Two Corporations Shouldn’t Own Superheroes.
If my social media feeds are to be believed, the independent comics world hates superheroes. Maybe “hate” is a strong word, but their opinion of superhero comics are equally strong. Most of the indie comics creators and publishers I hear from not only mock the tropes and traditions of superhero comics, but avoid the genre altogether. Many smaller publishers explicitly state in their submission guidelines: NO SUPERHEROES.
It’s easy to see why. Marvel and DC have flooded popular culture with superhero material. It’s all the rage these days. Superheroes are booming thanks to cinematic universes and long-running TV shows. There are tie-ins, cross-overs, licensed toys, and so on. It’s no wonder smaller publishers and creators, trying to make a name for themselves, step away from a genre that’s a multi-billion dollar industry, cornered by Warner Brothers and Disney. For all intents and purposes, superheroes are owned by these two corporations and it’s hard to compete with them, both financially and for the attention of audiences.
But then there’s me, whose dream has always been to make a superhero comic of my own. I started out in the indie/online comics world doing a fantasy story, but my roots are firmly in the superhero genre. I remember my dad bringing home a box of his coworker’s unwanted comic books, and I was fascinated. I was the kid who drew up his own superheroes in endless notebooks, dreaming that one day they would stand next to Superman and fight alongside him in the pursuit of truth and justice. The mythology of the superhero means a lot to me, and making STAR POWER is literally a dream come true.
Which makes the state of superheroes somewhat of a dilemma for me. On the one hand I love seeing the genre booming, with children and adults embracing the superpowered hero. On the other hand, as a smaller creator myself, it makes me sad that smaller publishers want nothing to do with superheroes. That people may see original superheroes as a cheap attempt to cash in on a booming trend. That the only way to really make your statement in a genre that you adore is to be hired by one of two mega-corporations who have the market cornered, and probably see you as disposable.
But I still believe superheroes are for everyone. That anyone who wants to make up their own superhero ought to do so and put them out there. That the mythology of the superhero is part of our collective imagination, not something to be branded and trademarked. That there’s more to the genre, from celebrating it to deconstructing it, than what’s allowed by two huge businesses and their committees.
The superhero belongs to all of us, no matter what anyone says.