Yeah, yeah, it's Wednesday, we get it.
Ok, so yesterday the world watched as 44th President Barack Obama took office. Galla events. Inaugural balls. Lots of freezing people in D.C.. The works.
But in the comic world, Obama has been quite the stir already. With a cover and cameo in 2 separate issues of SAVAGE DRAGON, Two bio-comics, and the much reported on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 583 and it's sold out first and second printings. The third printing hits next week.
But the new president's tour of fictional America doesn't end there. This week you can find him in the pages of marvel's THUNDERBOLTS, pow-wowing with Doc Sampson and Norman Osborne. Rob Liefeld announced he'll appear in the pages 9and cover) of YOUNGBLOOD, where he will use his executive power to hand pick the newest team roster. Even first lady, Michelle Obama has her own bio-comic coming up.
Now, some people, Obama supporters and dissidents alike, see have been poo-pooing at this.
Sure, you can point fingers and yell "Band-wagon hopper" all you want. But it sounds awkward out-loud, and younger people will have no clue what the hell you're on about.
You can shout "favoritism". But I don't really think so. Sure, Eric Larsen is known Obama supporter (as am I), but it's his book and he can do whatever the hell he wants in it. Also, it DOES make sense, with Dragon being a renowned hero in his universe, and returning to his status as a Chicgo Police Ofiicer, and Obama having just left his seat as Senator of Illinois. The connections are there. Plus, if you READ the issue of THUNDERBOLTS, you'd see that it's not a matter of favoring the guy. He's President, and Osborne has to convince this guy that he(Norman) is the man for the job. In fact, if anything, the fact that Norman will be able to con Obama (and he MUST, or DARK REIGN is gonna be a very SHORT event) really doesn't say much for the MU's Obama's ability to judge character. And, again in YOUNGBLOOD, Obama is president, and therefore his appointing the new line-up of National Superheroes makes sense, too. Think Several secretaries of Super-human defense.
Anyway, I'm not here to argue plot points. I'm here to spout off on why I think using Obama in the comics is a good idea.
Times are tough. Comics are (as usual) in trouble. Ask Matt Grant, he'll tell you. Ask Forby, he'll tell you too, but it'll take a lot longer. Ask your LCS owner. They'll TELL you. We need to think of ways to get the numbers up on our little medium here.
Obama sells. He's hot right now. That spider-man issue FLEW out of stores, often at RIDICULOUS prices. Now, while I hope most shops had the decency to reward their regulars with the book. Rick at FAMOUS FACES AND FUNNIES only got a handful with the Obama cover, and sold them all at COVER PRICE to his regular customers. My wife got one (I've dropped Spidey, remember?). She even picked up the IDW Barack Obam bio-comic, which Rick was smart enough to have displayed prominently in the store the past few weeks.
This is good. Forget whether or not you voted for Obama. Forget the state of the union for a moment. Think the state of comics. Literally THOUSANDS of people who never bought a comic before in their life FLOCKED into comic shops these past two weeks. They are still flocking. I was behind a bunch of non-comic-readers today, picking up my new books. young people. Old people. A middle school teacher geting a copy to use in her classroom. That was my favorite. One, it's always nice to see a fellow teacher working comics into their curriculum. To, even though she was only able to get one copy (It was Rick's last copy of the 2nd printing), that ONE copy will be a gateway to about 100 or so students, as well as other teachers, all of whom this one teacher will show it off to.
This can get new people to start picking up comics. The Spidey issue especially can be a help, as Spidey himself is a popular and recognizable character, so after reading the Obama vs. Chameleon back-up, people will flip through the main story, and of course, the NEXT ISSUE blurb. if they are intrigues, they just may be back. And the cycle continues.
Plus, just getting people into a specialty store improves the odds their return. The couple ahead of me, picking up the 6 2nd prints that they had reserved, quickly noticed the assortment of figures. When they found the FINAL FANTASY figures, that was it. They were hooked. They ordered a few that were out, picked one up, and put that big Advent Children Cloud & Motorcycle set on hold for next week. The Middle School teacher ordered some 3rd printings, and will also be returning next week.
It's funny, if you think about it. Obama ran on a "FIX THE ECONOMY" platform. And here it is, a mere day after his inauguration, and his penciled image has already boosted the comic world economy. even if it's just short term, this one issue of Spidey, that boost helped keep A LOT of comic shops in the green, I can assure you. The $100 Ebay sales have helped boost individual wallets. And, for every new walk-in who returns to the comic shop, the potential for long lasting commerce is there.
And for those of you who have a problem with Obama in specific appearing in your comics. GET OVER IT. Presidents, celebrities, and other real world figures have been, and will continue to be, appearing in comics since their inception. Hell, at the moment, Norman Osborne is drawn as Tommy Lee Jones. I don't hear anyone crying over that.
So, don't bash creators for taking advantage of a situation to either support their Presidential choice, or drum up sales. And especially don't bash them for doing both!
Can we accept Obama's presence in our comics for a while?
Can we get behind something that boosts sales and introduces our beloved medium to new audiences?
Can we make the most of this, and help out little industry grow?
Yes, we can!
I'm Sebastian Piccione, and I approve this column.
Yeah, I was kinda proud o' that line when I wrote it.
Thanks for the kind words.
I figured, lots of people are talking about this topic, but not as many of them are seeing the bigger picture. Too many are caught up on the "I do/I don't support Obama issue, and are missing the boon this can be for the comic industry.
And it's a temproary boost, make no mistake about it, so anyone smart enough to take advantage of it while the gettin' is good, is OK in my book.
Besides, comic fans are primarily whiney bunch of pseudo-elitists. At leat the ones who enjoy posting flames on message boards. It's time they got the wake-up call that in a floundering economy, it's the new buyers who need to be woo-ed and romanced. The long-term I buy this-this-and -this and I always have, readers are already accounted for and will (for the most part) stay on with their pull lists, no matter what. Sure they'll bitch about it, but they'll buy 'em.