It seems like a continuous cycle now. Comics have always had it's highs and lows as an industry, and as the old saying goes, if you don't look back into the past, you're doomed to repeat it. And as far as I can tell, that's exactly what's happening.
"BUT Lance (people usually thinks my real name is actually Lance, so let's just go with it), but it's 2016! Comics are more progressive now than the lame 90s comics!" A fair point, but not all together accurate.
While people celebrate (and they should) characters like Ms Marvel, Captain Marvel, Miles Morales Spider-Man, etc, for their portrayal of minorities and strong female characters, but what about Milestone Media and Frank Miller's Martha Washington stories? And even though the "bad girl craze" of the 90s presented over sexualized female characters, in it;s own unique way, it started paving the way for more female oriented protagnists, despite the fact that yes, it was not exactly ideal at the time.
The 90s was PLAGUED by different versions of characters and different costumes and characters being replaced. It's basically a trope and has been for years. And like we're seeing now, that both helped AND hurt the industry. Let's take a look.
Due to the huge success of the Batman movies, that helped spawn a handful of successful comic book movies, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and cult favorite The Crow, that helped lead to a huge boom in the comic books industry. Publisher smelling money like hammerhead sharks smelling blood in the water, got greedy and tried to milk the money out of buyers hands. Variant covers! MORE VARIANT COVERS! New issue number 1s! Reboot this character, reboot that character! Sound familiar?
A prime example of this was the Uncanny X-Men creative team that took over after Scott Lobdell and super star artist Joe Madureira left the book. The series was taken over by the creative team of Steven T. Seagle and Chris Bachalo, who at the time were mostly known for their work on DC Comics Vertigo line. Some indie creators fit in perfect with a mainstrea comic....and some simply can not gel in smoothly. Or are good, but not as great as they are with their original characters, especially if it's a creator not entirely keen on mainstream super hero stuff to begin with. And what follows is very awkward series. In the case of Uncanny X-Men it didn't take long for Marvel to turn to established veteran Alan Davis, who took over as writer and artist.
By then comics were losing money and coming under fire by extreme conservatives and the still looming presence of the comics code authority, though not as mighty as it was through the 60s ad 70s, but was still a force in the industry. Only now comics are being blasted by both extreme conservatives and extreme liberals as well.
"But...but...LANCE.....90s comics were SO pointlessly violent! Comics surely have evolved from that then! Especially violence against women! Women in refrigerators!!!!" All I have to say to that is Bitch Planet, Saga, and The Walking Dead. Not that any of those titles are bad, mind you, but it is inconsistent to claim hating violence in comics and violence towards a specific gender, and then make icons out of comics that do just that.
But, just as they survived in the 90s, I do believe they will survive now that the industry is in the same predicament, if not worse. Let me give a bit of context. Back in the 90s, a comic selling over 100,000 copies was deemed a failure and cancelled. Now a days, a 20,000 copy selling book might even land you in the top 50.
With all the backlash to reboots and re-imaginings, the industry can look back at the past and correct this now. Less is more. Create and nurture not just new characters, but new creators. ENOUGH OF ALL THE VARIANT COVERS (seriously. Stop. It.). Start listening more to fans again instead and hear what they want instead of just assuming what people that do not even like comics want. I'm not saying to not attract new readers by doing something different, different can be good, but use a HIGHER STANDARD for that. In the 90s NO ONE expected a Marvel or DC title to come out late, but as recently as Secret Wars, Marvel's' HUGE storyline.....the final issue came out late, even after some series already had starting being published and sold.
You can self-publish and set-up your own online store. Not to mention reach readers that would have been virtually impossible to reach back then.
So yes, even though many things parallel the 90s and the 2010s. I do believe that the industry can change and survive, but it's not just up to the bog publishers, it's up to us as well, as creators and as fans. Thank you all for reading, hopefully I see you all next week if my finals exams permit it, take care and always remember, as cheesy as it is, you can be the change that you want. Peace and love and kitten whiskers.