Fans turned professionals

Not that you can’t be a fan and do good professional work but when it comes to superhero stories, the earliest writers and cartoonists were fans but not fans of superheroes as that’s a new phenomenon at the time so they were pioneers and innovators. That made sense given Gary Groth’s remarks that superhero comics used to be written by true professionals who were competent at their jobs and didn’t necessarily salivate over their characters, at least not to the same extent as the later fans turned professionals did.

They weren’t superhero fans as much as they were fans of mystery, adventure, mythology and science fiction that they inevitably brought along those influences when they were doing the adventures of Superman, Batman and to a possible extent Spider-Man and The Avengers. The later fans turned professionals came about at the time when superhero conventions were already being well-established that when it comes to fan familiarity, it’s not that they don’t know how the genre works but rather revelled in the intricacies of the genre.

In the sense of being this well-versed in the lore though I’m not that big on superheroes (at least not as big when I was a fan of it some years before) but it can also be detrimental, especially if those writers aren’t open to new interests and experiences let alone somebody new and different who can do something novel with the franchise or brand. Then again anybody who does something new and different with the brand’s sometimes met with derision and suspicion by some long term fans.

I suspect this is what Gary Groth meant by inbreeding in the sense that if you only read superhero comics, you wouldn’t be able to do anything truly novel or different or reiteratre what’s been done before. Without the use of different influences, those kinds of stories risk being repetitive or at the very least been there before. Not that being a fan of something you like the most is bad, but I do think a different influence and muse is necessary every now and then to keep stories from being repetitive and derivative.

Insular and inbred even in the sense of having a very limited sphere of influence to draw upon, which I think Gary Groth thought of that. That might be one of the major drawbacks of fans turned professionals, their sphere of influences can be very limited that informs the way they write characters as almost derivative if not lacking in innovation. That’s pretty much how Gary Groth felt about how inbred superhero comics can get, in terms of being closed off to new influences and any new influence would be met with backlash.

Witness the backlash against racebent superheroes, which might be understandable but then again that makes me wonder just how insular and closed off some superhero fans and writers are, even if that may not necessarily be the same extent with writers. (Actually there are some fans who racebend characters, so in a sense some fans are innovative.) Not that fans can’t bring in anything good or bad to a brand, but I do think there’s the risk of repetition due to being closed off to new influences that something different has to happen to keep it from being too insular.

What is mainstream again?

When it comes to superhero comics, they’re in an odd position where they’re touted as mainstream by some people even though they get outsold by other kinds of comics (children’s comics, newspaper strip collections, manga). Not all manga necessarily outsell superhero comics, but when the sales of manga are higher than the ones for DC and Marvel then superhero comics are objectively less mainstream and widely read than many manga are. Especially in bookstores where they’re being sold, DC has done something to try to appeal to newer and casual readers whether if it’s their partnership with Walmart or comics for younger readers.

But things like manga and newspaper cartoons are objectively more successful at appealing to younger and more casual readers, where I think some of the reasons cited for this is diversity in genre which’s lacking with DC and Marvel to a great extent (Image and Dark Horse not so much as they do publish different kinds of comics and Image practically moved on from doing a lot of superheroes). DC and Marvel do publish things other than superheroes but at this point they’re not necessarily a large portion of what they sell and make.

For every Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, House of Mystery and American Vampire there’s going to be more comics based on the Superman and Batman franchises within DC Comics. Marvel at some point did publish licenced titles based on the likes of Ren and Stimpy, Hanna Barbera cartoons (before they merged with Warner Bros), Heathcliff through Star Comics and the like but that’s eventually overshadowed by how many X-Men titles they continue publishing. That would be discouraging to readers who may prefer something like horror and romance.

Marvel did publish something other than superheroes before but the likes of Patsy Walker are made into typical superheroes in due time, which again’s off-putting to readers who want to read something other than superheroes which I think DC and Marvel have come to fail to aim at. Not all American comics are about superheroes, but when DC and Marvel have a near duopoly in the comic shops that’s when readers flock to manga instead.

