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#506155 - 01/07/03 12:46 PM Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Aaron White Offline
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Registered: 07/18/99
Posts: 269
Loc: Birmingham, AL
One question that Matt Hawes asked in that jumbo thread got me pondering: if superheroes are better known than Buddy Bradley, doesn't that make them the more "mainstream" end of the comics spectrum?

I'm one of the fuzzier thinkers on the boards, but as I see it, it's kind of like the way Step'n Fetchit was once more "mainstream" than Sidney Poitier; the mainstream public may have been more aware of Step'n Fetchit types back in the day, making him more "mainstream," but Fetchit did little to encourage White America to look deeper into the realities of other races, because he had limited mainstream appeal. But Sidney Poitier had greater potential appeal to mainstream America, White and Black. Once Poitier achieved some visibility he made a name and paved the way for more sophisticated Black stars.

In a similar fashion, everybody's aware of superhero comics and willing to watch superheroes at the movies, but not likely to investigate comics as a result. But the entertainment potential of comics like Bone, Hate, Strangers in Paradise (note I'm not so much concerned here with "art" comics as alternative, period) seems more likely to appeal to a mass audience. Heck, I was Reading Kim Dietch's Boulevard of Broken Dreams at my coffee bar the other night, and a slew of non-comics readers came by to sneak a peak.

Not a perfect analogy; I like superheroes, so I'm not trying to argue that superheroes are inherently demeaned and demeaning in the same way as racial stereotypes, but I hope I'm not too deluded.

BTW I started another thread because the other one's gotten too unwieldy and nasty for my tastes. Pu-leeze keep it civil.

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#506156 - 01/07/03 03:08 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
ChrisW Offline
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Depends on how you define mainstream. If you mean it as far as what sells the most copies, what most people understand comic-book mainstream to be, then yes superheroes are far and away mainstream and have been so for decades.

If you use the term to refer to comics that would actually appeal more to a large number of the public, then Buddy Bradley wins hands down.
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#506157 - 01/07/03 04:17 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Matt Hawes Offline
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Registered: 07/13/01
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Loc: Evansville, IN U.S.A.
Quote:
Originally posted by ChrisW:
Depends on how you define mainstream. If you mean it as far as what sells the most copies, what most people understand comic-book mainstream to be, then yes superheroes are far and away mainstream and have been so for decades.

If you use the term to refer to comics that would actually appeal more to a large number of the public, then Buddy Bradley wins hands down.


Not so. If true, Buddy's sales at booksellers like Barnes & Nobles, where I am lead to believe he sells quite well, would tip the scales in his favor, right?

Buddy's stories in HATE appeal to a more limited segment of the general audience. The title "HATE" alone would cause many people to pass on the comic, as it is a negative title. Many people don't go for that, as a rule.

It's not a "Who's better than who" issue. It is one of sales and recognition. A Fellini movie, while successful in its' own right and critically acclaimed is not considered mainstream America, but TERMINATOR 2 is.
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#506158 - 01/07/03 04:18 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Aaron White Offline
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Registered: 07/18/99
Posts: 269
Loc: Birmingham, AL
Quote:
Originally posted by Matt Hawes:


Not so. If true, Buddy's sales at booksellers like Barnes & Nobles, where I am lead to believe he sells quite well, would tip the scales in his favor, right?


Not necessarily; at least, not at once. Pro wrestlers make more money than my friend who plays Robin Hood at a childrens' theatre, but Robin Hood has greater cultural saturation. The number of people who are familiar with Buddy Bradley is probably pretty close to the number of people who buy Hate comics. The number of people who are familiar with the A list superheroes substantially exceeds the number of people who buy superhero products.

Edited because I quoted without commenting. Peace out!

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#506159 - 01/07/03 04:26 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
ChrisW Offline
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Registered: 11/25/00
Posts: 10034
Loc: Lincoln, Nebraska USA
Echoing Aaron:
Quote:
Originally posted by Matt Hawes:
Not so. If true, Buddy's sales at booksellers like Barnes & Nobles, where I am lead to believe he sells quite well, would tip the scales in his favor, right?


