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#506275 - 01/14/03 11:45 AM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Slawless Jug Offline
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Registered: 04/11/00
Posts: 276
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
oops. double post.

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#506276 - 01/14/03 01:59 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
Quote:
Originally posted by Slawless Jug:
Nickelodeon magazine has a circulation of about a million readers, and using Deppey's estimate on the "Gary Gripes" thread, that's twice as many people as the total of all comic readers. The magazine has a comic section and the artists are not people like Joe Quesada or Todd Macfarlane. They're comic shop pariah like Mark Martin, Kim Deitch, Richard Sala, Kaz, Jordan Crane, Jason Lutes, Steve Weissman, Craig Thompson, James Kochalka, and myself, in the same styles we use in our regular comics. This is the most popular section of the magazine, which I think negates any argument about alt/indy comics lacking mainstream potential.

My own comic sells about 2000 copies. Using the same estimate of 500,000 readers overall, that means my comic is read by 0.4% of comic readers, or 0.00008% of the American population. I understand the relative lack of commercial potential for comics about beer-drinking robots, peeing ducks, masturbating bosses, and guys whose asses fall off, but I still feel- regardless of factors like longevity and name recognition- they have as much commercial potential as people with special powers who wear tights and fight crime.


I have no familiarity with the Nickolodeon magazine comics-section beyond what Slawless Jug has printed here.

But I would ask, SJ, while you and the other altcomics guys may use the same STYLES, are there restrictions on CONTENT? I for one wouldn't expect a magazine based on a part-kiddie, part-nostalgia channel to be another WEIRDO, but then again I might be surprised.

Which might lead to an interesting discussion of how fixed the "mainstream" is. I certainly don't agree that it fits Pat's inconsistent definitions, but I'm not sure Charles' focus on "intent" does it for me either. As Charles noted, THE CRYING GAME was a mainstream success financially even though its subject matter had little in common with most mainstream romances, so, the question of whether the film "is or isn't" mainstream seems as ambivalent as TCG's ambisexual character.

Jamie Salomon probably has the best take here, focusing on how the perception of the mainstream changed over time and in the eye of what beholder.
I'd add that it might help to think of the mainstream as a sort of semi-permeable membrane, that allows some notions to enter the stream of mass entertainment and not others. It's not even always a matter of the subject matter being too controversial, thus inspiring the wrath of the "gatekeepers" (though certainly that DOES happen). Some subject matter is just too difficult for mainstream consumption. I can't imagine the greater part of the mainstream embracing a dense and confusing work like Eco's FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, yet the same author produced THE NAME OF THE ROSE, which did break through to that wider mainstream. IMO, TNOTR could do so because had an idea that was easy to describe as a moviemaker's pitch: "Sherlock Holmes in medieval times."

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#506277 - 01/14/03 02:55 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Slawless Jug Offline
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Registered: 04/11/00
Posts: 276
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I have no familiarity with the Nickolodeon magazine comics-section beyond what Slawless Jug has printed here.
But I would ask, SJ, while you and the other altcomics guys may use the same STYLES, are there restrictions on CONTENT? I for one wouldn't expect a magazine based on a part-kiddie, part-nostalgia channel to be another WEIRDO, but then again I might be surprised.


NICK magazine is for the 6-14 age group, so of course there are compromises to be made, but I think adult fans of my peers and I would like this work just the same. We're encouraged to do kids' comics in our own voices. I'm not saying the comics we do on our own have the potential for the same numbers, but definitely more than what they are now. Since the previous quote you used, others have done a better job of saying what I've been trying to say--much the content of ind/alt comics has proven successful in other media, and only in comics is it considered esoteric.

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#506278 - 01/14/03 03:43 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
Quote:
Originally posted by Slawless Jug:
My own comic sells about 2000 copies. Using the same estimate of 500,000 readers overall, that means my comic is read by 0.4% of comic readers, or 0.00008% of the American population.
Captain Math swoops in, points out that you have one too many zeroes in your "0.00008%" figure, and flies off in search of the highest even prime number.

