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#478298 - 10/31/01 08:35 PM Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
As a comic reader for some twenty odd years, I wanted to start a discussion about the current state of the industry. My opinion is that there are some good comics out there today, but there are no great comics. Looking back at the comics I have read in my life: The Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing are the three series that stand out as being great comics. The thing is that these comics came out over ten years ago. In over a decade, there has been nothing, not a single comic to rival the three titles mentioned above.

Why is that? Why are there no great comics anymore? My theory is there is an overwhelming lack of new creators and new ideas going into the industry. It seems like there are only a couple writers out there that every publisher wants writing their characters. Now, I will be first to admit that I pick up whatever Kevin Smith's latest series is, but what about the guy out there who we have never heard of that writes as good as Kevin Smith (or even better)? What publishers are bringing new talent, new names into the field?
Zeus

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#478299 - 10/31/01 09:38 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Charles Brownstein Offline
Member

Registered: 03/31/99
Posts: 94
Loc: Northampton, Massachusetts, US...
Quote:
Originally posted by Zeus Thrillkill:
Why is that? Why are there no great comics anymore? My theory is there is an overwhelming lack of new creators and new ideas going into the industry. It seems like there are only a couple writers out there that every publisher wants writing their characters. ...What publishers are bringing new talent, new names into the field?
Zeus


I would contest your statement that there are no longer great comics. First of all, greatness is a value judgement formed over time. Moby Dick ruined Melville's career and is now acknowledged as one of the great American novels. The reason we regard Maus, Dark Knight, and Watchmen as "great" is because they had good initial PR and stand up as solid creative works over time. That may or may not last. Could be the next generation views them as sub-par.

But certainly there have been exceptional comics in the last fifteen years. It can be argued that Jimmy Corrigan, Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde, and Ghost World are the offspring of Maus as great literary graphic novels. While they have not earned a Pulitzer, I believe those books have enjoyed critical acclaim, press, and sales similar to that of Maus when it emerged.

Since the appearance of Dark Knight and Watchmen, DC has taken the next step by developing a functional economy to support the graphic novel series model, allowing storytellers like Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, and Grant Morrison to tell 2,000 page stories. Any of these authors may have created work that will be viewed as great with the benefit of more time. Sandman is certainly part of the popular fiction comics pantheon.

In the period between 1986 and today a vast amount of small publishers have been bringing new voices to comics. In the mid-nineties the self publisher boom brought Jeff Smith, Paul Pope, David Lapham, Terry Moore and other new voices into the field. In the same period Fantagraphics was bringing in Chris Ware and showing Clowes, Sacco, and Bagge at top form. D&Q brought us Adrian Tomine and mature work by Seth, among others.

Even DC, corporate monolith that it is, was cultivating a generation of new voices that included James Robinson, and the aforementioned Mssrs. Ennis and Ellis, among others.

Maybe today it looks like the eighties are back, but I'd argue that we're seeing the eighties creators entering their middle age period of creative life. Miller and Moore were the young turks when they made those books you cite, today they are creating their work as mature authors. Kirby wasn't yesterday's news in 1961, even though he'd been around for 20 years.

Creatively, comics is in the best shape its ever been in because right now the avant garde and mainstream are both healthy and taking chances. Marvel has scooped up the post-journeyman work of the 90s generation of new voices with Bendis, Mack, Horn, and others. They're hiring established guys like Morrison, Ennis, Allred, and Milligan to do challenging new work in the context of their superhero marks. DC has scooped up Rucka, Lieber, Jon Lewis, and Gilbert Hernandez to do new stuff. These directions indicate yesterday's alternative has become today's mainstream, which in itself is a sign of growth.

Meanwhile Highwater, Top Shelf, Alternative, and others are breeding a generation of authors who are making charming, cartoony, personal comics.

It's not the lack of new creators and creative directions that's killing the comics industry. It's an insular view of marketing that fears growth and investment beyond the direct market that's keeping us in this slow to no growth holding pattern.
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#478300 - 10/31/01 09:49 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Troy Little Offline
Member

Registered: 07/17/01
Posts: 46
Loc: Ottawa, Ont. Canada
Hey Zeus,
I think it all depends on what you like. Personally I think the medium itself is doing much better now that it ever has before. The superhero days are over. Look at Adrain Tomaine, Craig Thompson, Dave Cooper, Eddie Campbell, Kyle Baker... I could go on and on. This is (in my opinion) what makes comics now a days so great. Unique art, interesting story telling driven by creators who love the medium and want to see it grow.
It takes some effort to find it, but I think there's a lot of great things happening in comics.

Troy
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#478301 - 10/31/01 10:49 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
Charles,
Thanks for your reply. It was exactly the kind of debate I hoped to stir. You made several good points, and hopefully alerted people to some of the better stuff out there. I know there are a couple titles you mentioned that I haven't read so I will have to seek them out.

I do however still stick to my original point. While not denying there is some good stuff out there if I had to name my all time favorite "The Watchmen" still is at the top of the list, and if I start going down the list most of my other favorites are still from that time period. Now, I do enjoy reading much of the stuff Bendis, Gaiman, Morrison, and others are putting out. But in my opinion it still pales in comparison to "The Watchmen".

One very interesting point you made is "Miller and Moore were the young turks when they made those books you cite, today they are creating their work as mature authors." Moore is still one of my favorite writers. Yet I will state I don't think he has even come close to recapturing the brilliance of "The Watchmen". Moore is a great writer, in my opinion probably the best in the business, but "The Watchmen" was his greatest work. Perhaps it was his one great work, his one great idea, and he will never top it. I keep hoping he will top it just so I can enjoy the read but I doubt he ever will. In my opinion, if Moore walked into DC or Marvel for that matter today with The Watchmen comic pitch as a young turk with no name then neither one of them would publish it.

You see great writers no doubt in Bendis, Smith, etc. but they are predominantly churning out stories of pre-established characters. None of the established talent seems to be of mind to generate an epic original story with original characters on par with "The Watchmen". It seems like the current recipe for success in comics is take an established name and have him makeover an established character which don't get me wrong has made for some good reads. But what about a new writer with new characters. Other than some of the small press, do you think that either of the majors would touch "The Watchmen" if it came to them today. I would be curious to learn what your and other's favorite comic work of all time is. I assume I would get a lot of different answers, but if I get a hundred replies I bet "The Watchmen" would make up 50% of the replies.
Zeus

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#478302 - 10/31/01 11:00 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Chris Medellin Offline
Member

Registered: 07/08/99
Posts: 943
Loc: Dallas, Tx, Dallas County
Well, to be fair Alan Moore was given the old Charlton characters, Judomaster, Peacemaker, Blue Beetle,et cetra, but after he turned in his proposal DC realized they wouldn't have anything left. So he retooled them into Watchmen.

