Sunday, April 06, 2008

New Cartoons Announced and the Babymen

This week cartoon Network announced it's new line-up of cartoon fare for the fall and next year. Two of the cartoons, Secret Saturdays and The Batman: the Brave and the Bold I work on. I was a storyboard artist on Scerect Saturdays and I am currently a charcater designer on The Batman. The Saturdays will premiere this fall and Batman Brave and the Bold will debut next March, but I suspect there will be a good chance they will push the date back as they did with Secret Saturdays.

One of the things I enjoy about this new Batman cartoon is the fact we are going back to a kinder, friendlier Batman. A Dick Sprang version, which is the guiding design principle we are working from and there still is a slight echo of the BT styling, which is a nice break from the grim and gritty. Let's face it, these cartoons are for children, young children 5-10,12 years old. Cereal eating, fruit rollup snacking, toy buying kids, not 30-something, 40-something bitter bee babymen who want these characters in adult situations. The message boards are already full of babymen angst about the show, how they hate the art, the idea of a kid friendly Batman and I have to just laugh at the rediculous comments. IMO one of the biggest resons comics suck ass and have since the 80's is the rise and overtaking of the biz by the Babyman fan and the loss of kids reading comics as a hobby. Now we are stuck with an aginging fanbase with limited taste, long memories, a twisted taste where the comic heroes have to be dark, gritty, sexy, adult...REAL! Humor, the most popular form of comic in the world is the least popular form of comic in the direct market. Fans don't realize what an aberation the direct market has become and how out of step it is with the rest of the comic reading world. I include it all, strips, manga, you name it, but superheroes are a niche with the smallest fanbase. The top books crack, what 100K? Try having a TV show with that number.

If they made TV cartoons the way the babymen wanted the shows would fail to reach enough ratings to survive. I also realize the fans on the web are probably not always the best sampling in any fan base as they are always the extremists. I loved the Batman comics as kid, I love the Batman TV show, the funny, corny Adam West, and millions did too. I think you can only darken these concepts to a degree and for a certain amount of time before you play them out, and face it, these concepts have really been played out anyway. 70 years of these characters pumped at you in every medium by the big corporations means there is little fresh that can be done. Fans never forget, the Babymen especially, and that's part of their problem, they can't move on, They want everything to be exactly as it always was, which is infantile. Batman should probably be played out for you by the time you are out of college. That doesn't mean you still can't enjoy the art, story or concept, but realistically these characters can't age with you. They must remain ageless and we must graduate and accept that as readers of any children's fiction. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy it like Harry Potter, but Harry Potter's story ends, and he won't grow old with you.

Fans also forget the only reason any of this stuff exists is for $$$. The show exists to sell ads and toys and such, and for no other reason. That doesn't mean it can't be good or entertaining, but these corportae giants want big buck returns. Kids have been abandoned by the direct market, they now read manga or are fans of animae as that's what they are exposed to and have easy access too. No new kids come in waves to comics like they used to, no wonder back issue sales, the backbone of retail has all but dried up. No new kids means no new fans to want to read the older stories and the old babymen have everything already.

If the animation biz was run like the comic biz they would be out of biz. That doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of crap and a lot wrong with TV animation, there is, but they are reaching a big audience, they are diversified in a way comics long ago abandoned.


Bill Nolan said...

You get it. You really do. I wish everyone else did, too...

Jamal Igle said...

wow, I agree. nicely put Mike.

John said...

I'm 40-something and aging all the time. But I don't want my heroes to get decrepit (and embittered) along with me. I remember being 10 and having a whole spinner rack of super-hero (and other types) of comic books available to me--all pretty much geared toward my age group.

I've got my own kids now and think it's downright weird that most super-hero comics today aren't appropriate for them.

A lighter, brighter Batman sounds great to me.

Ryan Dunlavey said...

Very well put - though I think the problems with the comic book direct market go even deeper than what you've outlined here.
I always found the TV interpretations of Batman (Adam West, BTAS, etc) much more enjoyable than the supposedly "adult" comics and live-action films, both as a kid and an adult. I'm really looking forward to watching this new Batman cartoon with my son. It's so refreshing to see Batman in a BLUE costume again!

Anonymous said...

