Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Up is Down, Black is White: Rocket Raccoon 3rd Best-Selling Comic in 2014

Wow, I've got to check out this crazy new character in a #1 comic... this..  Spider-Man

People, according to ICv2, Rocket Raccoon #1 was the 3rd best selling comic of 2014.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Back around  January of 1987, a somehow-even-more awkward version of myself was lumbering around Austin Books & Comics and used Christmas money to purchase all four issues of the Rocket Raccoon limited series by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola off a spinner rack.  By that evening, we were bona-fide Rocket fans.

One of the first purchases I made of a back-issue when I moved back to Austin in 2006 was the first appearance of Rocket in a Marvel comic (but not his Marvel Age appearance as a nigh-Yoda-like character, which I haven't secured yet), Hulk 271.  That comic went for about $4-6, I think.  It's now clocking in at around $25, not that I'll ever sell it.

my precious...

But you have to understand that from 1985 - 2007ish, nobody cared about this character, and he was even killed off here and there.  As Marvel and DC tried to grapple with making comics for an older audience, they did what little kids do to show they're big boys now.  They became embarrassed of anything they saw as childish and tried to distance themselves from anything anyone could point to that reminded them of their youthful indiscretions.  Cartoonish talking raccons with guns = silly, but somehow dressing as a green goblin and throwing pumpkin shaped bombs was now deadly serious.

Superman did it in 1986 by eliminating Krypto and even a legit Supergirl (and Comet, and Streaky and Beppo and Kandor and....).  Marvel just upped the sex and violence and let their writers put in scenes with Rocket's pelt nailed to a wall.  Sort of like 13 year olds showing off by blowing up their GI Joe's with fire crackers rather than hand them off to a kid who might want them.

Abnett and Lanning pulled Rocket out of the toy chest for their Guardians and the Galaxy reboot, a movie was made of the barely-successful title (a movie I'd argue was probably better than any of the comics), and now a solo Rocket comic sold a metric ton of copies.

he thinks he's people..!

When retailers say "no, we don't see a change in sales thanks to movies"...  well, pretty clearly, that ain't been the case with Marvel lately.

I will argue that the character of Rocket from the mini-series I loved to the movie has completely changed.  It's not really the same character or kind of story, but that's okay.  I kind of feel like the modern Rocket of the movies and comics jives more with 39-year-old me than the mini-series Rocket might (although, man, I re-read that series again and it is awesome).

As I mentioned before, comics have grown up alongside me the past few decades.  And as I'm primed for the option of a lot more goofiness in my comics, comics seem to be able to oblige in a way that, fifteen years ago was more or less unthinkable.  The broader base of comics readers has certainly made that possible, as the Big 2 are no longer selling to a very specific 18-27 year old male who has pretty specific ideas about bad-assery.  

Rocket won't be on top forever.  Issue #2 falls all the way to the 192nd best selling comic of 2014.  And I can't help but sigh that the outrageous success of "The Death of Wolverine" means those 18-27 year old males aren't still being served the same, warmed up leftovers of the past 15 years.  But I can still be amazed that sometimes weird things happen in comics and 12-year-old me can fist pump a little for a raccoon with a penchant for liberal use of firearms becoming a household name.

Now, someone at Marvel might actually Google "raccoon" to see what an actual raccoon looks like rather than "short wookie", which is how he keeps getting drawn.

The photo reference was apparently a Shih Tzu in front of a fan.

You'll also note the dialog is terrible. Apparently what you say while playing "Halo" with your friend in Iowa is what we're putting in the mouths of talking space raccoons these days.

Hi, I'm what an actual raccoon looks like, dummy.

If this guy was going to murder you, he'd do it all quiet and stealth-like and without the bravado.


RHPT said...

I'm going to write a bot that leaves comments on each one of your blog posts, so you don't think your efforts are wasted.

The League said...

Much appreciated, but I have a long history of continuing on with or without comments - and then being surprised when I make some aside about Michael Jordan in a 3000-word post about Superman and wind up with a 30 comment thread with everyone weighing in on Michael Jordan. You just never know.

Jake Shore said...

Ha-ha. That HALO remark was funny.