DC and Marvel Comics have spent the last few decades trying to hang on to their audiences through massive crossover events and story arcs that stretch across multiple issues and titles for months and sometimes years at a time. The model worked throughout the 20th century and still does to an extent for older fans who continue to follow the adventures of colorful crime fighters and masked avengers. However, in a day and age where children and teens are raised in a culture where they want instant gratification, quick video clips, and short text messages, does the same storytelling style utilized for one generation work for another?
It seems like once every few months comic book publishers find themselves in a panic to re-brand and stir up some type of controversy or new calamity which will “shake the very foundation” their specific titles and books were built upon. It’s obvious what they’re attempting to do is pull in new readers to make up for ones who are “growing up.” Maybe the very strategy they’re using to urgently keep their existing readers and gain younger ones is working against them. It might be time to return to a simpler way of doing things.
If the youth of today and even adults have shorter attention spans, wouldn’t it make sense to tailor comic books to their tastes? Publishers have already tried weaving together complex storylines that bring every character from every book together to attract readers. How about having monthly one-shot tales for each character that would appeal to the YouTube crowd and Twitter users? People who already follow their individual adventures would continue to read while casual readers could jump in and out without being confused.
Comic books started out as quick seven to eight page stories which featured Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the Spirit, and other heroes facing villains and putting an end to their sinister plans by the time we read “The End.” It might be time to try this approach once again and see if it helps pull in new comic book enthusiasts. Maybe it’s time to get back to the basics and keep the Dark Knight separately battling rogues in his specific Batman books and the Man of Steel obliterating evil exclusively in his own Superman titles. A new age garners a new way of doing things.