I’m getting ready to head for Cambodia for two weeks. Tonight I leave for the Long Beach peninsula in Washington state. Sunday morning I’ll run my annual 10K over the Astoria bridge, from the Dismal Nitch (just down the highway from Cape Disappointment) on the Washington side into Astoria, Oregon. Then I’ll head back to Portland and fly to Phnom Penh Sunday night. A note to wouldbe burglars: Don’t bother trying to break into our house. Our roommate will still be here.
I wrote about the Hippocratic License, a software license that forbids use by “Individuals, corporations, governments, or other groups for systems or activities that actively and knowingly endanger, harm, or otherwise threaten the physical, mental, economic, or general well-being of individuals or groups in violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” It’s kicked up quite a controversy in the open source community.
I also wrote a bit about people who live code on Twitch, the Amazon-owned platform best known for people live streaming themselves playing video games.
Monday I’ll have a story up on how the energy sector is starting to use open source.
For decades, creators and publishers have thought that the key to attracting a larger, more mainstream audience for comic books was creating books in a variety of non-superhero genres, from memoir to space opera. But years, decades even, since titles ranging from Maus to Love and Rockets to American Splendor to Stray Bullets to Blue is the Warmest Color to Saga to Persopolis to Transmetropolitan to Black Hole have proven the merit and versatility of comics as a medium, the comics market has remained stubbornly niche. Film adaptations like Ghost World, Road to Perdition, and A History of Violence have done little to change that.
But the public’s relatively recent obsession with superhero movies and television shows reveals that superheroes were never the problem. It turns out everyone loves superheroes, regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender identity. They just want to watch them on-screen, not read about them in comics.
Perhaps it’s something about the medium itself. I’ve met people who are perfectly aware of the diversity of different types of comics stories and who see value in the visual art of comics yet still don’t like reading them for some reason. They like novels, they like movies, they like video games, but comics just don’t do anything for them.
While the industry was busy trying to prove that its wares were for grown-ups, it ended up neglecting kids for many years. That was somewhat understandable. Kids comics didn’t sell well in the 90s, with the exception of Bone (Bone bucked just about every trend in the 90s) and maybe the Batman: The Animated Series related titles. But instead of trying to figure out why younger kids didn’t buy comics, the big publishers doubled down on extracting as much money as possible from the aging man-babies that still bought comics.
That’s finally changed, thanks in large part to mainstream book publishers (though DC is definitely on the bandwagon) and perhaps cultural shifts (even as recently as the 90s the idea that ‘comics rot your brain’ was prevalent. Now parents are so desperate to get their kids to do anything other than play video games or do whatever it is kids do on Snapchat that they’re delighted to see their kids reading comics). Of the 20 best selling graphic novels of 2018, 19 were kids comics.
Mind you, I’ll not complaining. The top selling fiction books overall are for kids as well, so you’d kind of expect comics to reflect that. In fact, the Dog Man and Cat Kid graphic novel was the sixth best selling book overall last year. Comics are mainstream again. As long as you’re a kid. Let’s hope this generation of comics fans keeps buying comics into adulthood.
OK, that’s it from me for now. I’ll check in when I get back from Cambodia. I’m not sure what my data situation will be like, but I’ll probably post some photos to Instagram during the trip so you can keep an eye out there if you want.