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#478303 - 11/01/01 12:22 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Charles Brownstein Offline
Member

Registered: 03/31/99
Posts: 94
Loc: Northampton, Massachusetts, US...
Zeus,

A lot of your discussion is veering into areas of personal taste. You say Watchmen is the apex of Moore's output, I say From Hell. Tomato, tom-ah-to, let's call the whole thing off.

Quote:
Originally posted by Zeus Thrillkill:
It seems like the current recipe for success in comics is take an established name and have him makeover an established character...


Nah, that's just the history of the comics business, especially over the last 20 years. Publishers are forever enticing the "name" talent to work on their top characters.


Quote:
But what about a new writer with new characters.


This is happening, though less and less of it is wholly owned and controled by the companies. The generation of creators working in the 90s and today are savvier about owning their work, which is owed in large part to the creators rights battles fought in the eighties.

Now you're less likely to see creators behaving as "custodians of the legend" by creating new pillars of a superhero mythology. They know what a character can be worth, they've seen their predecessors get screwed in creating characters, so they're not gonna make anything new without a piece of the action.

In the 80s the end-all of an artist's career was to pencil a book like X-Men or Batman. Today many creators view those books as stepping stones to creating their own properties.

This is where you're seeing new authors and new characters. From Spider Jerusalem to Cassidy to Goldfish to Kabuki, these are strong characters from powerful series created by 90s authors. But unless they sell or get screwed out of the rights, you're not likely to be seeing stories with those characters by authors other than the original creator(s).

Quote:
Other than some of the small press, do you think that either of the majors would touch "The Watchmen" if it came to them today.


Sure, they'd take Watchmen. But be sure to reduce Watchmen to its component parts. It was a novel approach to an established milieu by a very popular and innovative writer and a top shelf artist. It's doubtful that anyone knew what impact Watchmen was going to make when the book was approved. When the book was green-lit, no one expected it would still be selling over 25,000 units per year 15 years later. It was a risk that is paying off handsomely in the long term. Sure they'd probably take that risk again.

But what's different is that Watchmen and the other GNs of 1986 were a new kind of risk. In hindsight they were like the discovery of agriculture, but I'm not sure anyone knew it at the time. If publishers take another earth-changing risk like that we won't understand it except in hindsight.
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#478304 - 11/01/01 09:59 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
D.R. Merrill Offline
Member

Registered: 06/18/01
Posts: 35
Loc: Doraville GA USA
This reminds me of the discussions we used to get back in the early 90s, concerning Japanese animation - People would see AKIRA, and they'd ask "Hey, what can I watch that's as good as AKIRA?" And we'd be stumped.

Using a high-water mark as a measuring stick is bound to lead to disappointment.

ANYWAY, my theory is: you're not seeing as many comics because the people who make the comics aren't seeing as much money. It is, indeed, all about the Benjamanz.

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#478305 - 11/01/01 12:07 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
JackieEstrada Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/98
Posts: 516
Loc: San Diego, CA 92115
Zeus:

From the examples you give, it sounds like you are really addressing the output of the major comics companies, especially since you say you haven't read several of the books that Charles cited, most of which were from smaller publishers.

I agree with Charles that there have been numerous outstanding series and graphic novels in the last ten years whose contributions will be longlasting. I certainly rate "From Hell" as up there with "Watchmen" in Alan Moore's achievements. And "Jimmy Corrigan" has to be in the top ten comics works of all time, not just the last few years. If you look at the titles nominated for Eisner and Harvey awards in the last decade, you will find dozens of quality titles that will stand the test of time.

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#478306 - 11/01/01 01:04 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
flying pig Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 277
Loc: Denver, CO
I don't think that it is the lack of stories, art or combination of both that is hurting the industry. There are some fantastic stories in the last fifteen years both art wise and commercial success.

The Death of Superman - very commercially successful. In my opinion, it started the early 90's boom by bringing in new readers because of the press.

A Funeral for a Friend - not very commercially successful but a great story as well as nice tribute the man in blue.

Preacher - Slow start but a great finish.

The Vertigo line - Great stories, so-so art (my opinion).

Frank Miller's Dare Devil (first run)- Awesome story.

400 - One of the best stories that Frank Miller has ever done.

Spawn - Semi-commercially successful. The first two years of the comic was great.

The Savage Dragon - Not a commercial success but a fun book.

Mark Waid's run with Captain America, JLA and Super Soldier.

Men In Black - Commercially successful but a failed comic book.

Harsh Realm - Bad TV show but great comic book.

Those are just a small sample of what is out there. Each is subject to people opinions.

The problem is that comic book publishers, storeowners and fan tend to think that finding the magic bullet can solve the downslide and the industry is saved. That's not true. The following is just a few things that are needed to bring back the industry.

1. The comic book industry needs to find way to bring in and keep new readers. If you say that kids don't read anymore, I have just two words for you, "Harry Potter." The last book was a major novel. How many adults read a book that big? But kids ran to it in droves. The industry must find ways to bring in new readers and keep them. If they don't, the industry will die.
2. Publishers have to realize that the Internet isn't going to be the savior of the industry. The Internet is a good tool to help sell comics but it will never be a replace the comic book. Take newspapers for an example. They should all be on the Internet and not a single paper being printed. But that's not true. Why not? Because people like to read the paper at the breakfast table, on the bus to work, on the toilet, etc. The Internet isn't there, yet. Fans still want the comic in their hands to read it.
3. There needs to be more than on comic book distributor. Diamond accepts what Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse demands and passes it without regard to the impact on the retailer and in the long run the fan. That needs to be turned around. The publishers need to LISTEN AND REPLY to the retailers on what they need and not the other way around.

Those are just a few of the things that need to "save" the industry. I don't think that it is the stories or art.


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"Weaseling out of things is important to learn"
Homer Jay Simpson
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#478307 - 11/01/01 07:57 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
Chris,
Good point! I think I did confuse my issues. One issue is that I think there is a lack of new talent in the comic industry. The other issue is that there are a lack of new characters for the most part with the biggest two publishers. Outside of the Vertigo line, I don't see new characters coming out of DC and Marvel. Even with the Vertigo line, there really hasn't been a superhero created since probably the X-men that have become household names. (You could make a strong argument for Spawn but one in the last twenty years or so compared to the number of characters created in the thirties and forties still around today isn't a good track record.)

Charles,
Yeah From Hell was good. Maybe I would have a easier time convincing you if I said that no superhero comic can measure up to The Watchmen. Most of the titles you list are non-superhero.
I disagree with you that the majors would touch The Watchmen today. I think the comics industry has grown more conservative. Obviously, in great part due to the downtrend in sales. Neither of the majors is going to take the risks that they took 15 years ago. They are reluctant to venture away from established talent and established characters. The reluctance to take risks also makes it less likely that some great stories floating around out there might never see the light of day.

