While fan base seems like the obvious answer to the question of what has had the most impact on the modern comic book industry, I firmly believe that is what keeps the industry alive. When Jason Howard visited the classroom he mentioned that he has spoken with many fans that did not like his comic when they first started reading it, but after following the comic they began to enjoy it. I think this is an excellent example of the persistence many comic fans have. While plot and illustration strongly impact the reader’s willingness to buy a comic, I think it is ultimately up to the reader to invest their time enough to care. It is like watching a television show; if someone does not like one episode of a television show but continue watching it, they may get hooked on the series anyway because of the plot. But ultimately it is the consumer’s decision as to whether a plot is worth following.
There are a million different answers to the question asked, but I think that without the consumer fan base none of the other factors matter. Each person has a different perception of what makes a good comic; some like art, some like plot, some like action, etc. Because consumers have different opinions of what makes a good comic, it is hard to say a storyline is the most important part of the industry because to someone else the storyline may be the least important factor of a comic.
Without an established fan base no comic would survive, let alone the industry itself. The fans are what keep the industry alive and without them and their interest in each comic the industry would die. That is the beauty of the fan base, because each person has their own opinion of what is good and bad in a comic, there are so many different types of comics. Without the opinion of fans comics would be boring and too similar to one another.
I think the idea of a fan base community has had the most important impact on the development of the modern comic book industry. Without the enthusiastic fans who would write letters to the creators and writers or the numerous fans who keep up with the issues and purchase the tickets for Comic con that the industry has been able to get through tough economic times. The comic book industry has survived through wars and not so bright presidents simply because of the strong support in their choice of comic book. Merchandising, ticket sales, web blogs and fan created websites are what keep the companies creative in thinking of better ways to keep up with the times and to not be overshadowed by Hollywood trends. Fans who create websites who recommend comic books to others helps expand and bring in more readers who may not have given comic books a chance. People don’t just wake up one day and strike an interest. Hollywood has taken comic books and turned them into strong showings at the box office and endless amounts of merchandise but without someone coming up with the idea to make the superhero comic book into a movie, it would not have been possible. The person would have to have read comics and its characters in order to bring it up to producers as a potential movie. It may be the storyline or the hot leading lady (or dude) but it is the fans that continue to purchase/subscribe and follow comic books that give the modern comic book industry motivation to keep growing with its readers. Fans that create art or comic books themselves and grow up having it become a career. Regardless of the little that actually become successful in the industry, they help contribute to providing a future for comic books.
I know this seems obvious, but the anti-hero changed the comic book industry in so many ways. The way that I think is most important though is the affect it had on the stories that could be told. Comics could go from knights in shining armor walking over the worlds filth, to a dark grizzled hero that would crawl through it. The heroes that would get the job done, but sometimes they’d have to do things that Golden Age super heroes would never consider, because sometimes for true justice to be served, some laws need to be broken.
Having an anti-hero as an element of comic story telling opened up whole new directions for comics to go. Comics had already created characters with depth and emotions, now events could affect them in whole new ways. When Batman was originally created, he was a man that worked with authorities to take down criminals, the only thing that set him apart from a police officer is that his identity was a secret and that he had access to greater resources than them. Now though, Batman is a character that was hardened by the death of his parents who will use any means necessary to make sure that the villains are apprehended. He breaks laws and the cops are after him just as much as the villains are. He is no longer a character whose punches go “WA-POW!” and that makes him all the more interesting and complex.
Another good example of this is in the recent Ultimate Avengers. When Captain America finds out that his son is the the mastermind behind the plot of an evil organization, instead of vowing to fight harder with the Avengers to apprehend him, he goes underground and even resorts to fighting other super heroes that get in his way. This makes the story more interesting, and I think there are many other examples of where the anti-hero element has opened broader pathways for comic story lines.
If I had to determine one person who was able to single handedly change the face of comics it would have to be Alan Moore. Moore wrote some of the most influential books of all time: Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Swamp Thing, and V for Vendetta to name a few. In the 1980’s Moore changed the face of comics forever and created the dark style of storytelling that became so popular afterwards in the Watchmen and V for Vendetta. His style laid down the path for all comic book writers in the 90’s and still influences writers today with his realistic and flawed heroes.
When it comes to Moore it’s hard not to talk about Watchmen as a perfect example of his overall career work. The story is dark and suspenseful with realistic characters that look into a true view of what would happen if some of the classic comic stereotypes, like superheroes who think they can save everyone and know what’s best for the public. This book is what would likely happen if there were people with unlimited power, but a very limited sense of moral obligation. In those types of situations even trying to do right can lead to terrible abuses.
