A cherished reader passed along this video by David Stewart, wherein David addresses the theory that an influx of ‘normies’ ruined the comics industry.
From the transcript:
I don’t think that normal or mainstream people ruined comics at all. I actually think it was the opposite. Comics were taken out of the mainstream, and I’d like to explain my conclusion to that. Before I do, so let me make a distinction between what I’m talking about. So, if you have a small, dedicated subculture, and then you have an influx of normal people to it that, you know, makes it explode in popularity, obviously that’s going to fundamentally alter the subculture in a ways that the creators of the subculture don’t want it to be altered. It’s going to dilute some of the things that made it special. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about in this is the reality that comic books used to be more popular than they are, and the mainstream interest for them was removed because the product was changed.
Right away, I recognized that David is offering a rebuttal to Mop Theory, which states that geeks create a cool new scene which is inevitably destroyed by an invasion of Mops, aka Normies.
In fact, David argues for the diametric opposite position.
I’d like to read a little bit of a quote for you that supports my point of view and distills down this idea that comics were taken away from the normies, not ruined by the normies. So this is a this is an interview with Jim shooter, who was in charge of Marvel for about ten years in the 1980s. And his basic thesis about the problem with modern comics boils down to storytelling–that they don’t tell good stories that people are interested in. That’s the background of this quote. Let me read it. “It takes forever to tell a story.” He’s talking about what he calls “decompressed storytelling.” It’s like a soap opera. “It takes forever to tell a story. What Stan Lee would put in six pages, it takes six months [now].
“So you look at the sales. Marvel comics are not $4 apiece, and they’re thrilled that the sales are over thirty thousand. When I was at Marvel the whole world was different. We didn’t have a single title. We had 75 titles. We didn’t have a single one that sold below 100,000. We had the X-Men approaching three-quarters of a million. “And that’s not some special number one or somebody dies or changes costumes or someone gets married. It was every time. “A lot of it was single copy readers. People weren’t running around buying cases of it because it had a foil embossed cover. It was every issue.”
So with that quote, you basically have my thesis, which is that comics at one point in time were extremely mainstream. I remember as a kid seeing comic books on the shelf at the drugstore like in the 1980s. In fact, I remember buying Ninja Turtle comics off of the shelf and reading them; not going to a comic book store. I didn’t set foot in a comic book store until like the the 1990s, and it was kind of a weird thing when comic book stores became the place where you had to buy comics. So at one point in time, these things are really mainstream, and they’ve gone away from being mainstream and actually been captured and become a subculture, so it’s really like a subculture captured the industry and started excluding all of the things which make make the comics appealing to the mainstream.
Watch the whole video from David Stewart.
Best selling author Jon Del Arroz fills in some of the blanks, explaining how Marvel eschewed quality writing in favor of letting rock star artists run the asylum.
Personally, I liken David to a man groping an elephant in the dark. He may not see the whole picture, but he does know the texture of the problem.
I hew closer to Jon on the issue of comics’ demise. The original creators who provided the industry’s original impetus retired or died. Their creations ambled along as corporate-sanctioned fanfic. Bereft of fresh ideas, the industry hemorrhaged sales, as Jim Shooter explained.
With the smart money long gone, comics were easy marks for the collectors’ bubble, which effectively killed the industry in the early 90’s. SJWs then arrived to pick the corpse.
Marvel and DC are dead. Move on.
Originally published here.