D.R. Merrill,
Good theory. That could be it.

JackieEstrada,
I will admit if it isn't a major publisher most of the comic shops around me don't carry it. Their money is tight, some of them have even gone under recently. Many of the titles that I haven't read from the independents, I have to wait and hope to find at a con or buy off ebay. I miss the day of First, Pacific, and Eclipse. I know we have Image now, but outside of Savage Dragon I can't say much holds my interest there.

Flying Pig,
I agree with much of what you say. In particular, the lack of good comics to get kids reading. This was before my time but I read them as reprints when I was a kid. Carl Barks Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, in my mind stand above all others of that genre. Just like I put The Watchmen above all other superhero titles.
Zeus

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#478308 - 11/01/01 08:26 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Chris Medellin Offline
Member

Registered: 07/08/99
Posts: 943
Loc: Dallas, Tx, Dallas County
If you're talking about superhero comics, then yeah, not much has been done with them. Anything good, that is. Planetary and Authority come close, though.

However, if you are looking for good, well-done comics, with intriguing premises and cool characters, step away from some of the big boys and cast your eyes elsewhere. Books such as Bone by Jeff Smith, Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai, A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran, Kane by Paul Grist, Clan Apis by Jay Hosler, Alison Dare by J. Torres and J. Bone and Supernatural Law by Batton lash and Jackie Estrada are some of the best out there. Others can chime in with some their favorites, but I'll tell you, the first three titles I mentioned have been going strong in excess of a decade.

It's a shame that ever since the Ninja Turtle phenom happened years ago, that so many comic shops have abandoned black-and-whites altogether. I understand they want to play it safe and stay in business,no one can blame them for that, but when 10% of the comic shops refuse to stock Bone,or even the trades of it, that's just sad.

You can probably do a search for these comics and buy them from the creators themselves or their publishers.

The next wave of great comics will not be the big ones exploding in our faces, like Watchmen and Dark Knight, but will be all of the little booms that are happening now.

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#478309 - 11/02/01 10:29 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
ScottChantler Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 675
Loc: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Yes, a lack of new talent and new ideas is killing the industry. I, like many others, grew up with the dream of working in the comics industry, but ended up sidestepping into the world of commercial illustration. Why? Because I like to eat.

Yes, there are a lot of good independent comics out there. Some of them even sell well enough that their creators are able to make some sort of meagre living. But imagine how many MORE good books there would be if the comics industry were still able to offer creative people a decent chance of success? There are many talented folks out there, like myself, who no longer consider comics a viable outlet for their work. Which is really, really sad.

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www.scottchantler.com

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#478310 - 11/02/01 11:05 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
flying pig Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 277
Loc: Denver, CO
Zeus,
Most of the comics I mentioned in my last post weren't comics for kids. The reason I brought up "Harry Potter" was because I hear people say that kids don't reading comics anymore because kids aren't reading. Well, that's not true. My point was that the comic book industry needs to bring in new reader, young and old a like, to survive. Right now the industry is cannibalizing itself. A writer or artist has a successful book for a year then they move onto another book. The fans follow that writer or artist to the new book and drop the old book. The net result is the same amount of readers. There are some writers and artist that I do that with but there are a few book I pick up regardless of who is writing or drawing them.

Scott,
I can empathize with you on feeling frustrated. I too have been shut out of the industry because I'm an unknown writer or because DC didn't like the way I ended an Elseworld story despite having fan's and storeowners believing it would sell very well. There are also fewer books out there by Marvel. During the "Boom", Marvel had around 150 books a month coming out almost 38 books a week. That meant more writers, artist, inkers and letterers. However that caused the market to be flooded. There was no way that the fans could keep up that kind of spending. Right now Marvel has about 50 books a month or about 13 a week. The only thing you can do is keep plugging along doing what you can with what you got (self-publishing, zines, etc.). I could call DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, etc., stupid people for not hiring me to write THEIR books because I could make them a million and stop creating. I however believe in the old proverb, "The best revenge is success." So, I shrug my shoulders, scratch my head and keep pushing forward until I make it.
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#478311 - 11/02/01 12:09 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
nenad Offline
Member

Registered: 04/22/00
Posts: 869
Loc: Toronto, Canada
As has been stated outside of superhero area there are plenty of good comics being published today. I must admit that even image occasionally manages to print good stuff (Bendis ouvre, Distant Soil, Age of Bronze). DC and Marvel are recycling all their heroes for n-th time. I don't think we can speak of Vertigo as 'alternative' line when majority of their titles are just regular superheros resurected and with more violence. Very infrequently even Vertigo has managed to put some titles like 'System'... These days Vertigo is just cranking out Sandman spin-offs.

I would agree that there aren't many new comics authors. Most of the current crop has been working in comics for at least 10 years - Dan Clowes, Joe Sacco, Peter Bagge, Eddie Campbell etc... But, I think that's just on the surface of things. New comics authors are appearing every day (hint: just buying Xeric winners will give you plenty of great works). It just takes time for these new authors to gain recognition and to cross into 'real' authors. I am positive that in a couple of years we will have 'new' hot authors (who have also been around for years). That is, if comics don't disappear in between [img]/resources/ubb/frown.gif[/img]

As much as I liked Watchman, I think best Alan Moores work is V for Vendetta. Ending of Watchman is just unbelievable and I hate the very last page (that stupid one-cent ending - like in most of the trashy horror movies). Did enjoy it for the complex characters and excellent panelling. Still looking for some issues of From Hell to be able to read it.

nenad
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#478312 - 11/02/01 01:46 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
modernfear Offline
Member

Registered: 04/13/01
Posts: 910
Loc: San Francisco, CA
The new generation of creators can be found on the web: it's an easy way for them to start finding an audience, and getting feedback.

Most of these creators have not reached the level of maturity and sophistication you're talking about -- but, hey, that's because they're the new generation of creators. And perhaps we will see that some of their work really was great, today, but only after years have passed.

Some of the best work from the new generation of creators can be found here:

Justine Shaw
Nowhere Girl: http://www.nowheregirl.com/

Patrick Farley
e-sheep: http://www.e-sheep.com/

Derek Kirk (okay, Derek's been around the block a time or two):
Small Stories Online http://www.smallstoriesonline.com/

Michael Neno (Xeric grantee):
Quacky Pig http://www.quackypig.com/

Indigo Kelleigh:
The Circle Weave http://www.circleweave.com/

Chad Stewart
Dangerboy http://www.dangerboycomics.com/

There's lots more linked on my website, but the above is a good, varied list of all different kinds of work. You'll notice that there aren't many superheroes. Online comics doesn't have too many superheroes. Which is interesting and a bit odd, given that genre's domination of print comics (or maybe that's the explanation).

