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#478338 - 11/13/01 04:48 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
BaiNst Offline
Member

Registered: 09/28/99
Posts: 39
Loc: Los Angeles,USA
Louis -

I apologize for not knowing who you are, and how important you've been within the industry. Not that you made your identity or importance any more clear in your last post, but I'll take your word for it, since everyone else seems to be very impressed with you.

I'm also sorry that you live in a back water town that has no access to quality comic book stores. I've been rather spoiled in that regard, and have lived in cities with stores that carry independents and self-published work. I realize this isn't the case with much of the public, and I pity the lot through which you all must suffer. I have also lived in a few places that did not have such grand stores, and have still been able to find what I want through the internet.

Certainly the industry holds some blame in not promoting the whole range of books that are available, but my point is that consumers must bear some responsibility in having a curiosity for the world around them, and seeking out new and different things. We're not all infants who need the big corporate "parents" to dangle baubles in front of our eyes and entertain us. We can seek out our own entertainment.

This may be applied to television, film, music, and all other forms of entertainment. Yes, the industries have their big budget standards, and occaisionally something good actually comes through the pipe, but for the most part one must look outside the major providers for quality work. It's not due to a big conspiracy, though. It's because the people in charge know money, and not much else, but because they reach the highest positions, they think their being good with money corresponds somehow to ascertaining quality in other areas, when they have no ability to do so.

So we end up with mostly crap in the stores.

You're correct that most store owners don't push the good titles hard enough. I was witness to a conversation between a store clerk and a customer where the customer was complaining about not being interested in the mainstream titles anymore, and not knowing where to turn, and the clerk failed to point out the many shelves that contained alternate titles. However, I think the buyer is somewhat remiss for not checking out the rest of the store himself...but you don't seem to think he has such a responsibility, so I guess we'll just disagree on that.

The "new talent" I was speaking of was indeed the names from the independent press. I'm sorry that my definition for "new talent" didn't fit with your own, but I'm not sure how it supports your point, or refutes my own. The big companies are trying new things now, and have tried new things in the past.

I appreciate your restraint in just calling me "naive", and I can't prove otherwise, but to say that I've kept up on the industry news, I've examined the shelves of multiple stores across the country, and I've watched what people buy at conventions. I came to self-published, independent, and alternate material much later than most of my peers, and this fact is a constant source of embarrassment for me. I didn't pick up my first issue of Puma Blues until I was 19. Until that point, The Elementals and Dead World were my idea of alternate titles. Most all of my minicomic and self-published peers do better than I in sales, and I'm sure it's because I'm (as you were too kind to say) untalented. Still, they would do better (as would I) if the consumers would bother to stray a bit outside of the realm with which they are most familiar, and check out what's going on in the fringes.

The fact that you had to admit to not having seen my work, despite the link I provided at the top of the list, is exactly my point about the consumer bearing some reponsibility. The time it would have taken you to explore my list of links briefly would have been negligable (assuming you have a 56k or better connection), and you might have even found something you'd like. Instead, you keep complaining.

I'm familiar with the titles you've listed as recent purchases, have read many of them, and have seen them in most every shop I've ever been into. The shop across the street from my residence being one of the glaring and offensive exceptions. This sort of shop is a dying breed, as you mentioned, and isn't the sort of shop I refer to when I blame the consumers for the lack of choice. I've had shop owners in good stores point out things on the shelf to me and say "I really like that book, but it just doesn't sell," and then...it isn't on the shelves in a few months, either.

What you've said about Diamond's business practices does not rule out the facts that I laid out, which are first hand accounts of business dealings with Diamond and retail stores, and not fictional anecdotes that I've created.

It's certainly entertaining to have you correct my spelling and terms in every post, but it doesn't help your argument. Also, considering that you don't know the correct use of the word "theme", I don't think it's proper for you to snipe at me for my misspelling of "cite".

Given your penchant for nitpicking, hyperbole, and completely ignoring major points that are made, I can see that any further debate or conversation with you is wasted. I encourage you to practice your reading skills.

