Has terrifying, disgusting levels of brand loyalty.
And I’m not claiming I am immune to it, but a lot of the companies are basically in bed with each other. They share so many creators, writers, artists, editors…whatever. And yet we are always ‘Marvel this’ or ‘DC that’ depending on what intellectual property they hold the rights to.
Initially it’s the characters that create divides; you pick out who you most relate to or aspire to based on powers, who they fight and the quality of the stories. But gradually you become attached to other Heroes that interact with those favorites. And you pay attention to the stories where they crossover and meet and you become invested.
And once you are invested, it’s difficult not to begin resenting products that can’t possibly feature any of the characters you have come to know. You don’t get to see Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne yucking it up at a massive fundraiser, or Superman and Spidey sharing humorous tales about juggling working for a newspaper and saving lives. So we pick sides like sports teams and shout about how great our ‘team’ is and desperately try and defend them when they do something really fucking stupid.
Why don’t we just enjoy it all?
Nobody that works for either is going to give a fuck what you do, unless you also work for them and are trying to ramp up sales.
can we stop saying comics are meant for kids like it’s not insulting it’s just wrong. there are definitely comics for kids but that doesn’t mean I’m about to hand a child the complete works of frank miller
why would you hand anyone the complete works of…
Comic books are neither ‘just for kids’ nor ‘just for adults’ - comics are published writing and sequential art together. That’s all.
Content, author and quality determines which audience a comic is meant for, not simply the method of distribution or the medium itself. Some could even argue that certain illustrated novels count as comics, depending on whether or not the pictures have a sequence. The phrase ‘graphic novel’ is merely a term coined for work considered ‘too literary’ to be called a comic, but trust me when I say they are the same thing.
Why is it that people lump every single example of this type of art into one of two categories? It is either 1. That which is appropriate for children or 2. That which is not. That thinking results in taking a whole art-form and reducing it to merely being the domain of youth. That would be denying huge swathes of people the obvious advantages comics have for teaching literacy, allowing collaboration between artists and authors and of giving visual depth to stories; of telling tales in the unique way that comic books allow for. I understand that for a lot of people, the only comics they have seen are ones produced for children. That doesn’t mean that it is all they have to offer. You wouldn’t point at a television and say it was only for children, just because the mainstay of what you had seen produced was kid’s shows. I cannot understand why people consider such a complex medium as comics to be less worthy of adult attention.
That’s not to say that comics AREN’T for kids, because that would be preposterous. I agree with Gil above in that we are in troubled waters if supposed champions of justice and heroes to all good people like Superman cannot be accessible to children. Superheroes are a concept meant to give us something we can aspire to morally; a modern pantheon to look to when we are hopeless. They should be accessible to kids because kids are just little versions of us with the same desires. Forbid the day when we can’t share that joy.
Unfortunately ‘Superheroes’ are largely the only thing most people imagine when you say ‘comic books’. Whilst Superhero comics are great and there can be a huge variety of stories within that genre, it does kind of hurt the overall public impression if those are the only books thought of as comics. And of course by ‘most people’ I am referring here to a Western audience, because you only need to glance briefly at the Asian comics industry to see that they have a much more advanced understanding of the scope that sequential art has. For example, Japan has a niche in comics for every single genre and age bracket in society. Housewives, salary men, young teens; you name it they have stuff to cater to it.
I think the central issue with comic books being seen as something exclusively for kids comes from the fact that a lot of people started reading serials about their favourite heroes when they were kids. And then, as they grew older, those same people didn’t want to let go of stories that captured their imaginations. That’s no bad thing. If something was great as a kid, it should theoretically still be great when you are an adult, even if it could be considered childish. Just because something is made with kids in mind doesn’t mean that it isn’t of high quality. In fact, it really SHOULD be high quality if it is meant for younger generations. Stories aimed at children don’t need to be dumbed down in order for them to be able to understand it, and just because a comic doesn’t have ridiculous amounts of blood and gore doesn’t make it any more mature than something with a solid moral and a heartwarming tale. It just means you have a reason to justify looking at a comic book as an adult to friends who don’t share that passion - something ‘hardcore’ to mask the fact that it’s a guilty pleasure. That your preferred comic is ‘darker’ or ‘more graphic’ doesn’t undercut the value of something that is less so. And censoring that sort of book simply because a kid MIGHT one day pick it up and think it was meant for them is ridiculous. All we need to avoid that is just clearer advertising and better parenting.
That comics are being more and more controlled by an audience demanding that they be one specific thing is bad news. That people cannot just admit they enjoy comics without being ashamed is a problem. It sucks and it stigmatizes what should otherwise be something everyone can love.
tld;dr - Comics are an art-form, a medium to convey stories like film or print or animation. It need not be limited to any target audience because doing so means humanity collectively misses out.