Coming up in about a month is Free comic Book Day, a spring holiday that's not quite made its way to the upper echelons like Passover and Easter. It offers the opportunity for struggling comic book publishers (that would be... uh... all of them, at this point) to get together with struggling comic shops and hand out free, specially-printed comic books to customers, thus ensuring another year of preaching to the choir. However, in 2003, independent publisher Second 2 Some tried to get non-choir members interested by publishing this handy-dandy guide to "getting ANYONE to read comic books!!!" Interrobang!!!
Unforch, there's a little flaw in this plan: mainly, that this guide has a worse pictures-to-words ratio than Medieval illuminated manuscripts, and is about as easy to read. Since this is supposed to be selling us on comic books, maybe filling the pages with walls of text might not be the best idea. It's true, though, this ain't no James Michener... he usually writes in easy-to-follow paragraph form, rather than using a series of oddly-placed word balloons.
Yes, it's another word-packed full page spread. They begin their lesson with young girls who never read comics. They demonstrate the type of comics young girls might like with little scenes played out by the characters in this comic (who are apparently the stars of Second 2 Some's title "Fade From Blue") but the scenes aren't really all that stupid so I won't show them here. Suffice to say they kind of read like an aspiring TV writer's portfolio in comic book form.
Also, bear in mind this is 2003, six years after "Sailor Moon" started being translated into English. Young girls aren't really a terribly difficult audience to win over to comics, as long as those comics are called "manga". Oddly enough, the word "manga" is never once mentioned in this guide, though a few do get mentioned later on. Anyway, my point is, if you're trying to get a young girl interested in reading comics, show them "Sailor Moon", or one of the umpteen million other manga directed at girls which have been translated into English. End of lesson one!
Our next text wall is directed at
Wolverine cool young dudes, who they target by comparing comic book fandom to sports fandom. Why do nerds always make this comparison? Yes, both fandoms are silly and escapist but sports fans will never be won over by this argument. Just look at it in reverse: would you win over a comic book nerd by telling him "well, aren't the St. Louis Cardinals just like the Fantastic Four, except there are 9 of them?" Hey, maybe that'd work after all!
Setting up the scene to win over old guys who stopped reading comics, our narrator takes so much time she'd be edited right out of The Tonight Show. Hey, when Johnny asks you to set the scene up he's not asking for a Shakespearean monologue!
Yes, I know Johnny Carson has been dead for quite some time. Probably because he was waiting for this scene to get set up. HEY OHHH
The textiest of all is reserved for the toughest customer, adult women who have never read comics. I'm not sure this is a demographic that truly exists; don't most women at least read newspaper strips once in a while? Who the hell buys all those Garfield and Cathy and For Better of for Worse collections? But OK. Non-nerd women actually are a pretty tough sell, especially ones who became adults before the manga boom. How to win them over to sequential art? Oh, I know, a few disembodied heads, lots of oddly-placed word balloons, and words words words! That will show them this ain't your mother's Little Dot's Aunts and Uncles!
Finally, our guide ends with a handy "if you like this popular media, you might like these comics" list. It's a reasonable cross section of whatever the hell comics were being published at the time, along with some of the aforementioned manga, but some of the choices are... um. If you like CSI, you might like the comic book version of CSI? Yeah, all right. If you like Bloom County, you might like this other comic strip that's pretty much the same thing but with a really hot chick? Huh.
Their suggestion that if you like Adult Swim you might like the manga versions of the anime they (used to) show on Adult Swim sort of points up the real problem with this guide: Lots of people of all ages enjoyed watching Cowboy Bebop, but most of them didn't buy the manga version of the show, because reading a comic book is a totally different experience from watching TV. You might be able to win someone over with a list like this, but my guess is if you show a non-comic book reader this comic book, their eyes will glaze over immediately upon gazing on the wall of text inside the oddly-placed word balloons that grace most of the pages. Hey, I've been reading comics my entire life, I draw them as a hobby, and I own and maintain a website devoted to (making fun of) them, and MY eyes glaze over reading this comic! Lookit me, I'm writing a wall of text awready!
There's also the notion-- loathe as we all are to admit it-- that maybe the reason not many people read comics is because most comics aren't very good. The best guide in the world can't help us if that's the case.
Also, apparently people only look at back covers if they're mentally disabled or illiterate or something.
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