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#506175 - 01/08/03 09:12 AM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
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#506176 - 01/08/03 10:00 AM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Pat ONeill Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 3064
Loc: PA, USA
Quote:
As usual, Pat conflates mainstream appeal with mass art mechanization and distribution. There's nothing in the story of Maggie from LOVE & ROCKETS which couldn't be appreciated by an average reader, but how it's made and distributed does affect wider appreciation (consider that GHOST WORLD the movie had a larger viewership than any superhero comic being published*). One thing that probably does have a detrimental effect on sales is that a running narrative is interrupted by 3 month spaces. But if that's how long it takes, that's how long it takes.


And, of course, the answer to that last sentence is, "don't release it, even in serial form, until you have enough done to make sure it will come out without long gaps in between." Note that all three of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed simultaneously, so that they could be released on a yearly schedule. Any comics creator who needs a year to produce a finished product (and I really find that ridiculous, BTW, unless the product is massive in length--but a year between issues of average (under 40 pages) length is, IMO, inexcusable) should probably be publishing in hard-cover GN format.

Quote:
*and no need to mention that any successful action spectacle, including those with superheroes, has an even larger audience. I'm not claiming that GHOST WORLD's the most potentially mainstream film out there (it'd likely be shit if it were), only that it's content has mainstream appeal (if you're talking about "mainstream" in terms of "mass art" and not some crass bean-counting LCD sort of aesthetics). [


But there is a need to mention it, because the quantity of popular support needed to make something "mainstream" in each medium is dependent on the overall audience for that medium. An audience big enough to make a hit movie (usually only in the under 10 million range) would be so small as to result in cancellation for a broadcast network TV series.

The sales of even a modest best-seller in prose would be a flop in the movie business.

And so on.
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#506177 - 01/08/03 10:15 AM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Steve Hogan Offline
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Registered: 02/27/01
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Pat's charecterization of alt/indy comics come from someone who doesn't read them and is totally clueless of popular culture.

As pointed out earlier, the art in HATE is no more visually antagonistic than say, BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD which was a huge success. (And had a somewhat offensive title too.) For that matter, HATE's main focus was the more normal looking characters, and it's sympathies were always with joe average...not with weird looking trendy people.

For that matter, look at the characters in comics by Clowes, Tomine and Ware for example. Where's all the peircing? They feature some of the most aggressively normal looking people in comics!

At any rate, if Eminem was a comic book, Pat would be talking about how he could never reach a mass audience.
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#506178 - 01/08/03 10:31 AM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Charles Reece Offline
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Why not release it in serialized form if there's enough readers to justify it and it helps the artist complete the longer work? If a reader only wants to read the collected version, there's nothing stopping him or her from doing so. The jumping on point of L&R isn't necessarily with any individual pamphlets, but with the still-in-print collections. I like reading it as it comes out and have less of a problem remembering what's occurred previously in it than in Morrison's monthly X-MEN book. Anyway, I agree that frequency does have a role to play in picking up new readers, but thankfully there are collections.

Secondly, there's no need to mention the success of action spectacles within the context of my point, because GHOST WORLD was a successful movie within its overhead costs. And, more importantly, there's no need to mention such large spectacles here because my main point was that the content which you claim doesn't have any popular appeal clearly does if it finds the right medium qua distribution possibilities. Are there as many people who prefer angst-ridden comedy over visual effects? No, but there are enough of us who can turn such content into a mainstream success IF, again, one doesn't simplistically equate "mainstream" with an LCD bean-counting statistic (which would lead one to the conclusion that Meryl Streep isn't a mainstream actress or WIZARD OF OZ isn't a mainstream film). The Academy Awards do not celebrate avant-gardism, after all.
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#506179 - 01/08/03 10:31 AM 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 gene phillips:


...Then you state that you've heard that BB does do well in the chain bookstores. So, purely going on ChrisW's pellucid definition, doesn't that make it "mainstream" IN THAT VENUE?


When I said that I was being more or less tongue-in-cheek, as the people that told me this were Alt and Indy fans.

Anyway, if you feel it's mainstream, then ok. I'm already fielding the same questions on the thread I started and it's become tedious and a pointless back and forth with others. "Pointless" because it isn't really doing more than acting as a breeding ground for an exchange of insults rather than of opinions.
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#506180 - 01/08/03 11:01 AM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Sock Puppet #9.5 Offline
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Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 523
I love all this dancing around the term "mainstream" as applied to N.American entertainment with nary a pin-down of definition.

