2019/07/29

Did Normies Ruin Comics?

Comnics Normie

A cherished reader passed along this video by David Stewart, wherein David addresses the theory that an influx of normies ruined the comics industry.

From the transcript:
I don't think that normal or mainstream people ruined comics at all. I actually think it was the opposite.
Comics were taken out of the mainstream, and I'd like to explain my conclusion to that. Before I do, so let me make a distinction between what I'm talking about. 
So, if you have a small, dedicated subculture, and then you have an influx of normal people to it that, you know, makes it explode in popularity, obviously that's going to fundamentally alter the subculture in a ways that the creators of the subculture don't want it to be altered. It's going to dilute some of the things that made it special.
That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about in this is the reality that comic books used to be more popular than they are, and the mainstream interest for them was removed because the product was changed.
Right away, I recognized that David is offering a rebuttal to Mop Theory, which states that geeks create a cool new scene which is inevitably destroyed by an invasion of Mops, aka Normies.

In fact, David argues for the diametric opposite position.
I'd like to read a little bit of a quote for you that supports my point of view and distills down this idea that comics were taken away from the normies, not ruined by the normies. 
So this is a this is an interview with Jim shooter, who was in charge of Marvel for about ten years in the 1980s. And his basic thesis about the problem with modern comics boils down to storytelling--that they don't tell good stories that people are interested in. That's the background of this quote. Let me read it. 
"It takes forever to tell a story." He's talking about what he calls "decompressed storytelling." It's like a soap opera. "It takes forever to tell a story. What Stan Lee would put in six pages, it takes six months [now]. 
"So you look at the sales. Marvel comics are not $4 apiece, and they're thrilled that the sales are over thirty thousand. When I was at Marvel the whole world was different. We didn't have a single title. We had 75 titles. We didn't have a single one that sold below 100,000. We had the X-Men approaching three-quarters of a million. 
"And that's not some special number one or somebody dies or changes costumes or someone gets married. It was every time. 
"A lot of it was single copy readers. People weren't running around buying cases of it because it had a foil embossed cover. It was every issue." 
So with that quote, you basically have my thesis, which is that comics at one point in time were extremely mainstream. I remember as a kid seeing comic books on the shelf at the drugstore like in the 1980s. 
In fact, I remember buying Ninja Turtle comics off of the shelf and reading them; not going to a comic book store. I didn't set foot in a comic book store until like the the 1990s, and it was kind of a weird thing when comic book stores became the place where you had to buy comics. 
So at one point in time, these things are really mainstream, and they've gone away from being mainstream and actually been captured and become a subculture, so it's really like a subculturecaptured the industry and started excluding all of the things which make make the comics appealing to the mainstream.
Watch the whole video.


Best selling author Jon Del Arroz fills in some of the blanks, explaining how Marvel eschewed quality writing in favor of letting rock star artists run the asylum.


Personally, I liken David to a man groping an elephant in the dark. He may not see the whole picture, but he does know the texture of the problem.

I hew closer to Jon on the issue of comics' demise. The original creators who provided the industry's original impetus retired or died. Their creations ambled along as corporate-sanctioned fanfic. Bereft of fresh ideas, the industry hemorrhaged sales, as Jim Shooter explained.

With the smart money long gone, comics were easy marks for the collectors' bubble, which effectively killed the industry in the early 90s. SJWs then arrived to pick the corpse.

Marvel and DC are dead. Move on.

36 comments:

  1. I remember when you could pick up a comic at the local Kroger's or Meijer store. I never got the vibe that it was mainstream though like it is now. Comics, videogames, and SF&F in general throughout the 90's were still considered a niche market and I am old enough to remember when liking any of that ostracized you from the "cool" kids table. I think it was around the mid/late 2000's when this all changed. Videogames were at the peak of their powers and comic films were becoming more abundant. I consider that is the time when the sjw's and normies moved in. It was now cool to like these things. Now all that was left to do was alter and corrupt the industries. Which leads us to where we are at now.