Joey www.talkaboutcomics.com



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#478313 - 11/02/01 01:48 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
ScottChantler Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 675
Loc: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Flyingpig, I'm not frustrated in the least about not being a part of the comics industry.

My point was: why would creative people even WANT to be part of an industry where there's little or no chance for real success? Anyone trying to "make it" in comics these days is fooling themselves. Why on Earth would I beat my head against the wall trying to get a job at Marvel drawing Captain Redundant for an embarassingly low page rate when that would only serve to take time away from commercial work that pays me two or three times better AND allows me to hold onto my right of authorship?

It's a viscious circle: low readership = lower sales = less profit = inability to attract new or adequate talent = lacklustre product = low readership.

Sure, there's lots of talented folks in comics, but as most of you have been saying, they've been there for ten years or more and built there careers when it was possible to HAVE a career in comics. When all these guys disappear, who's going to replace them?

My guess: no one.

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www.scottchantler.com

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!"
- Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake
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www.scottchantler.com

"The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be."
- Arthur C. Clarke

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#478314 - 11/02/01 05:25 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
flying pig Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 277
Loc: Denver, CO
Scott,

It's kind of obvious that you are frustrated or you wouldn't be so upset by it.

As for who will replace the current writers, I have no idea but someone will. A company always finds a way to replace people no matter what industry. In the business world everyone can be replaced or laid off. And the comic book industry is a business. Do you think when Bob Cane stepped way from Batman; people thought no one else is ever going to write Batman? How about when Stan Lee stepped down from writing at Marvel, did Marvel close the doors because there was no one else to write? I could go on and on about this and that character and they always found writers and artist to continue on.

Have you tried to be a scriptwriter? How about selling your story to a publisher in a magazine? Or have you sold a novel to publisher? Being a good writer in any market is difficult to break into and harder to become a successful one. But that's the way it is in most of the entertainment industry which the comic book industry is part of. For every Brad Pitts there are at least 100 actors trying to break into acting. So, by your logic they should even try because they will never ever make.

Also, if you wrote the greatest story ever written, you had the greatest comic book artist and that artist did their best job on the book, do you think that people don't normally come into comic book stores will flock to them just because you wrote it? If you think that you have "The Field of Dreams" illusion. "If I write it and print it they will come." Obviously, in most cases (Ninja Turtles being one expection), it doesn't work that way.

As I said in a previous post, there is no one solution nor is the one problem with the comic book industry. It is a combination of elements, both in and outside the industry, which has caused the comic book industry to fall. Great stories is only one step to the answer. But if you don't get the book into the masses, the industry will fail.
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Homer Jay Simpson

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#478315 - 11/02/01 07:48 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
Flying Pig,
Actually I understood your point and it is one I strongly agree with. There is nothing getting kids into reading comics nowadays to grow the audience.

You mention Harry Potter. I wonder if the writer of Harry Potter had pitched it to Marvel, DC, Image, or anyone else for that matter as comic book series if they would have published it. Just think if Harry Potter had been a comic series instead of a book series. Would it be as popular as it is now? My bet is no one would have agreed to publish it.
Zeus

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#478316 - 11/02/01 09:28 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Siege of Quebec Offline
Member

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 529
Loc: Quebec,Qc, Canada
flying pig, what 90`s Boom? The Death of Superman came when, in 1993? If i`m not mystaken, it was not long after that the market crashed. If there was a "Boom" it`s very recently, say 1998, when Marvel Knights appeared, by giving a few Marvel characters some maturity. And then Wildstorm started pomping good comics like Authority, Planetary, etc...Powers came around that time too (late 90`s). Of course it`s a renaissance mostly directed at the super-hero genre and is based on qualtiy, not sales...
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#478317 - 11/03/01 12:24 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
ScottChantler Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 675
Loc: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Flyingpig, I have no idea where you're getting "frustrated" or "upset" from either of my previous posts. I am simply, in answer to your question, telling you that I am a creative professional who has long since written off the comics industry as any kind of forum for my work, and suggested that there are likely many others out there like me. Since I have found alternate venues to make a (very good) living off of my work, this really isn't a major disappointment for me. I don't take the whole thing as seriously as you obviously do. So don't reflect your frustration onto me, okay? Thanks.

Quote:
In the business world everyone can be replaced or laid off. And the comic book industry is a business. Do you think when Bob Cane stepped way from Batman; people thought no one else is ever going to write Batman? How about when Stan Lee stepped down from writing at Marvel, did Marvel close the doors because there was no one else to write?


Well thanks for clearing that up. I certainly didn't realize that comics was a business (we could argue all day, however, over whether or not they're a good one).

And your Bob Kane and Stan Lee examples don't even stand up to the laugh test: obviously, both men stepped aside from their famous creations at a time when the industry was healthy and actively producing new talent. What you're asking is whether or not such would be the case today. It's largely a false comparison, because no one is creating the likes of Batman or Spiderman in today's comics scene. The reason? Creators the likes of Kane and Lee don't exist in today's industry. Why? Because they're doing something else for a living.

Quote:
For every Brad Pitts there are at least 100 actors trying to break into acting. So, by your logic they should even try because they will never ever make.


I'd say a lot more than a hundred. But again, this is a false comparison. Every now and then, someone becomes wildly successful as an actor. Sure, it's a crapshoot, but every now and then someone rolls sevens and actually makes a living at it. Occasionally, someone (like Brad Pitt) even makes it big--REALLY big. It's this potential payoff of fame, glory, and big bucks that makes the wannabes keep going, and attracts new blood to the profession.

In comics, there is no potential payoff. No fame, no glory, and certainly no money. If there were, you can bet your ass there'd be more people trying to get into the business. Which WAS what you asked, wasn't it?

Quote:
Also, if you wrote the greatest story ever written, you had the greatest comic book artist and that artist did their best job on the book, do you think that people don't normally come into comic book stores will flock to them just because you wrote it? If you think that you have "The Field of Dreams" illusion. "If I write it and print it they will come." Obviously, in most cases (Ninja Turtles being one expection), it doesn't work that way.


Umm...okay. Are you responding to anything in particular that I wrote with this, or just rambling like a lunatic?



