COMICS: Once again, Dirk Deppey lays the smack down on the pro-superhero, pro-Direct Market forces in comics. Responding to Stuart Moore's response to Dirk's response to Stuart's column (damn, weblog attributions and explanations are hard), Dirk goes after the idea that superhero/X books (superhero/crime, superhero/detective, etc.) are the Way Forward for the Direct Market. Moore tries to make the point that more creators should throw away the idea of making non-superhero comics for the Direct Market and go for superhero/ books (superhero/crime, superhero/mystery, etc.) because nobody will read your non-superhero book.

First, as a writer I have a problem with anybody telling me that I should be writing one type of story or another. If I want to write Terrorism Stories (the example Moore gives in his essay) that's what I want to write. I don't want to have to dilute and really, insult, my story by adding The Flash for pete's sake. If I write Terrorism Stories minus the ridiculous Flash character and the Direct Market won't buy it (which they wouldn't) I'll sell the story somewhere else (which is what's happening). All adding superheroes to everything in the DM does is further marginalize the DM. People who want to read Terrorism Stories wouldn't want The Flash and wouldn't read it if it did have The Flash. Superheroes are, to the world outside the Direct Market, an old-fashioned, ridiculous, and childlike storytelling device in most cases. This doesn't mean that all superheroes are for kids but it does mean that most adults won't read them. Does anyone think it's an accident that Smallville is about Clark Kent and not Superman? The episode of Smallville that shows Superman in his tights and cape is going to either be the last or second-to-last episode, depending on whether it's a dramatic choice or a ratings one. It's hard for a lot of people in comics to believe but most people do not want to read about superheroes. The Way Forward for the Direct Market is not superhero/mystery, it's mystery.

Warren Ellis recently recently sent out a note on his mailing list simply saying that maybe comic book shops are just for superheroes and I think he's right. Fighting for the Direct Market is pretty pointless since it doesn't seem to want to be saved. If things keep going forward like they are, you'll be able to buy your single issue superhero comics are the local comic book shop (if there is one) but the vast majority of comics are going to be sold in bookstores. And most of them are not going to contain any trace of superheroes. Really, in the long term I don't think it matters what the DM does with superheroes because they're the only ones who are going to be messing with them. Nobody else cares. Fighting for space on the deck of a sinking ship is not exactly the most productive way to spend your energy from the point of view of the people on the life rafts but apparently nobody's told most Direct Market proponents that. The only reason to argue about the content of comics sold in comic book shops is sentimental attachment to comic shops. Really, it all comes down to this: The shops that want to get off the boat and into the life rafts will adapt and carry other stuff besides superheroes and the ones that just keep trying to change around the superhero genre won't and they'll drown.