Monday, May 14, 2007

What's Wrong With "Fun"?

Everything that's wrong with the current market for superhero comics, in one sentence:

“Fun” automatically kills off a lot of your sales.
says Mark Waid in this interview at Comic Book Resources (hat tip, Graeme McMillan at Blog@Newsarama).

Geez, that's depressing. I really love FUN superhero stories (including Waid and George Perez's The Brave and the Bold) and to hear that fun books aren't viable because the general comics buying audience isn't interested, is in fact repulsed by fun, is just baffling and disheartening.

I can't imagine NOT wanting to read a book my friends tell me is enjoyable, saying "Oh, I don't want to read Marvel Adventures: Avengers. I might be entertained!"

It seems "fun" and "interesting" are not the same thing to most comics fans. Judging from sales charts, the comics buying audience wants books about familiar superheroes, preferably acting in large groups, in stories that will have "repercussions" on later books. And since a "fun" book sounds like the opposite of a "serious" book that has "serious consequences", I guess most buyers don't feel "fun" books are worth spending money on.

But what's the point, then? Why buy crossover books that feature your favorite characters if you're not actually enjoying the books you're reading? If it's just to catch up with the characters, well, that's what the internet is for! And the internet is free!

And, once you've freed your wallet from the shackles of continuity porn, you can spend your hard-earned money on truly rewarding reading experiences, like Manhunter, The All-New Atom, Blue Beetle and, for the love of God, The Brave and the Bold. And if you're worried that "fun" isn't for you, well, a wise little bull said it best:
One thing I noticed is that the comics I like best are fun. That doesn't mean that they're funny (tho' they can be) or all have happy endings or are all written 'specially for kids (or even little stuffed bulls), but just that they are fun to read and when you turn the last page you can't wait to get next month's issue! John once described this as a comic that has a "sense of awe and wonder" and I guess that is as good a way as any to describe it. But I would describe it this way: COMICS OUGHTA BE FUN!


Bill S. said...

Man, that's depressing. I've always found that just because a comic is fun, doesn't mean that it can't have dramatic or adult situations; Manhunter, for instance, is certainly not a book I would give to my little cousin, but I would still consider it fun, anyways. I've been recently rereading Mike Allred's The Atomics, and there are dang few titles out there that I find more fun than that one, and yet it also features death, betrayal, and pustules.

I think FUN is generally considered to be shorthand for "all-ages" -- in other words, baby's first comic. I think a lot of people forget that what initially drew them to comics was the fun, the beautiful, bright, goofy colors and ridiculous costumes. The disregard of fun tends to be sort of pretentious, and always seems a little defensive, like someone insisting that comics aren't for kids anymore.

Andrew Hickey said...

I wouldn't be so prescriptive as to say *all* comics should be fun - Jaka's Story is without a doubt my favourite comic and that's about as un-fun as you can get - but the idea that 'fun' is a *negative* thing... the day that *one single* person thought superhero comics shouldn't be fun, that was a problem. It being an industry-wide thing... that's a sign the industry's dead...

SallyP said...

Of COURSE comics are supposed to be fun. (A very wise little Bull said so). The Brave and the Bold is FUN. Civil War on the other hand, makes me want to retch.

Steven said...

I wouldn't be so prescriptive as to say *all* comics should be fun

No, of course not, but I think people forget how many great (superhero) comics ARE "fun".

The Dark Knight Returns, for example, no matter how much it is blamed for the "grim and gritty" trend, turns out to be an insane romp with ridiculous political satire and silly jokes like a wounded Batman taking the time to tell a little boy to watch his language.