A market for marijuana

Believe it or not, there’s a market for legal marijuana in some places to the point where it manifests as edibles like gummies for instance. There are companies selling legal marijuana edibles such as Wana Brands which capitalise on that market. That’s not to say I condone marijuana, but the odd fact that there are states that legalise the use of marijuana and its consumption, sometimes in the form of sweets is something some companies take advantage of. The founder of Wana Brands has said that her company doesn’t use cartoon or cute characters to advertise their products as they’re not for children, though I think for some children there’s always the forbidden fruit.

When it comes to recreational drugs, tobacco might one of those examples that was always legal even though its health effects are well-known that boxes begin showing shocking images based around nicotine induced health problems and miscarriages. The culprits include Malboro and Newport, two of which likely have been in the cigarette and cigar business for a long time. Tobacco was once the subject of a controversy over its perceived hallucinogenic nature, which in some cases may ring true but since cigarette companies are legal they’d lose a big portion of their business if tobacco’s ever made illegal and practically why it took a long time for marijuana to be made legal in several states.

(For some reason, tobacco has remained a recreational drug far longer and more frequently than marijuana has been.)

Now that marijuana’s increasingly legal in some states and countries that there’s going to be a market for marijuana products.

If foxes came to the Philippines

As I said before, the impact would be devastating for native wildlife as it already happened in Australia. If people were to bring in foxes here to the Philippines and also to Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of Southeast Asia, it would essentially and practically continue the damage cats and dogs have been doing for years. Actually as foxes aren’t native to Southeast Asia and specifically the Philippines, it would be much worse as there never was a localised red fox population. As for Africa, there’s already a local red fox population in the Sahara but the presence of pet foxes would involve a lot of interbreeding and dilution of genes specific to native African red foxes.

In some countries like Ghana and Nigeria, they’d constitute a proper invasive species as they’re not native there. As I said before, there’s never much of a big local population of foxes in say the Philippines with dogs as the only canid and even then it’s imported so it does have the potential to be invasive and already is to some extent towards frogs and sea turtles based on what I’ve read and heard from experience. Consider this, the only native carnivorans in the Philippines are binturongs, leopard cats, otters, mongooses, civets and stink badgers. Thus domestic cats and dogs are exotic species, they’re not native there and do constitute an invasive species. The presence of foxes would be adding a third invasive carnivoran, albeit one treasured by people as a status symbol.

That’s pretty much the only way we’re ever getting foxes here to the Philippines and also to other African and Southeast Asian countries, they’re going to appear there as status symbols for people who want something new to flaunt. They’re going to tire of pedigree dogs and head straight for foxes, where the demand for foxes grows and more people breed and import foxes elsewhere to the Philippines and Africa. But they also pose ecological threats and their presence would devastate native wildlife. I suspect that in Africa, in most countries that would be adding another invasive canid if dogs aren’t bad enough.

People will rally against foxes but the defenders will always fight back. Red foxes would be bad for the Philippines and the rest of Africa, if dogs aren’t bad enough foxes would just exacerbate existing problems posed by dogs. It would be horrifying if more people imported foxes from say Russia and Australia, it wouldn’t be fun for native wildlife as it already happened in Australia.

Who would’ve known

When it comes to the Bible, it’s been said that all animals were originally plant eaters and that was before the Fall when death and animal suffering came. It would be shocking to realise that animals like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor and Deinonychus would’ve been plant-eaters, munching on leaves and fruits as much as sauropods wont to do. All animals will be plant eaters again in the future, if the Bible’s to be believed. That’s despite speculations of say rats evolving into predators that while it’s not far-fetched, it’s not what the Bible has said for some reason. But the idea that tyrannosaurs were plant-eaters especially before the fall of man (or rather the ancestors of man if Adam and Eve were primitive hominids) would be shocking to realise.

Prehistoric life before the fall would’ve been more sedate and harmonious with sauropods, theropods and triceratops eating plants together. Animals preying on each other only became a thing after the fall, that’s when death and animal suffering came into the picture as a consequence of sin. Nonetheless there’s hope for the return to plant-eating as the lion will eat hay like an ox. The fall will be reversed by Jesus’s revival and recreation of Earth that while we could eat meat from something similar without the animal being killed (according to EPM), the idea that meat-eaters were once plant-eaters is interesting and makes sense in the context of how sin and death went hand in hand in ruining the Garden of Eden that’s when predation became a thing.

The perils of pet foxes

I think if people were to introduce pet foxes to say Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, they’d easily constitute a new invasive species especially when they start wrecking havoc on native wildlife. You might say that red foxes do exist in Africa, especially in Northern Africa but why are dogs considered an invasive species when they are domesticated versions of wolves? To start with, if dogs are first domesticated in say Mongolia and China they wouldn’t be native to say Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa especially if they came about through trade and immigration. They’re proven to be detrimental to wildlife not just through predation but also by transmitting diseases and mating with wild canids to the point of diluting their gene pools that’s what makes them an invasive species.