Moore wrote about the flawed heroes and showed reality instead of the unreal and squeaky clean look at people and society that comics before him had. In From Hell he shows graphic scenes of Victorian England’s poverty and prostitution. There may have been writers who wrote about graphic adult situations and themes before, usually in underground Comix, but Alan Moore was the first to find huge amounts of success because of it. On top of the experimentalism in his writing he is also one of the most intelligent and great writers to ever grace the comic book industry. Moore has writing abilities better than most novelists and brings those skills to his comics. Few would disagree that Moore is and always will be in the upper-echelon of comic book writers. His works are often considered the best of all time and his influence cannot be doubted.
Dr. Fredric Wertham’s book “The Seduction of the Innocent” clearly had the most dramatic impact (not necessarily good) on the development of the modern comic book. The publication of “The Seduction of the Innocent” gave the U.S. Senate reason investigate the impact comic books were having on kids. To try and prevent government interference within the industry, the Comics Code Authority was created. This was most definitely the biggest halt in the creation of comic books. While comics books were still created, they were, how do you say… boring. No comic book fan wants to read about the boredom that the Comics Code Authority forced writers to write about. We want to see blood, comedy, fun, the type of things that you watch on television (although that was strongly censored during the time as well). Comics used to provide people with a release from their traditional lives to something extraordinary. After the Comics Code Authority stepped in, there was no release. Sure, there were still some underground comics being created, but they couldn’t get to the general public as easily as before because stores wouldn’t sell them without the CCA stamp of approval. I would compare this to Prohibition. While there were still some people who used alcohol during the time, the legislation stopped the majority from indulging themselves. Perhaps installing a rating system in the comic book industry wasn’t such a ridiculous idea, but the restrictions imposed by the comics code authority were outlandish. Creativity in writers fell through the floor. Nobody wanted to be a part of the industry as long as the comics code authority was there. I believe that if the comics code authority was never created, there could have been an insane amount of great comic books produced during this time. Instead comic book writers were giving a mental block in their creativity that greatly slowed the progress of the comic book industry we know today.
From what I’ve learned so far, one thing that has had an important impact on the development of the modern comic book industry was the creation of the direct market. This style of distribution has had a great effect on many aspects of the comic book industry. First, the direct market offered independent comic book publishers a way to enter the industry at a lower risk than they would without a direct market. Because of this, we have seen a rise of the amount of independent publishers that are currently in the market. These independent publishers such as Image have and continue to create some of the most respected comics in the industry. Also, since comics were unable to be returned in a direct market, the publishers were able to make higher profits on comics and wouldn’t have to publish as many copies that would end up being pulped in the older system. Because of this, comic companies could afford to spend more money making the comics actually look good. The result is that now we have higher quality paper and coloring process in comic books. The comic companies could now spend twice as much money producing the comics and still make a better profit than they did in the old days. With a direct market, comic companies could also afford enhanced covers and create mini-series. A negative impact of the direct market is that it has isolated comic book readers from the mainstream culture since comic book stores have been the main place to purchase comics. Since comics are not found in a lot of book stores, they have developed a bad reputation as not being a serious read for adults and many people stereotype comic book readers as nerds for reading what they believe is childish material. This stereotype about comics has probably effected its overall sales.
I love Spin Angels. Not just because my favorite character is back in this issue, but it is such a complex, layered story that spans hundreds of years. Plus, there are plenty of crazy fighting scenes and a delicious conspiracy. It makes me want to read the da Vinci code again. Something about me cannot resist a good thriller story; add to that the fact that I’m kind of a history nerd and lapsed Catholic and this is the perfect story for me. (Take that, Vatican!).
There is a lot of Templar and Vatican history in the story that seems to be based on real history. Reading this issue lead to hours of fascinated clicking on Wikipedia. For example, the Judas Gospel they are looking for in the story really exists! Except in real life everybody already knows about it. And in 1939, as in the story, excavators discovered a necropolis under St. Peter’s basilica. There is a French perspective on the history too. Sofia specifically mentions a supposed network of artificial Templar lakes in France’s Orient forest. I couldn’t find anything about that on Wikipedia, but using google and Google Earth, I found “Lac du Temple,” which on a French website translated by google, has a “Wink to the Templars of old days who have buried their treasure in the fabulous Orient Forest, Lake Temple, with its wild beauty, captivated lovers of nature as fishermen”
My one qualm with the story is what I see as unnecessary sexualization of the female characters. Gina actually kills bad guys and dodges explosions in a string bikini. It must be stapled to her skin because it never slips, even a little. I don’t want to be a prude, but even the nun in the story wears a very tight jumpsuit. I’m somewhat mollified, I guess, because the writer has shown them all as unique, strong, women; I’m just disappointed that there is so much potential for objectification.
