The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posted by Matt on April 5, 2011

Most comic critics spend a lot of time complaining about things Marvel and DC do. This is understandable, as it was likely reading their superhero lines 20 or 30 years ago (back when they had some sort of presence in non-specialty stores) that hooked them on the medium. But I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with my own constant wandering into that territory, because in the big scheme of things, Marvel and DC mean nothing. The whole comics enterprise has outgrown them, just as they seemed to have outgrown the industry that made them.

I’d be hard-pressed to really consider either to be real comics publishers at this point. They still technically publish comics, yes, but it seems more like some niche branch of their greater marketing schemes, a sort of nostalgic reminder of what they used to be known for, before they had super gigantic corporate parents and the clout to sell their pre-packaged properties to Hollywood (there are moves they have pursued that are more in the publisher direction – Marvel has their licensed books, public domain adaptations, and creator-owned line, and DC still has a billion imprints doing different things). They could stop making comics entirely, and only a few man-children on the Internet would really care. I feel like I’m repeating myself, which is probably because I am.

The major influence Marvel/DC have on the current comics industry is mostly through their symbiotic relationship with Diamond, and thus comics shops. This means that they essentially dominate a good portion of the industry. Unfortunately, we’re talking about something that is still fairly marginal, which doesn’t say a whole lot of good about the industry, does it? And with Diamond slowly going down the tubes, and comic shops definitely not likely to have a brighter future than non-specialty book stores, this is a stranglehold on a corpse. A corpse that didn’t even have a major impact when it was alive.

And with all the neat things being done in comics these days by so many publishers and individuals, in print and online, it just makes paying so much attention to what the corporate guys are doing seem like…a waste of time. I’m going to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival next month, which is a good networking opportunity for guys like my friend Ben…and me, I guess, but my inability to draw goodly makes my dreams of comic creation a little harder to obtain than his. Why do I mention this? I just want you to go to that show’s list of exhibitors. Those are the people who make me love comics as a form. With people like those around, who needs Marvel and DC and their stale adventure stories?

And yet…here I am, talking about them. What is it that keeps us interested in what is really not very interesting? The nerd factor? I am more partial to the Science Fiction angles that superheroes can offer in spades, I must admit. Nostalgia? I have none, having not grown up reading anything other than my beloved Sonic the Hedgehog comics, but I do have thrust upon me constantly by my peers in the nerd blogging frontier. Is it the true end of our age of corporate saturation of culture, where we can’t even think about something without having the biggest and flashiest brand names invading? Or maybe we just find what these old, lumbering former giants are up to while the kids actually push the form as some sort of curio, a reminder of what things used to be like?

In any case, I will try to keep my Marvel/DC bitching to a minimum from now on.

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One Response to “”

  1. […] that time where I said Marvel and DC weren’t really that important? I stand by that, but I’m going to talk about one of them right now. A little armchair […]

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