• Everything But Imaginary #378: Grassroots Comics

    There used to be a saying in the world of comic books, “the readers are the real editors.” Obviously this isn’t literally true, as nobody lost their job over “One More Day,” but the sentiment is obvious. The idea is that the readers, the people who buy the comics and keep the industry in business, are the ones that the creators are ultimately answerable to. If readers demand something long enough and passionately enough, eventually it will happen. (Hal Jordan is alive, right?) And if readers are angry enough about the direction of a comic book to stop buying it, eventually it will course-correct. I… okay, I can’t immediately think of a recent example of this happening, but I have to believe it’s possible or the universe will collapse in upon itself.

    This was the actual cover of the first issue. I'm serious, people.Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that readers can influence the way their comic books are produced, and in substantial ways. This weekend on Twitter, a grassroots movement sprung up among readers and comic pros alike to try to convince DC Comics to launch a new Lois Lane series. Lois has had her own comic in the past, of course. Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane lasted for a full 137 issues in the Silver Age, and she’s had the occasional miniseries and one-shot since then, but it’s unusual to see a supporting cast member (the non-costume wearing variety) elevated to star status these days. But almost as soon as the conversation began, comic creators began to champion the cause, with the likes of Gail Simone, Sterling Gates, and Thom Zahler all lobbying to take a crack at Lois. DC issued a statement later saying something along the lines of that they always take the comments of their readers into consideration, but considering how quickly this particular issue took root among the fans, one hopes that it warranted some serious discussion in the walls of DC Comics.

    Sadly, I doubt that Lois will get her own series anytime soon, certainly not an ongoing. To be honest, I’m skeptical that the audience for such a book would be big enough to allow it to flourish. Yes, a lot of people joined in the Lois Lane Twitter Campaign, but they were just a fraction of the actual comic book buying public, and likely included the most ardent Pro-Lois lobby in their number. But this does show an audience, small as it may be, exists. In a perfect world, this would be the time for DC to give Lois a try at a second feature. Of course, in a perfect world the second features wouldn’t be eliminated next month, every title would have them for no additional price, and Toffee Crunch Ice Cream would have health benefits that blow Acai Berry out of the water.

    (As an alternative, may I recommend that DC take this opportunity to launch a new Superman Family-styletitle, where Lois could share page space with the proven Nick Spencer-penned Jimmy Olsen feature? And maybe throw Steel in there, assuming he’s not going to get killed off in this whole “Reign of Doomsday” thing that’s coming up?)

    But Lois fans, all is not lost. The Voice of the Fans has been heard before. It may be difficult to believe, but there was actually a time when the character of Jason Todd was disliked by fans. So much, in fact, that they actually called DC Comics in droves demanding his death. Seriously. So they killed him. And how many times over the years have the creators of Legion of Super-Heroes submitted to the will of the fans, choosing a leader for the team based on the preferences of the readers?

    Todd NauckThe difference, of course, is that in both of those situations DC actively solicited the fans’ input – the 800-number Death of Robin storyline is now the stuff of comic book legend, and the Legion elections are such a fan-pleaser that even Young Justice did it once. Heck, in his terribly underrated title WildGuard, Todd Nauck even allowed the readers to vote for the final member of his team out of a huge pool of candidates. This actually may have been a tad short-sighted, as it wound up dropping a second hero with fire powers on a team where one of his pre-selected characters already had them, so there was redundancy there, but the point is, he gave the fans a chance. Top Cow has been doing their Pilot Season program for a few years now, testing out several properties a year and granting the winner a miniseries.

    However, for the fans to basically ring up the company and say, “Hey, this is what we want,” and get it? That’s a lot tougher.

    The good news is that we’ve seen that it can happen. Nerds on the internet just like us – possibly including some of us – joined a grassroots campaign to get that rising young star Betty White to host an episode of Saturday Night Live, and miraculously, it happened. And now I hear she’s got a sitcom on TV Land as a result. Okay, it’s basic cable, but a girl’s got to start somewhere, right?

    If you really want a series starring Lois Lane (or any character, for that matter) there are a few things you can do. Don’t shut up about it, first of all. Oh, don’t be obnoxious about it, that’d be worse than not saying anything at all, but be vocal to DC Comics about what you’d like to see, round up like-minded fans, start campaigns on Facebook and Twitter and have your garage band write a song about Lois and put it on their MySpace page. It may never amount to anything, but then again, it might. Because the comic companies do pay attention. They may crunch the numbers, run the variables, melt the string cheese (I don’t have the slightest clue what they do in those offices) and still decide that it’s not a viable option. But if you don’t speak up, they’ll never know what you want. So whoever started that Lois Lane campaign, good for you, and good luck. I’d like to see that too.

    Favorite of the Week: December 8, 2010

    Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis & Chris BatistaThis week I’m giving the favorite trophy to the latest issue of Booster Gold. For several issues now, we’ve watched as Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis sent Booster on a journey through the past, hanging out with the old Justice League International and generally having a grand old time. But this issue gears make about as drastic a change as you can imagine, with Booster finally coming to terms with the death of Ted Kord. It’s been a rather long mourning period, but it really fits that these two writers have given that relationship a strong, powerful epilogue. It will never satisfy the fans who are still irate about Jaime Reyes, but it’s a great moment for the two characters and for the unique friendship they shared. Just a masterful issue.

    Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.