------------------
Scott Chantler www.scottchantler.com

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!"
- Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

[This message has been edited by ScottChantler (edited 11-03-2001).]
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Scott Chantler
www.scottchantler.com

"The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be."
- Arthur C. Clarke

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#478318 - 11/03/01 12:48 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
I seem to see comics as probably the most conservative of industries. Everyone has had trouble coming up with the name of a new great writer. The only name that seems to be occasionally thrown out is Bendis. My feeling on Bendis is that because he is the only new talent, everyone wants him. The first couple books I read by him were very good reads. Now, it seems like he's writing thirty different titles and switching titles every other day. The result is that he's written some weak stories. The name Bendis doesn't necessarily mean a very good read like it use to. I'm sure if he narrowed himself to a couple titles and stuck with them (and before someone points it out, I know with some titles it wasn't his fault he left) then the quality of his stories would go up. But the reality probably is that to only write a couple books probably doesn't make enough money to call it a full time career. The industry itself fragments and stretches thin writers because every publisher wants to just use an established name to sell books and could care less about the quality of what they might be writing. If publishers were out there actively recruiting new talent then maybe Bendis wouldn't be the only new talent. Maybe there would be several great stories out there, which would bring more readers into comics, which would make overall sales go up, which would mean writers could afford to focus on just a few books and put fourth their best writing efforts. I still believe in the Field of Dreams comparison. If the comic industry produces good stories then I believe readers will come.
Zeus

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#478319 - 11/03/01 01:58 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Captain Testicles Offline
Member

Registered: 10/03/01
Posts: 34
Loc: Pudendum, Mi
how do you kill something thats already dead???!!?
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Smell my Love

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#478320 - 11/03/01 06:07 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
JeffMason Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 591
Loc: Gainesville, Florida, USA
I think that there are plenty of new ideas and new creators coming into comics all of the time. At every convention I attend, there are at least two cartoonists I've never met that I want to publish and meet a half-dozen or so that I think should be publishing comics... I get dozens of submissions every week with exciting new ideas and exciting new creators. I just have to be very picky about who I publish within my small publishing company.



------------------
Jeff Mason
Publisher
Alternative Comics
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Jeff Mason - Publisher
Alternative Comics

Web: http://www.indyworld.com/altcomics
Forum: http://www.talkaboutcomics.com/index2.php?c=28#alt

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#478321 - 11/03/01 08:01 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
Jeff,
You might very well be publishing the most innovative comics in the industry with new ideas and new creators. The sad thig is I've never seen a single one of the comics you publish at any of my local comic shops. I and numerous other fans probably don't know they exist. My criticism if you want to call it criticism is more directed at the major publishers. If there are new creators and new ideas out there, they seem to be mired in low distribution independents that have been squeezed out of most struggling comic shops. The major publishers won't take a chance on new creators and new ideas because they are strapped for money. The comic shops won't take a chance on carrying independent titles they haven't heard of because they are strapped for money.

One fact just hit me that I think really sums up my point. Think about the writer that has popped up most as being new talent in this discussion. Brian Michael Bendis. Now, think about who really was the first to give him a break in mainstream comics. I know he did some stuff before then, but the first time I read something carried by Bendis at my local shop was Sam & Twitch. Todd McFarlane was the first one to really take a chance on Bendis. It was only after McFarlane gave him the shot that Marvel recognized the talent and snatched him up. DC and Marvel are good at snatching away talent from independents, etc, but seem to be struggling to develop new talent on their own. When Todd McFarlane is the only one bringing new writing talent into the industry, you know there is a problem.
Zeus

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#478322 - 11/03/01 11:02 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
JeffMason Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 591
Loc: Gainesville, Florida, USA
Actually that's not true -- Brian Michael Bendis did AKA Goldfish/Jinx for a few years for Caliber (1995-1997) and hit all of the comic book conventions and worked his ass off. I recall him being a one-man wrecking crew in terms of knocking the doors down to get his books into stores. I recall getting a lot of mail directed to my mail order business from Brian to get me to carry his stuff...

This industry has plenty of talent and plenty of new ideas. Why should DC and Marvel "develop" talents when they can pay better writers and artists to do stuff for them? I won't "develop" talents either -- that's why I won't publish someone who hasn't self-published, done minis, or been in an anthology...

------------------
Jeff Mason
Publisher
Alternative Comics

[This message has been edited by JeffMason (edited 11-03-2001).]
_________________________
Jeff Mason - Publisher
Alternative Comics

Web: http://www.indyworld.com/altcomics
Forum: http://www.talkaboutcomics.com/index2.php?c=28#alt

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#478323 - 11/03/01 11:52 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
Jeff,
I won't profess to know a lot of Bendis's background. But what you are saying doesn't change my point. Bendis worked his ass off, publishing for a small publisher (caliber). He probably should have been picked up by Marvel or DC way back then. It took Todd McFarlane and Image to give him his break in the mainstream (I use mainstream as a synonym for DC, Marvel, and Image since they are virtually the only companies with titles in the top 100 sales and they are virtually the only publishers I see at most comic shops).

And your last statement backs up my point to "that's why I won't publish someone who hasn't self-published, done minis, or been in an anthology..."
So you're basically saying if someone you had never heard with no comic experience sent you the next Watchman or the next Harry Potter (in comic version for kids) that you turn them down. Why wouldn't it be based on the quality of the story, why wouldn't you publish a book that was a great read regardless of if the writer had any experience?
Zeus

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#478324 - 11/04/01 05:14 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
JeffMason Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 591
Loc: Gainesville, Florida, USA
How would this person send me the next Watchmen? You are going to tell me that someone who has never completed one story for an anthology or printed up one mini-comic is going to be ready to be published? I guess we may be comparing apples to oranges -- I don't hook up writers and artists. I don't accept scripts as submissions. I also don't accept samples of artwork as submissions. I accept full project proposals as submissions. Nope -- I am not going to publish someone who doesn't know how to put a comic book story together.

There are more good cartoonists out there that can put something together on their own than I am able to publish, so why agree to publish a project from someone who has no idea what they are doing?

I wouldn't publish Harry Potter nor Watchmen anyway, I'm not really into that genre stuff. And if you are only talking about superhero comics being lacking in new talent, I don't think you are right as I see new names attached to superhero comics all of the time.

Most companies are unwilling to hire absolutely new talent for absolutely new projects because the new talent has no ability to generate sales for that company because of their lack of name recognition. The new project would most likely fail because comic book readers, perhaps like yourself, need the name Brian Michael Bendis or Kevin Smith to buy a comic book from that company.

You are arguing a tautology in that you say "there is no new talent and the companies aren't taking a chance on anyone new" -- actually there is new talent and the companies are taking chances on new folks, but you don't think these new talents have achieved something some set of criteria to appear on your radar.

