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Sean William Scott

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Links That Amused Me Today 

The DC Comics Message Board asks: why do comics cost so much?

I love these threads when they pop up, with appalling regularity, on message boards. You can pretty much run down the usual list of "ways to lower prices" that are always offered. Increase the page count (because publishers would get a better deal per page that way...what?), lower the paper quality, increase the number of ads, pay artists and writers less, reduce staff at the publisher to lower over-head...

Lowering the paper quality is my personal favorite, because it completely ignores the fact that paper prices are actually fairly high across the board. And printing comics on lousy paper would have such a minimal effect on final price that it really isn't worth considering. Especially when lower paper quality would more likely than not lead to readers complaining about the terrible paper quality.

Funnily enough, what I almost never see mentioned in these threads is that one of the reasons for "high" comic prices (and I put that in irony-quotes because it's entirely possible that comics are actually priced too low to really be profitable in their current format, but no one really wants to have that conversation) is the very small audience for monthly pamphlet-format comics. You can charge more for a niche-market specialty item, because the intended audience is willing to pay the price.

I also find the notion that increased comic sales would lead to lower prices touchingly naive. Because, let's face, if you can sell 100,000 units at $3 a pop, and then you increase demand so that next month you sell 200,000 units at $3 a pop, where's the incentive to lower prices?

The John Byrne Forum on how much Grant Morrison hates super-heroes

Because, you see, he's once or twice had characters make jokes about some of the sillier tropes of the genre. Most of which actually made sense in the context of the story being told. But, you know, context and common sense are strangers in the lands of comic book message boards.

I can't really extract any choice quotes because, honestly, there's no point. I've said it before, and it's worth repeating, but if you read a Grant Morrison comic and somehow come away with the idea that he hates super-heroes, I'm sorry, but you simply are not a good reader, because you've grossly misunderstood the point. Morrison loves super-heroes. Almost his entire output as a comics writer has been a celebration of the genre. Zenith, Animal Man, JLA, Marvel Boy, Seaguy, All Star Superman, they're all love letters to the idea of gloriously gaudy men and women in tights having weird adventures. Hell, Flex Mentallo alone is a pretty definitive statement on the transformative joy of super-hero comics.

Now, if you want to talk about writers who hate super-heroes, I can give you that list. Pat Mills. Garth Ennis. Warren Ellis. Heck, Nextwave is almost a treatise on stripping down the super-hero genre to it's stupidest and basest cliches. That it's been embraced by so many fans of the Marvel angst school of comics writing makes me wonder if everyone's in on the joke.

The 20 Gayest Video Game Characters

To be honest, I've not played more than one or two of the games cited. I do have to say, however, that I object to Tingle being named as the "gayest character" in video games. Tingle isn't gay. Tingle is just infuriatingly annoying. We're not going to claim him. He can sit out in the "too friggin' weird to be gay" hall with Tom Cruise.

I like that Bertram from Temple of Elemental Evil made the list, as I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a gay romantic subplot in the game. It was a nice gesture for those of us who play RPG style games to have a romance story in-game that wasn't heterosexual. They mention Fable as well, and while I did enjoy that game, I was disappointed in the limited nature of the much vaunted "customization" in the game. Being able to woo and marry men was a nice touch (though it made finishing the brothel sub-quest while remaining a Kinsey 6 tough), though the heteronormative labeling of your partners "wives" was annoying. No shout-outs for Sims or Sims 2, though, which I found interesting, as those were really the first games I can think of whose open-ended nature allowed for gay characters.


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