A post from my vintage Marvel blog concerning why we are attracted to comic book merchandise.
I was at the comic shop last night, looking over the rows of action figures and statues and bisques and life-size comic book props, and it got me thinking about all of this stuff a bit. What’s the appeal? I’ve got shelves full of toys and action figures and the like based on characters from the comics and elsewhere, just as most of you probably have. But what’s the purpose? Why do we like this stuff so much?
It’s not like any of it is really being used for anything. Even the toy manufacturers at this point are pretty open about the fact that a good portion of their audience isn’t kids who are going to play with this stuff, but adults with disposable income who crave it, and will stick it on a shelf, possibly still within its packaging.
The comics, I get–there’s a narrative, a story. And I certainly appreciate the appeal of toys from a child’s point of view. But why do we like this stuff so much?
Some of it is just recapturing that piece of our youth. I was a child of the 70s, when all we had were the classic Mego super hero figures. And while we liked them just fine at the time, let’s face it, they were pretty bad. The quality and variety of the toys available today would have made my young head explode. So some of the appeal comes from that. And some of it just comes from seeing these characters incarnated in three dimensions well. I’ll occasionally contemplate buying an action figure or whatnot of a character I don’t have any particular liking for, simply because the sculpt is so well done.
But there’s an almost religious aspect to it as well. The same behavior, performed a thousand years ago, would have been looked upon as somebody collecting graven images to worship. And that’s what we do with them, don’t we? We put them in a display case or on a shelf or on a desktop, and we look at them admiringly–worshipfully. It’s as though seeing the characters incarnated this way brings them one step closer to being real.
For myself, right after we finished FANTASTIC FOUR #511 in which the FF journey to heaven, I went out and bought one of those small creator busts of Jack Kirby, as my own ironic graven image.