In the last couple blogs, we discussed the current slate of superhero movies setting the summer box office ablaze and the inability of comic publishers to take advantage of this massive interest and of their seeming unwillingness to provide heroes in comics (like they do on screen) that are worth cheering for.
I mentioned my own experience with seeing the Avengers movie and walking out, surrounded by groups of wildly enthusiastic kids, bristling with energy and excitement, and how cool it would be if there were COMICS waiting in the lobby for them to clamor over.
A few days ago my friend Tara Pontani Schad posted a photo of her twin boys leaving an early morning showing of the Avengers in NYC. When I saw it, I about fell outta my seat. Well, as the old saying goes ... a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case it was like the entire theme of what we were discussing in the past couple of posts had literally come to life right before my eyes.
And so ... say hello to Kasey and Jackson, seconds after walking out of the Avengers movie.
As a comic book (and super hero) fan, this is perhaps the single coolest photo I’ve ever seen. I mean, come on. This photo encapsulates everything about why we all fell in love with superheroes in the first place. Check these two awesome guys out. Proudly wearing their Hulk and Captain America shirts, grinning ear to ear, ready to take on the world. Filled with absolute, unwavering JOY from watching their heroes kick some serious bad guy butt.
Think these two guys would benefit from some Avengers comics to look at in the lobby? Maybe a Captain America or Iron Man trade?
And furthermore, don’t you think the Schad boys (and the comic industry) would benefit from there being more superhero comics that tap into this sense of glee and empowerment that the Avengers movie did?
Tara said she is already experiencing frustration in trying to supply her boys with the superhero goodness they crave. There are comics made for little kids and then, bam, right into the blood, gore and gloom. There’s no middle ground. Again, no one is making the argument that there shouldn’t be the typical dark, depressing, fatalistic offerings that exist now. It’s just that there has to be an alternative. There has to be something else.
What the publishers of superhero comics (and ancillary properties) are doing now is tantamount to the classic sales technique of Bait and Switch. The superhero comics aimed at kids (the ones that are supposed to turn them into life-long comics readers) clearly demonstrate the classic archetypes of a hero, showing how they put the lives of others above their own, how they fight for what is right and good without any further explanation needed, and how they are honorable and noble and would never take another life, even those of the bad guys, thereby instantly turning themselves from jury to executioner.
And then, after selling kids this ideal for years ... surprise, the comics aimed for an older reading audience pull a terrible ‘switch’ by turning all those sensibilities on their heads. Sorry kids, heroes aren’t really heroic. They are psychopaths who smash, kill, maim and never smile or find joy in anything. Hope you have fun reading all about them!
Anyway, I’m done. Leave it to a writer to say a picture is worth a thousand words ... and then go on to spew words, words, and more words. Besides, there’s nothing else to say. Kasey and Jackson have said all that needs to be said in that photo. They want their heroes. And, you know what? They deserve them. The comics industry owes it to them.
So, if you are involved in the comic industry at all (or just love it), look at the photo again. No industry could ask for better emissaries than Kasey and Jackson. The industry should be honored to have them as (very enthusiastic) fans and it should be doing everything it can to cater to them. To keep them enthusiastic.
Feed them nothing but hopelessness and despair and you are going to lose them. Give them something to cheer about, something to hope and dream about, well, then, it might just be a better future for us all.