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Your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Shop: If I Were the Emperor of Comics... (Part 2)

Written by Matt Johnson on Thursday, August 15 2013 and posted in Columns

Your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Shop: If I Were the Emperor of Comics... (Part 2)

Matt Johnson discusses all age comics in the latest installment of his retailer column.

So, last week, I declared myself the Emperor of Comics. Come on, I dare you to try and take the title from me.  A warning: just this week I got back on the ice and am feeling exceptionally spry and chippy, so drop your gloves if you dare.  (…Of course, that's when my enforcer comes in and lays you out.  Ha, Gretzky got away with that for years in Edmonton, sucker!)

A few weeks ago, before I became Emperor, I made an impassioned, (i.e. rant filled hate fest) plea on why there needs to be more kids comics in this industry.  As if someone was listening…

Paul Pope was quoted by Robot 6 this week in an interview describing his all ages Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth pitch.  Here's the incriminating quote:

“Batman [Year 100] did pretty well, so I sat down with the head of DC Comics. I really wanted to do ‘Kamandi, 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 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.’”

Is that not the saddest thing you’ve read about this horrible group of people that now run the once proud company DC?  Paul Pope is one of the finest creators in the industry and any company should be both proud and excited to get a pitch for a book from him.  But he wanted to do it for all ages, too!  However, DC is so short-sighted they say no. 

A few weeks ago I wrote up my displeasure with the lack of kids comics in the industry.  As if on cue, a very good customer of mine sent me a note about how he gave his 2nd grade nephew the first volume of Superman Family Adventures.  He told me that his nephew was so engrossed in the book that when others would ask him questions, he didn’t even respond.  THIS is the glory of comics and the power they can have on kids.  And to think, we could have had a GREAT all ages book by one of the best creators…. Well, it is just infuriating.

But that's not all.  Kevin McGuire, one of the great artists (especially when it comes to his facial expressions) was sacked from Justice League 3000, a new series with Kevin Giffen and JM DeMatteis.  It was going to be a new future League with a fairly humorous side to it, but DC changed their mind after the first issue was finished and fired Maguire to take the book in a different direction.  Why? Well,Maguire said they wanted grim and gritty. 

I first got into the Justice League as a teen with the McGuire/Giffen/DeMatteis's Justice League International.  For crying out loud, I even have a Kevin McGuire Guy Gardner (the best Green Lantern) tattooed on my left arm!!  I loved the jokes, the characters and especially the creators.  It was a book that was okay for kids, funny as hell, and, at the same time, had superheroes in it – which, if anyone hadn’t noticed, can be pretty silly in their costumes!  (Did you see Avengers in a theater?)

This rant's going somewhere. I promise.  As Emperor of Comics, I decree all companies that publish with over 15% control of the comic industry (I had typed 20%, but figured DC will be below that before long) WILL publish at least 25% of their entire line as all ages reads.

It really isn’t that hard to do.  Think for a second.  All the books you remember fondly as a kid… all with the Comics Code stamp on them were all ages reads.  Now think again, how many books do you read now that you would consider all ages reads? 

Kids are the future of our industry.  If they don't read, the industry is done for you.  So, to hell with you, “head of DC”, who can’t get his mind around the dollars and cents and publish at least a small percentage of books for a children’s audience (not to say, as many of my customers did, that they wouldn’t jump at the chance to buy an all ages Kamandi by Paul Pope.  Heck I would buy three; one for me, one for a friend and one for a random kid on the street.)

Oh, and you think you'll slink off into a corner and hide from my wrath, Marvel?  Seriously, you who did away with the Comics Code (which I am not in favor of going back to, mind you.  I do believe that we are better off with OUT censorship, but….), you who publish books so far from a kids' level and offer a puny single Avengers book and a terrible Spider-Man book for an All Ages audience.  For shame. 

Marvel, you make the idiots at DC look like geniuses for doing something like Batman ’66.  Books like Superior Spider-Man are a good example of what is fine for adults and NOT okay for kids.  DC and their Batman book with a Joker wearing, what, his own cut off face!?!  Are you serious?  Fine, fine, grim and gritty, I get it, but publish a kid’s Bat-book like you used to, and I'll have no complaints.  

“But we are in business to make money….”  WHOA!!  Don’t go there comics exec!  I will smack the expression off your face!  You lived and prospered off of kids buying comics to get to where you are today. You WILL publish enough to make the next generation love and enjoy this medium!  Otherwise, you deserve to disappear like other obsolete forms of pop culture, like the Pet Rock.

Indy comic publishers, like Boom and IDW, I thank you for your time and efforts in fighting the good fight… please continue and prosper – with my blessing.  Thank you for My Little Pony and Adventure Time.  I appreciate your sales that rival the Avengers, X-Men and terrible, once great books like Superman.    

If you've ever seen a kids eyes light up at the purchase of a comic, you'll know what I'm talking about.  Once, I saw a young girl starting at a stencil of the Bat symbol on our store's front window on Sunday Morning. I rushed out to hand her a free Marvel kids comic, which immediately brightened her day.  This is the sort of outreach we need to keep the industry strong into the next generation.

The Emperor has spoken.  Defy him at your peril!!  Marty McSorely always watches.

Ahh, but I have deprived my citizens of sport…. Next week, I offer you Games!


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About the Author - ThanosCopter

ThanosCopter is a specially designed helicopter built to transport Thanos the Mad Titan. Built by Sterling Custom Helicopters, ThanosCopter appeared in several Marvel comics, before being abandoned by its owner during the character's ascension into major villainy. ThanosCopter was discovered by the Outhouse and given a second chance at life. He now buzzes merrily around the comic book industry, spreading snark, satire and humor like candy to small children.


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