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    1. It's a crowning irony of modern pop culture that liking comics back when they were good got you ostracized, but liking them now that they're garbage makes you cool.

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    2. Yep, my local supermarket sold comics well into the 1990's; I remember a "Heroes Reborn" cover with that ugly Iron Man armor. Something something 1997-as-pop-culture-blackhole.

      My brothers and I tried getting into comics around '98. We quickly discovered that the subculture was all about itself, almost like comics existed to prop up action figure sales and Wizard magazine -- not to tell fun stories.

      The simple-crossover-turned-pagan-mythology didn't help, either. From what I've read, Stan Lee and the early guys used cameos to move books or take a shortcut that issue. "The hero nabs a goon squad, only with the help of Spider-man!" It's weird how that evolved into a gigantic "cinematic universe" and year-long storylines spanning dozens of titles.

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    3. The comic industry didn't dry up because most any kid who got into them would find one at any old store, like them, then discover comic stores to get more.

      Moving away from their pulp approach by jacking up the prices to appeal to sycophants ruined that.

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  2. What a time to come back to the Inter-Webs! "Ah! Me Public!"

    "With the smart money long gone, comics were easy marks for the collectors' bubble, which effectively killed the industry in the early 90s. SJWs then arrived to pick the corpse.

    Marvel and DC are dead. Move on."


    105% on the mark, and Dave's "it's just bad fanfic" is so fargin' liberating that you want two doses!

    Don't waste your money on Dead IP. Bury that trash, walk away, and never talk about it again.

    Find the people making the Live stuff and fork over your cash for Value Entertainment™!

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  3. It sounds like what happened to SF in the late 30's and 40's. Before Campbell, the pulp stuff was very popular and main stream. Then the "big men with screwdrivers" stories became the only thing "true fans" would consider SF and the normies drifted away. It wasn't until Lucas reintroduced pulp SF to the main stream that it became popular again, with true fans once again trying to stuff SF back into their ghetto.

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    1. Yep. Comics started dying in the late 60s and early 70s. Collectors accelerated the decline in the 80s as the proprietary distributor model (11-13 comic distributors) took the comic book out of the Ben Franklin Five & Dime store and Rexall Drug and gave it all to the comic shops. Killing off, marrying off, and reality-ing off superheroes with 15 collectable holo covers took them into the Nose-dive Nineties.

      Once we hit 2000, the gas was out of the bag, and the vultures arrived in the form of SJW trash.

      Excellent parallel to Pulp => Screwdriver SF.

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    2. This is what I was thinking, too.

      The transition from "200 page sff paperbacks at the dime store" to "big box book stores that serve mainly whales and gift buyers" was another kick in the teeth.

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    3. Jeffro -- and add the accelerant of reducing the number of comic book distributors down to one from nine in less than two years due to Marvel's (and DC's greed), you get another aspect of this Trash Fire of the Vanities.

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    4. I was not a comic reader, but I am a SF reader, and the story above sounds easily similar to the story of the SF community, especially after reading Jeffro’s analyses. SF was captured by a subculture of commie pedos with screw drivers.

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  4. This is great. I admit that the Mops "revenge of the nerds" theory of subculture caught my attention... but the secret to thriving culture is that it targets rednecks above and beyond any other group.

    First edition AD&D and Glenn Campbell cassettes for the win, y'all!

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    1. Fella could have himself a damn good time with those.

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  5. Brian,

    David is quite correct. You only have to look at Europe where EVERYONE reads comics without embarrassment and the BDs/tebeos scene is still very vibrant. Japan is similar.

    xavier

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  6. "Decompressed Storytelling"

    It started with the Kree-Skrull War. 1971-72. All downhill from there.

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    1. Oh, come on! The kids have got to learn about the Kree-Skrull War sometime!

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    2. They can have three consecutive issues in one title, like God intended! Now get off my lawn!

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    3. On a serious note, Jim Shooter had a point. I've always found him fascinating from a publishing perspective. Here's one of those legendary editors that nobody in the business is neutral on. Get two comics industry veterans talking in a hotel bar in the small hours, and you'll get three opinions on Jim Shooter.