I can think of many dozens of new cartoonists/writers with loads of promise from the last ten years: Jason, James Sturm, Ben Catmull, Graham Annable, Nick Bertozzi, Matt Madden, James Kochalka, Jason Lutes, Ed Brubaker, Adrian Tomine, Tom Hart, Jon Lewis, Paul Pope, Jessica Abel, Kurt Wolfgang, Ariel Schrag, Ben Katchor, Brian Biggs, Brian Ralph, Craig Thompson, Derek Kirk, Ellen Lindner, Gabrielle Bell, Jason Little, K. Thor Jensen, Kalah Allen, Lark Pien, Lauren Weinstein, Laurenn McCubbin, Robyn Chapman, Ron Rege Jr., Sam Hester, Sara Varon, Steve Weissman, Jen Sorensen, Tomer Hanuka, Robert Ullman, Jeff Smith, and Scott Morse just to name a few...

[This message has been edited by JeffMason (edited 11-04-2001).]
_________________________
Jeff Mason - Publisher
Alternative Comics

Web: http://www.indyworld.com/altcomics
Forum: http://www.talkaboutcomics.com/index2.php?c=28#alt

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#478325 - 11/04/01 01:58 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Oscar Solis. Offline
Member

Registered: 02/18/00
Posts: 62
Loc: Bakersfield, CA
I think the answer would be a bit of both.
But it's true of all mediums. Hollywood studios don't want small stories, they want blockbusters that'll cover the losses of all the other "blockbusters" that didn't make it. I think it's the same with the comic industry (the majors, I mean). After all is said and done it's a business that's beholden to the market.
Still, I find it interesting that "From Hell", perhaps the greatest graphic novel of all time (imho), didn't come from the majors. Why would we expect it to? No superheroes, no exploding galaxies, no "I'm the best at what I do and what I do isn't very nice". It's just a historical novel that examines the society that allowed 5 murders to happen. But it's the highwater mark. Do I expect the majors to hit it? Nah, They may try, but I don't think it'll happen because chances are they'll try it with superheroes and when all is said and done, it's still too damn hard to take a guy in trunks seriously, no matter how well crafted the story is.

The best hope lies in the independent creators. The ones who don't aspire to working for the majors. They'll be the ones that bring the best stories to fruitation.

And perhaps it's time that the comics shops took a good hard look at what they're selling and how fast it ends up in the half price bin.

If you want an idea of what great levels the comics form can reach check out Eddie Campbell's list of the best graphic novels at the end of 'Alec: How to be an Artist".

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#478326 - 11/04/01 06:20 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
Jeff,
I can't tell if we are agreeing or arguing. My entire post started with that publishers are not willing to take chances on new ideas or new creators, and you're basically saying even as a small publisher you aren't either.
You seem to be raising the counterpoint that someone with no experience can't create the great American comic book. I would argue though that they could have gotten their experience in short stories, magazines, or some other medium. Or they just might be a very good natural talent. Personally I have the upmost respect for the small publishers and self publishers. But I think the mainstream is overlooking them currently as well. My entire point is that it should be based on the work. Publishers should look at if the story is a great read and that should be irregardless of if the writer and/or artist have tons of experience, a little experience in independents, or no experience at all. Instead they are just looking at the name. They will stretch the few big names in the industry thin trying to slap their name on every book to just move product. And maybe it's working somewhat now. But I as a fan am starting to get tired of seeing the few good writers in the field hired on to do six issue stints and then switched to another title. I know it's a clever trick to get fans reading that title and then hope they keep buying after the star writer has left. And it probably works for a couple issues, but as a fan I am getting frustrated.
I find it surprising that while many have pointed to writers thy consider great working in self or small publishing and while many have agrued that there are better comics than the Watchmen, very few have focused on my original point that new ideas and new creators are not being developed by the mainstream comic industry.
Zeus

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#478327 - 11/05/01 01:11 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Ayo Offline
Member

Registered: 10/22/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: New York
I don't know...doom and gloom was me in high school.

I think that solid talent, diverse ideas, and SOUND BUSINESS PRACTICES can resurrect this god-forsaken industry from its deathbed.
_________________________
Don't gotta go rush to Toys'R'Us to get your cabbage patched, kid.

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#478328 - 11/05/01 01:35 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Ayo Offline
Member

Registered: 10/22/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: New York
here's a quick list of quality comics that have strong marketable features(story, art, star power, etc).

I'm keeping this strictly to graphic novels/TPBs, so they're readily availible to the general public at ANY Borders Books/Barns and Nobles.

Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth
From Hell
Bone
Hellboy
AKIRA
JINX
Kabuki
Essential Marvel collections
Kingdom Come
Marvels
Ultimate X-MEn
Ultimate Spiderman
Strangers In Paradise
Torso
Fire
Sin City
Elfquest
Ranma1/2
Battle Angel Alita
Lone Wolf and Cub
Blade of the Immortal
Sailor Moon
Gundam
Pokemon
Monkey Vs. Robot
Sketchbook Diaries
Peanutbutter and Jeremy
Understanding Comics
Reinventing Comics
Secret Comics of Japan(or something to that effect)
Dance Till Tomorrow
Banana Fish
Black & White(manga)
Black Jack(manga)
Adolph
Clerks
Jay & Silent Bob
Grrl Scouts(I think its availible)
Skeleton Key
Hellblazer
Preacher
Sandman
The Dreaming
Death
Usagi Yojimbo
Star Wars
DC Collections
Gold/Silver/Bronze Age reprint collections
100 Bullets
Spawn
The Savage Dragon
some Heavy Metal collections
Crying Freeman
Akiko
R. Crumb collections
Tin Tin
Asterix

and that's just off the top of my head.

we've got power, its just about MOVING these units. PERIOD.
_________________________
Don't gotta go rush to Toys'R'Us to get your cabbage patched, kid.

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#478329 - 11/06/01 06:21 AM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
RCRUZ Offline
Member

Registered: 09/03/99
Posts: 283
Loc: Guaynabo, P.R.
Zeus:

I disagree, to a degree.
You have a point that some comics being published today are just ... great. Not outstanding like a Dark Knight, Watchmen. Some meet that standard like Powers and others but it isn't a lack of creators or new ideas.
The culprit is the system.
It's not premeditated but has anybody else noted that many of the creators and new ideas come from venues OTHER than the big two?
The biz of comics (as it stands economically) can't take chances now (NEVER really did before) and continues to 'reinvent' the mouse trap by sticking to what they 'know' will work.
In other words, they play it safe.
What would I do to fix it?
The PTB should look and I mean REALLY look at what's out there.
Heck, just check some of these banners on comicon like "Astounding Space Thrills" and others and give them a chance (either the creation or the creator) sponsor a run, find a way to do it cheap just for those 'bean counters' but the purpose would be keep the creative juices flowing, looking for that next Watchmen, or Dark Knight.
I know, it's just a pipe dream. Y'see when you add all those people that will EVENTUALLY screw either you or your creation or creators that can't (or won't) reconcile the realities of the biz (at least try to) and then you're back where you started.
Having new creators and new ideas OUTSIDE of the mainstream. It's almost like a never- ending loop.

