Random Thoughts On Zenescope

By | Saturday, January 29, 2011 Leave a Comment
I'm not a fan of cheesecake pictures. Especially when they're illustrated by men. Not is it generally degrading, but I tend not to like the body types of the women as they're usually depicted.

I'm also not a fan of slasher horror. I just don't see much point to it myself; it seems like it kind of misses the point of how to scare people, and just focuses on grossing people out.

So based on those two qualifications, I shouldn't really care for what Zenescope publishes. They are known almost exclusively for turning fairy tales into slasher stories with the heroines tarted up with all those "sexy" Halloween costumes that are so prominent in costumes shops anymore. Except, of course, they happen to produce a series based on Alice in Wonderland, my favorite book.

I'm by no means an Alice purist. I can appreciate taking the basic ideas and themes from Lewis Carroll's original and twisting them around in different ways. I've seen most of the movie versions, and read quite a few comic adaptations and derivations. Some work better than others, not surprisingly. I quite like Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars books, but I felt Tim Burton's movie version fell a bit flat.

I skeptically bought Zenescope's Return to Wonderland comics when they first came out. I've gotten all the one-shots and secondary Wonderland titles since then (though it's entirely possible I've missed a few) because, frankly, it's actually a good story and has some really clever things going on.

But it's also perpetually annoying because of A) the cheesecake and B) the slasher portions. Neither of which strike me as particularly necessary. The gratuitous boob and ass shots certainly aren't needed and, while I get the need to have characters getting killed to highlight the threat, I don't know that I need to actually see someone's skin peeled off from the inside out to get the point.

What it boils down to is that it's a good story and it is in fact illustrated well. I just don't like WHAT is being illustrated. They're books that I can't take to work and read on my lunch hour because someone will inevitably look over my shoulder and see something either raunchy or gory. Which is all the more frustrating because IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE LIKE THAT! If this were being published by a company that didn't have a penchant for that type of fare, it would be a great read.

Now maybe Zenescope has the idea that their books wouldn't sell if it weren't for the T&A or the blood-n-guts. And they might be right. A quick scan through the numbers suggests that all of their comics rarely sell more than 10,000 copies per issue. I haven't read any other Zenescope titles so I can't comment about the other books' stories but since all of their titles seem to sell pretty comparably, I would hazard a guess that most people are NOT buying them for the writing.

It makes me wonder how they (or at least the Wonderland books) would sell if they didn't have all the extra testosterone-induced garbage. Marvel's Wizard of Oz did pretty well, after all. As have Automatic Pictures' Hatter M books. How many people are NOT buying Zenescope's Wonderland books because of the art?
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