Sunday, September 17, 2006

Attention Spans & Comics

I listen to really long audio books at work, and one of the comments I've been hearing from coworkers recently is "Gosh how can you stand to listen to one story that long? Don't you get sick of the characters after a while?"

Which made me pause, as to me the longer a book is, especially if it is a good one, the better as I like getting involved with the characters. Yet I wonder if that isn't as common as at least it once was, as even among comic fans sales decline at a fairly steady rate on even the most popular series.

As a comic fan I've experienced and seen the love fans have for characters. These characters are like old friends to many readers, and getting to come in and check in on their lives so often is a huge part of the draw for many readers.

Yet I wonder if the common person isn't interested in followingthe same characters for such a period of time. Oh it might be fine to go spend 2 hours every other year on a Spider-Man movie, but that same person might not be interested in reading Spidey's adventures every week.

Look at TV, many of the most popular shows are reality TV shows. Which has a new cast and location every year. A cast that also decreases as the show moves along, meaning less info for the viewer to keep up with.

Yet meanwhile comics continue to complicate their stories, not in terms of story quality, but in the amount of info you need to know to follow along.

1 comment:

James Meeley said...

Actually, James, I think it's other media that has caught up to comics in this respect.

Used to be that the comic creators and publishers knew that they would have a good portion of the audience turn over in about every 5 years or so. That's why you see the heroes fighting the smae villains so often. Because while to a long time reader they might have seen that fight before, most of audinece, which had turned over by the time it was done again, had not.

Over the past 15-20 years thoguh, comics have reversed that and gone into maintaining a long and involved continuity with characters and stories, even as other media has gone the route comics used to take, concerning audience turn over.

I guess it's just another way comics can continue to be seen as the "outsider" of the entertainment world, but not following the trend other forms take.