View Full Version : Topic: NEWSARAMA ASKS: 80's Nostalgia?

22nd June 2002, 04:16 PM
Though Diamond has yet to release or confirm their July sales charts, it appears when they are released sometime later this month, Dreamwave’s Transformers: Armada #1, Transformers #4 and Top Cow’s Battle of the Planets #1 will occupy the top 3 positions on the July 2002 pre-order sales chart, respectively.
Add to that the debut of Micronauts this month, Thundercats in August, a new G.I. Joe monthly series in the fall and the promise of He-Man and more licensed comics to come, the 70s-80s animated/toyline revival/nostalgia licensing craze – or however you want to describe it – is in full effect.

In the past, Newsarama has solicited the opinions of high-profile industry pros for their takes on trends and major developments affecting the industry, so we thought now might be a opportune time to ask what some creators and editors thought of this one…

We asked too basic questions - 1.) Being that the traditionally most popular books in the industry are based on 40-60 year old characters themselves, is it fair and accurate to label/categorize Transformers, G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Thundercats et. al. as "nostalgia”? And more broadly, 2.) What are the pros thoughts on this phenomenon? Good or bad? Either creatively, from a market standpoint, or both?

Here are some of the responses we received:

DARICK ROBERTSON – artist, Transmetropolitan, upcoming Deathlok: Detour:

1.) “Absolutely. It's what keeps the X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman selling as well, considering that they are nostalgic and simultaneously current. There's inevitably a healthy dose of nostalgia in anything that's still going after 60 years.”

2.) “With those properties, nostalgia is a great creative inspiration. Artists have their own ideas and affections for those characters and most of those old shows were so half-baked there's nowhere to go but up with a passionate creative team. I can't wait to read J. Scott Campbell's Thundercats, personally.

“I think the trick here is that we need to be aware that it's the rider, not the pony that's drawing sales. If Marvel, Image, DC or Wildstorm gets the idea that any ol' bad 80's toy property with any ol' bad creative team will sell, you'll watch the movement die a quick death (We don't need to see Strawberry Shortcake or Pac Man again?)

"The tendency with these surges is to miss the point as to why they're working and the Golden Goose is killed. I would say, if anyone is listening, that if there's only five or six golden 80's Nostalgia eggs to be had, let's be happy with that, recognize when the trend is dying before it dies, and stay focused on what makes comics sell in the first place: good ideas, well written and well drawn with heart and a point.”

JOHN CASSADAY – artist, Captain America, Planetary:

“The curiosity factor is key and big debuts are a given. I grew up with these properties and have a soft spot for them like a lot of the audience. But, as with a lot of properties, I fear that in some cases, quality will be less important to the publishers than the few initial months of good sales. I hope that's not the case, I'd love to see G.I. Joe and Battle Of The Planets on the shelves and doing well. I'd get to remain a kid for that much more of my life.”

JIMMY PALMIOTTI – writer 21 Down, The Resistance, Beautiful Killer; inker, too many titles to name:

1.) “Yes and no. I think it is a lack of anything really interesting and new in the top 20 spots and all the readers stuck on autopilot with their buying habits. The most interesting comics being produced are the alternative and creator-owned bunch and unfortunately these books cannot afford the PR and ad money to push them up the food chain that is the top 100 books.

“As far as The Transformers and such, I just think its the next wave of baby boomers and such trying to recapture their childhood. I love that these books are shaking up things, and hope they can keep their positions as well, but that will only happen if the quality is there.

“80's nostalgia? Yes, and comics aren't the only ones getting hit with it...check out every other commercial on TV and the background music is all 80's. Again, just the next wave of baby boomers.”

2.) “It’s always good to break things up in any business...especially when the bigger companies are getting way too full of themselves and thinking anything they put their name on will sell. Things like this make people stop and reexamine their audience, and in the long run, may help fine-tune their own product to what their true audience is looking for. These books wouldn't be hits unless the audience wanted them. It’s common sense.

"This also means that a lot of people are going to start mining anything that smells like these titles and after all the smoke clears, we will see what stays around. The next phase will be 90's nostalgia...oh boy!”

BRYAN HITCH, artist The Ultimates:

“I suppose it seems like an example of the adage ‘No new ideas, only new ways to look at them’.

"This certainly seems to be the current zeitgeist. Smallville, Enterprise, The Ultimate Universe, all seem to be a kind of forward thinking ‘nostalgia’. Go back to the beginning and find the core of the original whilst being very modern, very today.”

JOE QUESADA, Editor-in-Chief, Marvel Comics:

1.) “Oh sure, you're talking about two very different things.

“I don't know if 60 Minutes is still the highest rated TV news program or if Time Magazine is still the largest selling news magazine but they certainly were for a long time and probably still are. The reason is not nostalgia, it's that they are the most popular in their genres or mediums.

