Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Comic Book Industry Is Worried About Providing “Jumping On” Points, But What About “Jumping Off” Points? What was yours?

If you follow comic books and their related publications, I’m certain you’ve heard the buzz phrase “jumping on points”. For those of you not familiar with the concept, there’s an ever escalating concern that the modern comic book with its near total reliance on continued storylines and deep continuity requires too much prior knowledge for a casual buyer to pick up a book, read it and fully understand what’s going on, let alone enjoy the experience.

So, in an effort to bring in new readers, comic book publishers sometimes put out special issues with an easier to follow storyline intended as “jumping on” points for new readers. A related trend is “done in one” stories which promise the readers a story which is complete in one issue and thus less of a financial commitment than buying into a mini or maxi series.

While both are good ideas, I wonder if they miss a key point concerning comics sales erosion.

Perhaps of even more importance than providing “jumping ON” points for new readers could be not providing “jumping OFF” points for your established readers.

Most of the people with whom I work are hardcore comics fans, most of whom used to spend between fifty and one hundred dollars a week on their hobby, but few of whom buy even a fifth that much comic book product today. The reason? At some point, a storyline ignored what they considered cardinal to their enjoyment of the characters they loved. The comics presented them with a “jumping off” point, a point where their love of comics ceased being extended to the currently published books and very possibly to any comics published in the future.

For many first generation Marvel readers the jumping off point was Spider-Man’s “clone saga” storyline which invalidated years of closely followed stories. For much of the current readership it seems that Spidey’s “one more day” has a similar negative resonance.

The Mayhem’s jumping off point came when Marvel put both Daredevil and Captain America in ridiculous-looking body armor without realizing that much of both characters’ core appeal lay in their agility, which was compromised by the bulk of their new costumes.

So, what was YOUR jumping off point? And if you had one, did you discover a new jumping on point?

As always the images and visuals are copyright by their rights holders. The Masked Mayhem images and related text are Copyright Will Meugniot 2009.


  1. There really was no jumping off point for me. I just faded away as the field went down what I consider to be a bad evolutionary path. There's not much magic to make me stop and pick up a comic from a rack these days. Sad. I get more kicks drawing them than reading them now.

    BTW, Bill Black said to tell you howdy back.

  2. My jumping off point was when Todd Macfarlane took over and Spidey got married. That was the end of Marvel for me. Never did collect DC. I took a ten year break from AC when the giant women took over, although I am back with AC now

  3. Mark -- glad you're back in the AC fold!

  4. Well, for me it was the mid-80's, when I decided to quit buying books I didn't really like just for collection's sake. I was astonished to find out I'd cut out just about all of Marvel. For DC, it was the Crisis: they violated so much of the old heroes' personality for me that I couldn't keep up with the new stuff, and anyway, I loved Supergirl, and they killed her. Liked Carlin's Superman, though.

  5. Honestly, I think the VILLAINS play a big part in a story's extended interest points. Comic book WRITERS tend to think comic book READERS are dumb and won't notice that they have created "filler" or "stand-in" villains. It's CRAP and YES, we noticed it. Ask any REAL comic book fan about a super-hero and then ask him what his associated villains are and they can only name a few because those were the good ones. Batman has his Joker. Spider-Man has his Green Goblin (and Venom). Intriguing concepts are a PLUS for readers. But, some times, a writer goes overboard. Check out the "Rock of Ages" storyline in the pages of JLA (1997/1998) and you'll see what I mean. What we really need is DAMN GOOD WRITERS... where are the Gerry Conway's, Doug Moench's, and Alan Moore's of 2013??? Joss Whedon is doing a good job but I don't see much coming out of the other writers of today and most of those "good/old" writers are dying off now. :(