And not before time, it seems! Because, according to Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway:
BOOMERS DESTROYED COMICS!
Here’s his twitter thread where he sets out his case.
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve felt the same way for decades but used to keep my mouth shut because my views were way out of step with the prevailing fashions at the time. My stories have always been seditious yet always aimed at all ages. But I had to adapt to the British version of the ‘adult’ comic paradigm Gerry Conway describes or face the scrap heap. I had Gerry Finley-Day’s fate as an example of what could happen as various writer predators descended on his fantastic body of work and gave it a ‘cool make-over’ with all-too-often forgettable results. Because, heretical as it still is to tell the truth, the regular readers loved – and still love – Gerry, even if purist fans and editors feel differently. I can still remember the exact moment – in the middle of writing Slaine The King – when I said to myself, ‘I’m going to have to change my writing style or I’ll end up like Gerry.’
But I’m still going to keep many of my controversial views to myself about that era, because I don’t want a shower of sh*t coming down on my head along the lines of ‘How dare you say these blasphemous things about Comic Gods X, Y or Z’. And it’s not actually the fault of any particular Comic God because we all have to follow our own muse. So good luck to them. It’s actually because 2000AD 1980s idiotors were too seduced by adult fandom to see the long-term consequences of what happens when they ignore younger readers. Namely a bitter harvest in the 1990s when 2000AD’s readership dropped like a stone. As one of many readers wrote to me and said, ‘I stopped buying 2000AD in my late teens because I realized I just wasn’t cool enough for it.’ That still makes my blood boil.
SPACEWARP is my response: a comic for ALL ages. It’s in the tradition of early 2000AD before it became too cool for its own good. As its creator, I’m glad it’s got its mojo back today, although it’s still – understandably – dominated by older readers because the younger ones just aren’t attracted to it in the way they once were.
SPACEWARP is like starting again without the great legacy, but without also the baggage of the past, which a ‘jump on’ issue doesn’t really address. Because so many of you have asked for a comic with the sparkle, the humour and the outrageousness of the early 2000AD. Judging by this review from pipedreamcomics.com, and others like it, we’ve got it right.
It’s why I ran a competition for SPACEWARP reviews from readers 17 and UNDER. Because I wanted to know how younger readers feel about it. The three winners’ comments were positive, insightful but will keep me on my toes – with one sixteen-year-old, Paris, saying that she didn’t like the artwork on one story because it felt a bit confusing ‘like her dad’s old comics’. Ouch! I think we all know that kind of story, often a treasured collector’s edition, but not actually accessible to teenagers.
Perhaps I’m being a little paranoid, but normally when I talk about SPACEWARP on social media we get a load of engagements. Maybe the algorithms were having an off day, but we noticed there was, surprisingly, little engagement on our posts about younger readers’ reviews. I suspect it would be different if they had been reviews by forty-year old established fans.
Anyway, that’s my challenge for the New Year – to reach that youth audience that’s been largely lost to comics. It’s gonna be a steep learning curve but I’ve got a range of new and different marketing techniques and contacts to explore. It’s something I’m driven to do, because that youth market is the future of comics.
So SPACEWARP is about reversing that publishing self-inflicted wound, the decline in comics that Gerry Conway describes so chillingly. Our paper edition is out end of this month via Get My Comics (pre-order now) and on Amazon (no pre-order, but out soon).
Check us out and you’ll see why the reviewers love SPACEWARP. Because audiences don’t actually change that much over the generations – the principles for stories and art are always roughly the same and they’re burnt into my skull. They simply require a new spin and a lot of love for comics to work for a new generation. So let’s not endlessly look back on a Golden Age of British comics that was decades ago… the Golden Age of comics is also right here. Right now. Today.
It’s called SPACEWARP.