"Mainstream entertainment" in and of itself means didly.
Everybody knows what attending an opera means, but nobody I know goes. So, everyone KNOWS what an opera means, but the audience is quite small.

The "Roseanne" TV show had quite an audience in its day on TV (millions of viewers know her and watched her show) and right now I doubt if she could do dinner theater. Her "mainstream" status didn't get her anything except money. But for a while, if she did something, people would show up.

So I won't even come close to trying to fully define what "mainstream" means, but one thing I KNOW one of the things it does mean - it means that if you have made a lot of money (and audience can equal money in this non-definition) relative to the rest of your "competitors" therefore garnering some semblance of success. And if you have ALSO garnered attention for yourself OUTSIDE the bounds of your genre, or crossed genres based on the strength of your name alone, THEN you have some measure of "mainstream".

So, money(audience) and crossover (genre) status.
Some of that crossover(can)will come from a shrewd (PR) marketing person (team).

If you don't have either, then you don't have squat in terms of "mainstream"

I may not know how to define "mainstream" but one thing I know it means is; you either use that status or you don't deserve having that status.

If a movie can be successful, you can put out books based on that world creation, ala Star Wars, Star Trek. You can even try and fail, like Shatner's "TekWorld". Crossovers with one line of genre like movie to book or vice-versa is a minor play, but when the characters get licensed for toothbrushes and the like... yes. That's part of it.

I know people that maybe have seen two Tom Clancy movies, never read his books, but are playing the video games based on his concepts. Not one of Clancy's creations are known everywhere, but the name "Tom Clancy" IS.

So "mainstream" also means a bit of the "cult of personality", too. (Now you see why I won't flail away at a firm definition, although YOU may view this post as that attempt.)

Ozzy Ozbourne only made it to "mainstream" after some stupid reality show, where we now know some parts were "refilmed". Uh-huh. Ozzy monikered Under-roos are right around the corner, I suspect.
sheesh. Some of this is a bit more planned than others, eh? Of course.

Comic books are good for one thing. We all know it, too.
If someone can make a movie out of it, the comic book creation is worth something. Before that, it can't support more than the creative team and maybe buy a few pints for the editorial staff.

Even THEN you don't have any guarantees.
Look at SPAWN. Movie, animated series. Did THAT make it into the "mainstream"? Perhaps. Not all "mainstream" stories have happy endings, eh?

BLADE the movie also appeared almost out of nowhere. Are there BLADE comic books flying off the shelves? NO. As a matter of fact, there's not much in the way of crossover elements there at all, is there? NO. BLADE the movie may have come out of the comic book series (and we all know the history) but the hue and cry from the street wasn't "We LOVE BLADE, we can't wait for his movie!!" No, that wasn't a real crossover from comic book to movie, was it? And since it didn't crossover again, I rather doubt of it's real status past the vampire-action status, that Buffy still is a part of, and has more of a name for.

The real sign of "mainstream" is the licensing for things not related to the genre/medium. It's not just the licensing (contract), but the success of that licensing.

The "HUMVEE" was the success story from the Gulf War. You can buy "Jeep" bicycles and radios, but who cares? Mixed results. Not all attempts at cashing in on mainstream status succeed.

SP#9.5

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#506181 - 01/08/03 01:15 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Pat ONeill Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 3064
Loc: PA, USA
Sock Puppet puts it very well. "Mainstream" isn't just about success.

"Mainstream" is about public consciousness. It's about being recognized by the man on the street who is not specifically a fan of the product or genre or medium.

People who have never seen Star Wars or its sequels (they exist--my 17-year-old son has a couple such in his class at school) still recognize Darth Vader. People who have never read a comic book recognize the reference when someone in a Superman suit appears on a newsmagazine cover.

Think any significant number of readers would get the reference if it were to Ghost World or Hate, instead?

Andy Warhol could use Campbell's Soup and Marilyn Monroe as cultural referents in his work. Think he could have used Progresso and Diana Dors as successfully?
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#506182 - 01/08/03 02:07 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Lord Julius Offline
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Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 523
Loc: St. Louis, Mo.
In the book business, "mainstream" has a pretty simple definition. If your books are classed under "fiction" and not under "science fiction" or "mystery" or "romance" or the like, you're a mainstream writer. It means you do not write "genre fiction," originally a derogatory term for those feeble hacks writing popular potboilers.

