I got the link from Newsarama who in turn got it from his new blog, but Bill Willingham had this to say about superhero stories. I don’t quite know how I feel about it. I do agree with some of his points, mostly about how characters that have heroic ideals shouldn’t drop them just because a writer doesn’t like them. But on the same token, I question if he phrased his points as well as he could.
I don’t think comics should remain an immature media. One of my biggest problems with Robert Kirkman’s manifesto was his ideas that company-owned comics should be inherently less mature than creator-owned titles. I don’t think they have to be, though I also think that neither of the Big Two actually make an effort to produce much for younger readers in their own mainstream universes. Young reader lines are great, and honestly produce some of their best material, but they don’t involve young readers with the love of comics I think they could. But the current fan base wants their more mature fare, and obviously they want it as given.
That doesn’t really explain the popularity of older material though... Much like professional wrestling, it is the classic fare that really draws fan interest. You may have to make your way a little ways down the list of the top 100 graphic novels to find them, but I guarantee you will find a lot of Showcase, Essential, and full color reprints of comics from the 60’s through the 80’s. So are we looking at two very different markets or are comic fans just very confused? I honestly don’t know. I do know that I am frequently bothered by the violent events in DC books and often question the reasonableness of Marvel’s storytelling. But I usually buy Marvel and DC books in trade, well after I know whether it will be to my liking or not.
I would like to have more titles to give to my 9 year old daughter though, and I don’t feel I have a lot to offer. (She does regularly read Billy Batson & the Magic of Shazam and Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade but that is about it.) So strong moral fiber is definitely an ideal I get. One of my upcoming books, I hope to play with that kind of character. And I think Living Legends treads a bit of the same ground as Mr. Willingham is questioning. But at the same time I don’t feel a need to throw out the more adult themes of some of my work.
So I think there is room for both. I just wish we could find a more clear delineation of both. And by any circumstance, I am quite a bit more interested in seeing Willingham’s upcoming run on Justice Society of America.