What can Comic Books tell us about maintaining a healthy ska scene?
Actually quite a lot.
In the world of modern-day comic book, editors don't really plan beyond 5 years on any given title. So it is rare to see a title last more than 60 issues. Why?
They found that there is a natural longevity to a comic book's run.
-People outgrow comic books.
-People lose interest.
-People can't afford a book.
But the biggest factor is that, if a title goes on for too long, it's really hard to attract new readers because new readers are often intimidated by 100+ issues of continuity.
So a lot of times, editors will simply relaunch a title, whether it's some sort of Infinite Crisis, or temporarily killing off a major character the way DC Comics killed off Superman, or how Marvel killed off Captain America. Editors recognize the need to shake things up to attract new readers.
Maintaining a ska scene takes similar tact...just don't kill anyone, please.
Take The Bluebeat Lounge in Los Angeles, CA. for example. Now in its 5th year, the Bluebeat Lounge has changed: Brian Dixon no longer hosts, bands have folded, people have moved away, new bands have formed, and new people have moved in. And as I suspected, having first touched on this subject in 2006, the 5th year Anniversary crowd was much different than the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd Anniversary crowds. Just like comic books need constant renewal to maintain interest, ska scenes do too. But how can this be done?
-Word of mouth seems to be the best way. Telling a friend or co-worker about your local ska shows, or better yet, taking a friend or co-worker to a ska show, works the best.
-Special events like a festival or a "Ska Prom" can attract newcomers.
-Personally, I wear ska buttons to work (I work at a Whole Foods...). I'm amazed at how many customers say, "Oh. I used to listen to Madness. Are they still around?" And then I plug my podcast in the hopes that they'll check it out and discover that, yes, ska is still around.
Keeping interest in ska music high is necessary so that ska scenes can continue and bands can continue to play the music that they love. Next month is Ska History Month. There will be special podcasts and interviews. So tell a friend! Or better yet, tell someone you don't even know.
Stay tuned, True Believers!