard to say. Certainly the people who work in the editorial division of Marvel think about this a lot more than I do. And it’s not like they’ve given up on it and said, “Oh well, the movies are doing well.” But it’s tough to compete when you’re neglected. They’ve lost the teenagers; it’s too late to get more of them! I don’t follow the digital comics distribution very closely right now, and I suppose a lot will depend on that right now, because they’ve priced themselves out of being accessible to little kids when it’s $3.99 for a hard copy!
If you’re trying to make comics books that look like cool movies, you’re going to lose. For instance, if you’ve seen some of Mark Waid’s Daredevil, and he’s been teamed with some amazing artists, and it has a really great ’60s pop art feel, kind of like the way Mike Allred did. Something that looks in no way like someone’s trying to make it into storyboards. And I think projects like that where people are really given the value of this art form are where it’s at, bringing out all the things that are great about reading a comic book, rather than being like, “We’re going to have good coloring, and it’s going to be widescreen and the dialogue is gonna feel like a movie.” That can only get you so far.
Stan Lee and Marvel seemed to have a different approach than “We have genius artists and writers”; when I was a kid there was a book that was called How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way that aimed to get any competent kid thinking that they could be a Marvel artist.
Having everyone be influenced by Kirby was a really great thing, for a while. Then you had variations on it, like John Buscema — John Buscema’s style, except you had Stan Lee saying to him, “Make it more like Kirby!” I guess the world at large knows what superhero comics look like, and they’re not that interested in it. And I think that if they had some reason to take a second look, that’s what it could take. I wish I could think of a good example of an artist — like even take someone who isn’t a comic book artist who can do something really crazy and creative and turn it into an art book that stars Man-Thing. . . .
Like Bill Sienkewicz in the ’80s!
Right! That’s how you’re going to bring new people to comic book stores, by breaking down these expectations, that’s my untested solution. I’m sure this has been shot down by meetings at Marvel countless times.
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