That guys is a complete idiot, in my opinion. If all these shows are supposed to fail, because only the Babymen are watching it, what the hell does he have to say about, DCAU, Bruce Timm and his team started off back in 1992, and you know what MR. lead artist the series continued on all the way through 2006, and it wasn't the kids who kept it going it was the true and loyal fan base of BABYMEN. Although those shows were intended for kid audiences it continued because those characters grew and evolved along with us fans (babymen) who saw the show as kids and are now adults. Now does the Batman and the Brave and the Bold have a chance of being a good show yes, just like TT, TB, and LOSH turned out to be amazing shows, with great character development, great story arcs, and great character dynamics. And alot of us realize that things cant always be the same which is fine, to make way for new animation and new interpretation which i am all for, as long as it remains with what the character is and what he stands for. But as he criticizes the fans(Babymen) for wanting Nostalgia, he specifically throws in there that although it is inspired by the Dick Sprang version, there is still a "slight echo to the BT styling", which completly means crap coming from him because of the criticism to us fans(babymen) for wanting this, he only says it to bring in this audience to the show so that he can keep this job, that feeds his nostalgia of his 60's TV series Batman which he watched as a child. And although fans do realize that these characters are timeless, and should not age with us, You have to remember MR. Lead artist that those young kids who will enjoy it now(as corny as it may be for, if it even is corny) will not once they get older and see the show that same way that alot of us now see Batman and Robin the movie, corny and aimed at kids, by doing that how do you plan on helping the comic industry, if kids who are growing up only remember Batman the way you created him on this show, which would be similar to alot of peoples problem with the 60's show after it left that era. If what you are saying is true about comic sales and there character and it is completely meant for the kid audiences, then ofcourse you should be able to explain the pop phenomenom of 1989 when the Batman film was released in June and fans around the worlds even KIDS went and saw that movie, because it was completely detached from that 60's tv series which you loved as a child.

Look i am not saying i wont see the show and im not saying that it is going to suck or be conry, but you are criticising us fans(babymen) for judging the series off of one picture which makes the show look like it was spun off of Krypto the superdog cartoon or to be a tie in to the DC SUPERFRIENDS toy line for preschoolers. Instead you you shoudl just not have commented on this at all and continued doing you work. Somehow someway Jeff Matsuda, Glen Murakami, and James Tucker and their respective teams proved all of us loyal fan base to the DCAU wrong by creating those good quality shows, and not insulting us fans, and knowing the respect of the fans and how loyal they are to these characters. You have to remember that we the Babymen, are the ones who set our DVR buy the season sets and watch these cartoons religiously, not the kids who might miss an episode and not really care.

SNeelyArt said...

Wow! One of the babymen/fans is upset speaks! Take that MR. Lead Artist!

Great job, Mike! It's the stuff we talked about in the diner on Saturday night so it must have inspired you. Ha!


SNeelyArt said...

And to Bruce, there were a lot of fanboys who HATED the Bruce Timm stuff when it was on because it was a cartoon version of Batman and not a real one. Even though they pulled some stories from the actual comics and then got those original comics writer to adapted their own story into a screenplay.

I've said this many times on my Comic Geek Speak episodes and other places. The comics market is ONLY surviving right now because of the 30 to 40-year olds who go into a comic store and buy their books every week. If they all stopped buying books next week across the board, the industry is screwed and done in six months.

It needs fresh young readers who will pick up a comic and not just go see a Batman movie or play with a toy. We have to entice and grab them at a young age (around 3-5 years old) with the wonderment of all these characters so that they'll be inspired to go pick up comics and hopefully read them and appreciate the art of sequential storytelling. This is why Spider-man is having a "Brand New Day". They have to place Spidey in a way so that he lasts as a brand. The majority of the ones upset over "One More Day" were all in their 30s who've been reading Spider-man for decades. I've got news for you. You've outgrown Spider-man, he hasn't outgrown you. Working for DC myself, I see the problems these editors have when they have an aging fanbase who want everything explained. Even a small incident in say a series like 52 has to be explained because some Spectre fan is upset over something. This industry has worked its way into a hole that is hard to get out of. I know it's over when fans now refer to their Spider-man as the "616 Spider-man". That inter-nerd language doesn't make it readable for new people who want to pick up a comic. Even selling a Green Lantern comic to a newbie walking into a comic store is impossible. Let's give him the Green Lantern where his GL's girlfriend is chopped up and stuffed in a refridgerator. Yeah, that's great stuff. The rape of Sue in Identity Crisis or even Blue Beetle's gratutious death. Great stuff for moms to buy.