You might say that DC and Marvel already do publish something other than superheroes but when those monster characters are made into variations of superheroes, not to mention a lack of separate imprints for other genres (even if they already did this before with Vertigo and Razorline) and an overemphasis on their major flagship brands that would be off-putting to people who would want something like peanut butter and mayonnaise if all what DC and Marvel provide are just jams and jellies.

I get the impression that even if DC and Marvel do try to appeal to casual and younger readers, they can’t let go of their devoted fanbase which they’ve come to cater to a lot even if it’s at the expense of getting a wider readership which newspaper comics, Archie, children’s comics and manga continue to do so. Witness attempts at rebooting their line, which pissed off some of their diehard readers.

Not that Dilbert, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury and Garfield lack diehard fans but they do have a lot more casual readers than DC and Marvel do. Sometimes effortlessly so due to wider distribution in more accessible venues like bookstores and newspapers as well as not catering to a hardcore readership that as much as DC and Marvel do. They are the comics equivalent to Top 40 pop music, the types of musicians that attract casual listeners in addition to diehards whereas the likes of 45 Grave and Christian Death, though not without casual listeners, largely appeal to cultish listeners (diehard listeners, punks and Goths).

Comes to think of it, if comic strips are like pop music (or at least very popular musicians and acts such as Prince, U2 and Madonna) then superhero comics are practically more similar to Goth music in the sense of having a few truly mainstream acts (The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees to some extent) and appealing to a niche audience. You could swap it for punk and it wouldn’t change much. Which again shows you how unmainstream superheroes actually are when it comes to comics being read by people.

Don’t forget that Peanuts and Garfield continue to rake in millions of merchandise, which can put superheroes to shame which again makes them more mainstream than most superheroes are.

The trouble with superhero comics

While it’s true not all superheroes necessarily have a shared universe (some like Watchmen and Kaliman are standalone stories), the way DC and Marvel are structured make it hard to get into, especially if you have a favourite character who doesn’t have their own magazine title. It’s like if you like Tigra, you’d have to sift through both her solo magazines and team books to find her at all. Let alone a portrayal you like, which’s harder to come by.

While it’s true not all superhero comics are necessarily this accessible, the way DC and Marvel are made appeal to a narrow audience that actively embrace certain peculiarities like complex continuity from tracking down a character’s appearances and immerse themselves in it despite all the merchandising DC and Marvel. They do try to appeal to new and casual readers, though due to brand loyalty they can’t forgo the old readership they cultured and developed over the years.

It’s one thing to reboot continuity, it’s another to actively pursue a new readership which DC and Marvel have been trying but the more practical way to do this is to hire somebody who’s savvy enough to attract casual readers with which’s a lightning in a bottle experience and phenomenon. It’s not much of a stretch to say that most superhero comics are steeped in lore that requires many readers to be familiar with it, not that being into lore’s wrong but when you actively preach to the choir for years that it’s going to be hard appealing to new readers.

The fact that DC and Marvel ended up reverting some of the things older readers makes me think they can’t let go of their old readership since they’ve depended on each other for so long that even when they succeed at bringing in new and casual readers, they actively target old diehard readers a lot. Not all superhero comics are like this, some like Watchmen and Kaliman are relatively self-contained and do target some casual readers.

But the thing with DC and Marvel’s that they reward a certain kind of reader who has the patience to track down a character’s appearances in a vast, immersive universe that I think for most of the part appeal to a select few who can track down the characters’ appearances, obsess over continuity and have a lot of brand loyalty that they can’t live without. Not that other kinds of comics lack this sort of brand loyalty, but DC and Marvel for all their merchandising thrive a lot on this that’s comparable to the likes of Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons when it comes to immersing in the universe’s lore.

In the sense of actively exploring a lot of the lore in a shared universe setting that’s comparable to Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons, which can be offputting to casual readers. Not that you can’t be a casual fan of Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons, but the lore’s fascinating to a certain person who’s willing to immerse themselves in such a world that it’s almost impenetrable to casual fans. Not all shared universes are necessarily this impenetrable, but DC and Marvel are more like Warhammer than they are to say Archie (which has no issue attracting casual readers).