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#506279 - 01/14/03 03:47 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Dan Carroll Offline
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Registered: 04/04/02
Posts: 4588
Loc: Chicago, IL
"Who was that masked man?"

"Let's take his lunch money!"

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#506280 - 01/14/03 04:06 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
gene phillips Offline
Member

Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
Quote:
Originally posted by Slawless Jug:
[qb]I have no familiarity with the Nickolodeon magazine comics-section beyond what Slawless Jug has printed here.
But I would ask, SJ, while you and the other altcomics guys may use the same STYLES, are there restrictions on CONTENT? I for one wouldn't expect a magazine based on a part-kiddie, part-nostalgia channel to be another WEIRDO, but then again I might be surprised.


NICK magazine is for the 6-14 age group, so of course there are compromises to be made, but I think adult fans of my peers and I would like this work just the same. We're encouraged to do kids' comics in our own voices. I'm not saying the comics we do on our own have the potential for the same numbers, but definitely more than what they are now. Since the previous quote you used, others have done a better job of saying what I've been trying to say--much the content of ind/alt comics has proven successful in other media, and only in comics is it considered esoteric.[/QB]


But it can be difficult to put across content that is considered "esoteric" in any medium, be it comics, film or music (see earlier Sheryl Crow quote)-- and I wonder how often those that do put across such content find success owe that success to a powerful media-patron, which in turn generates most of his/its profit from what I'd call the "real mainstream"-- i.e., mostly genre-work.

Now it doesn't diminish the accomplishments of yourself and the other altcomics guys to note that NICKOLODEON THE MAGAZINE owes some of its success to the pre-sold corporate name of the cable channel. But it must be said that having such a patron makes it easier to get your work out to a larger audience, and that's as true in book publishing and film distribution as it is the comics-world. I essentially agree with you that some altcomics have the potential to enjoy greater success in the "bookstore mainstream" than they ever can/could in the "DM mainstream," but ONLY if they attract those powerful patrons.

Of course, you can have such a patron and still not take off...

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#506281 - 01/14/03 06:10 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Slawless Jug Offline
Member

Registered: 04/11/00
Posts: 276
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I agree completely about success owed to corporate patronage and I would also agree that the abscence of success can be attributed partly to the lack of patronage. I was only commenting about missed potential markets, which we cartoonists with lackadaisical self-promotional skills can also partly blame ourselves for. Even with those factors as well as that of Nat's correction increasing my numbers tenfold (and these numbers can be applied and adjusted to to any other comic), it's still lower than it could be.

The whole debate of "alt comics are not as popular as superheroes-> that's only because superheroes scare away a potential mass audience-> superheroes have a mass audience in other media-> but other media are more diverse-> if comics readers wanted diversity they'd buy alt comics" is an unwinnable catch-22 doomed to be played forever on an endless loop.

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#506282 - 01/14/03 08:30 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Quote:
Which might lead to an interesting discussion of how fixed the "mainstream" is. I certainly don't agree that it fits Pat's inconsistent definitions, but I'm not sure Charles' focus on "intent" does it for me either. As Charles noted, THE CRYING GAME was a mainstream success financially even though its subject matter had little in common with most mainstream romances, so, the question of whether the film "is or isn't" mainstream seems as ambivalent as TCG's ambisexual character.


Of course, this character was a man. You seem to think you're disagreeing with me (at least that's how I'm reading it), but you're not. My point was that THE CRYING GAME wasn't mainstream. I'd agree with Pat's likely position (which is why I used the example), it's not mainstream. This, however, would contradict some of his stated requisites for being mainstream (again, which is why I used the example). Maybe you do have a problem with the "intentionality" criterion* but you've not stated it here.

p.s. FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM was an international bestseller (not that it was necessarily mainstream, but neither was THE NAME OF THE ROSE).