If I was editor in Chief of Marvel or DC, the first mandate I'd make to all creative people is that EVERYTHING across the board will be for "All Ages". The Marvel Adventures line that Marvel produces does a great job for kid friendly comics each and every month. If I have to pick up a comic and see a rating system on it, it makes me want to vomit.

Bubbashelby said...

Well I for one love the designs shown thus far, love Dick Sprang and his art, love Batman in all forms and genres, and love the idea that something is being done with a younger audience in mind.

It has always fascinated me how a comic-book buying populace, so devoted to an industry wherein a different artist is drawing the comics/writing the comics almost every other month (sometimes the artist changes IN THE SAME ISSUE!) can gripe so loudly when a "different" interpretation of their beloved character is created.

One other thing: kid friendly does not mean adult unfriendly. And besides, no matter how old you are, you shouldn't even get to call yourself an "adult" if you're still living in your parents' basement. We need a new term, like the ever so popular "tween." "Twadult" maybe? Maybe not. Babyman will do for now.

K.B. said...

Looking forward to this. I agree with alot of what you say Mike. Bring back the light, hope, and fun.

Scott Sebring said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott Sebring said...

Somebody out there is awake enough to bring Batman to the kids and not the jaded adults. The movies have forgotten the children altogether. I love the idea of Sprang being the inspiration for the design. I can't wait.

Now if you could only have gotten Adam West to do the voice what a perfect world this would be... ;)

David said...

You go, Mike!

I was excited when I saw the first couple images from this new show, and I'm way more excited now that I know what you've got in mind, which is not only a show I can share with my kids, but just for good measure a poke in the eye with a sharp stick to the inbred fanboy community that's helped make comics unfit for kids of any age.

I thank you and my kids thank you. Or at least they will when I finally get to introduce them to the coolness that is Batman, done right.

Timothy said...

You raise MANY, MANY good points here! My planned fan series has, as its main character, someone Frank Miller created. Yet, I also grew up with the 1966 Batman series as well. And I know the character did not always live in a world that was overly Gothic.

Thank you for posting this blog!

Marc Burkhardt said...

As a fan of the Dick Sprang Batman as well as the O'Neil/Adams & Englehart/Rogers Batman, well said.

There's room for a lot more renditions of Batman than the "babymen" believe ... although I have to admit I resemble that remark at times.

Mike Manley said...

Thanks all for the good comments. Charlie Brown never kicks the football and Batman can never catch the Joker. Peter Parker is a nerd. It's comics, it's not real life, it's fantasy and works best a such. It seems the rest of the comic enjoying world gets this, is fine with it, but the direct market isn't, it's blinded and walled in so only stagnation happens and the new books, ideas never have any real chance for the most part, it's a Catch 22 as they say.

Jessie said...

babymen? I usually call them Elitist comic book fans.

When I was in 2nd grade my favorite show was the Adam West Batman reruns. My favorite episode was when Batgirl showed up. That is what sparked my interest in the Batman comics. When BTAS came out, I was all over it. As I got older, I began picking up the Batman titles (mostly the Asian Batgirl comic). Now I enjoy the current Batman series and am looking for old back issues.

Basically, my tastes have changed.

I do get the intent behind making this Batman kid-friendly. It makes it easier for kids to pick it up. (or makes it easier for parents to let their kids pick it up).

This is not a bad thing. I agree that DC or the comics industry should make all-ages books in order to bring in new customers.

Should Batman be changed in order to appeal to young kids for a cartoon series AIMED at young kids. Sure, why not? It was an Adam West Batman and a Yvonne Craig Batgirl that got ME into the Batman franchise.

But the dark and gritty Batman doesn't have to be snuffed out of existence either. Let’s face it. Batman was originally a popular crime noir-based franchise from the late 1930's (1939 to be exact). There's no way to ignore that. (I think your comment offended a few people who had nothing against this Brave&Bold series and do not fit your "babymen" description...)

As someone who enjoys both the lighthearted series and the gritty ones, I don't think either one SUCKS.

