When something works, the comics industry tends to run with it until it stops selling!
HOW MANY BATMEN ARE THERE, ANYWAY?
Sometimes when I look over the comics industry, I get concerned! When a comic or a concept takes hold and actually sells, we often beat it to death!
It reminds me of the Billy Joel song, with the lyrics that go:
Darling, I don’t know
Why I go to extremes
Too high or too low
There ain’t no in-betweens
And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all
Darling, I don’t know
Why I go to extremes
This song makes perfect sense when talking about the comics industry.
There are plenty of examples. Probably the biggest example going on at the moment is DC and Batman. I often see online some fans listing the percentage of the releases of DC that are Batman or Batman-related. It’s often more than 50 percent!
Marvel has the Spider-Man group as well! There are female Spideys as well as a pig Spidey and a dark noir Spidey. Yikes!
Image is also doing the same thing! Radiant Black started out fine, but now there is Radiant Red, Radiant Pink, and Rogue Sun—all part of the same “universe.” What’s next, Radiant Rainbow?
Now that Superman is on the rise, we’re getting all kinds of “Supers” in DC! There’s Superboy, a second Superman, Supergirl, and Power Girl, just to name a few!
Team books come and go! The X-Men were huge for a long, long time, and that spawned other groups like the New Teen Titans, and even revivals of the Justice League and Avengers!
It’s like someone is standing at the copier and just pressing the “Print” button again and again! And we wonder why the sales fall off!
IT’S NOT ONLY IN COMICS!
Other forms of media also “go to extremes!” For instance, CBS for a long time had a powerful franchise going with CSi. There was a show based in New York, one in Miami, a CSi: Cyber, and now there is even a CSi: Vegas, which is returning to the show’s roots.
Granted, these things go on for a while, particularly if they are successful. But even CSi came to an end.
For a long time, game shows were big on network TV. They were cheap, required little on-camera effort, and engaged many audiences. Jeopardy still rules in syndication. The same is true with certain genres like westerns, crime drama, and romantic comedies. They all have their flings, but they all eventually take a back seat or even disappear!
I mean, if you want success, you build on what already works! It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s likely to be profitable!
I’ve had the great opportunity to interview comics creators, and it’s always intriguing to me just how they come up with new ideas to bring to the industry.
Sometimes, all you need to do is make a “minor” change. A lot of comics look at superheroes from a different perspective, like The Boys. The “heroes” there don’t have the high moral standards that some in DC’s comics do, so they are “human,” as it were. DC’s Injustice from Tom Taylor does something similar.
Is there something new under the sun? Probably not, but there are different takes on formulas we’ve read for a long time. I always point to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on the Batman comic. They raised the bar really high for the Dark Knight, and I think the people who have followed them have done a great job of giving Batman good storytelling!
Granted, not everything “new” or “different” catches on, but I always applaud the creators who do take a chance by going another direction or making a change.
There’s a problem at times with that, though. In this column, I’ve mentioned before that Jonathan Kent just doesn’t seem all that much of a “Superman” to me because he’s moved away from some of what makes the Man of Steel work for me. Give him a new identity, and I’d likely really appreciate what he’s doing. But as Superman, nope, nada, doesn’t make it for me.
SO, NOW WHAT?
Yes, it’s unlikely that the vast majority of different takes on superheroes or other comics characters will “fly,” as it were. But it is SO worth it to try!
Rather than making another “super” character, how about NOT going to extremes? How about coming up with something we have NOT seen before?
That I hope creators out there will do their best to make happen! I would encourage everyone to get familiar with what has already taken place so you can go somewhere else! Let’s not see the same things we’ve encountered previously!
I wish I could say just what you should do, but I can’t! I’m one of those people who can tell you what’s cool or great when I see it, but come up with it? Sadly, that’s not in my toolbox!
However, I firmly believe that there are MANY creators out there who already have brilliant ideas percolating in their heads at just the thought of heading in new directions! Instead of “going to extremes” the easy way (making a minor change to an already existing character), make an “extreme” change that will work and still entertain those of us who read the books! You can do it—I know because I’ve seen these creations happen! I’m excited to see what people will create!