Good luck,
FC Brandt

Anyone with an ounce of curiosity or self-motivation is welcome to apply a bit of stress to their index finger and click on www.bainst.com
_________________________
FC Brandt
aka BaiNst
http://www.bainst.com

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#478339 - 11/13/01 09:04 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Louis Bright-Raven Offline
Member

Registered: 08/24/99
Posts: 185
BaiNst: "Certainly the industry holds some blame in not promoting the whole range of books that are available, but my point is that consumers must bear some responsibility in having a curiosity for the world around them, and seeking out new and different things. We can seek out our own entertainment."

"I have also lived in a few places that did not have such grand stores, and have still been able to find what I want through the internet."

************

And, as you have chosen to ignore, I've repeatedly said that not everyone has access to the internet. Not everyone lives in areas where you can even get hooked up to the internet if you have a computer, because the servers are so far away you're making long distance phone calls just to get online. And thus, it is not the miracle answer for you, or any other, small presser. It's an extra avenue of distribution and hopefully one can use it to their advantage. Still, it doesn't get your work out to the public.

I'm terribly sorry that you city folk who have everything at your fingertips can't grasp the notion. But the U.S. is not made up solely of its population centers, and I think we'd all be a lot better off if Americans came to a greater recognition and acceptance of that fact in this country.

BaiNst: "You're correct that most store owners don't push the good titles hard enough. I was witness to a conversation between a store clerk and a customer where the customer was complaining about not being interested in the mainstream titles anymore, and not knowing where to turn, and the clerk failed to point out the many shelves that contained alternate titles. However, I think the buyer is somewhat remiss for not checking out the rest of the store himself...but you don't seem to think he has such a responsibility, so I guess we'll just disagree on that."

That all depends on the situation. Is the customer a comics fan or just a person who came in because they're buying their grandchild or nephew / niece a comic, or someone who hasn't read comics but maybe read an article in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY about some comic and thought they'd look for it and maybe some other stuff? (Or any number of other scenarios...)

When you're talking about comics fans, then sure, there is some level of "responsibility", you could argue. But I'm sorry, most comics fans I know *do* roam the store and scan the indies section (even if only to scoff at them). Of course, I haven't been to a comics shop on a regular basis for over 2 years so maybe the "in" thing is just to subscribe to the titles you want in advance and never look at what else the retailer may carry. If that is the common fan today (I don't think it is based upon what I see people telling me they're reading on message boards across the internet, but maybe...), then yeah, okay, we can agree these fans are making a grievous error in judgment there.

If you're talking about the non-fan, who is someone we all need to finding means to bring to our medium, then no, I *don't* expect them to walk around looking at hundreds of titles without a clue where to begin. Okay, so maybe the clerk is wise enough to point them to the Indies section. So what? What's in there? Well, if you have a well stocked store, you have dozens to hundreds of titles of various genre. How does the non-fan, who is completely oblivious to the content of the books, tell what they want?

Basically, they might grab a comic with a cover that catches their eye. Maybe. Most of the time they're going to be overwhelmed by the experience, give up and walk out. And imagine what it would be like for such a person on Comics Day.

How does one prevent this from happening? It's up to the clerk / retailer to ask the non-fan (or any other customer, for that matter) what their interests are. Science Fiction, but not superheroes? Okay. You want funny comics? Biographies? Westerns? Romances? Real life stories? What?

As near as I can tell this is the only way a comics shop can truly be successful, unless they happen to be located in the middle of a major metropolitan area and have enough clientele that it doesn't matter what they sell.

Now, if comics shops were run more like bookstores, with properties placed together by genre category, instead of by title in alphabetical order and most commonly via company (because how many comics fans know the name of every single indpendent company out there, let alone non-fans?), then perhaps the average person could just walk in, find the section of the store that may appeal to their interests, and find something to their liking.

I haven't seen the store yet that is set up like that. Not to say it doesn't exist, but such a setup would cater to the general public, and typically comics retailers cater to their base clientle. Who want all their company titles in one neat place so they can, as you say, "run to the superheroes and ignore everything else". Maybe if they set up their store in a similar fashion as to that which I just described, such antics would be less likely to occur. It's a theory, anyway.

BaiNst: "Most all of my minicomic and self-published peers do better than I in sales, and I'm sure it's because I'm (as you were too kind to say) untalented. Still, they would do better (as would I) if the consumers would bother to stray a bit outside of the realm with which they are most familiar, and check out what's going on in the fringes."

