Now admittedly I've been out of the comic game for awhile and I've missed some things, but I've also been a part of the comic game for a long time and I remember some things too. As I reengage and work to catch up with the comic book landscape I've noticed some significant changes, some which I consider to be positive and some of which I consider to be negative. One important change I've noticed is the effort to have comic books recognized as a serious and legitimate literary art form. It's become very important for comic books to be seen as more grown up and adult and as much as I applaud this effort I think its having an unintended consequence that's hurting the industry and killing sales in the marketplace. Comic books just aren't fun anymore.
Everywhere I look its Noir and brutality, sex and infidelity. If the language in comic books doesn't offend you the amount of blood and savagery will. Comic books may indeed be more adult and graphic than they've ever been, but there isn't a lot of fun in them these days. And for all of the warning labels plastered across the front of the books there isn't a lot of maturity between the covers. Oh, there are plenty of breasts, barely clad women and f-bombs dropping like cluster bombs in Afghanistan and even though this type of content may be considered adult in content it's certainly far from mature in nature. And it certainly isn't fun because its so hard to share them with anyone.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be embarrassed to leave my comic books laying open around the house. Never did I think I'd have to wait until my son turns eighteen before we could sit together and read a comic book. And I never thought I'd have to explain to my son that I read comics for the articles inside and not the pictures of half naked women plastered throughout them. By the time my son's old enough to appreciate my comic collection he won't have any interest in them because we weren't able to share them due to the graphic nature of the content inside them. It's not fun not being able to share something I love so much with my son simply because a group of young writers in the industry right now can't seem to tell a good story without liberal doses of nudity and vulgar language.
How about bringing a little fun back to comics. How about writing some Batman stories I can sit down and read with my youngster. How about writing some stories my youngster can read without filling his vocabulary with words like shit, fuck, Hell, and damn. (And don't give me any crap about going to Disney books if I don't like it. That's just a stupid and simplistic rebuttal.)
I'm tired of reading comic books and feeling dirty afterwords. I'm tired of having to keep comic books out of my child's hands instead of putting them into them as a way of encouraging him to read. The future of the industry is dying because so many of us who are parents can't develop and nurture the same love for comic books we knew as children because they're not appropriate for young readers anymore. Young kids aren't reading comics because they lack interest, they're not reading them because they're being discouraged from doing so by parents like me. Parents who grew up with and still maintain a love for something that is now completely inappropriate to share with our sons and daughters.
It's time for the comic book industry to grow up. It's time to ease up on the adult content of nudity and course language and bring back the more mature elements like good story telling and language suitable for anyone in the whole family. In the meantime I'll continue to encourage my child to read anything but comic books. That saddens me, it really does.