Comic Book Industry Blunders by cmlang


									by: Dave Gieber

What has gone wrong within the industry and can it be fixed? The rape and pillage, in the eyes of
some, may have left the comic book industry gasping for life support. It seems that for an
industry that has seen so much success, the history of comic books, has apparently been
confounded by seemingly dumb mistakes.

The first could have very well been the coining of the name "comic books". The earliest versions
of the so-called half-tab (for half tabloid) reprints of the Sunday funnies (the comics) became
known as "comic books". This led to the thinking in general, that comic books contained comic
or funny material, which we all know, is a far stretch from reality. Comic books can be very
somber, dark or adventurous magazines. It has often been suggested that there should be another
term coined to better describe this literary package we all know as comic books. To date, no
other user-friend term has been suggested for use in the comic book industry.

A second misdirection came when magazine prices started to rise. Instead of increasing comic
book prices, like other successful magazines did, the comic book industry decided to cut pages to
keep the then current price tag of 10 cents. This brought on the impression that comic books
were "cheap" by definition, and neglected the fact that a dime was a lot of money at one time
(steak & eggs cost 35 cents). This presented the image that comic books were just for kids. It
also made the product increasingly less viable for retail merchants to stock. Why take up the
same shelf space, when a higher priced magazine would do more nicely. Again the perceived
value of the comic book was loosing credibility.

Then as the 1950s rolled around, an individual by the name of Dr. Frederick Wertham, published
a book entitled "Seduction of the Innocents". Through the use of unscientific research and
assumptions, he stated that all the nation's ills were directly related to kids reading comic books
(ah hmm, what?). Central to his thesis, was the misassumption that comic books were strictly for
kids. The more adult material, it was irrationally assumed, was aimed at our sweet, nave innocent
children. Yes, we do have to protect our children, but it still bothers me to no end, that certain
self-righteous individuals believe their lot in life is to make the rest of the planet adhere to their
own personal beliefs. If this were the case, then our great country would have never been

With this wildly irrational attack on the comic book industry and many congressional leaders
jumping on the bandwagon, comic books were gaining a bad reputation. The comic book
industry publishers at this point, could have banded together and declared that comic books, like
movies, were not "just for kids". It should have been stated that the wide range of comic book
genres represented was target to as wide a range of readers. All but one of the publishers
(William Gaines, publisher of EC Comics) buckled under to this Congressional Investigation and
the Comic Code Authority was created. This governed the content of comic books and ensured
that for the next 15 years or so, the literary content would not rise much above that of pablum for
the mind. Therefore another slide into incredibility for the comic book industry took place. Can
the comic book industry be saved? Very possibly, but when the individuals in charge of the
saving are as eager as ever to make the same mistakes all over again, what will the outcome be?
They don't even appear to be cleaver enough to make new mistakes.
This article was posted on February 22, 2005

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