Dogs might be a proper invasive species in Africa and Southeast Asia as wolves aren’t native there, so goes their impact on wild animals such as different macaque species and monitor lizards. (If African dogs did come from Middle Eastern wolves, that would only prove my point that they’re currently the only canid not native to Africa and is invasive towards Ethiopian wolves, Barbary macaques and vervet monkeys.) Including pet foxes in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia would be no different, in fact it would be adding another invasive canid if dogs aren’t bad enough for native animals. Consider this, native red foxes will have their gene pools diluted if they ever mate with introduced pet foxes and if it were a country like Ghana and Nigeria they’d be a proper invasive species as they’re not native there.

Red foxes are already an invasive species in Australia, which’s a good idea of what would happen if people were to import red foxes to countries like Ghana and Nigeria. They wreck havoc on native wildlife through disease and predation that some are endangered and some are extinct. The importation of pet foxes would differ from the spread of cats and dogs to Asia, Europe and Africa (or should I say Eurasia and Africa) in that whereas cats and dogs are brought in for practical reasons such as hunting and guarding, pet foxes would be brought in as a status symbol for those who can afford to have these animals regardless of their ability to become an invasive species.

If that happens, we can see a spike in middle class and upper class people owning pet foxes because it’s in and cool to have, just like what happened to raccoons in Japan if it weren’t for an anime cartoon introducing them there. Pet foxes would emerge as a status symbol among some people, even if it’s an invasive one at that.

Insular world

Until recently and for a time in superhero comics (so far), you have superhero comics written by those who weren’t superhero fans whether if they’re newcomers or pioneers. Eventually they’d be written by superhero fans, which made superhero comics more insular in the sense of being not only obsessed with continuity but also obscure data and in-jokes that only fans would get. You should hang out in fan communities to get a better idea of this, where with regards to the Pugad Baboy comic strip (which stars fat people and is authored by cartoonist Pol Medina Jr) fans would put in frog posts referencing that one of the characters is afraid of frogs. That’s something only Pugad Baboy fans will get.

One of the pitfalls of fan-pandering’s the risk of alienating a wider audience, that’s if they’re not necessarily interested in things diehard fans are into. Arrow had a million viewers but only a handful were into either Felicity Smoak or the Green Arrow comics, which means that if they pander to either one of them that results in losing some viewers in the long run (which eventually happened anyways) and they chose the former and angered some Green Arrow fans. Not to mention, there was somebody who said that Felicity Smoak was an easy audience surrogate for certain women that explains why there’s a dearth of stories pairing Oliver Queen with an original character.

Fan pandering can ruin things for a wider audience, especially if they’re not too beholden to fan culture and why it can alienate newer readers and audiences alike.

Fans turned professionals in comics

This wasn’t the case before when comics professionals of the 1930s up to the 1960s and still isn’t to some extent when it comes to Gabby Rivera having a noncomics background. The influx of superhero fans writing comics happened sometime between the 1960s and 1970s especially when Roy Thomas and Jim Shooter came to power doing things like Avengers and Legion of Superheroes for instance. Not to mention the growing rise of characters who are fans of superheroes themselves such as Barry Allen clearly showed a growing tendency to pander to these readers.

Somebody on Ganriki said the same thing about anime where he said that anime before didn’t pander hard to an otaku audience and now it does for most of the part, especially when it comes to the presence of otaku characters in anime. There’s room for anime that don’t appeal to a narrow audience but given most anime these days air late at night when most people are sleep or have something else to do that they end up targeting the otaku more instead. That’s probably the same thing with superhero comics where until recently they end up targeting a narrow audience that this also extends to superhero television programmes to some extent.

Programmes and comics that tend to have wide appeal usually don’t have fannish characters, where the characters presented in these stories are proper everypeople. They may not always be nerds, much less nerdy fans but they’re just as relatable. Superhero comics and anime these days tend to have these fannish surrogate characters where they live in the worlds they inhabit as much as they appeal to their audiences who’re as fannish as they are. It also helps or rather hurts that the writers behind these stories are also fannish that it feels like what Gary Groth said as a form of incest or inbreeding. For a handful of comics writers with a non comics background such as Jamie Delano and Gabby Rivera, there are several more fans turned writers doing these kinds of stories that it does feel like inbreeding.

It may not always be the case but I think the influx of fans turned professionals did hurt superhero comics’ ability to pander to people other than themselves in terms of marketing that while it may not always be true for non-fannish writers except that they have the potential to appeal to anybody else that we need more of them more than ever when it comes to reaching out to a wider readership.

