I’m still working out my thoughts on this (off the cuff, minute long, at a convention) interview, but I think he makes some interesting points, the sort of things I’d like to see discussed in a long interview.
A few points:
-I think the comment about 45 year old dudes is pretty apt. The realism that comics companies are producing in pursuit of that audience, and I didn’t put realism in scare quotes but I probably should have, is pretty foul. Superhero books don’t do well when you add realism into the mix unless you have the deftest of touches. Doing Politically Pointed Comics with superheroes tends to be loud, dumb, and garish, if not outright disrespectful. Stories about lynchings and gay bashing and whatever else tend to look absolutely ridiculous once some douchebag in tights shows up to save the day. Suspension of disbelief snaps when you introduce a certain level of injustice into the mix. Bank robberies? Sure, we can live with that. Dragging somebody behind a truck until his eyeballs pop out of his skull? I can’t wait to see what JMS is going to do with that in a later issue of Superman!
-Related: if you’re gonna do a superhero comic about the Holocaust… don’t. If you do it anyway… that comic better be better than the Second Coming.
-I think it’s easy to expand Cooke’s comments into being “All comics should be for kids!” That’s not what he’s saying, though, is it? There’s a difference between “for kids” and “appropriate for kids.” There’s nothing in, say, Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto or like, Jeff Parker’s Atlas that makes it for kids, but I’d argue that those books are appropriate for kids. I think that’s what Cooke is talking about–toning down the gross stuff that no one likes anyway except as a sign of superhero decadence and getting back to telling straight up stories. Agree/disagree?
-I think there’s a place for sex and violence in cape comix. Zodiac was a great read and it was super sleazy. I thought that story in Amazing Spider-Man where the Lizard ate a kid was great. But, isn’t that a little creepy? Maybe Spider-Man is a bad example, since he was a hit with college kids and all, but something like Superman or Batman, something that has a tremendous number of children who count themselves as fans… should the main stuff be the kid appropriate books? The ones that are just a little edgy, just adult enough to be interesting, but not so adult that they get all the roving rape gangs and severed heads? Should the side books, the miniseries and all, be the grown up stuff?
More thoughts later, maybe. I honestly have a lot of contradictory feelings about where comics should go (more war comics! more crime comics! stop making new versions of old characters! more black characters! stop making crap black characters!) and I’m sure some of what I think doesn’t even make sense.