Stan Lee and MegaCon 2012 (cntd)
Stan Lee, at the age of 89, still has the fire and passion…not to write comic books and create legendary characters, as those days are long gone, but to know when the support of one realm of entertainment directly relates to the survival of another. In my opinion, comic books are exiting the picture and the physical sides of things are moving towards graphic novels, if they haven’t already done so. While DC Comics are currently trying to reinvent their image and the image of the many superheroes they represent with their “New 52” line of comic books, it might not be enough.
DC Comics is struggling. This can be known with just a quick Google search on the internet, but it is also known in comic book circles. Those indie comics that are trying to tackle the big wig publishers might actually get their chance if DC doesn’t do something quick. Changing the image of the characters you represent might not be enough, especially considering your chief rival, Marvel, is raking in the dough. A lot of mainstream comic book readers do not realize that the Disney Corporation now owns a large stake in Marvel Entertainment. Is that the sole reason for Marvel’s success over DC? Not entirely, but it’s the decision making people at both Disney and Marvel realizing that comic book lore is at the height of the entertainment industry right now, so why not cash in with a partnership that could completely wipe DC off the comic book map?
Don’t get me wrong, Batman and Superman will always be DC’s go-to guys. You need to make a quick $300 million? Use Batman or Superman (which is what DC and Warner Bros. are doing). Have you seen the sales numbers for Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City video games? As of October 2011, Warner Bros. announced that the Batman: Arkham franchise of games have sold over 7 million copies worldwide. At $60 per game, you do the math. Now of course the money is split into different revenues for different companies, but it’s not like DC is hurting for money here. This is a completely different struggle for the once proud Detective Comics. Their struggle is a struggle for relevancy in a world being dominated by Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron-Man, and the rest of the Avengers.
Since summer 2005, when Warner Bros. Batman Begins was released, only four DC Comic originated comic book adaptations have seen the big screen: Superman Returns, The Dark Knight, Watchmen, and the upcoming The Dark Knight Returns. Compare that to the many Marvel films that have released in that same period of time: Spider-Man 3, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, The Amazing Spider-Man and the upcoming Avengers movie. The list is nearly endless.
So the biggest question remains how do comic books stay relevant? How does a dying medium, much like a majority of all print media, avoid fading into oblivion? Simple, keep your investors invested. Meaning, keep the people who spend the money on a religious basis – those teenagers, college kids, die-hard comic book readers – coming back for more. DC Comics has the right idea, when you’re obviously fading to a rival company in the multiple formats (print, film, video games) re-invent yourself but don’t lose sight of who you’re trying to impress. Will video games and superhero films keep comic books alive for another 20 years or so? I’m not sure, but I do know that what I saw at MegaCon 2012 was an encouraging sign that us “nerds” won’t go down without a fight.