The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

The Green Mints

Posted by Matt on December 3, 2009

This is based on a series of jokes a friend and I have been making lately.

When I was a kid, I read Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comics. I started picking them up because, hey, I knew (most) of the characters, and they were there on the Safeway racks, so why not? Fortunately, my first issue was filled with recaps & flashback, so I got up to speed quickly. I bought them for around a year before stopping. Thankfully, I didn’t stop before I got my hands of the Sonic/Image Comics crossover, truly a gem for collectors of things that don’t make a damned lick of sense.

Actually, while I still read the Sonic comics, I preferred the Knuckles the Echidna comics. Not just because Knuckles was always the radical badass, either. That series was neat to my young, fragile eggshell mind because it had a neat mythology to it. The weirder aspects of the Sonic comics just never really appealed to me the same way the weirder aspects of the Knuckles comics did. I mean, it took place on a floating island, there was a whole lineage of echidnas watching over Knuckles, there were cults, there were some awesome villains, there was a long history of wars…all that kind of stuff was damned interesting to an eight-year-old. Of course, I scoff at such things nowadays.

Obviously, others do not agree.

The Sonic series is still going, by the way. They canceled the Knuckles spin-off long ago, but that stuff has more or less been integrated into the main title, alongside every new development the games have inspired (although there is a newer spin-off that expands on the Sonic comic mythos, which unfortunately does exist). Considering how many mainstream comics have fell by the wayside in the same time period, or that can barely last a year (I mean, a year worth of issues, not the ones that take a year to put out three) in the market, there must be something that these are doing right.

You know, I’ve joined the legion of comic fans that want to see more superheroes revert to less serious times (despite me never having an early connection to superhero comics. Blame the 90s.) But as much as I’d love to see the stuff take itself less seriously, I really wonder if that’s what a real mainstream audience, which is what a lot of industry analysts constantly seek, wants. Especially kids, that mysterious organization whose taste is impenetrable.

Of course, there’s a fine line between something not taking itself seriously and what most mainstream comics are these days. They are quite obviously aimed at a certain kind of audience, the kind of audience that desires multi-part epics, super-complicated continuities, graphic violence and sex, and ‘adult’ themes like rape. I don’t think violence repels the mainstream (maybe some of the worse examples), but I bet what does is how boring a lot of them are. For books with unlimited possibilities for action, they sure seem to talk a lot. Not that slightly more slower-paced superhero comics shouldn’t exist at all, mind you, but they certainly shouldn’t be the majority.

HOWEVER

What are the most popular comics these days? Manga. Which consists of a million chapters (albeit, released at first in formats that are far more accessible) and have complex mythologies. Kids eat that shit up. Just like I did when I was reading Knuckles. Starting to see the connection here?

As much as I think stuff like Sonic should not take itself seriously at all, I also know that there are kids (and furries, but let us not head in that direction) who think these comics are cool. Like I did. These weird elements appeal to them. Back in the 80s, the two most drama-laden series imaginable (X-Men and Teen Titans) were insanely popular. So, maybe what I think appeals to kids (but really appeals to me) is not what should be aimed for. Maybe series that don’t take themselves very seriously are talking down to the audience more than we think.

Or maybe I’m dumb. I don’t know.

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