Noncomics writers doing comics

That was the case before for many comics and many superhero comics in particular from the 1930s up to the 1960s but that was when it was a new medium and for superheroes, a new genre so it attracted pioneers as they were most likely fans of other things. Recently, we have a growing number of non-comics fans doing comic books such as Gabby Rivera doing Marvel’s America Chavez that it’s a good thing to have a more outside perspective when it comes to writing or at least having more experience and interest in other things that leads to something more interesting than if it were made by a lifelong fan.

With lifelong fans you get something of a fanfiction sensibility in the sense of wanting to write stories for one’s favourite programme or comic book that they bring in a lot of their headcanons to the stories they end up writing for. It’s glorified fanfiction in a sense and in a way a nonfan writer would hardly be at the very least. With fan writers there’s the risk of stylistic and narrative inbreeding, especially if the stories become really fannish and not at all appealing to people other than themselves. While there are people accusing of Marvel pandering to the SJWs when it hired nonfan writers, it did the right thing in a way when it comes to reaching out talent in unexpected places.

Especially when you have them learning the ropes and hows of characters they’re working on that it’s all new and fresh territory for them, rather than fannish familiarity with the source material and the desire to work on it. Familiarity doesn’t just breed contempt, it also breeds obsession and narrowmindedness for some writers. That’s where nonfan writers score, they bring in something genuinely new and different to the source material in a way a fan wouldn’t because of how new and green they are to the stories they’re working on.

They have a quality of greenness fan writers lack, green and new towards the source material and willing to learn and try things out on their own. It’s not that fan writers can’t do anything radical and different to a story, though I think the quality fan writers have is a greater deal of fannish passion for the things they grew up on whereas with nonfan writers, they could’ve grown up with something else instead and this gets reflected in the way they write stories. A nonfan writer has the quality of approaching the source material in a way a fan writer wouldn’t, an air of greenness a fan doesn’t have.

Nonfan writers could be fans of something else, Gabby Rivera might probably be a fan of children’s literature growing up just as Stan Lee was a fan of pulp fiction and it shows in their sensibilities though I’ve yet to read their works. Jack Kirby could’ve been a baseball fan, though that’s an unfounded guess but even then that’s telling when it comes to the differences between those who barely grew up with the source material at the very least and those who did. It’s not that fan writers are any less creative, but they’re not as green as nonfan writers are.

Nonfan writers were the norm in superhero comics and the trend’s reversing itself to some extent if Rivera’s any indication, though the habit of hiring superhero fans as writers has made superhero comics very entrenched in fannishness that it’s insular to anybody else who isn’t a big fan. This even resulted in characters who are fans themselves, which reeks of pandering to a narrow audience. This fannishness drove away nonfans and possibly why Arrow’s ratings have declined significantly.

It’s not that fans can’t bring anything new to whatever story they write for, but nonfan writers have an air of novelty and greenness that refreshes a story in a way fannishness doesn’t.

Two of my favourite comic strips

Peanuts is a comic strip that I grew up reading along with Calvin and Hobbes, where with the former it’s about the day to day lives of children who act like old people (as what my late mum said) with the dog being the only character that acts like a child. Calvin and Hobbes is about an imaginative boy and his tiger. Peanuts is one of those comic strips that’s not only really popular but also spawn a lot of merchandise where it ranges from t-shirts (I have one upstairs) to toys (including soft toys such as the ones involving Snoopy) and books such as the Charlie Brown Cyclopedia. The author Charles Schulz earned more than a million later on in life, due to the immense popularity of the Peanuts cartoons.

The Peanuts brand has spawned several animated specials and a handful of theatrical movies, the latest one being The Peanuts Movie. Peanuts Worldwide is the company that handles the Peanuts brand, which is owned by DHX Media, Sony Japan and the heirs of Charles Schulz. The only comic strip comparable to this would be Garfield which was owned by Paws Inc before getting bought by Viacom. Calvin and Hobbes did spawn merchandise, though not to the level Peanuts and Garfield enjoyed because Bill Watterson felt that the cartoon should speak for itself and it shows. Though I also think the presence of a Hobbes toy would’ve ruined the ambiguity whether if Hobbes was real or not.

I discovered Calvin and Hobbes while I was in my early teens whereas Peanuts was a fixture of my childhood and preteen years. I did think of a Calvin and Hobbes riff where it features a boy and his dog but that would’ve been too common (there are only a handful of comic strips featuring cats). Admittedly Peanuts and Garfield are influential in what I want my comic strip to be in the sense of spawning a lot of merchandise enough to make me live comfortably. But Calvin and Hobbes does have its merits where it never became subjected to tacky merchandise, as what others pointed out.

