Comics Marketing Pet Peeve

July 17th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Fans & critics seeking better representation in comics for women/blacks/gays/asians/etc has been a Thing the past few years. Just between you, me, and the wall, I’ve dabbled in it myself, just a little.

That’s the preamble. Here’s the meat. Don’t do this, in part because it is a huge pet peeve of mine and I am the center of the universe, and in part because it’s bad marketing:

CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 by @kellysue is out THIS Weds! You SAY you want books w/ strong female leads. You SAY you want books by top female creators. Time to put your money where your mouth is.

This is going to be the start of a GREAT run– not just of a great “girl” comic– of a great comic for EVERYONE. This one’s got a LOT of talent and heart in it. Give it a go!

This is from Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott’s Twitter feed. It is good intentioned, and I appreciate the sentiment behind it. Kelly Sue DeConnick is a pretty dope writer (Osborn: Evil Incarcerated with Emma Rios and I think Becky Cloonan for a bit is great comics, the best Normie since Jenkins/Ramos on Peter Parker, and her Slam Dunk adaptations are A+) and I get why they want this series to be a success. But.

1. Guilt is a crap motivator. I come from a family of guilt trippers, and as a result, there’s not much I hate more than a guilt trip. This is a guilt trip that also implies dishonesty on the part of the guilt tripped. “You SAY you want books w/ strong female leads. You SAY you want books by top female creators.” The suggestion is that you have to buy it, because otherwise, heh, guess you didn’t mean it, eh?

2. People say a lot of things about a lot of things, and there is always an unspoken caveat after the phrase. I want more comics by and about black people… that are good comics. I want more comics by and about black people… that don’t involve them being all sad about being black or fighting racism. The “you” here is a wide mass of people, each with their own wishes and peeves. “I want more comics by and about women… [that fit my criteria for things I enjoy].” Captain Marvel certainly seems to be eagerly awaited, judging by the stuff I see daily on my tumblr, and that’s cool. (Actually, tumblr being so energized is really cool in a grass roots sort of way, but that’s not this post.) But that doesn’t mean that it is the lynchpin on which future comics about women revolve. I mean, I hope it isn’t, because, wow, that would be a tremendous dick move and also pretty unlikely. But Captain Marvel It is just one comic. A comic with a lady lead, female writer, a cool mohawk, and a good amount of buzz, but still just one comic. Some people who want more lady-orientated funnybooks might not dig it. Others might. And that’s okay. If you keep making those books, they’ll like something else, and all of us can argue over which one is the best. (The obvious answer is the Jubilee: Firecracker twelve issue maxiseries I just made up, aka “The New Watchmen That Is Also Better Than Watchmen“)

3. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, basically, and I’ve seen it before and I’ll see it again. “Buy this book or we’ll shoot this dog” is funny on a cover. It’s less funny when it’s someone actually telling you that. It’s bad marketing, it’s annoying, it’s insulting, blah blah blah. Y’all know the drill. Your mileage may vary.

4. Have I done this? I’ve probably done this. Sorry. I think a lot about this stuff, both this “I want more comics by/about blacks” stuff and “I love/hate to talk about wanting more comics by/about blacks” stuff. My thoughts are evolving. How I approach this stuff is evolving. I’m evolving.

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