So, it’s the perfect time to blog, no? I headed down to the comic shop on Free Comic Book Day and picked up Love and Capes, Amazing Spider-Man, and Captain America/Thor. Though all three were good, Amazing Spider-Man was the only one that seemed to “click” for me. Reading Love and Capes was like stumbling onto a soap opera for the first time. Unfortunately, soap operas only attract new audiences through (1) long-term exposure or (2) a shocking event. Sadly, unlike General Hospital, new free issues of Loves and Capes don’t show up in my house Monday through Friday at ten. And the habit of reading the book hasn’t been handed down for generations either (though the book does have the benefit of being well written—unlike General Hospital). Without long-term exposure to get me attached to these characters and no shocking event to make me eager for the next issue, it’s not a book I plan on searching for.
Captain America/Thor was charming, but seemed to be geared towards a younger audience. I found it a bit dull. If I’m reading a Thor comic, I don’t really want lighthearted humor. I want an epic. I want Sons of Anarchy and the Iliad thrown in a blender. Of course, that’s not the kind of comic to be given away on Free Comic Book Day. And it certainly wouldn’t be the type of book to give to new, younger readers. Captain America/Thor is just right for that nine-year-old boy out there who will hopefully pick up this comic after I leave it in the library.
Amazing Spider-Man dished up a heavy dose of nostalgia and it worked. A character I’ve been fond of for years (Spider-Man), plus an art style that reminds me of the style dominant when I first started buying comics, plus a featured character that I feel never gets enough attention (Shang Chi)?
Yup, that’s pretty much the best way to drag me back in.
And I realized something in that comic shop filled with grown-ups in their twenties and thirties. It’s not about developing new readers. It’s about winning back people like me—people who wandered away. The only new reader that I knew would come from FCBD wasn’t even in the comic shop. It was the son of the woman who was digging through the dollar manga bin with me. As I was snatching up volumes of Path of the Assassin, she asked me what would be good for her son. And I had no idea what to tell her! Hopefully, she picked up something good.
But hey, the day worked, right? That lady and I both wandered out with an armful of manga that we paid for. And Marvel found a fresh vein to stick it in. Yeah, I’m not going to be buying Amazing Spider-Man, but later that day I saw Misty Knight over a friend’s shoulder as he flipped through Heroes for Hire and immediately wanted to know what the character had been up to. Who was she loving? Where was she living? And much to my annoyance, I know I’m going to pick up the next issue of Heroes for Hire to find out—especially since I’ve stopped watching General Hospital and have been on the search for “comfort storytelling” to replace it.
Oh, one more thing! I’ve been checking out pages from Jennifer Blood over on Scans Daily and it looks like something that would be right up my alley. And yet when I saw it in the store, the cover was so off-putting that I couldn’t buy it. It irritated me just enough that I couldn’t pay money for it. So, I guess I’ll keep reading free snippets online.