They're just different tastes. ya know, like cookies and steak. Kids LOVE cookies, but as they get older, they’ll start liking steak a bit more instead. Of course there are exceptions to the rule...

Manga is very popular among young readers because of its wide variety of stories. There's something for everyone, not just boys, but also girls, women, and men. There's sci-fi, action, romance, mystery, drama, sports, fantasy, historical fiction, you name it.

Manga is a medium, not a genre. Comic books should be the same. They don't all have to be comedy and they don't all have to be serious. And they don't ALL have to be for straight males either.

ANYHOO, I'm very happy that they've decided to include Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle in this series. He's a great character that I really want to introduce to my two little nieces and my Mexican cousins. Having him animated makes this much easier.

I hope this encourages kids to eventually pick up the Blue Beetle trades at their local Borders. It's an excellent series that's actually won two library awards.

I'll be thrilled as heck if this encourages a Blue Beetle animated spin-off, since I believe out of all the DC comics being published right now, his series is definitely the most kid-friendly and the most animation-adaptable.

Anyhoo, Inquiring Blue Beetle fans all want to know...why are his eyes red? They're actually yellow. Red eyes look scarier than yellow eyes. If this is for kids...wouldn't you want the yellow eyes? :)

Pat! said...

i pretty much second what Jovita said up there

i think there's room for both the "dark" and "light" hearted batman

but, i do remember, back when i was a kid, the reason why i loved BTAS so much was the fact i never felt like they were "writing down" to me and they were just trying to tell cool stories without making it "kiddie friendly"

Bill D. said...

Amen, Mike! You've definitely hit the nail on the head.

cartoonretro said...

Well said, Mike!

Loyal V said...

I'll go ahead and label myself an adolescentman, then. I usually find that I can enjoy other interpretations of comic characters, like the bubblegum-happy-shiny Teen Titans series. Without reinterpretation, we wouldn't have Bill Willingham's Fables series. All that aside, though, what really sold me on this series is the inclusion of Blue Beetle. There's so much fun to be had with that character.


Josh Howell said...

God forbid people have fun with superheroes, characters with superpowers should never be used to entertain children and be a fun source of escapism from the crappy world we live in.

Maybe instead of having superheroes fight crime and inspire youth, we can watch them pay bills and go to the doctor.

No, wait, I've got it, DC should do a comic where Robin gets molested by Catholic priests, and then the reader can watch as he goes through therapy and becomes and alcoholic!

Unknown said...

pretty much agree, you can have the strawberry with the rocky road, the light with the grittier versions. And Dick Sprang influenced, man it would be great to have some "Batman in Space" episodes:)

while Bruce Timm's shows were second to none, they did run their course and have a nice library to re-watch for the future. They even basically ended it on their own terms, something not a lot of folks can say.

Will be nice to see something like this.

good luck with the show!

William said...

As a comics fan - a 22 year old one who started 3 or 4 years ago, so that discounts the whole Babyman thing with me- I have to disagree with this.

First off, Batman the Animated Series. I grew up on the show. It might have gotten criticism way back when it came out, but you don't hear about it anymore. In any case, that was a show that appealed to all ages, not just the kids or just the 'babymen'.

In fact, not to long ago, I was visiting home while my mom was babysitting an 8 year old kid. There was nothing on TV, so I asked him if he wanted to watch Batman. He said "I'm not sure if I'm all that interested in Batman anymore" and I realised he was thinking of The Batman, not BTAS. But I put on one of the episodes (The Laughing Fish I think), and he was drawn right in. Kids are more sophistocated than you seem to be implying that they are, and if you talk down to them with a show, they won't tolerate it.

Also, you state that Manga is doing better than American comics, which is true. But as a Manga reader myself, they certainly aren't any more all-ages than what B&TB is going to be. The most popular Anime and Manga at the moment- Naruto: People getting brutally betean, bloodied, and in the original Naruto often gave the finger to people. Bleach: Someone gets disembowled every other episode. Death Note: A story about a Serial Killer. Not exactly kids stuff by your standards. Also, the One Piece Anime was heavily censored to appeal to kids more when it was introduced to the West, and while I'm not sure if it was taken off the air, I don't recall it being on my TV anymore.

