Since we recently mentioned Jack Kirby and Marvel comics, it’s a good time to menion a cool thing I recently found at Family Dollar: Digest-sized black-and-white reprints of classic Marvel Comics from the early ’60s, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the Avengers. They’re 68 pages, and each reprints the first three stories from the first, early 60’s issues of these classic comics. And they only cost a buck each!
What I can’t understand is how these managed to slip under the radar of the comic book internet community, where any attempt to create a low-priced entry-level comic book is hailed as a major step towards saving the industry. You see, despite all the big success in Hollywood with comic-book-based movies like Spider-man, Batman Begins, The Hulk, X Men, and the like, comic book sales are just a tiny fraction of what they used to be back in the 60s and 70s. For some reason, the success of those movies didn’t bring any new readers to the comics.
The main reason for this seems to be that comic books are no longer considered a disposable treat aimed at kids. They’re fairly expensive, and the average age of a comic book reader is well past twenty–and rising! And with no comic books aimed at kids (at a price they can afford), you don’t get any new readers. Some younger readers, raised on Pokemon, are drifting towards Manga (Japanese comic books, usually sold in bookstore collections), but not too many kids are getting hooked on traditional American comic books. Comic books have gone from being a universal element of childhood to being a red flag, warning of giant geekdom. Which is a shame, because, at their best, comic books can be just as good as any other medium.
So these little Marvel Digests at Family Dollar (they must be an exclusive to the chain–the Family Dollar price tag is printed on the cover) are a sign that, just maybe, the folks in charge are going to try to market comics to kids again. Still, regardless of the audience, these are classic Marvel Comics for a buck! Who can beat that?
And with nobody else noticing this, I get to scoop the entire internet comic book press.