      That said, you can argue with the man's editorial style, but you can't argue with his results. Dude shipped books.

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    4. Anyone who can write the most memorable Legion of Super Heroes stories in Adventure Comics when he was 15/16 gets my nod. You are spot on about Shooter. The primary reason he's hated is he saw the comic book business as a business. Customers wanted product -- good product, and they wanted it on time. He fought the creatives and the suits, and was hated for it. I've come to believe that the suits slapped the blame for Marvel holding Kirby's artwork on Shooter as a way of pushing him out of the biz.

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    5. "I've come to believe that the suits slapped the blame for Marvel holding Kirby's artwork on Shooter as a way of pushing him out of the biz."

      No question. That's how corner office cowards operate.

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  7. I;d like to see worldwide distro for Phantom comics. They don't get counted when people talk comics because they aren't Duopoly and they aren't centered on specialist comic stores, and they are almost always single-issue stories. I saw something on wikipedia saying Spawn sold as many copies total as Phantom, and I just don't believe that.

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    1. I've always wanted to read the Scandinavian Phantom comics, but no one ever translated them. The hardcore comic nerds never tried to preserve anything: they just consumed their Marvel and DC bread and water.

      I'm glad at least the novels are getting put out, but good luck seeing any of the comic book youtubers talking about it.

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    2. Few months ago I salvaged a pile of finnish, colored Phantom comics when my childhood house was put on sale. Haven't read them yet, but I like the visual style.

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  8. May or may not be relevant, but James M at Grognardia was arguing that table-top RPGs had been completely mainstream in the mid-late 70s, and only later got nudged over into being a "Nerd" activity. Similarly, after that market went into near-total collapse, we see SJWs coming to pick it over. While Mop Theory is tempting to me, I'm starting to think it only describes video games and generalising it outwards is a mistake.

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    1. "I'm starting to think it only describes video games and generalising it outwards is a mistake."

      Video games and the 90s indie music scene. Otherwise, I think you're onto something.

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  9. This argument is the same with video games. Video games were EXTREMELY mainstream during the original arcades and first home consoles(Pre-NES). There were arcade machines everywhere. Hell, Root beer tapper started in bars and featured alcohol instead of root beer. It even had a cup holder built into the machine for your drink!

    The crash of 1983 has been romanticized nowadays with Nintendo as some sort of savior, but that's not even close to true. The crash only affected Atari, Arcades and PC did just fine, and Japan and Europe weren't hit either.

    So when the Wii was released in 2006, there was a huge push back against 'normies'. But those 'normies' were a huge part of video games since the beginning! And look at gaming now: a cesspit of companies squeezing every penny they can get from the same game.

    Case in point, Bethesda just released DOOM on the consoles (again) for the 25th anniversary. But this time internet connection is required! For a 25 year old game. With no on-line multiplayer (at least for the switch). And they tried to de-list all other releases of DOOM.

    So I hope you've collected any older games that you want to play. Video games are heading where comic are now.

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    1. "The crash only affected Atari, Arcades and PC did just fine, and Japan and Europe weren't hit either."

      The rest of your arguments have merit, but this one is far too superficial. You may as well say the fall of Rome was no big deal because it only affected Western Europe.

      The coin-op industry not being hit by the crash is simply false. US arcades lost 30% of their revenue, or $2.5 billion, in 1983. 2000 arcades closed nationwide.

      As for PC gaming, only 15% of US households owned a PC as of 1987. By 1988, NES games outsold all home computer software combined. That year alone, the number of NES consoles sold equaled the number of Commodore 64s sold up to that point. It's entirely accurate to say that Nintendo saved gaming.

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    2. The Wii turned out to be the best console of that generation, only spat on by the same people who praise casual-fests like Sony's current first party line up today. All because it didn't have their precious HD graphics which will be the death of the industry.

      But at least we got purty pitures to look at while it crumbles!