And comics are in a slump. But they have been for years, decades even. Prettymuch ever since the Comics Code Authority was issued, which imposed heavy censorship. and sales went down moreso because of the advent of television, period. Not because they became more adult, but that a cheaper form of entertainment was and is being directly beamed into your living room. Same reason why TV and movie ratings are down today due to video games and the Internet. Comics had to adapt to survive, which of course meant appealing to the fans that stuck around.

I can see why you're so pissed off. I mean, people saying this and that about the new show you're designing, it makes sense. That said, you come off a more than a bit of a prick here, no offense. You're pinning a stereotype on a whole group, and I'm wondering what the hell I did to deserve it. I was actually enthusiastic about the show, due to the appearance of Blue Beetle.

And for the record, I myself enjoy a number of all-ages/ semi all ages comics, such as Shazam!: Monster Society of Evil, Runaways, Usagi Yojimbo and the recently released Mouse Guard. All comics I would be perfectly comfortable giving to kids of your show's demographic.

ResonantFish said...

While I think you're making a broad, insulting stereotype (which I don't feel that I fall into, but I can see how people would be offended), I think it's completely awesome to re-interpret classic things into a blissful oblivion. That's why I have about a million Batman action figures, all by different artists. That's why I draw and design. That's why I read The Wolverine Daily.

I do think that the same thing you've said to comic collectors can be said to toy collectors : this stuff was for kids! I'm sure that it won't hurt anyone to let the kids have some fun too, and we should be secure enough in our adulthood to accept that. Plus, can we really be THAT insulted about ANY Batman interpretation after the movie franchise? Really, guys. We were pretty much disemboweled there, and we survived.

I'm also relatively new to comics, loved the B:TAS show, didn't really have time to watch THE Batman, blah blah blah. So, there's a crazy dark Batman, and a light, fun Batman, and I think that's where the real awesomeness of Batman IS! Has any other well-known superhero gone through that much of a change, and still have all aspects of the identity accessible and acceptable? It's impressive.

I can't wait to see the cartoon, whether I like it or not. I'm holding off my opinions.

Scott Rogers said...

Hey Mike,

I absolutely adore the new style of the upcoming B&B show (I'm a huge Sprang fan) and my head spins at all the possibilities it brings for all-ages entertainment. (I also hope there are action figures!)

I've lamented the loss of all-ages content in comics for years - I've tried to address it with my own superhero comic effort - Bedbug ( was a reaction to not be able to relate to any modern superhero comic book characters.

Personally, I'm done with grim n' gritty - bring on the fun!

razieldumas said...

Man, as a fan of B:TAS, Superman, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, I can't help but feel heavily insulted by your above comments.

Look, ever since B:TAS premiered, Bruce Timm has been creating an entire universe that was separate from the comics that a good amount of us grew up with and loved. It was a nice mixture between the more kid-friendly fare and the gritty comics that were being released at the time. So, what happened? JLU was kneecapped by The Batman, which stated that no Batman villains could appear in the show. With a significantly lower amount of villains, and less commercial time given to the JLU in favor of The Batman, our show didn't stand a chance.

So, what remains for us fans now? Nothing. We get a monthly comic book with flagging sales, and a kick to the teeth any time we ask for a show, a follow-up, anything. Excuse us for being a little bitter, but there are a multitude of fans who are insulted by this kiddy crap.

And I have to agree with other posters who talk about how kids don't like to be talked down to or condescended to. This has happened ever since The Animaniacs was taken off of the air. Nowadays kids shows are just popcorn fluff with nothing to them. Black and white crap that appeals to the lowest common denominator, and is pre-packaged, ready for public consumption and retailing. Not to say that B:TAS didn't have toys made after the show, but those toys were an after-thought, as compared to what we're seeing now.

Look, I know it must suck to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, but labeling us fans in some derogatory fashion is only going to make us angrier. You come off very poorly here, and you might want to rethink your feelings on something before showing it off to the whole world.

I won't be watching your show, and neither will many of my fellow fans. We'll stick to our DCAU shows and continue hoping for Warner Bros. to stop ignoring us.

Bogs said...

You use the term babymen as if it's bad for anyone over 12 to enjoy cartoons.

Yea you make good points and I'm excited to see the show but you seem like you're just pissed off some people don't like your designs. I like them but why the hell should you care what some people you don't even know think of your stuff?

