Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Where Else Could the Marvel Family Work?

Okay, let's presume for the sake of this question that the Marvel Family does not make sense co-existing in the DC Universe with the likes of Identity Crisis and Outsiders (where children aren't just kidnapped and saved - they're BRANDED - yay!).

Presuming that, where WOULD the Marvel Family make sense?

For instance, would a Marvel Family series, cut off from the rest of the DC Universe, sell? Like an Ultimate continuity (or "All-Star" continuity). Are we to believe that the Power of Shazam sold poorly not because people were not interested in buying the characters, but rather, because they were not interested in buying the characters mixed together with the DC Universe?

How about a "DC Adventures" style of story? Like the "Marvel Age" comic line at Marvel. Is that viable, or is that just dooming the book to a quick and ugly death? Does anyone know what the reaction was to the back-up Shazam! story in the expanded Teen Titans Go?

Is there enough of a Manga market in American comics to support a Marvel Family title? The concept seems to go along well with the Manga idea...but would it sell?

Captain Marvel, at one point in the 40s, had two titles a month, both of which were selling 500,000 copies a month.

Is there really not 30,000 readers out there for this book in 2005?

And where would these 30,000 readers be best reached - Manga, "Marvel Age-style" or "All-Star"?


Blogger Joe Rice said...

You taunt me, Brian. I'm away from computers (for the most part) for a week and NOW you do a Marvel Family post. BEHIND MY BACK! You'll pay.

Kids are the market for the Marvel Family. To hell with the superhero nerds, even though I am one and a huge Marvel Family fan at that. We grown ups who love cape stories have plenty . . .and we can also enjoy things that are aimed more at children.

People that know me know that I teach elementary school. One feature I've used is "telling a Captain Marvel" story. As a reward for good work, sometimes the whole class gets to sit down and listen to me verbally tell a continuing serial Marvel Family story. They frikkin LOVE it. It is THE reward in my class.

Children are ready to love the concept. But it has to be brought to them. I think Manga's a good idea. Alex and I have talked at length how all the different parts of the mythos could go well in manga. Kids who turn into grownup heroes, magic, monsters . . .it's perfect. Add in some soap opera aspects and you have a winning formula.

Jeff Smith recently made a deal with Scholastic, did he not? To publish Bone for kids?

Jeff Smith is involved with a Cap project, is he not?

Market large, affordable Marvel family comics (Mary stories, Junior Stories, group stories, Cap stories, everything) to KIDS. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE GROWN UPS. Find a way, be it Scholastic, TV (Kids LURV Justice League and Teen Titans (especially the latter) cartoons), whatever.

There's an audience out there, there's ENORMOUS potential for stories (and, let's be honest, for a company to make some money). Sitting on this property and plugging the square peg into the round Nasty Adolescent DCU is dumb like the conference meeting I'm skipping out on right now.

2/08/2005 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Yes, the Marvel Family probably is meant for kids, and it should be as fun and wild and subversive as possible. Of course, give me three seconds and I could come up with a premise for a Vertigo treatment of ol' Cap.
3, 2, 1.
Okay, say Billy Batson's a 20-something disaffected hobo who could easily make his life better by saying one little word, but absolutely refuses to, due to some unrevealed-as-of-yet trauma from his past... that is, until his life becomes one huge and frightening mess and the world is crumbling apart, with only Captain Marvel able to save it. Hell, I'll throw in Tawky Tawny and make the friggin' guy *scary.*
Ahh, I love plotting stuff.

'Course, I think an "All-Star Shazam!" or whatever would be totally badass as well.

Dammit, now you've got me wanting to write Captain Marvel. Grr.

2/08/2005 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

I think Joe's got it, here. The best potential audience for Big Red Cheese stories exists outside the direct market. I don't think that you could sell 30,000 single issues of Shazam in comic shops, but I really think the character could thrive in big collected editions aimed at kids.

Artistically, I do think the characters work better in his own universe. He's too whimsical to fit in the with the modern DC, and any setting where he and Superman are peers diminishes the character. I'd be up for an All-Star Shazam, if they got creators I liked. But if we're just talking sales, going the route Jeff Smith is with Bone at Schoolastic is probably the best idea.

2/08/2005 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

The Marvel Family is a lot like Plastic Man in that the creators of both series set-up very unique worlds in which the characters operated. Attempts to merge those worlds into a "mainstream" superhero universe just don't work very well, and can range in quality from sort of awkward and ill-fitting (Power of Shazam) to just plain awful (Shazam: The New Beginning and it's sequel serial in Action Comics Weekly). I think the Marvels definitely need to be set apart from the rest.

As for how to bring in the kids, I'm thinking you'd need either a really good movie (not real likely, even with a William Goldman script) or a new cartoon from the WB Animation folks. Lean it more towards Teen Titans in terms of content and sense of humor (if not the overt anime stylings, though that could probably work) than JLU, and I think you'd have a hit on your hands. And it would probably help if DC actually advertised the inevitable spin-off book, which I don't see them doing a whole lot of for the TT, JLU or various other Cartoon Network related books (except, of course, within the books themselves, which defeats the purpose since the people you're selling the books to are actually already reading them, but don't get me started on that).

2/08/2005 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill -- the reason DC doesn't do a good job of advertising its comics during the Titans and Justice League cartoons is that it would be *illegal*. There are restrictions on the commercials you can have during kids' shows, and one of the rules is that you can't try to peddle merchandise related to the show.

Other than that, I don't have much to add to this discussion. I never read Captain Marvel stuff. (I do agree that DC has a lot of heroes that would work better in their own universes, so what you're all saying does sound right to me.)


2/09/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Niven- That's true, but they could still advertise on CN during other time slots, or in kids' magazines, or even just in comics outside the animated tie-in line. I mean, five lines in previews just isn't enough to sell a comic any more.

I think the bookstore thing, ala Graphix, is the best route, though. I mean, they already take advantage of WB's film arm, why not the book publishing arm as well?

2/09/2005 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Nevin, I meant advertising in the comics themselves. Do the Johnny DC books get a push anyplace besides the other Johnny DC books? I mean, I wouldn't advertise Scooby Doo in Manhunter or anything, but dropping a few house ads in books kids might be interested in reading, or especially books their parents already read, probably wouldn't be a bad idea.

But TV ads would be a huge step in the right direction, too. So what if you can't advertise Teen Titans Go! during the Teen Titans show. Drop an ad or three in during Foster's Home or Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi or whatever. It could only help.

2/09/2005 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Buzz Dixon said...

I love the old CAPTAIN MARVEL and Marvel Family comics, but...

They're over. They've been over for half a century. They were losing steam in the 1950s when Fawcett threw in the towel on comics publishing.

Kids today have an equivalent of the Marvel Family in DRAGONBALL Z and the host of SAILOR MOON imitators. Marvel Family is too Old School to gain traction today.

2/15/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Buzz has his POINT...anyone care for the COUNTERPOINT?

2/15/2005 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Late, so late...Capt. Marvel cartoon, like these new things kids love, is obviously the answer. If there is an answer. The guy is right about Dragonball Z but that does not mean no hope for Billy...kids have never seen Capt. Marvel before, they don't know what it is. They might like it. You never know. Just make art, and good things usually happen. No need to cram CM into JLU, blah. Give him his own world on TV.

3/09/2005 02:32:00 AM  

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