For this weeks blog assignment I decided to read Dead Run by Boom. Looking at the cover of the comic and flipping through the pages it was easy to see that the story took place in some sort of post apocalyptic future. Since I am a pretty big fan of those kind of stories I decided to pick it up. The story follows a man named Nick Masters who is a courier- a person who travels from city to city through the dangerous wastelands to deliver packages. From what I could tell from the comic it seems like the world has been devastated by nuclear war and people live in huge fortified cities. Nick’s sister gets taken for ransom and the only way to get her back is for Nick to deliver a package through the ‘Dead Run’- a run to San Francisco that has only been completed by one man.
I was a little disappointed by Dead Run mainly because it seemed a lot more generic that I thought it would be. It had pretty much standard characters like the cocky main character and the naive side kick who happens to be the daughter of the only person to have completed the Dead Run. I wasn’t too thrilled with the plot either and would have liked a little bit better reason for Nick to be making the run.
When I started this class I figured I would enjoy the independent comics a lot more than the Marvel and DC comics. While I do enjoy super hero comics I like adventure, sci-fi, horror and other kinds of stories a lot more. So far with the independent comics that I have gotten, most either have a lot of potential but some bad execution or have really good art but little substance. While I have found that it is somewhat the same way with the DC and Marvel comics I have read, it seems like I have found more that I actually like than with the independent comics. I guess it could, however, come down to that I am just picking the wrong comics.
Because I was impressed with the art that Jason Howard showed us in class, I decided to read one of the comics he handed out in class. I read The Astounding Wolfman issue 19. I was worried that it would be hard for me to follow the storyline because I was not familiar with the comic, but it was surprisingly easy to follow.
Though the storyline was good, I was more interested in reading the comic for the art. I was impressed with how it was different than what I had seen in previous comics. It wasn’t as uniform as Marvel art, but it wasn’t loose like From the Ashes either.
I liked that the actual characters were very detailed when they were close up in the frame. When they were in the background they were less detailed but you could still tell who they were, and I found that different from other comics. Although they were less detailed in the background, they were detailed enough to not be distracted. I feel like other artists don’t detail their background characters enough that it is hard to realize who they are supposed to be.
One thing I didn’t like about the comic is that Face was on the cover, when he had little to do with the storyline. I understand that putting a character readers are familiar with on the cover draws people to the book, but I thought it would be more fitting to put a picture of Wolfman as the dominate character would have made more sense.
Another thing that was uneasy with me was that Face died. I do not know if he is a usual character, but it seemed that he was a dominant character. I didn’t know id Face was supposed to survive being eaten because toward the end of the book Wolfman said, “You probably killed the Face.” And that led me to believe he was not actually dead, but it still left me wondering if he survived or not.
This week I chose to read “The Astounding Wolfman” By Robert Kirkland. Since, the colorist of it, Jason Howard, came to speak to our class and gave us comics I figured I could read it for this week. As I browsed through the pages in class, I knew that I was going to like this comic.
The story line is not completely understandable because I don’t know exactly what the uproar is about. Chloe’s mother was murdered. The Global Defense Agency is investigating the murder. Chloe has done some bad things which are not specified but she is ashamed of herself.
Meanwhile, Wolfman and the other people with special powers are at the Safe House. They are all fugitives now. I think Wolfman is accused of the murder of Chloe’s mother, his wife. He is planning on escaping to France.
Stedman comes over to tell Chloe that they know that her father did not kill her mother. The bite marks don’t match up to Wolfman in her human or wolf form. She is glad that he in no longer accused of something that she knows that he didn’t do.
Wolfman and his crew are on a plane to France. Stedman calls him and tells him that he has found Chloe’. This is when I understood that Chloe is his daughter. Stedman also tells him not to ignore “The Face”. I don’t know who the face is.
Anyways, I really enjoyed these comic. The pictures were great because they are vivid. I would like to see this as a cartoon. I seemed to connect to the characters.