Imagination Connoisseur, Christopher Whitfield, is afraid we’re seeing the beginning of the end for comics and genre entertainment as we’ve enjoyed it. Are we pricing ourselves out of existence?
You will read this. It is useless to resist. My thoughts to your thoughts….
The sci-fi community has less than 20 years of life left to it. This would also be true of the comic book community. Allow myself to explain … myself.
As I see it, these genres of films and publications are solely catering to a dying breed. Not sure for everyone else, but I feel I have fewer days ahead of me than I have behind me.
I had a perfect childhood. Let me clarify that, I had a perfect childhood as I grew up in the perfect decade. I was just lucky enough that I was a kid throughout the 1980s. Not just a few good years inside the 1980s, but I enjoyed the entire 1980s. I was 8 as the decade started and 18 as it ended. So, I consider myself that perfect example of the 80s generation.
I have clear memories of seeing Star Wars at the Star Lite Drive-in. I remember walking into Kmart and seeing a wall of Star Wars figures in 1978. My uncle spoiled me by buying them — not just a few, but all 12! The cost of each was $1.50.
By 1980, I was sitting in front of the 19” Zenith watching BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY. Afternoons were reruns of STAR TREK and SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. My mother would drop me off at the Park Twin Theater on Saturdays to watch movies such as STAR WARS: EPISODE V – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (SW:TESB), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, TRON, SUPERMAN II and SUPERMAN III, STAR TRE II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (ST:TWOK), STAR WARS: EPISODE VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI (SW:ROTJ) and THE LAST STARFIGHTER.
Like I said, a perfect time to be a kid!
My Graceland was the Yucca Newsstand — a Shangri-La of sensory delights. To walk in the business, one became intoxicated with the crisp olfactory of newsprint ink and pipe tobacco— along with a metallic ozone of tarnished coins. Glass cases sparkled with rare coins, pocket watches and zippo lighters. Walls were filled with the bright and vivid fashion magazines — an endless shelf of magazines on every subject from gardening to model trains. In the back corner, just beyond the racks of pulp novels, were three wire racks of comic books.
Every cover was an explosion of color and an intense action scene. Bought my first issues of Marvel Star Wars, G.I. Joe, DC Comics Superman and Justice League of America there. I lost myself in wonderment and curiosity. Nearly every penny of my allowance spent on comics. Five dollars a month! But I got a stack — a real stack — of comics. All priced at .60 cents! (for the math challenged, that’s roughly 10 comics! That didn’t’ include the box of old stuff for Quarter!) You know how much $5 gets you today? One. Yes, ONE.
Oh, how I wish the Newsstand would return. Yet, it was a relic of its time — almost everything inside it is now considered obsolete or morally objectionable (I’m referring to the tobacco not the New York Times or Action Comics…oh wait…maybe I am referring to them all).
So sorry, I diverted off topic.
As kids, we can’t control macroeconomics or fancy terms like inflation, capitalization or market growth, but it can stop us from buying those things today. While browsing the toy aisles recently, I asked myself are parents spending the $9.99 for a basic 4” inch action figure? Are kids saving their allowance to buy a $40 Lego set? What parent would drop $3.99 for a 20-page funny book? Do 12-year olds save their allowance to buy the latest Batman Hardcover?
Comic books were once at the grocery store checkout — where pestering children could possibly get their mothers to toss it into the cart as it was only 60 cents. I remember when the Archie Digest was a $1 and always an impulse buy at the Piggly Wiggly. Now, they are $7.99!
Are we just pricing ourselves out of these products for the next generation? Is the only consumer of these products from a time long ago? Are science fiction and comics even created for children anymore? Can we save it? Is there a way to bring it back….to capture the next generation and stop this great genre from dying?
I hope so. I desperately hope so.