Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The "Weekly" Recap/Rant -- Target Audience?

Yeah, I guess I'm going to have to give up on the Weekly Recap idea, I just can't stick to it. I actually wanted to post this rant earlier but I've been pretty sick the last few days. So here goes my current ramblings...

Last Thursday I was talking with a friend about my decision to drop Astonishing X-Men now that Whedon's run is over and how the number of monthly (if you can call Astonishing monthly) comics I pick up from Marvel or DC continues to dwindle, especially when it comes to their main line of superhero comics. He said something like "That's too bad considering you're their target audience." To which I quickly replied "No, evidently I'm not." But then I started to wonder, "am I?"

There are obvious signs that I could be part of their "target audience". I'm 32 years old with a somewhat decent paying job and not too much in the way of bills. I've been reading comics pretty much my whole life and probably will continue to do so for a long long time (assuming there are comics I want to read). I have a history with the characters and have made a connection to them (which I know sounds extremely geeky).

On the other hand, that brings some baggage with it. I'm not exactly "young" and who knows how long I'll be in the financial position I'm in at the moment. And I bring with me a lot of "comic history baggage" when I read a story. What I mean by this is that I often come into a story feeling like I know the characters well enough that I'd know how they'd react to something. And when this doesn't match what's written I can be disappointed. I may not be as bad as some when it comes to this and it varies from character to character but I have to admit there's that baggage.

So then I look at what I see happening in comics (again, I'm restricting this to the main Marvel/DC universes at the moment) and I wonder, am I part of their target audience? I see major "universe shattering" storylines crossing over dozens of titles. Or I see "X will never the same" storylines that change the character from what I know to something else (or other times they are just overhyped stories that change nothing). And over and over again I see the "undo" button being pressed. Characters coming back to life. Universes being altered to go back to the status-quo. Even the creators have taken to the opinion "it's comics, anything can happen in comics". Which, although true I suppose, kinda makes me wonder what the big deal is with "universe shattering"/"never be the same" storylines and why I should pick them up if things can indeed be the same. And I find myself losing interest in characters that I've followed for many years now as it no longer seems to be about them and more about outdoing the big shocking event by the other company.

On the one hand, I can appreciate this in some respects. Sometimes you have a great story that just can't be done without breaking a few eggs. I'm reminded that for the Watchmen, an initial idea was to use existing characters but that plan was squashed when they realized they still wanted those eggs intact. But always making copies of existing characters to fill your great story idea isn't always practical and we'd end up with a confusing mishmosh of Superman clones running around (like we don't already have that to some degree). So I see that but I also see that some of these stories just aren't that great. I hate to go back to Civil War but you look at the cloning of Thor or the unmasking of Spider-Man and you think "Why?" And Quesada et al have said, the cloning of Thor was done because they wanted to include Thor's image in Civil War and the unmasking of Spidey was to get publicity knowing they'd re-mask him in One More Day. So even the creators seem to be saying things aren't being driven by a great story but by shocking people with events that are really of no consequence.

But at the end of the day, sales for these events are up. People are buying them. And when polls are run it seems the majority of people want to see more of it. I do see a lot of people saying they are getting tired of it but I guess you're bound to hear more from the people who aren't happy (such as me). So Marvel and DC seem to be giving the people what they want.

So to try and keep this rant a reasonable length and to get back on topic, am I the target audience for Marvel and DC? On the one hand I can see why a company might want to target me and on the other, I can see why they wouldn't. But in the end, I don't know if I am. And I think that's pretty telling.

I think for my next rant I'll be discussing what I think the future holds for me comic-wise, whether it's monthly titles, TPBs, webcomics, or something else.

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