Admittedly, I can’t always keep up with a character’s appearances and I never obsessed over continuity so that makes me view the way DC and Marvel are structured as almost off-putting to casual readers and fans that manga and Archie win out anyways.

Not so mainstream and accessible

It’s been said elsewhere by Jed Alexander and a few others that superhero comics aren’t really mainstream especially when it comes to them being outsold by other kinds of comics (comic strip collections, Archie Comics and manga). Not to mention the way superhero comics are structured are offputting to casual readers where it’s like if you like Tigra you’d have to extensively track down whatever appearance she makes and she usually doesn’t have much of a solo magazine of her own which makes it harder to find her at all.

Though it could be argued that something like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures and Peanuts also have that problem but then again what lives in those two stays in those two and Disney comics and anything related to Turma da Monica might have some of the same problems but they’re aimed at casual readers so they’re not too intimidating to less dedicated readers. Superhero comics, as they’re currently written and structured, are aimed at hardcore readers who’re the same people who can and will extensively track down a character’s appearances (which might form the basis of their obsession with continuity).

With superhero comics the way they’re structured tends to target a hardcore readership especially with all the obsession with continuity, extensively tracking down a character’s appearances and the fact that they’re not readily available and affordable can make it harder to get into those. Actually even with all the piracy, superhero comics aren’t that narratively accessible either especially when it comes to tracking down whatever appearances a character makes that’s rewarding only to hardcore readers. All those crossovers and repeated character appearances are rewarding to hardcore readers.

That’s not to say they can’t get new fans but the way they’re structured is offputting both to new and casual readers that in the end only hardcore readers prevail, which’s something DC and Marvel end up catering to. I can live with changing artists and writers, but I can’t always track down whatever appearances a character (especially my favourite character) makes as that would be too time-consuming and I also lose my interest real easily.

Once again, the hardcore readership prevails and DC and Marvel caters to that demographic though they’ve been trying to make those more accessible to casual readers as well. (In all honesty, I never cared much about continuity and I may never get the obsession with continuity in comics.) The way superhero comics and to some extent superhero media seem to be aimed at hardcore fans, which might explain why they have so much difficulty attracting casual readers and audiences at all.

Especially when it comes to tracking down a favourite character that whilst other comics aren’t any better to some extent, with them they’re easier on casual readers to get into whereas superhero comics for most of the part cater a lot to hardcore readers.

Ludicrous basketball match

Space Jam is one of those films that are really absurd in reality, not just because of the thought of the Looney Tunes playing basketball but also because the film stars an athlete and the film itself started out as a series of adverts advertising sneakers. In fact if you believe some reviewers, Space Jam is rather cynically made when it comes to promoting a man who was the biggest athlete in basketball of his day that makes putting the Looney Tunes in that film rather forced and frankly in my opinion, ridiculous in a way that other live action-cartoon crossovers aren’t.

Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet The Groovie Goolies isn’t one of the best Looney Tunes productions but it’s more tonally consistent with its live action sequence being very bit as cartoony as the animated segments are. Space Jam feels rather tacked on when it comes to putting real life athletes with cartoon characters, especially with regards to a plot point where small aliens steal their talents only to have it back. Perhaps there must be a good reason why the late Chuck Jones (who’s no stranger to directing Looney Tunes shorts) disowned and disliked the film, if because it disrespected his vision for the franchise and brand.

(That’s if some corporation pissed at one fashion designer’s vision for the brand that causes bitterness on their part.)

Space Jam does have its good points but its attempts at humour or at least any amusing moment featuring one of the Looney Tunes seems misguided. Be it Porky Pig pissing himself (apparently Jones got mad at that and I think Looney Tunes is usually too sophisticated for toilet humour), Sniffles the Mouse being squashed by one of the Monstars and Granny being dogpiled by the Monstars. Not to mention there’s the attempt at sexual humour where one of the Monstars got his trousers removed and he covers it up with his shirt feels out of the blue.

Speaking of cynical sports crossovers, Disney may’ve done something similar before with comics but when it comes to Space Jam it’s more bare-faced when it comes to promoting Michael Jordan along with Bugs Bunny as the stars of the film. Additionally speaking, whereas the Monstars are rather cool only Lola Bunny has any real staying power as she’d make recurring appearances in later Looney Tunes productions like Baby Looney Tunes and Looney Tunes Show.

