Comic books (specifically, super-hero comics) and politics has always had a rich marriage. Back in 1941, Captain America was shown on the cover of his debut issue punching out Der Fuhrer. The entire rise and fall of EC horror comics in the 1950s was intertwined with the politics of the day. As society moved into the '60s, comics like The X-Men explored prejudice against minorities and – in some minds – the difference in how Professor X and Magneto approached the human-mutant relationship was a direct commentary on the differences between Martin Luther King Jr. (Prof X, wishing for peaceful resolution) and Malcolm X (as Magneto, taking the harder approach). Various heroes and villains vied with each other through the Cold War for their respective nations. Even in the new millennium, politics has found it's way onto the comic pages, in non-political ways. Take Amazing Spider-Man #36, which brought the horror and devastation of 9-11 to the Marvel Universe, as Spidey watched – helpless – as the towers collapsed. (It's as grim as anything I've read from real life on that day.)
So, with all that in mind, I was somewhat entertained by this read: How Liberalism May Be Hurting Comic Book Sales. Like most of the entertainment industry, I think of comic book writers and artists as pretty liberal. There are exceptions, but exceptions that prove the rule, to me.
I'm not 100% sold on the notion that the creators and producers of comic books being liberal is the sole or even driving reason why comic book sales have declined recently. I would say that bigger factors are the serious missteps by the comic industry in the last twenty years (increasing prices, decreasing volume, irregular shipping schedules, sales gimmicks), the general diminishing of quality prose and art in the pages of mainstream comics (incomprehensible story lines, hack-work art, and too many books with the same characters overlapping with no sense of timeline or continuity), and the explosion of electronic entertainment over the last fifteen years (who needs a $3.95 comic that is over and read in twenty minutes when you can play Angry Birds for hours or days, for the same price?).
Having said all that, I do agree that pissing all over half your audience – directly in their face, no less – is no way to build a following. How many of these anti-war movies over the last decade made any money? I can name half a dozen that were – despite being raved about in leftist media – utter financial failures. Again, I agree that if you aim small, for a small audience, you can pretty much cater to any viewpoint you want. But the big comic boys are still corporations and as such, they have a bottom line to which to answer (and if that strikes you as needlessly mercenary, all those idealistic artists and writers would be unemployed if the company can't make any money; at the very least, they'd have to strike out on their own, with much less security). I also agree with the article's implied notion that comic book characters are not, by definition, liberal when they are just and free-spirited, and conservative when they are uptight, backwards, or prudish. The best lines in the article might be:
Even Green Arrow could be a conservative character, rather than the liberal one we’ve had since Hard Traveling Heroes.
Now, you might say, “[Author], you’re obviously unaware that Green Arrow is based on Robin Hood and as EVERYBODY ELSE KNOWS, Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He’d be an Occupier today.” Well, yeah, that’s how those on the left view Robin Hood… but if you look more closely at Robin Hood you will find that the character more accurately stole from the state and gave back to the people… so one could just as easily say that Robin Hood would be a Tea Partier today and, therefore, Green Arrow could be too.
Just so. Whenever someone says, "AS EVERYONE KNOWS," they usually mean, "This is the only possible answer and you must be a sociopath to even think otherwise."
Of course, having said that, I now predict the vociferous response telling me I am tool of the 1%. Three, two, one….
Anyway, I have mixed emotions about the waning fortunes of the mainstream comic companies. On the one hand, I hate to see them shuffle off into insignificance and decay. These were the stories I grew up on. Writers like Chris Claremont and Walt Simonson were the ones I was reading at age ten, and along with Tolkein, the ones that had me believing I could do this shit too. So I would love to see their houses (former houses, even) prosper. On the other hand, I am a committed free-marketeer. Survival of the fittest, you know – adapt or perish. Even if the big boys fold, there is a veritable swarm of smaller publishers out there putting out good speculative fiction in comic/graphic novel form, every single month. If they would just drop the damn price, I would buy more of them.
Where was I? Oh yeah. This isn't complicated. If you want a wider audience, you have to somewhat cater to them; this is a fact. If you keep your view narrower, you will inevitably narrow your audience. Political distribution is somewhat bell-curvish; the further to an extreme you go, the more folks you lose. When Captain America and Superman (two icons of red-blooded Americanism if ever there were) rant about America's "imperial" overreach and arrogance, talk about becoming citizens of the world, and embrace a progressive mindset, should anyone be surprised when a large percentage of readers put the books down? Not if they have a functioning frontal lobe.
Do I think comics have gotten inherently liberal with time? Yeah. Has it killed the industry? No.
But it hasn't helped much either.