So it's a meaningless term, objectively speaking. It's all about perception and legitimacy. William Gibson and Ursula LeGuin have acquired a certain amount of legitimacy, but they're still science fiction writers. Michael Crichton is a mainstream author. That LeGuin has won two National Book Awards and Crichton merely sells a lot of copies of his books doesn't enter into this -- the legitimacy she gained there didn't lift her out of the genre, though it did help lift the genre as a whole.

In a larger sense, "mainstream" usually means mainstream American culture, and comics, and superhero comics in particular, play an almost unique role in it. Aside from the ubiquity of comic strips, even if we just look at comic books, we have something that is at once a tiny niche market purchased and enjoyed by very, very few people (the most pessimistic estimates are about half a million, and even the most optimistic are still less than one percent of the U.S. population), and yet literally everybody is familiar with them, knows what they are, knows who Superman and Batman and Spider-Man are, etc.

To say that mainstream comic books (meaning superheroes) are not really mainstream -- as I've done myself many times -- is both accurate and misleading. It's true that few people read them anymore, but the basic idea of the superhero, along with the big name characters, their iconic costumes and their origins, are all familiar to an audience far larger than that. There are people who never read a comic book, never saw the 1970s Superman movie, never saw the 1950s TV show, have no direct exposure to anything produced by or in connection with DC Comics, who nonetheless know that Superman came to earth from the planet Krypton with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man (faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound), and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

This is as much a part of mainstream American culture as Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, as much as the Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. Superman IS mainstream America, in a lot of ways.

Wolverine, on the other hand, is not part of mainstream American culture. As a character. Most people may not even know who the X-Men are, even with a successful movie behind them (although once the second movie comes out, with Halle Berry's newly increased profile, that will probably no longer be true). Even so, if you said "Wolverine is a superhero" everybody will know what you mean.

There are half a dozen superheroes, three from each of the Big Two, that I would say are unquestionably a part of mainstream American culture. Note that one of them has had marginal sales through most of her history:

Superman
Batman
Wonder Woman
Spider-Man
Hulk
Captain America

There are a dozen other "maybes" like The Flash, but these are definites.

And for all alternative comics creators and readers may argue that they are actually more "mainstream" than superheroes, the fact is that these six are far more identifiable to mainstream Americans than, say Hopey or Buddy or Enid or Dr. William Withey Gull (sure, they all know who Jack the Ripper is, but not from "From Hell").
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#506183 - 01/08/03 02:30 PM Re: Why are Superheroes more "Mainstream?"
Steve Hogan Offline
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Registered: 02/27/01
Posts: 5099
Loc: Burlington, VT 05401
Most people have heard of BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD, KING OF THE HILL and SOUTH PARK. If these were comic books Pat would say they stood no chance.

A lot of people have heard of certain superheroes. They really don't care enough to obsessively collect all their crossover adventures in comic book form, but if the special effects and casting are good enough they will enjoy the novelty of watching them in movies. ("So that's what Spider-Man might look like in real life!")

I don't have a problem with superheroes existing, but they are WAY overused in comics. It isn't a healthy state of the industry that people feel the need to shoehorn superheroes into almost every new book. ("SUPERHERO teen angst, SUPERHERO comedy, SUPERHERO mystery, SUPERHERO sex, SUPERHERO horror...etc") Is the "mainstream" comics audience completely unable to enjoy stuff that doesn't involve costumes, code names and special powers?

Can indy comics become part of mainstream culture? Perhaps. I think the more literate ones could eventually gain the kind of non comics critical respect that revered works of prose do. (Everybody's heard of Catcher in the Rye even if they haven't read it.) This sort of thing opens comics up to a larger audience by taking away the taint that comics are only for dumbasses.

Beyond that, there's many comics that I think contain content that could reach mainsteam popularity. (If people read comics) Certainly I don't see anything about Sam Henderson or Johnny Ryan's work that would seem out of place compared to some of the edgier popular cartoons and comedies.
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#506184 - 01/08/03 02:49 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 Steve Hogan:
Most people have heard of BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD, KING OF THE HILL and SOUTH PARK. If these were comic books Pat would say they stood no chance...



BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD was once published as a comic book by Marvel Comics. Even though you did not mention it, so was REN & STIMPY.
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