I wouldn't say you were untalented unless I had looked at your work to form such an *opinion*. So don't go presuming that's what I think of you or your work. It's your blaming of the fans that bothered me, as though they were the sole reason your work has not been as commerically viable as you feel it should be. (And I'm sorry, but that *is* how you expressed yourself regarding that.)

As for (not) looking at your site, I do have a life outside of the cybernetic wasteland, and sometimes it calls me to do things that are *slightly* more important than looking at someone's website. I would presume you would have liked me to actually *look* at your work, not glance at it and blow it off without any legitimate overview. So I got around to it at a later time. If you'd like me to share my thoughts with you, I'd be more than happy to email you. But in general, I think your work is well executed and there are some interesting stories. I'll send some of my friends your way to give your site a looksee. Would I be interested in buying your work? It's entirely possible. I've bought worse; much, much worse. LOL

Louis Bright-Raven

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#478340 - 11/15/01 11:25 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
BaiNst Offline
Member

Registered: 09/28/99
Posts: 39
Loc: Los Angeles,USA
Louis,

I would have sent this to you in e-mail, but your info doesn't contain an address.

I agree with your take on the stores, and what can be done to fix the problem. The type of sections they have in bookstores could go a long way toward making a store more user friendly, which is definitely needed to bring in new blood.

My issue with you not visiting my site, or the others I'd listed, was that it was relevant to the points I was making, and I'd hoped for a response that would in some way acknowledge that these resources to exist.

I am in no way a proponent of the internet as a cure-all for retail woes. I was just saying that someone that does have access has plenty of options for finding new and different ideas and creators.

My original proposition was that consumers bear some responsibility. If it came out as more than that, it was unintentional. I still think it's a relevant argument, and something that people need to keep in mind when they're deciding whether or not to buy that sub-par comic just because it will complete their collection, or try something new.

I'm glad we could end this on a fairly civil note. I apologize for initiating the dialogue that took this post off-topic, but I think some good and necessary points were made, if you can filter out the veiled (when not overt) insults.
_________________________
FC Brandt
aka BaiNst
http://www.bainst.com

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#478341 - 11/17/01 08:02 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Stephen R Bissette Offline
Member

Registered: 11/27/98
Posts: 939
Loc: wilmington, VT USA
I'll toss in another relevant point that has been implicit in a number of the posts:

There are no longer any periodical ANTHOLOGIES (correct me if I'm wrong, but DARK HORSE PRESENTS and Fantagraphics' ZERO ZERO were the last of any duration; the Vertigo attempts were embarrassments, and catered only to showcasing already-established talents) to allow new talent to cut its teeth and experiment.

Most of the greats of the prior generations were nurtured in the anthology titles. Even my generation had a few venues that were vital to those who eventually made a difference -- Moore in 2000 AD and WARRIOR (in fact, most of the key first '80s wave of Brit creators like Gibbons, Bolland, Kennedy, etc. sharpened their skills in the likes of HOUSE OF HAMMER/HORROR, 2000 AD, etc.), Miller in TWILIGHT ZONE, DC war comics (backups), etc., Veitch (and Yeates and yours truly) in DC war comics backups, HEAVY METAL (when they used to print domestic talent), etc. Though they were scarce by the mid-'80s, there were still niche anthologies (including the Scholastic zines I sharpened my skills with, which also provided a haven for folks like Howard Cruse) where one could find work AND reach an audience.

The minis began to replace the anthologies around this time; my benchmark will always be Chester Brown's YUMMY FUR, which he mailed John Totleben, Alan Moore, and I in mini format because he liked our SWAMP THING work.

Part of the reason Totleben and I "squandered" the opportunity Dave Sim provided us (financing ANYTHING we wanted to publish or self-publish) on TABOO was to try and nurture a revival of the anthology format (building on the example of RAW). The few serialized works that did appear in TABOO ("From Hell," "Through the Habitrails," "Lost Girls") simply would not have existed anywhere else, for a variety of reasons. Charles Burns' BLACK HOLE grew from a one-shot story Burns did for TABOO 1... I could give other examples, but you get the idea.

Unfortunately, the more lavish format of RAW, TABOO, and the ongoing DRAWN & QUARTERLY formats eschew the disposable, "compost" strength of the true periodical anthology comic, where anything goes. The necessarily selective nature of the more upscale anthology format fails to provide the rich, fertile soil the ongoing anthology comics of the 1940s, '50s, '60s, and early '70s (including the undergrounds) provided, where the need to fill page counts every four weeks opened doors for many, many creators, and provided ample opportunities for those dedicated to the medium to stretch their muscles on a wide variety of short-term experiments in storytelling.