Space Jam can be amusing but it comes off as rather ridiculous when it comes to promoting the franchise with an athlete. It started out as a series of adverts promoting shoes and became a successful merchandising campaign that sold a lot of stuff in its day. You can see toys being advertised on Ebay for those who’re curious but personally speaking while Space Jam is an interesting film, it’s also very ridiculous if because having a cartoon character costar with an athlete is weird in and of itself.

There’s a new Space Jam film coming that might be just as ridiculous if not more ridiculous than the first film if because that involves an athlete getting his son back so he needs the help of the Looney Tunes to get him back, but the fact that combining Looney Tunes with basketball shows how ridiculous both Looney Tunes B-Ball and Space Jam are. Disney has yet to do something just as silly by having Mickey Mouse be paired with David Beckham in an attempt to return to playing football, though that could’ve been attempted before in comics with a different athlete.

But that goes to show you how ridiculous Space Jam really is.

Lack of diversity

I do think superhero comics as well as anime and manga can suffer from a lack of diversity due to limited interests and experiences, which I think when it comes to producing diverse characters at all these tend to come from a place of having any real experience with and interest in these kinds of characters. That’s why I think though black characters do exist in anime and manga, a good number of mangaka don’t have much experience with and interest in black people to do such characters. (Hirohiko Araki of Jojo fame might be one of those cartoonists who does black characters due to being familiar with black musicians.)

This also extends to the types of stories being told and why there’s the risk of being repetitive due to having limited interests and life experiences. It’s one thing to have a preference for certain things, it’s another to expose yourself to new influences and experiences which’s where I think is the real reason why there’s not much diversity in some stories. Not just due to the lack of diversity in gender and ethnicity but also in the kinds of personalities and types of stories being told. It’s like if you only read superhero comics and not expose yourself to new influences, you’ll end up reiterating the same stories or cliches all over again.

If you want real diversity, open up to new experiences and interests to draw upon. Get a new muse to be inspired by, open up to different kinds of people and obsessions to avoid recreating the same character all over again. That’s why I think there’s a lack of any real diversity in anime and manga as well as other things to some extent, if it weren’t for people’s narrowmindedness and lack of interest in anything else that’s why they often retell the same thing all over again.

What furry isn’t

I think when it comes to what constitutes as furry, my own definition would be that liking and creating anthropomorphic animals doesn’t necessary make you a furry, so is anthropomorphising animals which nonfurries are guilty of doing this. Dressing up in animal fancy dress doesn’t necessarily make you a furry, since that’s also done by nonfurries to a considerable extent though I think whenever furries do something it’s a specific way of anthropomorphising animals. Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and a considerable number of the Looney Tunes are anthropomorphic animals but you don’t have to be a furry to like them (same goes with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which even transcended the furry fandom).

In all honesty, I don’t think paraphilias are exclusive to furries as they can be found outside of them even if furry fandom’s often stereotyped as perverted. That’s what furry isn’t, furry isn’t always about kinks and perversion as it pretty much started out as a love for anthropomorphic animals. Likewise those same kinks can be found in other subcultures and again dressing up in animal costumes doesn’t always make somebody a furry (though I think furry has a specific way of dressing up in animal costumes). Liking and growing up with anthropomorphic animals doesn’t always make somebody a furry as furry involves specific ways of anthropomorphising animals.

You don’t have to be a furry to like Looney Tunes and Disney as these can be enjoyed independently of furries, same goes for Beatrix Potter and Watership Down. Likewise you don’t have to be that much of a Goth to like The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees as they can be enjoyed outside of the subculture despite their influence. You don’t have to be Goth to dress in black as Goths can wear white or have specific ways of dressing in black as opposed to black being worn by people for cultural and religious reasons.

Furry isn’t always about dressing up in animal costumes and doing anthropomorphic animals, both of which are also done by non-furries but rather a specific way of anthropomorphising animals and presenting personas as such. You don’t have to be a pervert to be a furry as this can exist independently of them, furries can even be Christians as I know from experience.

