In 2015, comics are trying to stay contemporary as they can. As such, most of the material in most books (not all) isn't what I would consider to be for a general audience. I get the impression that most of them are being written for 16 year old guys. They are overtly just about every category you can come up with. And while that's ok for some, I find it a bit daunting to be in that mix.
I'm an old guy by comparison to the reader they're trying to reach. I look at these books and think they can do better. I'm not just talking about ignoring the younger reader, I'm talking about the older one also. Even older than me, gasp!
Now I'm about to do an "In my day" tirade. I'm grabbing my cane and sitting back in my favorite recliner and comfortable slippers. So beware.
My prime reading period was the 1980s. Those writers and artists had to contend with the comics code authority. Yes, it was created out of censorship, but it did establish a guideline that companies that wanted its mark on their covers had to go by.
Those creators had to step their game up to work within the authority. And before you roll your eyes at me saying how much freer things are today, might I remind you that the death of Jason Todd in "Death in the Family" had the authority mark on it? Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo were able to get that story across without too much trouble and I certainly didn't feel it was sanitized or watered down.
Most of what is considered classic during that time period had the mark on it. Batman Year One with Gordon's infidelity, Selina Kyle as a working gal, and so many wonderful stories were told with the mark on them. You honestly could give many books to MOST readers of just about any age and it didn't feel like something was missing.
What happened to that? I'm glad the code is gone mind you, considering how and why it was created. But it seems the anything goes mentality that has followed it, has certainly compartmentalized comics.
I think comics should have a large, diverse audience. There should be something for everyone. But I think the everybody area has been relegated to "All Ages". Or as translated by most companies, any one under 10.
That's not what it means.
In the mid 90s to the current market, All Ages meant books with animation art styles and simple one off stories. That's fine. But remember that Jim Starlin/Jim Aparo Batman example was my All Ages. It wasn't just for one audience. It was for any one who liked to read a Batman comic. What was wrong with that?
I've hesitated to use the term "All Ages" to describe the content MAN IN THE MASK contains due to not relegating it to only a certain readership. It's the same as me saying I'm only going for the over 40 crowd that remembers when comics were cool and less complicated. It's self defeating.
I want everyone to read it. I'm not purposely trying to water it's content down to fit a certain audience. It's just how I want the book represented. No politics, no harsh (the occasional, crap) language or overt adult situations doesn't make the book less something an adult would want to read. I don't write to avoid those themes, my book just doesn't need them. I can chose the degree of the themes MAN IN THE MASK visits. That's my right as a creator. Why would I want to cut off any potential reader just because I want to be "cutting edge?"
So if anyone asks, Mike W. Belcher's MAN IN THE MASK is for a general audience. It's for everybody. It can even be called All Ages if that means you'll read it and then pass it on to All ages.
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.