The final part of a three part satire about new readers in comics!
(Editor's Note: This is the final part of a three part satire examining the comic book industry's attempts to draw in new readers. It's satire and should not really be taken seriously. If you do take this seriously, then I highly suggest getting out of your mom's basement for a bit and getting some air.)
The Quest for the New Comic Book Reader, Part Three: The Way of Bob
After spending the better part of the afternoon rummaging through Triple D's office looking for second-tier characters to erase from existence, I finally left to see the final "new comic reader expert". Unlike Triple D and Joey Q., who had inconsistent track records actually finding new comic book readers, this man actually had some numbers to back his results. I headed out to the wilderness and climbed a solitary mountain to meet the man known only as Bob.
Bob sat on the summit of the mountain, eyes closed in seeming meditation. In one hand, Bob held a pair of goggles while in the other he held a prosthetic zombie hand. A small gaggle of followers surrounded him, watching his every movement. As I approached, Bob's eyes opened. "You shall not find what you seek here!" he proclaimed. His followers gasped in surprise.
"So you're not Bob?" I replied.
Bob blinked. "Sorry, I thought you were looking for boring, bland superheroics or stories that never end. That is the old way. The way that is broken and only leads to heartbreak, a loss of readers and a lack of television deals." His followers murmured their blind agreement.
"So what's your method to draw in new readers?"
"The Way of Bob is to create new characters and new stories. Characters must grow and change in the Way of Bob, lest they perish and not make me money off of television and movie deals."
One of his followers shouted out. "Tell us about Invincible!"
Bob stood up and addressed his throng. "And lo, Invincible made a fist with his right hand. And with that fist he punched Conquest. And the punch was so mighty, it punched through Conquest and struck him dead. And there was guts on his hands and Invincible was sad."
"So new, so fresh, so extreme!" a follower shouted out. "What happens next?"
"And thus Invincible returned home to discover that a minor character that no one cares about had died. And thus Invincible found the killer of said character and made a fist with his left hand. And with that fist, he punched the killer. And the punch was so mighty and extreme, that it punched through the killer and struck him dead. And there was brains on his hands and Invincible was sad."
"I've never heard that story before! It's all so new!" His followers applauded with approval.
"Excuse me, Bob," I said. "But aren't those arcs basically identical?"
His followers booed at me. "They were completely different! Invincible killed two different characters!" one shouted.
Another cried out. "And Invincible used his left hand for one and the right hand for the other!"
"And brains and guts are totally different!" shouted a third. "Bob, tell us about the Walking Dead!"
Bob nodded. "And so Rick and Carl entered the village and met some friends. And for a time they were happy. But then a crazy person let zombies in and Rick had to fight them. And supporting cast members died when the crazy person shot them but was then eaten by a zombie. And then Rick and Carl had to leave, taking with them a few of those they had met while leaving their dead behind."
"So original! What then?" shouted a follower.
"And then Rick and Carl found a community of hobos. And for a time they were happy. But then a crazy person went mad and killed some people. And so Rick had to feed him to the zombies. And then Rick and Carl left, taking with them a few of those they had met while leaving their dead behind."
His followers cheered. "This is the power of the independent comic!" Bob proclaimed. "We must break the shackles of licensed content and rely on our own work in order to save the industry. Down with the superheroes of our fathers! Down with the supervillains of our mothers! Cast them aside and read about paper- thin characters that sound alike and die grisly deaths all in the name of an impractical business model that only is profitable if you get a television deal!"
As he spoke, I noticed a new comic book reader standing at the edge of the crowd, drawn in from the forest by the noise of the crowd. He looked curious about the commotion and waited to hear what Bob had to say next.
The crowd surrounding him broke out into a feverish chant of "Punch That Head, Eat That Hand!" Bob raised his arms. "Forward, my small, dedicated group of readers. Blindly spread the word about how broken the old model is and draw them to the Way of Bob! Show them how the Infinite is superior to Hawk and Dove and how Invincible is better than Spider-Man. Compare other comics to mine and find them wanting!" The new comic book reader blindly joined in with the cheers despite having no basis with which to make a decision.
This was all I needed to see. I silently left the top of the mountain, shaking my head in disappointment.
Finale: What Really Works
After visiting all three experts, it became evident that none of them really had any idea what was going on. Joey Q relied on shock deaths and morbid fascination to draw readers in, Triple D used convoluted continuity and a desperate mix of history and last ditch tactics and Bob simply had a cult of personality that relied too heavily on the concept that his comics were magically different just because they featured characters that weren't created more than ten years ago.
I began to despair. If these people, the supposed leaders of the industry, had no clue how to draw in new readers without relying on destructive and divisive tactics, what hope could the industry have?
I found my answer while at a bar the next day with some friends. As I went up to the bar to order another Jameson and Diet Coke, I noticed that one of my friends looked an awfully lot like a new comic book reader. Could it be that one of these rare, almost mystical, creatures had been nearby the entire time?
I approached my friend and started talking to her about some recent comics I had read. As the conversation went on, it became clearer and clearer to me that she had the makings of a new comic book reader. All that needed to be done now was to push her the right direction. Thankfully, I had a full stock of quality comics on hand to impress her with. We sat at the bar and read good comics. By the end of the night, she had discovered that not only were comics good, they also turned her on sexually. So I went home that night and had hot sex with a new comic book reader. It was awesome.
So what's the moral of the story? Bring comics to a bar and give them to girls and you'll get laid.
Written or Contributed by: BlueStreak
The Outhouse is sponsored this week by Late Nite Draw. Recently featured on ComicsAlliances' Best Art Ever, he is a Chicago-based commissioned artist with a self-published Digital+Print one-shot coming out in October about the abominable snowman called ABOBAMANIMABBLE, and is also available for commissions. Check out some amazing art by clicking here or by clicking the banner at the top, and support the people who support The Outhouse.
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About the Author - Christian Hoffer
Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.
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