Wouldn’t that be ignorant?

When it comes to women wearing trousers, keep in mind there’s already a tradition of such in South Asia, Iran and Turkey where women do wear trousers for possibly centuries and do so for practical reasons like farming. These kinds of trousers are known as salvar or shalwar depending on the country and these are worn by women for possibly centuries, so keep in mind that in some countries there’s already a tradition of women wearing trousers.

While it would be fine if women didn’t wear men’s clothing for most of the time, bear in mind that in several other countries where women were already wearing trousers for possibly centuries that risks being both culturally insensitive and ignorant given wearing trousers is already something of a time-honoured tradition. Not to mention wearing trousers is necessary for women in some contexts such as jogging and running where it would be impractical if they did it in a skirt.

It’s not necessarily wrong for women to wear trousers and in some countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey it’s already part of the culture for women to do so that it would be culturally insensitive and ignorant to insist that they should only wear skirts without taking context into consideration where it may even be fine or necessary for them to wear shorts and trousers as with some sports such as sprinting, jogging and football.

Not to mention some women may even wear trousers and shorts for practical reasons like providing more modesty by avoiding unnecessary panty shots so that has to be taken into consideration.

Daisy Lou

That’s the name Lola Bunny was going to have in the early stages of making Space Jam which also belonged to another character in 1948, as if Lola Bunny is practically Daisy Lou reborn. Bugs Bunny is no stranger to having been provided a variety of female counterparts over the years such as Lula Belle Bunny, Honey Bunny, Daisy Lou, Bertha Bunny and Bunnita. Actually if Lola Bunny was going to be called Daisy Lou, it should stand that Daisy Lou debuted in 1948 so it could be said that Daisy Lou’s the direct precursor to Lola Bunny.

So to speak it took like 48 years for a proper female counterpart to Bugs Bunny to show up, if Lola Bunny were to be directly descended from descended from Daisy Lou as evidenced by that she was going to be called by this name. She had other names like Lola Rabbit and a variation known as Lola Bunni when she had Bugs Bunny’s appearance, which at some point one of Bugs Bunny’s female counterparts looked just like him.

The fact that Bugs Bunny had a habit of crossdressing which’s why it took such a long time for a female counterpart to be a prolonged fixture in Looney Tunes, let alone within the Looney Tunes animated canon and that Lola Bunny was going to named after Daisy Lou makes her Daisy Lou reborn.

The strange thing

The strange thing about Lola Bunny’s that even though both she and the Nerdluck aliens were introduced in Space Jam it’s Lola who has more staying power as evidenced by her reappearances in various Looney Tunes media despite others declaring her to have no future. It turned out she did have one in the Looney Tunes franchise and brand, where after years of creating a female counterpart to Bugs Bunny they found one in her. There were predecessors to her such as Honey Bunny, Bunnita and the one female bunny with a speech impediment so there’s a good precedent for giving Bugs an overdue female counterpart.

While it could be said that there’s a precedent for associating basketball with Looney Tunes, the earliest of which are adverts featuring shoes and Michael Jordan and there’s a game called Looney Tunes B-Ball the Nerdlucks came out of nowhere and since it’s been confirmed they’re not going to appear in the sequel it’s Lola Bunny who has the most staying power of all the characters introduced in Space Jam. She pretty much filled in a niche with a good precedent of providing Bugs Bunny female counterparts and now is firmly part of the Looney Tunes world.

She would go on to make further appearances in other media and later Looney Tunes productions, whereas the Nerdlucks made only a few and possibly less than that. She’s the one with a bright future ahead despite what naysayers say about her, she’s the only Space Jam character so far with the most staying power which says a lot about what they can do about her in later appearances than they ever did with Swackhammer and the Nerdlucks. Somebody else on YouTube said many of the same things as I did, which again proves that Lola has more staying power than the Nerdlucks ever did.

While Michael Jordan’s the starring character of Space Jam, it’s Lola with the most staying power as confirmed by that Jordan’s not going to appear in the Space Jam sequel (that’s been filled in by LeBron James) and Lola’s going to make further appearances in Looney Tunes media.