Friday, March 12, 2010

[Comics] The "Jim Cornette Analysis" on the Four Groups of Comics' Target Audience

About a hundred years ago, I'd mentioned on this site that I was planning on shamelessly ripping off an article I read about an interview with pro-wrestling's James E. Cornette, where he opined about the "Four Groups of Wrestling's Target Audience".  Original article, here.

I hadn't done so yet, as I really hadn't been motivated to talk much about comics at all.  I feel I've become far too "familiar" with the industry... and as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt.

I was flipping thru a few copies of the more recent Marvel Previews while waiting for the shower to heat up, and suddenly became painfully aware of something.  Though I've been supporting Marvel Comics for the past twenty-odd years, I am not their target audience.  Seeing blurbs of "From the writer of Entourage", "From the writer of Heroes"... tells me that Marvel (and mainstream comics at large) are becoming more about the singer and less about the song.

What follows is word-for-word what Jim Cornette had said in regards to the Four Groups of Wrestling's Target Audience... with all the mentions of WRESTLING removed and changed to fit the comics industry.  There's a bit of salty language... which I'll cut out.  I guess I'll never get a job at DC with that kind of attitude, eh?

The First Group: "There are this many people who buy anything in a comic shop. They're going to come and buy anything comics related no matter what. They're hardcore. They are on the internet. They want to come because either they can't get enough comics or they want to b**** and complain about something and say how they could do it better."

The Second Group: "This crowd likes good comics. Not old comics, not new comics, just good comics. There's two kinds of comics: good comics and bad comics. I don't care who presents it or what it is, that's this crowd, that's the second crowd. They want to read good comics and if you present a good product for an extended period of time to where it gets the point across, they will come to see you.

The Third Group: This crowd comes to see the star, comes to the see the big event. "The Writer of Entourage", Kevin Smith, Civil War, Ultimate Final Crisis part 7. Either somebody really gets hot like Claremont/Byrne's X-Men two decades ago or Image Comics in the 90's or whatever. Or the Summer Crossover is hot. That's the crowd where no matter what you do they aren't going to come all the time, and they're not going to read every month, but they know it is around. That's the third group, the people who will come for the big stories or the big stars.

Everybody else in the world is in the fourth group. They don't give two flying f****. You could put a reincarnated William Shakespeare behind a book, they don't give a s*** because it's comics and they don't want to read it. They want to read magazines, Harry Potter and I don't give a f*** what else. You ain't going to get them.

So you've always got these people [group one] right. And I'm not saying you should s*** on them because they are your ticket purchasing patrons, but you have always got these people. If you've got a good product, you've got group number two so concentrate on that. There's really no way that you control group number three because how do you just say 'Ok, this guy is going to be the next Wolverine. Or the next Sin City or Sandman'. You can't do that, they've got to come along. That's when you get the really big sales, record months, whatever.

And the fourth group, who gives a flying f*** what you people want to see, if you people are going to read g-d Harry Potter, f*** you! Because we're doing comics. And the people who try to say 'Well, we're going to give people who don't like comics something to read'. They've got something to read, it's in all the other f****** books while your books don't sell you dumb son of a b****! So why do you do s*** that's not related in any way to comics in the comics industry. They don't stop Saturday Night Live to have Curt Gowdy give the g-d Olympic freestyle skating report. The people watching Saturday Night Live don't give two flying f***s about the god damn Olympic freestyle skating. So WHY DO IT is all I am saying?

You've got group one. If you're good you get group two. When you're lucky you get group three, and the rest of them it don't make a f*** because they're not coming anyway."

Friday, February 5, 2010

[Manga] Naoki Urasawa's MONSTER

Re-upload of a review from 2010.

I finished reading Naoki Urasawa's MONSTER late last year.  Was probably the only manga I was willing to buy new and at full-price.  I've put off writing a "review" of it ever since.

Whenever I attempt to review this manga, I have to keep reeling myself in from gushing over it.  Not sure that this will be any different, tho, if I feel it heading in that direction... I'll run for the exit as quick as possible.

Naoki Urasawa's MONSTER is an eighteen volume manga released over the past few years by Viz Media as part of their "Signature" imprint (The Signature imprint is now also home to two other Urasawa titles, PLUTO and 20TH CENTURY BOYS... both of which I have not yet read.  The Signature line got a price-hike, and I'm still weathering a rather tumultuous financial storm).  Urasawa was also (at least partly) responsible for the anime MASTER KEATON, which I'm waiting to show up used at the local Bookman's.

Getting it out of the way right here, I feel strongly that MONSTER is one of the finest stories to EVER be told in/with sequential art (I've been reading comics for about 25 years too).  There's layer upon layer of story and characterization, and to be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure that I have the writery ability or talent to sum up ANY of those layers with any kind of precision or brevity (this IS a nearly 3,000 page story after all).  I'm definitely the wrong guy to be reviewing this.  The characters, besides the main handful are changed out rather often to keep things fresh, and to provide new insight to the story at large.  I've never seen a writer have the ability to introduce bit characters every so often, equip them with a FULL back story, and make me care about their well-being.  Even the characters that were written to be irritating actually felt whole.  By the end of their arc, you knew WHY they acted the way they did, and could either empathize or reaffirm your disinterest.

The MAIN storyline of MONSTER is that of Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant young Japanese brain surgeon working in Germany (this takes place right around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall).  He is chief surgeon of his department, and engaged to the daughter of the hospital head.  Very early on, a decision is made by his superiors that cost a man Tenma was operating on his life (Tenma is pulled off the operation to operate on a local Mayor).  Wracked with guilt, he vows to himself never to let himself get pulled away from an operation again.  Shortly afterwards, a young boy is rushed to his table with a bullet in his head.  Tenma is once again pulled off the surgery to work on a higher profile patient.  Tenma refuses, saving the boy's life.

The higher profile patient dies, and Tenma is run thru the wringer by his superiors, his fiancee leaves him, and he is quickly demoted.  He sits at the side of the young boy's (who is still comatose) bed, and starts talking to the boy about his troubles.  Over the next few days, everybody he had a problem with, was killed.  Then, the boy disappears.

Those are the first few chapters, and I'm sure I didn't do them justice.  From this point, we flash forward about a decade... and the boy who's life Tenma saved has become a "Monster", a serial killer with a small nearly cult-like following that helps him do his bidding.  Tenma is a wanted man, for several murders and is on the run.  He's also looking for the boy, now man (his name is Johan) to clear his name.

This is a "seinen" manga, meaning it's marketed for adults (it does feature several mature themes, nothing too outrageous tho).  This is probably why it hasn't gotten the kind of lip service as the Death Note's and Bleach's that are marketed to teens-young adults.  The fact that there's very little mature anime on TV anymore is probably the reason that this has not yet been licensed for DVD release in North America.  

I'm sure I'd ventured into the gushing side above, but it's all good.  I'm no professional manga-reviewer anyway.  This manga is definitely worth your time, is easily found in bookstores, comic stores, online (they're super cheap at DCBS - Discount Comic Book Service), or for a try-out I'm sure you can procure a few of the chapter scans online all webcomiclike.  Just remember, you read right to left.