The Lost Fanbase
Submitted by Scott Reed on April 6, 2007 - 16:26
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.