OVERLORD said...

all I care about is jaime and diedrich "two chicks at the same time" bader

Mike Manley said...

Frankly I am not upset that some people don't like the designs of the cartoon. I have been a profesional artist for close to 25 years now, one gets used to people not liking your work, that comes with the territory.

the style of the show was set before I came on board, that was set by James Tucker. The reason I stung the babymen in their diapers was the just idiotic comments they make which prove a lot about what's wrong with comics and fandom in general.

The fact us the show is aimed at young kids, not at 20 something, 30 something etc., that doesn't mean it has to be bad either. Lots of people like Powerpuff girls, Dexter and Spongebob that were well over the demo the shows were aimed at.

Yep, it's a funnier kinder Batman it seems. There is the movie coming out this summer that should be dark and grim enough for any fan boy or babyman. I think babymen often forget, seeing a movie is a choice, you buy tickets and go out, TV comes over the cable and often parents assume that something on TV at the hours that kids watch is kid safe, not NSFW or home viewing. parents like to have choice abut also feel that if their kid is watch Nic they won't see dick.

Pretty simple to get.

I find it very amusing that the baymen are crying all over the web and that they feel my mighty sting. Good. They need to grow up, chill out and get a balanced life, they'll feel better and spend less money on diapers :-)

I also know you can never win an argument on the web.

ThePocketGirl said...

As a 20 year old comic and cartoon enthusiast, I'm not sure I like the tone taken here. I too, as many have already said, grew up with the B:TAS cartoon, which is what got me into comic books in the first place.

Now I am in art school, pursing a career in the business. I can appreciate what you are saying here, but at the same time, I'm getting very tired of everything having to be one way or another. It seems that now, everything has to be campy or totally serious, with nothing in between. My favorite part about the B:TAS Batman, was that he had a personality beyond just catching criminals. Batman made quips and smiled occasionally. I hate that all comic versions of Batman are pretty much GRIMDARK right now. So in that aspect, I wouldn't mind seeing a lighter Batman. However, to see Batman be reverted back to the Superfriends kind of character would just be an insult to fans, young and old. Children do not like being talked down to. I didn't as a child, and I don't think any kid does today. The media underestimates kid's maturity levels. I think everyone is just getting up in arms about the whole thing because they don't want a dumbed down Batman. He was never meant to be that kind of character. Comics and cartoons can be a good, all-ages story without being stupid. The most recent Teen Titans cartoon was an excellent example of this. There were many childish plotlines, but in between were gems, such as "Haunted", that REALLY got the stories and characters moving without being too adult. It was a great show and it wasn't too campy.

Another thing, you say that cartoons are really only about the money. I can see the truth behind this, yes. A cartoon would not be made unless the people in charge thought they could make some money off it. However, what's the point in working in cartoon business if you only see the work as a kind of cash cow?

Lastly, I have to say the term babymen is a little immature on your part. Sure, people on the internet act like idiots a lot, but honestly? Babymen? Just because fans don't want to see their favorite hero turn into camp again? Plus, let's not forget that you have to be PC in today's world. I would change that to "Baby-persons" to include female readers, such as myself :)

Don't take all this the wrong way. I intend on watching the cartoon. I can't make judgments on something I haven't even seen yet, but I just think you perhaps went about this rant in the wrong way?

Mike Manley said...

PG, Don't woory about this stuff so much. I don't. I also don't agree that I went about anything wrong. I stated what I felt, what I thought, fans can agree or not. I know 99% won't. Especially babymen. That's fine, it won't change my attitude and my professional experience that lead me to these opinions. The fact is again that 99% of people watching this cartoon are not comic fans and never will be. Most people, kids, watching TV toons never read comics now, so all the bluster from the babymen won't even register on their radar nor the radar of the network. They'll either like the show or not, just like the Apple Jacks commercial.

To ignore that one toils in a commercial medium will only lead one to dissapointment and heartache and is immature. It doesn't suit everyone's personality or make-up to work in the commercial world, and that's great. I have friends that do one or the other or both. The fact is nothing on Tv or in Hollywood exists without the main drive of making money. The idea may start like any idea, born of the spark of inspiration, but Batman exist today to make WB billions of dollars. That many like myslef can enjoy working on him or watching him in all the various permutations can be joy and hard work, and in the end make the studios mucho deliro.