Like Dennis Miller says, "Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

[This message has been edited by RCRUZ (edited 11-06-2001).]

[This message has been edited by RCRUZ (edited 11-06-2001).]

[This message has been edited by RCRUZ (edited 11-06-2001).]

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#478330 - 11/11/01 01:30 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
Any killing of the comic industry is not being done by the companies, it's being done by the consumers, the collectors, and their lack of interest in anything new. Marvel's New Universe was one of the most interesting things to be done by the major two companies in the late 80's, and it didn't take, despite their attempt to take the theme of Watchmen (superheroes in a "real-world" setting) into an on-going series of magazines. Zeus, your interest for new ideas and creators is not one that most other buyers seem to share.

There is no lack of ideas and creators in the industry...the industry, due to market demands, is simply promoting the wrong ideas and creators.

An example of where they're doing it right is with DC and their release of the book that was superhero stories written and illustrated by alternative cartoonists. Top rate entertainment.

Eastman, Laird, McCloud, Moore, Miller, and others like them took the final step with superheroes before outright parody. Parody is the final step, and that was begun in the 90s, and continues through today (with books like DC's, and the Marvel tribute put out by Highwater ).

Anything else that tries to handles superheroes seriously is superfluous, and can't really go anywhere that hasn't been reached. There can be different takes on it, but at that point it's just a Black Belt Hamster instead of a Ninja Turtle.

But for all that, the comic book industry is about as important in this country as the model train industry. There are people that are trying new things, but you won't see them in your typical comic store. If you can't see them there, don't blame the publisher. Heck, don't even blame the store owner, even. Blame the rest of the narrow minded simpletons that keeping buying the same old crap off of the shelves.

And, since you can post on this board, the fact that you don't see it in the store is no excuse. All of the comics mentioned by other posters here (and MORE, so much more) are available online in many different places. Start with Highwater, because Tom bought me dinner once. Then move on from there. Or, if you go to a convention, seek out the Alternative Press area, or Minicomics area. That's where you'll find the good stuff of today.
_________________________
FC Brandt
aka BaiNst
http://www.bainst.com

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#478331 - 11/11/01 10:08 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:

Just what the hell are you blabbering about?

"Any killing of the comic industry is not being done by the companies, it's being done by the consumers, the collectors, and their lack of interest in anything new."

I've rarely (if ever)heard a more ridiculous statement. The fact is the average consumer buys the most readily available product at the most affordable price. Plain and simple. If the publishers decide to produce multiple versions of the same product, and the retailer chooses to carry that and only that, then that is what the consumer will buy. They are generally not going to go out of their way to find something else. Instead they will complain about things being the way they are, or they just won't buy at all.

And this is not limited to comics by any means. The same thing can and does happen to any number of products.

How many times do you find a product you buy regularly at the supermarket only to find suddenly that store no longer carries it, because "it didn't sell"? Happens to me all the time. Turns out every single time that the Buyer for the Supermarket tried the product and didn't like it, so they stopped ordering it, despite the fact the product was selling well.

The same thing happens with the vast majority of comics retailers (or retailers in general - there's no exclusivity to be claimed here). They're either buying and pushing what they themselves like, or they push what they're told to by the publishers / manufacturers of the products they sell.

It has little to nothing to do with consumers, whatsoever- it has to do with the Buyers. (And in the comics industry, in case you didn't know, the Buyers are Diamond and other distribution outlets first, the retailers second.)

Your comments about buying comics online is basically nonsense. Since when is there anyone exactly turning online comics or self-publishers turning their online mail order sales into a cash cow anywhere? None that I've ever heard of. Most of the self-publishers I know regularly tell me to tell my retailer to order it for me, because they simply don't have the time to create their books and distribute them via mail order as well.

Then there's the fact that most online stores want you to buy through cedit cards, which not everyone has, and the price and hassles of money orders (since checks are sometimes not accepted by these outlets) makes the hassle for such a small, pithy item not worth the effort to the average individual.

As for your comments about Marvel's New Universe line and taking the "theme" of Watchmen (FYI, superheroes in the real world is the *concept* of WATCHMEN, not the theme) is completely off. New Universe had a number of horrid titles that were poorly conceived and executed even more poorly. The only title of the lot that was well done was D.P. 7 and it held an audience for about 4, maybe 5 years, including the specials after the series ended. People's interests in books do depend on the quality of said books too, y'know.

I will agree with you that the industry is promoting the wrong ideas and creators, but I hate to tell you it's not because of market demand. It's because corporate companies are going to promote the products they want to promote and you, the consumer, will like it or else. And people aren't liking what's being promoted, so the "else" is an ever-shrinking market as readers leave the industry in droves.

Can the market recover? Sure, if the industry stops with the bullshit attitude of exclusivity deals, creatively limiting genres and other idiocy and actually distribute and market the products that are being produced right now that would create a wider diversity of clientele.

So, to answer the initial question of the thread- no, there is no lack of new talent or new ideas, Zeus. Just a lack of common sense when it comes to getting them out to the public.

Louis Bright-Raven

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#478332 - 11/11/01 01:08 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Ayo Offline
Member

Registered: 10/22/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: New York
BLAAAOW!!
_________________________
Don't gotta go rush to Toys'R'Us to get your cabbage patched, kid.

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#478333 - 11/11/01 02:48 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
flaming white Offline
Member

Registered: 10/28/01
Posts: 73
Hey Zeus-yer right and DC's entire vertigo line is proof of that. For king of the burned out creators I nominate Howie Chaykin, he's been re-cycling the same plot ideas and character ciphers for almost 20 years

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#478334 - 11/12/01 02:12 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
Mr. Bright-Raven:

"Just what the hell are you blabbering about?"

Well, since you're too dense to figure it out yourself, let me enlighten you...

"The fact is the average consumer buys the most readily available product at the most affordable price."

This is decidedly untrue. Otherwise, when DC released their line of 60 cent comics (maybe it was 75...whatever) in the early nineties, they would have been a hit, right? Your "plain and simple" statement ignores quality and preference for taste. I'm sorry, but I won't buy Coors Light even though it's cheaper than Corona.

"If the publishers decide to produce multiple versions of the same product, and the retailer chooses to carry that and only that, then that is what the consumer will buy."

This sentence (and the rest of the paragraph which I did not quote) pretty much proves my point. You, and consumers like you, are responsible for the lack of choice. You continue to go to stores and buy from their limited choice, rather than seeking out alternatives which (despite your later protestations) do exist, and since you're too lazy to look for them yourself, I'll do you the favor of listing several of them at the end of this "blabbering".

"How many times do you find a product you buy regularly at the supermarket only to find suddenly that store no longer carries it, because "it didn't sell"? Happens to me all the time. Turns out every single time that the Buyer for the Supermarket tried the product and didn't like it, so they stopped ordering it, despite the fact the product was selling well."

