WI: Superhero comics Never Caught On

POD: 1939. Superman flops and comic book superhero brief window of fame ends with charges of being a bad influence on children or something.

How does media evolve with their failure?
 
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Well, you'd still have comic books, just the superhero genre might not take off. Something might come in to plug the gap, especially with World War II and some kind of entertainment being looked for. Just might take on a different form, but the medium of comic books themselves should still be around.
 
Well, you'd still have comic books, just the superhero genre might not take off. Something might come in to plug the gap, especially with World War II and some kind of entertainment being looked for. Just might take on a different form, but the medium of comic books themselves should still be around.
Changed the premise in response to this. Fascinating idea.
 
Changed the premise in response to this. Fascinating idea.

Tricky. I doubt that superheroes will never take off in some manner, but following on with that, we can look at the trends that comics had for a short term idea of what was going to happen. World War II would see a rise in comics about the conflict, full of brave soldiers fighting the Axis and so on. Afterwards, we saw an explosion of different comic genres that saw the backlash from the moral sorts. If we follow on that trend, a 'safe' genre will have to be chosen for comics to focus on afterwards. I imagine something like cowboys might be selected, but it sort of lacks the ability to make instantly recognisable characters like superheroes, so I can see the latter genre perhaps getting a resurgence of some kind.
 
Human nature craves legends of larger then life heroes to capture their imaginations. Gilgamesh, Hercules, Sampson, Achilles, and many others had super human abilities, and have legends that have lasted thousands of years. The superhero comics may have gone into steep decline post WWII, but they never died. Superman was must see TV for a generation of kids. Even adults complained that they wanted to see the movie serial Superman fly, but they had to wait till George Reeves flew over the Warner Brothers Studio. Batman, Captain Marvel, the Phantom, Zorro, and Tarzan all made it onto both the big, and little screen.

When I was a kid we all loved Batman, even though at 7 I knew it was campy. My father would watch with my brother, and me, and get a laugh out of it. I remember my dad shouting to my mother. "Hey mommy, get a load of the Catwoman." Yea, Julie Newmar was amazing. What young man doesn't remember Linda Carter, as Wonder Woman? Then we all believed a man could fly. We also had endless cartoons, with heroes of every description, who could fly, had super strength, super technology, and were all brave, and noble.

So even as the media of Comics have had low sales for generations, movies, TV, toys, and action figures were where the money was made. Someone may never have read the Justice League, but who never saw the Super friends? Most people know the X-Men from Cartoons, and movies, not from reading comics. When the Marvel Movies started most people had no idea who Ironman, or Thor were. So I think the movies, and TV would be where new super legends would be born.
 
I imagine something like cowboys might be selected, but it sort of lacks the ability to make instantly recognisable characters like superheroes, so I can see the latter genre perhaps getting a resurgence of some kind.
See the trend?
1606021343496.png

well known names, for starters.
Names gives you a head start over primary colored spandex.
Other thing, many western comics tied in with Radio Shows

Couldn't find a good list for the '50s, but here is comic sales in 1960
1606021775548.png

Lot of Capes in there, for 1960
 
I don't think you'll ever do away with the love for heroes, but if Batman takes off (Despite both being superheroes, Batman and Superman belong to different comic runs, Detective Comics and Action Comics respectively), then you still get heroes, just that they have to be more-or-less normal humans (though I imagine Batman and Ironman would still be okay).
 
See the trend?
View attachment 601474
well known names, for starters.
Names gives you a head start over primary colored spandex.
Other thing, many western comics tied in with Radio Shows

Ah, good point. Only knew of Lone Ranger as a big one on their own, but even that faded away in time. Whether or not cowboys can keep going into the 1960's remains to be seen, or if something will come and take them over is open, although I suspect the latter, especially with the growth of sci-fi.
 
See the trend?
View attachment 601474
well known names, for starters.
Names gives you a head start over primary colored spandex.
Other thing, many western comics tied in with Radio Shows

Couldn't find a good list for the '50s, but here is comic sales in 1960
View attachment 601475
Lot of Capes in there, for 1960

Amazing to think that Lois Lane was once the best selling female character in her own right and that Batman was once quite a distant second to Superman in popularity (and I say that as someone who prefers the Man of Steel to the Dark Knight.)
 
POD: 1939. Superman flops and comic book superhero brief window of fame ends with charges of being a bad influence on children or something.

How does media evolve with their failure?
Maybe detective stories and weird tales and Cowboy stories as comic books.
 
In the Dutch comicscene superhero comics basicly do not exsist. It is mostly influenced by the Franco-Belgian comics and Donald Duck, with some Dutch comics influenced by them.
Superheroes are limited basicly to movies and cartoons. The only one actualy reading superhero comics are basicly adults who read the American comics (in English), but they are far from mainstream. Kids do not grow up reading superhero comics, they read Asterix, Tintin or Donald Duck*.

I should not realy talk about other countries, but I am fairly certain the same is true at least for France and Belgium and I suspect several other European countries. I see no reason why a similar development could not happen in the USA. You just need a different direction in the comicbook world or tastes. There used to be plenty of other kinds of comics than superheroes. I see no reason why detectives (as in actual detectives), or spies, or whatever could not take the place of superheroes.


*Interestingly in the Netherlands Donald Duck is seen more as a comics character than a cartoon character and is far more popular than Mickey Mouse.
 
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