*quotations are to acknowledge the fallacy one could fall in here. For the record, intentionality is an interpretation that comes through a dialogical relation between reader and text, reducible to neither and consequently not purely subjective nor objective. Just because something isn't with mainstream appeal any longer (the mainstream art being constructed so as to appeal to the largest collective sensibilities at time t), doesn't mean it ceases being mainstream altogether through some sort of historicist accretion. In fact, the more likely it is to be forgotten by future generations, the more successful it is at being mainstream (in contrast to whatever room of Pat's mansion we're currently having tea in). Relatedly, something once thought of as purely mainstream could be, upon further reflection, discovered as being quite apart from the mainstream sympathies of any generation (including its own). In order for that to happen it is necessary, I would argue, for mainstream qualities not to be purely reducible to the receiver only (e.g., in the form of mainstream appeal at a particular time).
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#506283 - 01/15/03 02:05 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
gene phillips Offline
Member

Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
Quote:
Originally posted by Charles Reece:


Of course, this character was a man. You seem to think you're disagreeing with me (at least that's how I'm reading it), but you're not. My point was that THE CRYING GAME wasn't mainstream. I'd agree with Pat's likely position (which is why I used the example), it's not mainstream. This, however, would contradict some of his stated requisites for being mainstream (again, which is why I used the example). Maybe you do have a problem with the "intentionality" criterion* but you've not stated it here.

p.s. FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM was an international bestseller (not that it was necessarily mainstream, but neither was THE NAME OF THE ROSE).

*quotations are to acknowledge the fallacy one could fall in here. For the record, intentionality is an interpretation that comes through a dialogical relation between reader and text, reducible to neither and consequently not purely subjective nor objective. Just because something isn't with mainstream appeal any longer (the mainstream art being constructed so as to appeal to the largest collective sensibilities at time t), doesn't mean it ceases being mainstream altogether through some sort of historicist accretion. In fact, the more likely it is to be forgotten by future generations, the more successful it is at being mainstream (in contrast to whatever room of Pat's mansion we're currently having tea in). Relatedly, something once thought of as purely mainstream could be, upon further reflection, discovered as being quite apart from the mainstream sympathies of any generation (including its own). In order for that to happen it is necessary, I would argue, for mainstream qualities not to be purely reducible to the receiver only (e.g., in the form of mainstream appeal at a particular time).


Both PENDULUM and ROSE were bestsellers, but I would consider that ROSE had more mainstream potential thanks to the Holmes angle, even had there been no movie adaptation (which gave the Eco story even more mainstream exposure than it could likely get in prose form). Similarly, while I don't know if CRYING GAME had earlier existence as a play or prose novel, it gained quite a bit of mainstream exposure once it became a movie, and so I would deem it(even if neither you nor Pat do) a part of the mainstream, even if it keeps one foot in the smaller stream of canonical litfic.

I don't have any problem with interpreting intentionality as a dialogic exchange, but that wasn't clear from your statement that to interpret mainstream status "one must interpret the intention and direction of an art piece." Similarly, I would agree that one can discover deeper currents in artwork thought to be "purely mainstream"-- Dickens being an obvious example--but I wouldn't go so far as to say those currents put it "apart from the mainstream sympathies of any generation." After all, there are passages in Dickens (the concluding lines of COPPERFIELD for example) that were in their own time and are still as mawkish as any sentimental mainstream novel of any period. But one reads Dickens for those parts of Dickens that do have lasting relevance to the concerns of canonical litfic.

PS: I withdraw the use of the term "ambisexual," by which I meant "combining aspects of both sexes," but this doesn't even quite fit the secondary dictionary definition, which is "unisexual" (as opposed to the primary "bisexual").

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#506284 - 01/15/03 06:34 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Sock Puppet #9.5 Offline
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Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 523
Broaden your own definition of "mainstream" at will, but to me it cheapens the notion of what "avant-garde" is. If some form of entertainment is considered (perhaps by peers of the creator) "progressive" (in that genre) , but that item then becomes popular (rebroadcast on cable channels or something), at what point does that item earn consideration as being "mainstream"?

If the peer of the successful creator tries to hawk his (formerly "progressive") work outside the genre's normal audience and fails, does the genre itself remain considered "mainstream" because of the one success, or how does that work?

If some cable channel decides to show avant-garde films, does that make them "mainstream"?

God, I hope not.

----
excuse me if any of my usages are off target; hopefully my point is clear.

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