(I will now add a response after the quote)

Not unless B&N are selling one big fuckload of Buddy Bradley comics.
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#506160 - 01/07/03 04:29 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Aaron White Offline
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Registered: 07/18/99
Posts: 269
Loc: Birmingham, AL
Snap! Oh no you di'n'!

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#506161 - 01/07/03 04:33 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Pat ONeill Offline
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Matt hits the button on exactly what keeps most of what the Journalistas and other alt/indy fans tout as the real "mainstream" from reaching any substantial popularity in this country.

They are, for the most part, depressing and downbeat and actually aimed at the art school crowd (picture a bunch of twenty-somethings all in various versions of black, with spiked, funny-colored hair, heavy metal jewelry and piercings) that the creators themselves are a part of and not even at the general youth population that turns movies into hits.
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#506162 - 01/07/03 04:34 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Matt Hawes Offline
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Registered: 07/13/01
Posts: 1965
Loc: Evansville, IN U.S.A.
Quote:
Originally posted by Aaron White:


Not necessarily; at least, not at once. Pro wrestlers make more money than my friend who plays Robin Hood at a childrens' theatre, but Robin Hood has greater cultural saturation...


How much did that Kevin Costner's ROBIN HOOD film make? Wasn't it a blockbuster the summer of its' release?

Errol Flynn was successful as Robin Hood, wasn't he?

Your friend could play HULK HOGAN at a childrens' theater and my point would still remain.
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#506163 - 01/07/03 04:43 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Aaron White Offline
Member

Registered: 07/18/99
Posts: 269
Loc: Birmingham, AL
Quote:
Originally posted by Pat ONeill:
They are, for the most part, depressing and downbeat and actually aimed at the art school crowd ....


But that's not the case with Strangers in Paradise or Bone or Akiko.

Actually, I'm no fan of Hate, but the couple issues I've read strike me as being in line with a Seinfeld-ish asthetic. And if South Park, Beavis and Butthead, et al. can be hits, Johnny Ryan and The Slawless Jug and Rick Altergott would seem to stand a chance with mainstream tastes.

In fact Slawless works on Spongebob Squarepants, a popular animated cartoon. His comics probably don't sell like Spongebob stuff sells, which shows that it's not Slawless's alt/indy aesthetic per se that's holding him back from commercial success.

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#506164 - 01/07/03 04:44 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Matt Hawes Offline
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Registered: 07/13/01
Posts: 1965
Loc: Evansville, IN U.S.A.
Quote:
Originally posted by Pat ONeill:
Matt hits the button on exactly what keeps most of what the Journalistas and other alt/indy fans tout as the real "mainstream" from reaching any substantial popularity in this country.

They are, for the most part, depressing and downbeat and actually aimed at the art school crowd (picture a bunch of twenty-somethings all in various versions of black, with spiked, funny-colored hair, heavy metal jewelry and piercings) that the creators themselves are a part of and not even at the general youth population that turns movies into hits.


I do think that is a major factor with many of the comics. I never questioned the content of the Alt or Indy comics, but most really aren't geared for mass consumption and that is what being mainstream is all about. It's not about being better, it's about more people knowing about you and your product selling more because it appeals to a broader taste.

Superheroes are modern mythological and folk heroes. Robin Hood is a better argument for my stance than against it, for instance, as it shows the strength and popularity of the classic hero.

Comic books, not just superhero comic, do not sell millions of copies because the general public does not like to read. A New York Time's Bestseller doesn't always, if ever, sell a million copies. So, circulation records are misleading.

What is not misleading is the popularity of superheroes in other mediums of entertainment. Video games and movies that feature superheroes always perform well when done properly, and sometimes even when they aren't! The average person accepts and enjoys the hero and this is proven by recognition factor and sells in all forms of media. Again, most people don't read, even comic strips, but they will still play that SPIDER-MAN game on Sony while they watch SMALLVILLE on TV.

The Alternative and Independent comics are aimed at a more selective reader, usually.

That is why most of those comics will probably never merit attention of the mainstream.
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