I love comic books, I always have. It all started when I saw the first episode of the 90′s X-Men cartoon. From there on out I was hooked. I watched it weekly and loved every moment of it. I instantly became extremely knowledgeable about each character, and their love/hate relationships with each other. I loved that people had thought up these “special” people. The 90′s also brought about Batman The Animated Series and Spectacular Spider-Man (along with some others which weren’t so great) but I found each of them amazing in their own ways. I was engulfed in each mythology that had been created over the years by the countless writers and then re-imagined in cartoon form.
My love for comic books and especially the X-Men became so apparent that my mother and father bought me my first two issues for Easter one year (posing as gifts from a certain somebody), and I still have them today, Uncanny X-Men #300, and The Web of Spider-Man #100. These issues aren’t anything to write home about, but they gave me something tangible where I could read further adventures of my favorite mutants and web crawler and I instantly wanted more.
The next several years only saw me reading horrible DC Comics. It’s not like I don’t like DC characters, because I do, but for me I was always and will always be a “True Believer”. I wanted Marvel comic books but I only had DC comic books available to me. But, that didn’t stop me from reading Knight Fall or other stories that happened, I just didn’t read about my first comic book love; the X-Men.
When I reached my teens I left comic books behind for women and Pro Wrestling, I was looking for more edgy and realistic things. Those two things are still in my life today, but comic books came back to me when I turned 21. I was at college and the only shop in town was closing, I went there to see what they were trying to sell dirt cheap and I bought Wolverine #1, but Greg Rucka. The next day I went back and bought the next six issues. Of course my reinvigorated love of comic books came when the X-Men movie came out. Still. I soon saw myself buying comic books in massive amounts. I was reading so much I became an encyclopedia of knowledge when it came to early-mid 2000′s Marvel Comics.
You can see where I deviated and came back to comic books, but can you see where a three-year old will fall in love with them in today’s market place? I can’t see it? There are no good comic book cartoon shows, sure Ultimate Spider-Man may be one option, but when I was a child Spider-Man wasn’t even close to the best option cartoon wise, it was just another option. Teen Titans GO! will not get any child into comic books, it’s meant more for teenagers it seems. So, we can count out cartoons, and while we’re at it we shouldn’t count movies either. Why? Because they are all meant for teenagers, not young children. Where is the animated HULK or Spider-Man movie? It would make a lot of money but they’ll never do it.
Instead we’re left with horrible “all age” comic books that are a shell of what the regular comic books are. I know they can’t tell the same story for children, but if the talent pool and story telling ability were better more kids would be into it. Even at three my son doesn’t want to read a comic book to see Spider-Man play baseball against the Green Goblin (yes that was an actual issue). He wants action, or at least what he perceives as action.
These are the things that will stop him from reading, there is no jumping on point for him. No great cartoon that could be his gateway to read about comic book events that actually happened, nothing that could get him into the industry that we all love. This needs to change, not for my son, but for our industry to survive. I want my son to love the same characters that we do, because we are a community, we are a brotherhood, we are Geek Nation, and we strive by standing behind each other in mass. I want him to love these characters really badly.
So, Marvel and DC I ask you, help make great all age comic books, because without future readers like my son the industry won’t have a future. Let’s face facts the industry is shrinking in readership and is struggling to get new readers, and the readership that is there is in their 30′s and 40′s now. We have a chance to change things, but we won’t be able to if the publishers don’t change things themselves, and then us as readers support them in doing so.
There is a spot in the industry for all types of books and publishers like Image Comics are proving it, other publishers need to follow suit and help them reach new types of readers and help expand our readership to new levels. This is a call to arms, let’s change things to help ensure that this industry will survive beyond the I.P.’s that already exist. I want their to be an industry and I hope you will help me influence change, so that my son, and your daughter can have an industry to love, and a brotherhood to love it with them.