I’ve been noticing that comics are getting a lot more respect these days in other media. In an almost nonchalant manner comics are seeping back into the popular culture and are being accepted and promoted by people of all ages, gender, and conviction. Could it be that the comic book is finally coming of age just as print media is teetering on the verge of extinction?
A recent Fox News segment did a great job of pointing out how comics are experiencing growth in digital and print media where other forms of print product are struggling. They did it with no usual gratuitous tag lines like, “No Longer Funny Business,” “Not Just for Kids,” or “Pow, Zap, Wham!”
The Avengers movie and a host of other comic related films that will be crowding the theaters this summer are getting a lot of the credit, but as I noted in an earlier blog, “Betrayed,” in my opinion, the unit numbers of superhero comics, especially from Marvel and DC are embarrassingly low compared to historical figures where comic titles sold in the millions. I have to agree with Tim Marchman’s Wall Street Journal article, “Worst Comic Book Ever!“ with regard to the current state of the traditional comic book market.
But, while superhero comic sales seem to be confined to the hallowed halls of the local comic shop, a broader range of comic genres is experiencing success in the wide open mass market. Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, for example, though considered a comic hybrid of sorts, is one of the most successful series of books published today with over 75 million copies in print. The latest edition The Third Wheel will enjoy an initial print run of 6.5 million copies. Compare these figures to the Avengers vs. X-Men issue sales of about a mere 230,000 and you understand my point.
Graphic novels and Manga in book stores, web comics, digital downloads and online sales of printed works are creating an opportunity for creators to expand well beyond the confines of the traditional market for comics focused on the superhero genre. The result is a huge array of comic product for just about anyone and the audience of comic readers is now quietly growing by leaps and bounds though not readily identified by market statistics.
This vague phenomenon was exemplified by the season finale of the ABC sitcom Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 starring Krysten Ritter and Dreama Walker where we discover that the culture of reading comics had expanded to a number of the key characters of the show. The episode titled “Shitagi Nashi“ refers to a graphic novel that chronicles the exploits the show’s lead character Chloe, played by Krysten Ritter, . The adult comic titled Tall Slut, No Panties is hugely popular in Japan and Chloe is often recognized by Japanese fans who greet her with her tag line from the comic, “Shitagi Nashi” which loosely translated is, “No Panties.”
Chloe is described as the coolest girl in New York and feigns ignorance of her status as a comic book icon to preserve her awesomely cool status. She, however, maintains a secret stash of mint copies of every issue of Tall Slut, No Panties preserving each in mylar sleeves.
Chloe’s roommate and self described nerd, June, played by Dreama Walker discovers Chloe’s secret when another comic reader, their pervy neighbor, Eli, spills the beans. All this excitement results in June confiding that she had created her own comic about her own adventures with friends when she was in high school. She still keeps a handmade copy. June attempts to use their mutual interest in comics as a vehicle to solidify her relationship with Chloe. Who could have ever envisioned comics as a bridge between nerds and the cool crowd?
Other highlights of the show include a character who represented stereotyped comic book writer, some very nice comic illustrations with a touch of motion comic thrown in and a guest appearance by Dean Cain who played Superman along side Teri Hatcher’s Lois Lane in the 1990′s television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Ironically, Superman also no longer wears his famous red underpants since the character’s costume was redesigned for DC’s launch of The New 52.
“Shitagi Nashi, Superman!”
I was disappointed that the website for ABC or the show did not present any of the comic art. It would seem that at least a small sample of the comic would make nice content especially since ABC shares Disney as a parent company with Marvel. I guess that would require Marvel putting some energy into something that would actually promote reading comics to a new audience, rather than herding them to the movie theater or directing them to an endless supply of superhero merchandise.
Now is a time to be excited about comics. More and more people are discovering comics and are enjoying a more diverse selection than ever before. You may be surprised to find out who the new fans of comics are because now comics are of interest to anyone, even the girl next door, and underwear is optional.
Tags: Avengers vs. X-Men, Comics, DC, Dean Kane, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23, Dreama Walker, Fox News, graphic novels, Jeff Kinney, Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Krysten Ritter, Lois & Clark, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Lois Lane, manga, Marvel, No Panties, Shitagi Nashi, superhero, Superman, Tall Slut, Teri Hatcher, The Avengers, The New Adventures of Superman, Tim Marchman, Web Comics, Webcomics, Worst Comic Book Ever!