“Sure every once in a while Life Magazine will print a retro special and TV may show another tribute to I Love Lucy that might do better, but I think the distinction between the two is very plain to see. What would keep these books from being just nostalgia would be staying power. Can they sustain what they have started or will they go the way of the ‘Bad Girl’ phase?”

2.) “I'm happy for the publishers involved, especially if they worked out deals that allowed them to see a decent amount of change. You never know with licensing deals, every one is different.

“My only concern is with the quality of the product. To be 100% honest, I haven't seen any of these books. It's nothing personal at all, I've just been so busy that I haven't gotten out to the comic shops. But my hope is that if there are that many copies of these books out there, that if there really are that many readers eager to get these books, then I would have to assume that their might be some new readers in the bunch. That's great! But only if the quality of the stories and art are at their absolute best because if they're not, then we've lost those potential readers that we could be luring in with these licensed comics.

“I can't tell you how many people tell me that they got hooked on comics by Marvel's old G.I. Joe series. I believe the reason for that is that those books had a built in audience with the characters and the TV show, and the books were fun to read.”

KURT BUSIEK, writer The Power Company, Astro City:

1.) “I'd say it depends on why they're selling. If Untold Tales of Spider-Man, JLA Year One and a few other Silver Age titles were all markedly popular at the same time, to the exclusion of other series, then it'd be fair to call that Silver Age nostalgia. If they were popular as a general wave of early-history tales being popular regardless of the era they looked back on, not so much.

"At this point, it looks like they're either 80s nostalgia or cartoon nostalgia or both. Not that that's good or bad, it just is...”

2.) “I haven't read enough of the books involved - any of the books involved, come to that - to have an opinion on them creatively. Those were books (and cartoons) that I didn't have a whole lot of interest in when they were coming out the first time, and I haven't sampled the revivals.

"But in general, I'm always in favor of comics that sell lots of copies, and also in favor of the diversity in having cartoon-based adventure comics selling alongside the superhero comics. I'd be even happier if there were other genres doing as well, too, but anything that gets readers excited and keeps retailers in the black is a positive thing.

“I don't know if we're seeing a lot of new readers buying these - if we are, that's even better. If not, well, at least it's keeping a lot of existing readers happy. And it seems to be the basis for smaller and newer publishers to get a good solid foundation, and that's great, too.

"Just remember, if Marine Boy or Starvengers gets revived, it's my turn...”

ED BRUBAKER - writer, Batman Catwoman, Point Blank:

1.) “I guess it's 70s/80s nostalgia, really, since Transformers are mid to late 70s. I guess ROM Spaceknight should be next, right? I'm not sure if it's right to call it nostalgia for a specific time period, though, as much as it's nostalgia for licensed comics based on toys or animated cartoons.”

2.) “I think it's kind of sad, really, and shows how limited the market really is. There are plenty of good, intelligent, exciting comics - and I'm just talking about in the mainstream, not alternative comics - coming out right now, and they barely make a dent on the sales charts.

“People, for some reason, don't give anything new or creator-owned much of a chance in comics, I don't know whether it's that retailers don't order them, or customers don't buy them, but for some reason a lot of good stuff just fails to hit.

"If TV were comics, shows like Buffy, the West Wing, and Alias would have all sold terribly and lasted about 12 issues, being completely overshadowed by Rockford Files 2000 and All in the Family: The Next Generation.

”That said, I can hardly blame retailers for ordering huge quantities of books they think they can sell, but I wonder about the sell-through and how long the fad will last. It's a boom right now, and hopefully all the retailers that are still around know that means there will be a bust coming soon, too. That's the problem with fads and booms, we always end up losing some stores during the busts, thanks to the direct market.

"I just hope if this fad is bringing new faces into comics stores, that the staff of these stores is trying to turn these new readers onto some of the cooler non-nostalgia books that are coming out now, too.”

FRANK CHO, creator Liberty Meadows:

“I think it's all good. Anything that brings people into the stores is a good thing...Nay, it's a great thing in today's market. I also think creatively, it's relatively good.

“First of all there's nothing new under the sun. Pretty much all stories are just different variations of old stories - good versus evil, love and war, going against authority, searching for god, growing up poor or rich, trying to figure out your place in the world, etc. That being said, I kind of like reading new adventures of an old established character(s) that you grew up with from a fan perspective.

“How many times when you were a kid thought, "Man, why didn't He-Man just killed Skeletor or vice versa. Or why didn't Destro just take over the Cobra organization instead of taking orders from that nancy boy Cobra Commander?" Now, as an adult comic professional, these once young fans are writing stories and adventures that they wanted to see as a kid of their favorite characters. To me, that's a good thing.”