And that the Calvin and Hobbes books have sold well enough for Watterson to live comfortably, though he’s now doing something else instead. I still like Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes, though I think the former’s a bigger influence on the way I draw character and my desire for merchandising and licencing. But I respect Watterson enough that he’s got a point when it comes to overcommercialisation of comic strips.

What is mainstream again?

When it comes to comic books, there’s a tendency to conflate the ones sold in comic shops with what’s mainstream, even though these kinds of comics aren’t mainstream in a long while. Some like Jed Alexander define mainstream in the sense of being sold in bookstores and I would also go by this definition as well. I would say that newspaper comic strips are more mainstream than superhero comics in the sense of having a much wider distribution where newspapers can be found online and in newstands whereas superhero comics, until recently, are usually sold in comic shops. This limits the latter’s distribution and capacity to be read by a wider audience.

This also extends to compilations where comic strip trade paperbacks are more likely to appear in bookstores (and sometimes groceries) and sold at lower prices than the ones for superhero comics speaking from personal experience. This isn’t always the case but I think comic strips still have a big advantage over most superhero comics when it comes to distribution and accessibility. So they’re more mainstream than Batman and Superman will ever be, likewise this extends to television viewership where The Voice has more viewers than The Flash does. The only difference’s that viewers know The Flash will never be as mainstream as The Voice is, whereas comic book readers think Superman and Batman are mainstream even though their sales pale in comparison to say Dog Man and Smile.

What makes superhero comics less mainstream than comic strips also has to do with a lot of fan pandering where if you pander hard to a narrow audience you drive away others as what happened to Arrow before. While there are others who bristle at this, it didn’t help that Arrow’s ratings declined significantly that this holds water. If Peanuts did something similar, its readership will decline and Peanuts has a wider audience than Arrow does. So in a sense what sells to the masses will always be more mainstream than something that appeals to a rarefied audience. By this regard, Dog Man is more mainstream than most Marvel comics are. Same with Garfield, Peanuts and other comic strips because they target a wider audience than what most Marvel comics are used to.

Cult things

I still admit being of the opinion that most superhero media tends to attract a cult following in the sense that not only are many superheroes semi-obscure they also don’t attract big audiences unless if it’s a movie or comic strip. Actually very few people read superhero comics, according to a survey only 6% of US adults read comic books and especially superhero comics so the number of superhero readers is small. Garfield, Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes have a bigger circulation, selling in the millions and are read by many more people so they have more casual readers at that. The only superhero long-running superhero comic strip to have a wide audience is Spider-Man, which says a lot about what’s actually popular in the funnies.

When it comes to telly ratings, arguably outside of superhero cartoons (most of which are aimed at children) superhero programmes tend to attract a cult audience so their ratings aren’t going to be high and some only attract a hundred thousand plus later on. The number of people who watch The Flash and Arrow is smaller than the number of people who watch The Voice and The View. Likewise the number of people who read The Flash and Green Arrow’s smaller than the number of people who’ve read Peanuts, Cathy and Garfield. Most superhero media is cult media in this regard, it doesn’t have a wide audience despite being shown a lot in merchandise and they’re practically cult brands as they’re only beloved by a select few.

Especially when compared to brands with real mass appeal such as Peanuts and Garfield. Not to mention, DC and Marvel (until recently) have come to pander to a cult audience. Lately they’re trying to pander to a wider audience but when you’re so used to pandering to a cult audience that it’s going to be an uphill battle appealing to more people. While not all comic strips are as massively popular as Peanuts and Garfield are, they still have a wider audience than most superhero comics do by the virtue of being published in a more mainstream medium: usually newspapers but also websites like GoComics. They also sell in the millions, which makes them very accessible to a casual readership.

I have a nagging feeling why Arrowverse programmes and superhero comics have declining audience numbers has to do with the nature of pandering: if you pander real hard to a minority you risk losing a larger audience. This is the fate that befell superhero comics, which are now trying to undo this. If there’s an Arrowverse programme that pandered real hard to a certain audience it would be Arrow where they ended up pandering to Olicity fans or people who ship Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak. While there are others who bristled at this, this isn’t helped by Arrow’s declining viewership rates so there’s truth to the idea that Arrow people are pandering to Olicity fans.

It’s like if Peanuts decided to pander to a subset of the readership that wants Charlie Brown paired up with Linus, there are some people who think that way but that would be sacrificing the wider readership at the expense of placating a minority which’s off-putting to other readers. There are readers who aren’t interested in a ship between Charlie Brown and Linus, which’s the situation Arrow’s at. There has to be a reason why Arrow’s viewership was declining and it’s not what Olicity fans think it is. This pandering’s also why superhero readership rates have declined, if you pander too hard to a certain subset of the readership you lose more readers.

This is one of the reasons why superhero media tends to attract a cult following, that if you pander hard to a small but devoted audience it’s off-putting to a lot of other people this way.