That's what ISN'T available to either creators, publishers, or readers today.

The trial-and-error, open to experiments anthologies played a crucial role for many of us in our formative years, and allowed us to arrive at more mature skills and ambitions because they DID allow us to bring simpler, more intimate pieces to fruition. They also allowed one to eke out something like a living, jumping from story to story, gig to gig, without the crippling detouring of energy, effort, and negotiation necessary to every "big" job (i.e., series work, graphic novels, etc.).

It's telling that some of the key writer/artists of the last decade (Chris Ware, Paul Pope, Dan Clowes) nurtured their work in self-styled one-person titles that allowed them to create their own "anthologies" accomodating serialized work, short pieces, one-pagers, etc. as they wished... leading to their richer, more expansive works.

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#478342 - 11/21/01 05:05 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Louis Bright-Raven Offline
Member

Registered: 08/24/99
Posts: 185
Stephen:

I agree with your commentary. I think Caliber's NEGATIVE BURN had a decent run as well?

Louis Bright-Raven

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#478343 - 11/21/01 08:08 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
fumetti Offline
Member

Registered: 09/29/99
Posts: 922
test

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#478344 - 11/21/01 08:55 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
fumetti Offline
Member

Registered: 09/29/99
Posts: 922
There are plenty of "ideas" in the comics industry today, maybe as many as ever been. But they're usually found in the hard-to-get independents. Marvel and DC only want "new" ideas that generate sales (without risking the security of their trademark) for their old characters.

What appears a dearth of ideas in comics really boils down to a dearth of genres in comics. Let's face it, superheroes ARE the comics industry--the other comic genres hang on their coat tails.

There's a reason Frank Miller is back in the Bat-saddle: money. Miller can't justify doing only Sin City anymore from a financial standpoint. What's that tell us?

Comics in the 90s appeared to be a creator's profession. Superstar artists were all the rage (nobody cared who the characters were), followed by superstar writers (and nobody cared what books they were taking over). But all the while, look at the top 100 sales list. X-men stayed at the top no matter who was the talent.

Add those two paragraphs together and you get the truth about comic books: generally speaking, the industry (not the art form) is the superhero franchise.

So, why are the "ideas" knocked back into the independents? Because the money's not in the ideas, it's in the properties. Marvel and DC don't really NEED ideas to sell their comics.

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#478345 - 11/21/01 01:19 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
bastl Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/98
Posts: 442
Loc: Vienna, Austria, Europe
bainst and louis: be cool. youre all on the same side, remember.

stephen: theres some anthologies left: BLAB, Drawn and Quarterly and the EXPO comics are all great anthologies that come out regularly once a year ("annually"??). I do not know if this has always been the case but its the emerging factor in the last few years. EXPO is great for bringing in interested readers because its such a good deal. Id have loved to pick up the new DRAWN AND QUARTERLY anthology but too expensive for me.

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#478346 - 11/21/01 01:27 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
bastl Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/98
Posts: 442
Loc: Vienna, Austria, Europe
next time, Ill read your post more thoroughly, Steve.

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#478347 - 11/21/01 03:12 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Ron Phillips Offline
Member

Registered: 01/18/00
Posts: 54
Loc: Neither Here Nor There
While there isn't much more to add to this conversation, Stephen made a great point about there being no anthologies left to promote untapped talent. Some of the most innovative stories I read came from Negative Burn and DHP, but the sales did not pan out in the long run, even at cost to the publishers to keep them going because of a stable but not growing audience.

There have been anthologies during and since, presented by groups of fledgeling creators who come together to promote their creations. Many failed because the sales weren't high enough to warrent distribution through Diamond and were culled before the creators got to be heard, while the others weren't ready to begin with.

There is a unique anthology coming out next month, one that I had a small hand in, and was spearheaded by Ed Dukeshire and his DigitalWebbing.com brand. The first book sold very well for its type of book and we hope that future issues will sell similarly so that we can continue this product for newcomers.

This is a co-op book, so sale numbers will predicate future books.

Next book will be solicited in January and continue bi-monthly there on.

Ron Phillips
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Ron Phillips

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