Stan’s Soapbox – Marvel Age #131 (December 1993)

Hi, Heroes!

There’s a problem that’s been plaguing us! Since we always share the good things with you, we might as well let you in on some of the vexing stuff, as well. So here it is, in a nutshell…

Years ago, when Marvel was just getting started (you might say it was when Mighty Marvel was merely Semi-Strong Marvel, or perhaps Mini-Mighty Marvel) – anyway, way back in those very early days of comics, most comicbook readers were very young kids.

(Now, hang in there, O’Puzzled Pilgrim; I promise this isn’t gonna turn into a hand-me-down history lesson!)

Fact is, your ol’ bullpen buddies decided, lo’ those many years ago, that we wanted to expand our audience; we wanted to write more intelligent stories, more gripping tales of real, three-dimensional heroes and villains, sagas that older readers would appreciate and enjoy. “Why,” we questioned, “did comics just have to be for little kids?” After all, everybody, no matter what age, loves to look at exciting drawings and to read fantastic, imaginative, bigger-than-life adventure stories.

That’s when the problem started!

Beginning with the now-legendary origin issue of the FANTASTIC FOUR, we endeavored to create comics that would appeal to readers of all ages. We elected to toss a college-level vocabulary at you and to offer stories containing satire, human interest, realistic characterization, and intriguing subplots, elements that are essential ingredients of most forms of good literature. Most importantly, we strove for stories of such imaginative daring that their premises would exceed anything you’d ever read in any other form of science fiction or fantasy.

Well, as you know, we succeeded far beyond our original expectations. Today, Marvel is known, read, and respected by countless well-educated, adult fans of imaginative fiction and art throughout the world. In fact, primarily due to our groundbreaking efforts, comic books today are one of the fastest growing segments of the cultural explosion.

I can almost hear you mumbling, “So what’s the problem?” Glad you asked!

The problem is, since we’ve been specializing in action-packed super hero sagas for the past few decades, our primary audience now seems to be teenage and older males. Therefore, we suddenly find ourselves faced with a disquieting thought – has Mighty Marvel been neglecting the pre-teens and the females among the reading public?

Sure, our original intention was a noble one. We wanted to make comics the entertainment choice for the entire cultural spectrum of readers. But have we been trying too hard? Have we forgotten the very ones for whom comics were originally intended? Have we been editing our stories in such a way as to make them less accessible to very young boys and perhaps too blatantly machismo for female readers?

Now that the problem is out in the open, here’s what we’ve decided to do about it. We’re going to make every effort to broaden our base of readership. For the fairer sex, we’ll be featuring more female characters, both heroes and villains. And, for the younger girls, we’ll attempt to expand our Barbie-type line of titles. We’ll also produce additional adventure titles that are slanted more for the pre-teen reader. But, no matter for whom our meritorious mags may be intended, you can always rest assured they’ll have the same respect for your intelligence for which Marvel has always been noted. You have our promise that we’ll never “write down” to anyone. Our goal remains the same – to provide the best entertainment we can to the most readers, and to do it in a mentally stimulating and morally uplifting way!

There you have it! We told you the problem and our proposed solution. Who says this isn’t the Marvel Age of Informing the Fans!? Or, as Titanic Terry Stewart himself might say, “Finis Coronat Opus!”