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The Lost Fanbase

Somewhere out there, amid the dwindling thousands of comic book collectors and readers, a lost fanbase exists. They are comprised of males in their 30's to 50's, who long ago read and collected comic books. They've grown up, started families, settled into their chosen careers and left comics behind. They'll go see the film adaptations of the comics. They'll rely on their fond memories of reading comics during high school study hall or during a hung-over Sunday afternoon in their college dorm. They may still have a passing interest in comics. But they won't go back to comics.

For the lost fanbase, there are simply too many other distractions competing for their attention. They have money now, and spend it on their kids, or on themselves in other ways. They are online. They throw their money away on ebay. And I think they would read comics again if they could accept that comics are more accessible now, and cheaper than back in the day, when they were spinning on a rack at their local pharmacy. The only difference is, I'm referring to webcomics, and not printed comics.

Finding a way to get the lost fanbase excited about webcomics is tricky. On the one hand, many of them long for the kind of comics they read when they were young, but on the other hand, they might realize that they need a more complex and mature kind of comic in order to sustain their 'sophisticated tastes'. And yet, many of today's sequential storytelling formats must be nearly indecipherable to so-called 'civilians', those who haven't picked up a comic since Reagon was in office. And the lost fanbase is biased, too. Comics should be held, they assume. There should be that tactile experience, the smell of rotting newsprint, the inherent collectibility factor. Webcomics have none of those qualities. They have their own unique characteristics, of course, but these old geezers have to stick around long enough to find that out. The trouble is generational. These are things I thought about when I concocted Champion Of A Lost Universe. I was writing for myself, because I count myself among the lost fanbase, someone who used to read and collect comics, but is also web savvy enough to cross that generational divide. The only difference is, I'm a comics creator.

If you are creating webcomic for yourself, then you probably have a target audience whether you planned for it or not. Sure, we're all unique individuals. But on the other hand, I have to believe that there are many people out there that like the same stuff that I like. In my case, I love old comics, specifically the works of the 1970's and early 1980's, mainly because I grew up during those years. But I want something more complex than what was generally being written back then. There is nostalgia attached to nearly everything in our popular culture. It's okay for comics to look back once in a while and embrace the past. Who knows, maybe there really is a lost audience out there, a demographic whose interests could gravitate toward webcomics. If so, they're online right now. And they are waiting for you to make comics exciting for them again.

Scott Reed
www.websbestcomics.com

Well... At the very least,

Al Schroeder's picture

Well...
At the very least, we could do a special section on our links pages...
Something like "Superheroes on the Web: They're not Just Parodies Anymore", and then a mutual list of all our titles.

Other than that, I'm open for suggestions...

 

Al Schroeder III of MINDMISTRESS---think the superhero genre is mined out? Think there are no new superhero ideas? Think again.

 Al Schroeder III of MINDMISTRESS---think the superhero genre is mined out? Think there are no new superhero ideas? Think again.

I'm putting the finishing

Scott Story's picture

I'm putting the finishing touches on Johnny Saturn 5, and I plan to start purchasing advertising space for it on the web. Right now, I'm also looking for a publisher to handle the trade paperback, and I'm not sure what direction I'm going with that.

 

http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/johnnysaturn.php

DJ often has good ideas.

Scott Reed's picture

DJ often has good ideas. Well done, sir. Well done.

Now, the question becomes; what do we do about that? I agree that there is a market for the kind of comics we create, each of us has proof to that effect in our readerships.

Scott Reed
www.websbestcomics.com

Scott Reedhttp://www.websbestcomics.comhttp://www.theovermancomic.comhttp://www.myspace.com/scottreed01 

Well, here's an idea. We

Coffman's picture

Well, here's an idea. We have three "super hero" type comics right in this very thread.... you know what, instead of blabbering here, I'm going to shoot you an e-mail.

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

Well, here's an idea.

Al Schroeder's picture

Not Just three, if I may be so bold. And as an old comic book letterhack of the seventies and eighties, a lot of my readers started reading because they knew my name from those selfsame letter collumns, and the more current forums I frequent. I often comment on the DC or Marvel boards---legitimate comments---but include my URL for them to backtrack with. I get a lot of readers that way.

