In an interview posted today at Comic Book Resources, writer Mark Waid discussed his work on a variety of DC Comics titles.
When the recently relaunched Brave and the Bold team-up title came up, Waid had this to say about the second issue's steep decline in sales (from the interview):
Mark Waid:The moment all the reviews started coming in they all said, "It's fun." "It's fun." "It's fun." I started to sweat, because "fun" is a death word in comics these days.
Robert Taylor: If you kill off Hawkeye, people are going to hate it, but at least they are going to buy twenty of it.
MW: That's just it. "Fun, fun, fun" being our rap makes me worried. Sales were strong on the first issue, but the second issue drop-off was a little steeper than we'd predicted. And I honestly think that was because every reviewer said it was "fun."
"Fun" automatically kills off a lot of your sales. Don't get me wrong; the book's still a success in the current market, and no one at DC has expressed anything but enthusiasm. We certainly seem to have a hit on our hands, George and I. I just hope that the "fun" label doesn't hit us too hard. If so, it's just another sign that current readers don't want "fun" comics.
RT: You should have Blue Beetle raped by his armor or something.
Time out: Okay, does CBR have an editor? That line was wrong for all the obvious reasons, and never should have seen the light of day. Back to the interview.
MW: To my mind, "Brave and Bold" isn't "fun." It can be funny, but so could "Firefly" or "Buffy." Interweaving your drama and shock with humor doesn't lessen the drama and shock - it heightens it because it keeps the readers off-balance.
I'm not buying Mark Waid's "fun doesn't sell" explanation.
Sure, the darker-skewing stuff is as depressingly popular as ever, but to pin the sales drop on that is simply a cop-out. There are a number of titles that have been classified as "fun" that have also enjoyed huge success, such as Superman/Batman, Ultimate Spider-Man, She-Hulk and All-Star Superman. In fact, some of the biggest summer blockbuster films could also be considered "fun", in that they have that same balance of adventure, humor, drama and visual flash.
I maintain that there will always be a robust market for so-called "fun" comics, and it's disappointing that Mark Waid would be so embarrassed over the label. I would have thought Waid would be proud of Brave and the Bold's unique status as the rollicking "summer blockbuster" of comics, rather than bristling at it.
Ironically, later in the interview Waid complained that the message of Marvel's Civil War series seemed to be "give up your civil liberties and stop fighting for the things you believe in and everything will be fine." Well, Mark....looks like you stopped fighting for something I thought you believed in, since you've chosen to parrot the dreary mantra that "fun comics" don't sell.
My unsolicited advice?Waid and Perez should continue doing exactly what they're doing and stop second-guessing themselves. Guys, forget about trying to measure out the optimum levels of grit and angst and do what you do best to the best of your ability: tell great stories.
That's what fans really want.
Update: Rick at Bent Corner offers his own take on Waid's comments, reminding me that the first issue of Brave and Bold included a 1:10 variant cover, which will typically (and artificially) inflate an issue's sales. Yet another factor Waid overlooked in his knee-jerk "nobody likes fun books" assessment.