Thursday, August 08, 2013

Who is DC making comics for? I don't think that they know

Lets get right to it and say, "No, you don't." Which is kind of like saying, "The answer is 42." and, of course, not knowing what the question is.

Well the answer is in response to this:
“Batman did pretty well, so I sat down with the head of DC Comics. I really wanted to do Kamandi [The Last Boy on Earth], this Jack Kirby character. I had this great pitch … and he said, ‘You think this is gonna be for kids? Stop, stop. We don’t publish comics for kids. We publish comics for 45-year-olds. If you want to do comics for kids, you can do Scooby-Doo. And I thought, ‘I guess we just broke up.’”– Paul Pope, relating his attempt to pitch an all-ages (or perhaps young-adult) title to DC Comics, during his Comic-Con International conversation with Gene Luen Yang.
Now, it would be one thing if DC had a focus and Paul, who has a distinct creative voice, was not going to be part of that, but, and we can put this right on the table, DC is NOT making comics for 45 year old men. 45 year olds were brought up on Frank McLaughlin and Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella and Cary Bates and the Flash, and the classic JLA and Superman coming from Kansas and this new 52 is not their DC at all. 
Perhaps DC thinks that the hypersexualized fanboy driven new versions of the characters, and the darker Green Lantern will appeal to the adults in the audience who haven't really grown up, but its clearly not happening. None of the these versions of the characters are recognizable to anyone in their 40's. Those of us in our 40's had to deal with the reordering of the DC universes when Crisis first threw a big blanket over continuity back in '85, but it was a fairly loving blanket, inclusive for the most part. But now they've rebooted so many times that all they have done is made a point of pushing away older fans to an extent that we've never seen before. Welcome to the NEW DC!
Now, combine that with Karen Berger's exit interview in the New York Times and you have the other interesting side to this:
Dan DiDio, the co-publisher of DC Comics, said there was “some truth” to these feelings of a shifting landscape, which he said were industrywide. For comics published by Vertigo and by DC, he said: “There’s not a challenge to be more profitable out of the gate. But there is a challenge to be more accepted out of the gate.”Mr. DiDio said it would be “myopic” to believe “that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead.”“That’s not what we’re in the business for,” he added. “We have to shoot for the stars with whatever we’re doing. Because what we’re trying to do is reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible.”
So lets parse this: Vertigo, the line that primarily would bring in female readers, is being cancelled because "servicing a very small slice of our audience is [not] the way to go ahead.” How is it possible to go service a wider part of your audience when you've just cut out 50% of the population? 
So, really, who is DC producing comics for? Do they know?
I going to go with: catering to the needs of 25-year old fanboys who don't need a lot of old continuity to deal with, like the Reis/Lee art style, don't have wives bothering them over blatantly sexist comics coming into the house, and don't want any of that DC produced "alternative shit" messing up their comic lines. Now, is this any different than the individuals who were going to enjoy Dr. Light raping Sue Dibney? Not really, but i do think that its already a different generation of young men pushing what meager sales are out there, young men who don't have daughters that they don't want to sexualize, young men who believe that they have a slightly nihilistic attitude towards life because they've played too much "Tour of Duty". Not the sort readers that  might wander by the Top Shelf table at a con. 

Will DC succeed with this audience? Perhaps, but i'm thinking no, and it will be just a matter of time before they retrench. Again. And its not going to be pretty. Again.


Micah Champion said...

It appears DC is modeling themselves after the likes of cable programming. If you watch Mad Men, you're a small demographic. If you read Catwoman, you're a small demographic, too.

When I hit the library with my kids, I always check out the graphic novels and trades they have available. And without too many exceptions, I enjoy reading their children's selections with my kids rather than the adult. There are great adult comics, no doubt, but often, I find, "mature" titles are more akin to a child who just learned the F-word.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

agreed with your last point micah. but i think that the first paragraph is incorrect. The small cable model is, "we're not putting up a ton of money, so we can take a chance and we'll leave you alone." This DC is following the 1950's uber-controlling and, as many artists are saying, incredibly humiliating path. Its an incredible retrenching. and, given the changes to the business since 1950, incredibly bad one.