Our experiment in parsing the superhero trends of today ended in disarray as the discussion devolved into the kind of sock puppetry and name calling we find so odious. However, it did spawn a rather interesting post from Michael Climek in which he talks about how he got into reading comics. We find these origin stories of comics readers in their 20s (Climek is 26) very interesting because we were one of the many observers who thought that the superhero market abandoning comics for younger readers in the 90s would sound the death knell for their readers down the road. While the feeder stream was definitely cut off a bit, the appeal of comics to youngsters still managed to shine through. And there is no shame in acknowledging that superheroes and superhero comics can have an honest appeal to children:
Regrettably I cannot remember the first time I was exposed to comics. I know that many other historians and bloggers can cite a specific issues, and moments, and stores, but I cannot. I’m barely old enough to remember the last death throes of the newsstand concept as the Direct Market took over, so comics were ‘around’ so to speak. Actually, now that I think about it, the first ‘sequential art’ I was ever exposed to may very well have been the little comics that used to come with every He-Man toy. This has just occurred to me as I write this but it makes sense. I was a HUGE He-man fan as a child. I had most of the figures, and many of their accessories, and I watched the cartoon as if my life depended on it. He-Man really clicked with me as a young lad, so one of those many tiny 8 pages comics is probably the first taste I had of sequential art.
Another issue of a comic is one that really haunted young Climek, and appalling as it sounds, there is perhaps a lesson to be learned in knowing that a comic by Peter David and Todd McFarlane had the power to scare a child so much that he threw it behind the couch.
Still, the comic in question did come out in 1987, when there were (arguably) more “regular” comics that were aimed at youngish readers. As many have pointed out, what will be even more interesting is the demographics down the road when today’s manga-reading tots seek more mature fare. When you’re trained from birth in one style, the expectations are far different.
The “Brave and the Bold” discussion did show us one thing: “decompression” is a term a lot of readers throw around without having any idea what the hell it means. For us to figure it out ourselves would necessitate reading a LOT of comics from Marvel and DC…something we may not have time for any time in this epoch, alas.