Disney buys its way into the boy market

Pay attention True Believers – it’s clobberin’ time.

spideymouse For years the criticism, such as it was, of Disney’s marketing was that it missed boys. It is a fair criticism, though this doesn’t seem to have hurt the bottom line all that much. Disney knows how to connect with girls and women just fine. They are tuned into the tiaras, fairies and flowers like nobody knows. It explains why all their later (non-Pixar) animation was in fact formulaic: Bad boy, princess with true heart, add schmaltz and (after Aladdin) really schmaltzy uninteresting romantic soundtracks. Even Lion King – ostensibly a story about men and boys – was about the boy having an emotional experience that could only be of interest to girls.

This girls only approach was so entrenched that a few years ago the head of their consumer products division explained their all-girl approach told me in an interview that no one had success connecting with older boys.

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em. Disney today said it is buying Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. (And to think I remember when comics cost a quarter.) A note to The Mouse: more blood, less music. Also, no more Hulk movies. Hmmm, will this be enough to get me to go to another Disney park? Probably not.

I hope Stan Lee got a big cut of this.

Bang

Spidey and Me…

So over at Magnosticism, O’Regan reveals that he is The Flash, according to the Superhero Personality Quiz. Having played softball with Mr. O’R., I had reason to be suspicious about the accuracy of this test. Then I took it and found out it was 100% accurate.
You are Spider-Man

Spider-Man
70%
Green Lantern
70%
Superman
65%
Catwoman
65%
Iron Man
45%
Supergirl
45%
Batman
35%
Hulk
35%
Wonder Woman
25%
The Flash
25%
Robin
20%
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Spidey and I go way, way back.

We are almost exactly the same age — he was born a couple of months before I was in 1962. Through my brother, Master Sgt. Collateral Damage, I became a devotee of Spidey and all things Marvel, hating DC comics with a passion that would be unequaled until I became a Red Sox fan and learned that The Yankees were even more terrible than Dr. Doom. (There’s actually some justification for this brand devotion. At the time DC comics were all set in an idealized world where the only people ever allowed to frown were bad guys. They had more in common with movie serials like Buck Rodgers than anything I saw in my life. Nearly all dialogue ended with an exclamation point! Marvel brought superheroes back to earth, as it were, giving them real problems and issues to deal with when they weren’t saving us mere mortals from the likes of Paste Pot Pete and Galactacus. This was big stuff at the time. … but I digress …) I learned to read from Spider-Man and his attitudes had a huge aesthetic influence on me. I blame him for the fact that my favorite movies when I was a youngster were the Marx Brothers and Hepburn/Tracey comedies. My most-read book when I was a ‘tweener: Catch-22. Yossarian and Peter Parker were cut from a very similar cloth. Spider-Man wasn’t perfect though. I’m still not a big fan of arachnids.

All of which leads me to say, “Hey Flash … next time could you run the bases a little faster?”

Why DC and Marvel comics both suck

Before the Red Sox and even before Ernie Banks, my first true religious devotion was Marvel Comics. My buddies and I felt about the difference between Marvel (Spiderman, Thor, The Avengers, et al) and DC (Superman, Batman, etc.) the way people today feel about Apple/Windows, but at least we were arguing over something important. I worshipped at the alter of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, John Buscema and countless others. I highly recommend Lee’s Orgins of Marvel Comics, it’s a fun read (but you can’t have my copy, it’s autographed. My mom got his autograph for me while attending some academic conference, nyah nyah.) If you admitted to liking DC you were beyond the pale (suffice to say many of us strayed in the privacy of our own collections, but that’s another story). And when Kirby went over to DC? Serious theological issues…

Over the years I have become more ecumenical in tastes. Books like Kingdom Come (in which Superman very seriously has doubts about his legacy) and others have shown me that DC could indeed be good. (One big distinction between the two brands when I was young: All of the dialogue in DC comics ended in EXCLAMATION MARKS! Marvel, it seems, had discovered the period.)

 

But know I say, a pox on both their corporately owned houses. They have teamed up to form a Dastardly Duo of idiocy by jointly filing a trademark on the word “super-hero.” They are using it to harass indie comics. And worse, quoth BoingBoing: The latest trick in its move to steal the word is using the ™ symbol in the bumpf for its California science centre show — they’ve recruited a science museum to help them steal “super-hero.” Y’know, I was actually looking forward to that show until I read this. This is just loathsome, stupid corporate tactics. It’s a waste of company resources and an insult to the people who buy your product.

Now that’s super villainy. C’mon True Believers, it’s CLOBBERIN’ TIME!™

FYI, too prove I am still the geek I always was…my list of comic books you really should read.

  • Astro City: Superb story telling and a great vision of what it might be like if Super-heroes™ existed in the “real world.” The book that re-ignited my interest in comics after about a decade away from the breed. Sadly it now seems to be on a “whenever we get around to it” production schedule, so check out the collections.
  • Top Ten (written by Alan Moore): Super-heroes™ meet Hill Street Blues.
  • Marvels: The problem with having Super-heroes™ around, from the point of view of the rest of us.
  • Powers: Super-heroes™ as film noir.
  • Sandman by Neil Gaiman: What great post-modern myth-making is all about. Pretty much impossible to over-rate. Also the Bible of The Goth Movement. The only thing better in the graphic novel category is Spiegelman’s Maus, which just exists on a whole different level of art.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (written by Alan Moore): Victorian-era Super-heroes™ Quartermain, Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and Capt. Nemo confront Wells’ invaders from Mars in an odd parable of morality and mortality.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: The ultimate fascist Super-hero™ vs. the ultimate fascist state. Fine political satire from the 1980s that has aged very well.
  • The Watchmen (written by Alan Moore): The first great re-imagining of Super-heroes™. Definitive.
  • Cerebus – the first two volumes are essential and hillarious, after that creator Dave Sim wanders far, far off the reservation. Still it’s an interesting, if unnecessary, trip.
  • Uncle Sam: Strange and interesting political satire. Uncle Sam as a Super-hero™ vs Uncle Sam as icon (no tm as of yet).
  • Marvel 1602: After many failed attempts to re-imagine its characters in a new setting, Marvel gets it right. To no surprise, that’s because it was written by Neil Gaiman.