A much quoted story from the San Jose Mercury News takes the opportunity for a puff piece previewing WonderCon and turns it into a fretful look at the dearth of comics for kids:
Almost no one talks any longer about comics being a sneakily artful way of getting kids to read. There is even some fear that the current waves of adult customers represent the last generations of comics readers.
A recent article on that topic in Wizard magazine generally dismissed the idea that comics readership is headed off a cliff. But it also revived the debate about the impact and appropriateness of including a rape (albeit discussed, not shown) in a costumed heroes tale such as “Identity Crisis.”
Brad Meltzer, the novelist who wrote that miniseries, said by e-mail that “the best part of comics has always been the mix of stories.”
“Even if young kids were the biggest comics readers,” Meltzer notes, “I’d still tell the story I want to tell. That’s the only story I should tell. Sooner or later, they’ll grow into it, or make it themselves.”
Oddly, The Beat was interviewed for a very similar story in the New York Sun, which took the opportunity of previewing NYCC, and turning it into a fretful look at comics dark, inpenetrable turn:
“They were mostly an influx of lapsed readers from the 1990s,” said Mr. Buckley. “Although we did get some new readers from the mainstream press we received.” DC Comics, home of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, has also made use of current events for their comics. With names like “Infinite Crisis,” “Identity Crisis,” “Secret Wars,” “Civil Wars,” “World War Hulk,” and “World War III” their comic series have become an inaccessible haze of wars and crises only a true believer can follow.
As my quote from the latter piece show, I don’t truly believe that there are NO new readers coming into comics, but they are coming in for different reasons and in much slower waves than, say, the manga or shojo revolution. Still, as we’ve written here many times, its just plain bad business to miss out on making comics for kids — I expect thatis Marvel and DC don’t pick up the thread — and really why should they at this late date? Their readerships are set at a different age point — mainstream publishers will.