SNeelyArt said...

I think it's in the best interest that I post what the definition of 'Babyman' means since everyone seems to misunderstand the term or feels like Mike is talking down to you. It's only a handful that he's talking about but it's this group that keeps the industry going... into the ground.

From hanging out with Mike, since he lives close to me, and hearing his thoughts in person on many occasions, I feel I have a good grip on his official definition. He can correct me if I'm off.

'Babymen' is a term to describe the adult nerds who still live at in the basement and rush into the comic shops each week to get their ‘Gem Mint 10' copies of Infinite Civil Crisis War of the 52 issues of dogs*&t, while they stroke themselves to Jim Lee's and Michael Turner's crap, and like to art direct a commission in artist alley of Wolverine to make sure that every hair on Wolverine’s nut sack is in the right place while they argue over who’s stronger: Superman or the Hulk? And who draws a nicer titted Wonder Woman: Adam Hughes or Terry Dodson?

Who know who you are...

These are the people who are keeping the industry going. The same idiots who bitch and moan over Marvel's handling of 'One More Day' for Spidey and yet STILL go out and buy all 4 variant covers for that series while they swear that they won't support it anymore. Their completist nerd nature wins out and Marvel keeps putting out garbage because it DOES sell...only to the wrong crowd.

For me a big issue is that mostly ALL the comics are trying for some kind of reality that is above what I think a comic should be. I personally like comics that have some energy and flair to the art than most of the phototracing that is done anymore. By Phototracing I mean comic guys who don't do a David Mack and retrace someone else's art but someone who relies so heavily on photos that it makes the finished book look stiff. There's now POW that Kirby or Ditko did. Even a Neal Adams was truly awesome. The effort to make EVERYTHING so damn realistic as to validate the art form itself is downright silly! It's a COMIC, people! While I love Alex Ross' work, if every comic was like that I'd get bored with it quick. The Lands, Larks, Eptings, Maleevs, Macks, McNivens, and especially the Jimenezs of the comic world should learn that less is more. This is why Romita is King (The father not the son).

American comics have this need to still validate themselves to the world since it's still a red headed bastard stepchild in this country. I don't care how mainstream the industry is said to be, it's still looked at as something for lesser people in terms of reading. Is going so realistic in style the way to do it? I think not. Manga's appeal is such that it's more fun and expressive. I wish Spidey was that way again (This 'Brand New Day' stuff blows and I like Dan Slott) and how I can't wait to see how the new Batman cartoon turns out! Where's the FUN???

Jhonen Olain said...

Scott, I've got to ask as respectfully as possible: who the hell are you talking about? When you use stereotypes like that, you lose credibility. I doubt a single person exists who fits half of what you just described.

I'm a marketing professional who specializes in "geeky" industries, so I've done some research on the kind of guys you're ripping on. And guess what? They tend to be above-average in terms of income and education, they tend to have girlfriends and spouses, and about a quarter of them have kids of their own.

And there are a lot of them out there. Even if you leave out the millions of hardcore videogame geeks, there are hundreds of thousands of adults who are into comic books, toys, and tabletop gaming.

So if even half a percent of those guys to be vocally negative, you've got enough complainers to make industry message boards pretty annoying. That bugs me, too, but it's a fact of life that someone like you should have gotten used to a long time ago. When people are passionate about something, they like to discuss it. And it's a lot more fun to be critical of stuff you hate than to sit around gushing about what you like.

I think it's awesome that you make a career out of creating great stuff for kids. But if kids aren't into comics anymore, that's because they've moved on, not because comic books are catering to older tastes. There are a lot of great comics out there for kids -- including the ones you've done cover art for -- but not many kids buy them. The ones that do probably get them from the kind of older comic book fan you just insulted.

Mike, I agree with the general sentiment that shows like Brave and the Bold don't need to appeal to adults, and it's definitely annoying when adults complain. But watch the generalizations, or you start to sound as bitter as one of those message board complainers who give geeks a bad name.

I think Brave and the Bold is going to be great. I hope it manages to be focused on kids without talking down to kids. Because I also do reasearch on kids, and if there's one thing that's true of gradeschool boys, it's that they don't want to participate in anything that remotely resembles "baby stuff."

