Accessibility in Comics

Guess what, everyone? Starting in July, Captain America is going to be launched again with a brand-new #1 issue! …while his current title just changes names to Captain America & Bucky and continues on with its numbering. Marvel argues that it really is a new start and deserves a new #1 issues, and that may be true, but they’re also trying to get it out in time for the Captain America: The First Avenger movie in July.

And with Steve McNiven on art, let's just say it'll be October before we see #2...

Here’s where we have a problem, though. My first issue of comics that I bought myself? Uncanny X-Men #427, the prologue to “The Draco,” one of the most reviled comic book story-arcs in history. Yet here I am, loving comics so much that I started a blog about them. I hesitate to ask my dad what his first comic book was, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that it was some big-numbered issue in the middle of a story-arc, or something like that. People aren’t attracted to new #1 issues specifically any more than anything else. It wasn’t that the issue was super-cool looking (okay, it had Nightcrawler on the cover, but c’mon). It was the fact that a comic book was finally in my face at the local Hastings store, and I couldn’t help but want to check out something I’d always been curious about. I had a background in comics because of my dad. I’d seen the X-Men: Evolution TV show. Seeing Nightcrawler on the cover and seeing an honest-to-god comic book in a store made me buy it. Not the numbering, no sir.

Fact: Captain America: The First Avenger will not drive thousands of people into comic book stores.

What Marvel and DC need to do, in my humble opinion, is to get comic books into places where the masses will see them, not get the masses into comic book stores. Hastings scored them a major win when they announced that they’d be joining the Direct Market for comic books. I don’t know how well the initiative is paying off for them, but honest it’s got people in Richmond, Indiana buying comics where they had no local comic store. I can’t speak for any other Hastings store, but that’s just what I can see.

It’s not about making a #1 issue accessible to new readers. It’s about making any comic book accessible to new readers, and I’m not talking about content. Get your comics where the masses will see them, and I’m sure you’ll see a rise in readers.

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