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    3. You are right that the 1983 crash did nearly kill video games and that Nintendo saved it. My point was that people now treat it like a myth and that Nintendo, blessed by God Himself, ushered in a golden age with the NES.

      When really, Nintendo simply appealed to the mass market and delivered what people wanted.

      My point is that I'm against the Mop Theory, at least with video games. Normies were always a part of gaming, and they lost interest in it for a host of reasons. Like controllers going from a d-pad and 4 buttons to a d-pad, 2 sticks, and 10 buttons. Games going from beatable in 15-30 minutes to 100 hour time sinks. Not to mention DLC, Pre-Order nonsense, and other stuff like that.

      The Mop Theory to me sound more like the niche fans of whatever pop-subculture trying to blame anyone but themselves for the demise of said subculture.

      "The Wii turned out to be the best console of that generation, only spat on by the same people who praise casual-fests like Sony's current first party line up today. All because it didn't have their precious HD graphics which will be the death of the industry.

      But at least we got purty pitures to look at while it crumbles!"

      It was spat on by people who wanted gaming to be like it is now. The Wii couldn't do mandatory installs and huge patches to even play games, because it had next to no hard drive space. The Wii was a console for the "casuals", i.e. normal people.

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  10. Anybody who calls a subculture what it is instead of a "community" has their head on their shoulders.

    Imagine entertainment in a general store setting. You go in pick up a comic book, point out a video game behind the glass that you want, browse the music section, then grab a paperback off the spinner rack on your way out.

    Naturally this is where normal people are and where those who wouldn't normally touch a subculture might be inspired to give it a shot. This is how X-Men grew so wild in sales before being locked to a ghetto. Normal people see cool things that catch their eye and give it a chance. This is how you get growth.

    Subcultures are all part of a bigger culture. They aren't individual "communities" or cultures of their own. I think locking everything away being glass casing has dried all these subcultures up and left them high and dry.

    This is what I mean by having to get the normal people back again. It's not dumbing down your product, but getting it out there so they can at least SEE it. That will never happen as long as we lock ourselves away from the wider world and continue shrinking.

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    1. Also, remove the degeneracy and don't push Current Year (TM) politics.

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    2. "Community" as a stand-in for "subculture" is straight from the Devil's Dictionary of Current Year™ degenerate terms.

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    3. @Brian

      There's a great line in Three Days of the Condor. A CIA lifer refers to a hit man as a "member of the community." In response, Robert Redford's character replies, incredulously, "Community!? Jeez, you guys are kind to yourselves. Community!"

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  11. "This is what I mean by having to get the normal people back again. It's not dumbing down your product, but getting it out there so they can at least SEE it. That will never happen as long as we lock ourselves away from the wider world and continue shrinking."

    +9000

    This is why the Marvel movies have likely been a further detriment to comic book sales. The Gen-Zs and Mils who never picked up a comic book, but relied on the movies to tell them what is in comics have no reason to read Marvel and DC, because what's in the movies isn't what's in the comics.

    Scenario: Mil/Gen-Z comic book noob pops into a comic shop expecting characters from Iron Man 1, Captain America 1, and Avengers 1 movies in books and gets SJW slop instead. He'll likely never go back to comics, unless he's already mentally unbalanced.

    The movies could have augmented the books, and vice versa, but the House of Satan Mouse knows nothing but immediate gratification, insatiable greed, and overweening pride.

    Seed corn hulls everywhere.

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    1. Disney and Time Warner's comics divisions, aka Marvel and DC, only exist to maintain their movie copyrights.

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    2. "Scenario: Mil/Gen-Z comic book noob pops into a comic shop expecting characters from Iron Man 1, Captain America 1, and Avengers 1 movies in books and gets SJW slop instead. He'll likely never go back to comics, unless he's already mentally unbalanced."

      This was an admitted problem as far back as the beginning of the MCU. Comic shop folks such as Comic Perch told tales of how parents and kids would come in to look for the comics, see the characters' replacements, and then turn and leave to never return.

      Putting obsessives in charge is what ruined these subcultures, not normal people unable to buy what they want.

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