Good luck with the show, and try not to pick on geeks! If you have to call us names, "fanboy" is a little less severe than "babyman."


Mike Manley said...

JO, I think Babyman is perfect, and I'm sticking to it. There is a difference between a Babyman and a run of the mill fan.

I think Scott painted a pretty clear picture of the difference between a fan and a zealot-infantile-whiner.

I'm a fan of many things, comics, art,film, etc. But you have to be able to have some perspective, and when you don't, and you can't adjust to life and it's changes, you can become a babyman.

Nobody I know or work with is "talking down" to kids on what we do. We are trying to please ourselves i think first. Do something we like or enjoy with the commercial parameters. I don't think the people who made the old batn TV show were either. They were having fun and most people at the time had fun along with them, they were in on the joke too. I didn't see it as a joke as a kid, but excitement.

I can see why older fans hate that show, and hate anything that smacks of "fun or making fun of their sacred cows." but you just have to let go and not take it so seriously, you can still read Dark Kight or the horror of DK2. I still say the inability to leave the childhood icons in childhood means that there is an issue of personal growth that babyman needs to address. Batman will not grow old with you, nor the Phantom, or Spider-man. For those characters to remain true to themselves they must remain within that flexible but finite world of fiction for the fantasy to work.

Some characters like Batman due to his more dark or psychological elements are able to get more grim than Superman. As you can see from the horrible suck of that last Stalker Superman film, people just don't cotton to that type of take. It doesn't have to be camp as the last Reeves films were, but the Singer film was all kinds of wrong and to my mind sums up a lot of what's wrong with superhero comics today.

SNeelyArt said...

I see these people all the time. NYC will have them all over the place at the convention this weekend. I've been in comic stores when they have walked in at the same time I was there. The conventions are loaded with them. I see them while I'm sitting at my artist table. It may be that you see a bit of yourself in aspects of what I wrote so I don't know. Maybe you don't go to conventions. Most fans don't like to be thought of as a nerd but it is what it is... Your argument reminds me of the characters in the movie Free Enterprise. Great movie! With Shatner! Anyway, I've been in and around this industry as a fan for over 20+ years as a collector. I've been working drawing comics off and on since 2003 or 4 so I have seen it all. My rant is kinda like Shatner going off on the SNL bit and saying "Get a life."

To give an example, I was in Showcase Comics which is a local shop about 6 or 7 years ago now. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was paying for my books and a guy came in and got his subscription. It was his first one with the store. Anyway, he asks point blank to the guy behind the counter, "Do they ship the comics from the distributor already in mylar. Ones that haven't been touched by human hands."

I shit you not! I was just standing and looking at this nimrod and the teller behind the couter did the same. He didn't know what to say. He got his senses together and said they don't ship comics like that. They are handled by people at all levels of distribution.

Now this is an extreme case but I looked at the guy and he went through a whole stack of wall comics on the new release section to pick out the best copy available. He was practicly doing a CSI test on the thing to make sure it was a perfect copy.

I couldn't make this stuff up...the only thing I truly wish for the Babymen is that when they go to a convention that they actually bathe before they go. Hygiene is usually pretty poor amongst the babymen. The pros have said as much as well.

I see no real kids at any of the conventions who want to be there. They are dragged there by their father who is a collector or something and I usually see them saying "Can we go now?" I've been counting every kid who stops by my table at the Wizard Philly shows and the Baltimore Comic Con shows for quite some time. Every year is a lousy turnout. Though this past Baltimore show was packed with families.

If your marketing demos tell you anything, it's that you're marketing to a 24- to 40 year old buyer. Not to kids. What happens when you have an aging fan base and they die off of just stop buying. This industry is screwed.


well put... it is up to debate how far you take it. And there is no reason that there can't be different age group focus on different shows as well as comics. you want new fans and you want to keep the old...
(but my God everyone - loose the constant acronyms and computer speak )

Superhobo said...


What are you, five? As many have said, using stereotypes doesn't help get your point across any better - these are fans who feel passionately about these characters for some reason or another.

You make some good points, I'll give you that. But, to disparage an entire section of a fanbase because they care about a character, however intensely, is downright inane.

And you look like The Comic Book Guy, from the Simpsons.

Mike Moran said...

Mike I have loved your stuff since I was a teen. Great points and I look forward to both of these shows.

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