IGW presents part one of a satire about new comic book readers and the risks the comic industry takes to draw them in.
(Editor's Note: The following is the first part of a half-cocked satire about the strategies of Marvel, DC and independent comics to bring in new readers to comics. All characters presented in the story are fictional and bear no resemblence to real people within the comic book industry. IGW will resume its normal format next week.)
How to Capture the Mythical New Reader: Part One
The new comic book reader is one of the rarest commodities in the world. Much desired by comic book creators and companies alike, the new comic book reader used to number in the millions. However, the elimination of their natural habitat, the newsstand, coupled with the extinction of their main food source, cheap comics, have driven the new comic book reader to the brink of extinction.
The few new comic book readers that remain can be found in the graphic novel section of Barnes and Noble, picking at random trades without any discernable tasteor appreciation of what lies within. These new comic book readers often have to compete with the far more numerous Manga Addicts who often seek out new sequential art sources when they've finished thae fifty-six volume storydetailing the merry misadventures of a hermaphroditic panda in a world that's a blend of medieval Japan, Victorian Europe and modern America. Upon seeing the Manga Addicts, many new comic book readers flee, not wishing to fall under the same social stigmas and accusations of odd sexual fetishes.
Despite their rarity, many experts claim to know how to lure in new comic book readers and keep them healthy until they become fully grown comic book readers, complete with pull lists at a local comic book store, a healthy collection of statues and action figures and a taste for variant covers. I discussed the new comic book reader problem with several experts in the field as well as their solutions to the new comic book reader drought.
Part One: The Shock Death
I first visited Joey Q, a new comic book reader consultant and self-proclaimed guru of the "Shock Death" method of drawing in new readers. Joey Q. agreed to meet me at a small coffee shop in downtown NYC to discuss his strategies to pick up new readers. Joey Q. was dressed in an Australian safari hat and a matching vest covered with pouches. At his side was a large buck knife that he referred to as "Tommy Boy".
After a brief introduction, I asked what his strategy was for bringing in new readers. Joey Q. smiled. "You see," Joey Q. said in an odd Brooklyn and Australian accent. "New readers nowadays, they don't care about fancy capes or powers. What they want to see is death. Lots and lots of death."
Joey Q. pulled out his buck knife and pointed it at a waiter at the other side of the room. "See that waiter over there? I've been building him up for the last year. I got him to propose to that girl he always loved. Gave him that big promotion to manager that he's been looking for. Even got him to go back to school."
"That seems pretty generous of you," I replied.
Joey Q laughed. "Not really. Yesterday, I told the New York Post that I'm going to kill him in about five minutes right here in this very diner with this very knife. It ran in today's edition on page three."
"Doesn't that spoil what's going to happen?" I asked, ignoring the obvious questions about the ethicality of homicide.
"People don't care about knowing the endings. Look how crowded this place is right now." Admittedly, the coffee shop was rather full of patrons, most looking at the waiter with concern. "People have been coming in all day," Joey Q said. "Asking him questions about who he is and why he matters and trying to figure out why he's going to die. The shop is at least 25% more crowded than it usually is this time of day."
"Wouldn't it make more sense to keep the waiter alive since people now know he is?" I asked.
"Doesn't work that way," replied Joey Q. with a growl. "If I kept him alive, then people wouldn't care about him. People only care when he's dead from a couple of stab wounds courtesy of this here knife."
"What about people who aren't into pointless killing for the sole purpose of shock and horror?"
"People love shock and horror. Especially new comic book readers. Look in the corner over there."
I glanced over at the corner and saw a new comic book reader staring at the waiter, his face fixed in a look of horrified fascination. Joey Q stood up. "I got a new comic book reader to come in, just like I promised. Now if you excuse me, I have a waiter to stab."
The crowd went silent as Joey Q pulled out the knife and showed it to the crowd. The waiter seemed oblivious to the fact that everyone was watching him. Joey Q gave his knife a theatrical swing. Everyone gasped. Joey Q almost seemed to enjoy the attention as the crowd hung on his every movement.
He slowly walked up to the waiter, the knife outstretched. "Excuse me, sir, do you have a knife?" he said.
The waiter turned around, saying "Why would we have a knife at a coffee shop?"
Joey Q cackled. "Because I do!" Joey Q plunged the knife into the waiter's gut and twisted it savagely before pulling it out. The waiter dropped to the ground, blood seeping from his wound. A crying girl rushed out of the crowd and tried to stop the bleeding with a paper towel but it was too late. The waiter passed away in a pool of his own blood. Joey Q liked his knife and stared down at the waiter's dead body. "Tell Bill Foster I said hello," he said, ignoring the sobs of the girl still clutching the waiter's body.
I looked around at the expressions of those gathered around the dead body . Some had tears in their eyes while others looked at Joey Q with intense disgust. I saw the new comic book reader vomit on the floor and rush out of the shop. Only a young boy at the front of the crowd seemed to be pleased by the waiter's demise. "Bloody good," he cried out in a British accept as he clapped enthusiastically. "This will send the coffee shop's sales soaring! The rest of you don't get how brilliant this whole thing was! It was so lifelike!"
Joey Q sat back down at my table. "See how captivated everyone is? When we get a reaction, we know we're doing something right." He wiped his knife clean of blood with a napkin. "Besides if people get pissed, we can always bring him back to life in a few months with a new power set and a plucky sidekick."
"You didn't keep the new comic book reader in the shop," I pointed out.
Joey Q seemed nonplussed about this development. "Doesn't matter," he said blithely. "He'll be back in a couple of weeks the next time I'm ready to kill someone."
Coming Tomorrow: The Reboot!
Written or Contributed by: BlueStreak