Do successful comic book movies create new comics readers? As the “Watchmen Principle” demonstrates, when a movie is based on a finite graphic novel or series, the answer is yes. When it is based on an ongoing 50 year saga, the results are not so clear.
CBR’s Greg Hatcher chanced upon a display of bagged comics at his CostCo which showed that Marvel had put together a product that seemed to be aimed at people who liked THOR and wanted to know where to go next: A photo-cover of hunky Chris Hemsworth as Thor graced the front of the package and an assortment of alluring titles lurked beneath.
Or was it alluring?
It was when I settled in to read them that the wheels came off the wagon. The Thor story was chapter one of Fraction and Coipel’s “The Galactus Seed,” featuring not just Thor but also the Silver Surfer. It seemed like a well-crafted piece, but the story sure wasn’t any kind of introduction or jumping-on place for a new reader. At times it was a pretty hard slog even for me to figure out what was going on, and I’ve been reading Thor comics off and on for forty years.
While Hatcher’s puzzlement is kind of blogger standard, he
does it one better
by taking the comics to his cartooning class for kids, providing a kind of focus group testing that only other CBR writers seem to be engaged in lately:
As I suspected, the students who took me up on it were my hard-core geek kids, the ones who sign up for cartooning just to wallow in being around comics at school. Troy lunged at Captain America, Eileen took Thor, and Josh got the X-Men.
A minute later Troy was back. “This isn’t Captain America,” he said, scowling. “And it’s part two. Shouldn’t it be part one?” He was clearly disgusted. His face had the same expression you have when you’ve fallen for someone’s practical joke.
Troy was so annoyed he decided he didn’t want to do a review, and handed it back to me. Niko reviewed it instead.
This is a real dilemna for Marvel and DC. The only way to be successful in the direct market is to flog their characters to their existing fanbase. But those comics don’t seem likely to bring in new readers?
What to do?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.