 

Al Schroeder III of MINDMISTRESS---think the superhero genre is mined out?

Think there are no new superhero ideas?

Think again.

 Al Schroeder III of MINDMISTRESS---think the superhero genre is mined out? Think there are no new superhero ideas? Think again.

Super hero webcomics promotion

[quote=alschroeder]Not Just three, if I may be so bold.[/quote]Nor just four ...

Okay, so technically I wasn't in this thread until now but - if you are designing a way for super hero webcomics to cross-promote each other, please don't forget Shades. I'd love to be included!

Broken Voice Comics
Because comics are not just for kids

Broken Voice Comics
Because comics are not just for kids

I haven't spoken with Scott

Scott Story's picture

I haven't spoken with Scott or DJ about this, but it would be interesting to form some sort of economic block or webcomic community around the intelligent use of supers in webcomics. Every since Warren Ellis announced that Rocket Pirates was for anything but superheroes, it made me start to wonder--Where are all the good, serious attempts on the web to tell superhero stories that he's reacting against? There are lots of daily gag or non-serious takes on the superhero, but very few that take the genre seriously.

While I have to admit that I would be interested in setting something like this up, I'm also afraid that there would be only smoke where I see fire, and other people's involvement lagged. I guess I would only be interested in hitching my wagon to fellow creators who take it as seriously as I do.

 

http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/johnnysaturn.php

It's a tough problem.

Scott Story's picture

It's a tough problem. Based on shows that I attended, I used to think that Johnny Saturn, which is sort of a throwback to the 80's, only appealed to comic readers in their 30's and 40's. Then, I started getting a lot of younger readers: These readers in their teens and 20's felt divorced from the current print comic market, but they think JS is cool. This led me to think their is a hunger for this kind of storytelling and characters. I've done really well on Drunkduck with JS, and that's a younger crowd, and I have to say that, much to my surprise, they "get it." Consequently, I'm heading deeper into the "retro" pool as these stories go.

 

The 80's had some really sophisticated storytelling, especially when you consider that that was the decade of Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, FM's run on Daredevil, etc. They knew how to tell good stories without upsetting the apple cart, so to speak.

 

I think DJ's point of targetting ads to niche websites is a good one.

 

http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/johnnysaturn.php

No, I was talking more about

Coffman's picture

No, I was talking more about a centralized location to learn about webcomics of a specifice niche. So, say for Scott Reed and I, we both do webcomics about Super Heroes, essentially, (and from classic time periods)-- if there was a simple gateway to advertise, like a "hub" that specialized in that specific niche and featured specific comics, that would be an interesting landing point for someone surfing around for nostalgic comics. Advertise it on current comic sites, comic shops, and even on comic blogs dedicated to old time comics.

Lunchboxcomics is a good example of a place where theoretically, parents could send their kids as a gateway to "all ages" friendly comics online. Would these be considered "niche hubs"??

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

It's inevitable though, that

Coffman's picture

It's inevitable though, that people outgrow things, hobbies, collecting. People acquire different tastes. I know in the past year I've been more focused on creating NEW comic readers, or making a comic that just about any age could pick up. I've been happy to hear that not only has that happened, but also people who havent bought comics in over a decade or two are now ordering some and visiting their local comic shops. That's a great feeling.

The problem with finding that audience you speak of online, is that there's no centralized location for them to gravitate toward for that niche? Maybe we should work on that?

DJ Coffman- cartoonist

yirmumah.net - herobynight.com

I know this'll sound weird,

mooncity's picture

I know this'll sound weird, but in a way, you're kind of talking about AOL. AOL was a centralized location/community for people in that target age range. Well, at one time, anyway. Now I'm not so sure. Most people stop using an AOL-type service once they figure out how to navigate the web for themselves. Maybe there's a similar community-based service we could approach, or interact with, to tell people in their 30s-50s about webcomickry?

Mooncity

Autumn Lake

Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow since 1976!

Mooncity

Autumn Lake

Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow since 1976!