Well, THERE'S Your Problem!

By | Tuesday, October 20, 2009 3 comments

Recently posted on Fandom Secrets. And DC (and Marvel) wonders why they're not able to attract new readers.

UPDATE: Link fixed
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Matt K said...

Hm. Not sure what this is supposed to be; and the url seems to go to a domain parking page.

I'm callin' shenanigans, for now. "I don't know what's canon?" I don't think this is the kind of concern you'd hear from the casual fan who wants to read Batman comics after seeing the movie. For that matter, does the casual fan know who "Dick, Tim, Helena, Roy, Cass, Babs, Stef" are? I don't know who some of those people are!

And what does "get into the DCU fandom" even mean?

There is probably a valid point to be made about accessibility, although I'm not sure you can even meaningfully discuss it without also discussing, say, price. But this particular attempt (which, as I say, I may be misinterpreting outside of any context) to express the issue has "12-year old girl who reads Spider-Girl writes to Joe Q" all over it.

Fixed the link. Thanks for pointing out the error. (I could've sworn they had it registered only a few weeks ago!)

As for not who the characters are, I'd point out that A) it wouldn't be hard to pick up a few books and do a little online research to get the basic characters and story, and B) you JUST told me you were never much of a DC guy in the first place! :)

In my research on comic fandom, I've noticed that a lot of people seem to use "fandom" and "a small and specific online community that currently discusses a piece of popular culture" interchangeably. So the reference to "DCU fandom" here could very well refer to a single Batman-centric message board, or a small group of DC fans who write fanfic on LiveJournal, or something along those lines. Similarly, they consider themselves BNFs if they happen to post a lot to one message board. This poster in particular also seems to have an inaccurate definition of "canon" too.

Yes, Fandom Secrets does seem to cater heavily to teenagers.

Price is certainly an issue (and the FS author here does allude to that) but I think that's really just a subset of "making information available." Even if you had all the money in the world and wanted to catch up on current Batman continuity, where do you start? Wikipedia gives a reasonable overview for having to cover 60 years, but doesn't speak to what TPBs are most relevant to the current storyline. And DC provides even less information, only telling you what Batman books that are currently available without providing any context. This poster suggests that s/he would be willing to part with money to read current Batman continuity, but doesn't even know what the is. How many Batman titles are out there now that are completely removed from the "main" title? I count 13 comics with the word "Batman" in the title coming out this month, not counting related titles like Batgirl and Detective Comics nor counting Batman appearances in other comics like JLA and Trinity.

There are PLENTY of shenanigans to be called here!

Matt K said...

Agreed. Yes, you got me on the "I was never much of a DC guy" bit, though I still think the idea that a random, aspiring fan would know all those characters but complain about accessibility is too silly.

That's really the issue I take with that graphic; it's seemingly trying to make a valid point, but even if it's only meant to be representative of a hypothetical "outsider's" frustration, it's so loaded with insider thinking as to be simply laughable. I don't think you can provoke that much eye-rolling and still usefully further a discussion. ;)

But yes, the proliferation of books is a mess. Heck, Marvel collapsed three Spider-Man titles into one series, yet they still have the "sidekick" title Web (which includes the "imaginary future" series Spider-Girl) plus "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man." (Not to mention Noir, 1602, etc.)

I think the big two publishers have essentially acknowledged their ineptitude wrt growing the market for comics, and probably consciously settled for pursuing growth via licensing their characters for other media.