I Heart Corporate Books
Posted by Jason M Burns on Sep 11, 2009
With major changes occurring in the comic climate daily, it seems feasible that a time will come when the Batmobile takes on the likeness of a Toyota hybrid, the Baxter Building is changed to the TD Bank Building, and the sea of zombies in The Walking Dead are clothed solely by The Gap, and in some of the more special cases, Baby Gap.
Like anything else that makes money, the comic industry has attracted the attention of people who like to put even more of those government-issued bills into their pockets. With the recent newsworthy happenings over at Marvel and DC this past week, it’s clear that your favorite characters are no longer in the hands of (only) the creative minds who wish to do good by them, but instead, businessmen who are eager to exploit them in any way possible.
But, that being said, does it really make a difference if Captain America is now owned by the same company that gave us Mary Poppins? Clearly Disney isn’t just a flash in the pan, and let’s be honest, they know how to manage a brand. I can’t imagine that any drastic changes will occur to the characters themselves, or even the previously-created universes in which they live. Doing so would be product suicide and they would instantly alienate their existing readers. This is not something they would ever want to do.
Sure, they will try to bring in a new generation of readers by re-envisioning some of the library, but isn’t that what the comic industry needs anyway? Without new readers standing in line to get the latest issues of Young Avengers or Nightwing, eventually there won’t be any comics left for us “old-timers” to read because without sales, there won’t be any publishers left to produce them.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, comics are a business. They always have been, but as doe-eyed kids completely entranced by the imaginative worlds in which we escaped to via the sequential page, we just never saw it. To us, Wolverine isn’t a corporate brand, but a living, breathing character that we can live vicariously through. But, the fact remains, regardless of Disney stepping in (or any other company that was smart enough to take on the Marvel cash cow), Wolverine will always (technically) fall into the same wheelhouse as Mr. Clean, Tony the Tiger, or the Jolly Green Giant.
He is the face of a company… A mascot. Just like Mickey Mouse.
And as customers of these companies, we keep them in business, but not even our weekly pull lists can sustain them forever. For publishers to survive in this very un-publisher friendly climate, they must adapt, and at times, seek alternative methods of business in order to keep our favorite titles hitting the shelves on time every month. As readers, now more than ever we’re demanding that top tier talent spearhead our beloved books, but guess what, top tier talent costs money. And, printing costs money. And marketing, and advertising, and so on and so on.
So, while it can be a scary thought to imagine Spider-Man taking on a new, Armani-designed costume, I have to say, isn’t having a publisher backed by a big corporate sugar daddy better than not having them publish at all? Yes, in a perfect world, our favorite characters would be allowed to graze their universes without Apple iPhone tie-ins and blatant mentions of ABC Family television shows, but this isn’t a perfect world.
It is however a world where we’re allowed to read any comic we want. Isn’t that perfect enough?
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