Hm...every single time, huh? I doubt it. In fact, I doubt it was the reason even once. Do you know how incredibly low the profit margin is for grocery stores? Fact is, they couldn't afford to take something off of the shelves simply because the "buyer" didn't like it. Fact is, the store owner would probably fire the buyer that would do such a thing...or do you live in a world where owners and managers have no idea what sells in their store?

"The same thing happens with the vast majority of comics retailers (or retailers in general - there's no exclusivity to be claimed here). They're either buying and pushing what they themselves like, or they push what they're told to by the publishers / manufacturers of the products they sell."

I don't doubt that there are many retailers that do just this. I've had the pleasure of meeting perhaps two or three out of the dozens I've had dealings with. In my experience, however, you greatly overstate the case.

"It has little to nothing to do with consumers, whatsoever- it has to do with the Buyers. (And in the comics industry, in case you didn't know, the Buyers are Diamond and other distribution outlets first, the retailers second.)"

Oh, thanks for letting me know how it "works." The sorry fact is, Diamond picks up a great number of independent books, and distributes them. And stores actually buy them, and put them on their shelves. Then, the consumers come in, and most go straight for the superhero shelves, and miss the alternate choices, causing retailers to place lower orders on consecutive issues, until the orders drop to such a low point that Diamond refuses to carry them any longer. This is a fact, and you can add that to your list of "how it works" when you describe it to the next person, okay?

Your comments about buying comics online is basically nonsense.

Oh? Well, why is that? Oh, wait, you explain below:

Since when is there anyone exactly turning online comics or self-publishers turning their online mail order sales into a cash cow anywhere?

I never said people were making great sums of money from mail order sales. Go back and re-read my post if you don't believe me. I said that they're available.

None that I've ever heard of.

That's because you're exactly the sort of consumer that I'm blaming for the problem.

Most of the self-publishers I know regularly tell me to tell my retailer to order it for me, because they simply don't have the time to create their books and distribute them via mail order as well.

Again, I doubt it. I doubt you've once spoken to a self-publisher. Next time you're at a convention, try talking to a self-publisher. You're wholly incorrect, and your wrongness is only bolstered by the fact that many self-publishers make time to go to conventions and LOSE money doing so. It's true that they'd prefer to be carried by the retailers, and would love if you'd get out of your little consumer bunker, and actually help promote hard-to-find work, but the fact is, most stores won't carry their stuff, because not enough people will buy it, so they're happy to mail you the damn things themselves.

Then there's the fact that most online stores want you to buy through cedit cards, which not everyone has, and the price and hassles of money orders (since checks are sometimes not accepted by these outlets) makes the hassle for such a small, pithy item not worth the effort to the average individual.

Well then the "average individual" (which I can only assume is what you feel yourself to be) will just have to continue putting up with the crap that they get, because they keep mindlessly buying it, instead of seeking out alternate venues. You can keep making excuses, but they only make it clearer that the problem begins and ends with your "average individual" consumer. Don't have a credit card? Use a check. They won't take a check? Unlikely, but if this is the case, find a place where you can buy multiple things at once, and this solves the problem of going through the trouble of getting a money order, because you'll be getting a box load of stuff it that order. Lastly, you can always send cash. Few people have problems getting what they pay for.

Gee, I solved your problem, huh? I'll be sure to look for your order in my mailbox any day now.

"As for your comments about Marvel's New Universe line and taking the "theme" of Watchmen (FYI, superheroes in the real world is the *concept* of WATCHMEN, not the theme) is completely off."

Your appraisal of the quality of the New Universe line is incorrect. It was no better or worse (art, writing or paper quality) than the other superhero stuff Marvel was putting out at the time.

Also, your correction of my use of the word "theme" is incorrect as well. It's quite possible (and perhaps even probable) that Alan Moore did not intend it as a theme, however I could easily defend that "superheroes in the real-world" is in fact a theme of the book, even if unintentional. Theme is not defined by intention, and you're welcome to look it up. In fact, I suggest you look up words before you correct people in their usage.

"I will agree with you that the industry is promoting the wrong ideas and creators, but I hate to tell you it's not because of market demand."

I hate for you to tell me that, too, so don't. We'll go on, and pretend like you didn't, okay?

"It's because corporate companies are going to promote the products they want to promote and you, the consumer, will like it or else."

Um...or else what, exactly? I'm sorry, but when I stopped buying big corporate comicbooks, nobody from Marvel came to my door to threaten me.

"And people aren't liking what's being promoted, so the "else" is an ever-shrinking market as readers leave the industry in droves."

Oh! That's the "else"? Well, boy, that's got me shaking in my boots. Those corporate big shots sure are smart to scare off readers like that. I'll grant you that Marvel and DC made some serious mistakes in catering to the collector's market rather than the readers, and they will probably not be able to recover any time soon, if at all.

"Can the market recover? Sure, if the industry stops with the bullshit attitude of exclusivity deals,..."

Okay.

"...creatively limiting genres..."

In the past year, I've seen them letting up here, and I don't even buy the stuff, so I'm further wary of your knowledge in this regard. I site the new talent that Marvel brought in to work on a few of their titles as an example.

"...and other idiocy and actually distribute and market the products that are being produced right now that would create a wider diversity of clientele."

Too vague. I don't know what you're talking about.

"So, to answer the initial question of the thread- no, there is no lack of new talent or new ideas, Zeus. Just a lack of common sense when it comes to getting them out to the public."

Agreed. Plus, the public could actually stick to buying the good stuff, much of which is listed below.

Thank you. I hope this clarifies my earlier "babble", and if not, I'm available to further educate you.

Yours,
FC Brandt

Now, the List. It's by no means complete, but should serve well enough to prove my point that such things exist, despite not being "cash cows". Many of them accept any sort of payment:

If I may be so bold:
www.bainst.com

The aforementioned www.highwaterbooks.com

www.slowwave.com

www.papertheater.com

www.kchronicles.com

http://www.angelfire.com/art/lastwish/
http://www.hi-horse.com/

http://www.indyworld.com/altcomics/

Not currently online,
www.reporter56.com
but email Dylan at reporter56@hotmail.com, and I'm sure he'll send you a price list and take a check.

Or, just go here, and select "alternative"
http://nextplanetover.site.yahoo.net/

www.lastgasp.com offers many self-published titles, even though they continue to ignore me.

www.emptylife.com

www.peterconrad.com

http://www.topshelfcomix.com/topshelf/index.html

http://members.aol.com/cynicalman/

www.astoundingspacethrills.com

Not to mention Slave Labor and Fantagraphics, which don't need my help.

There are many more available, some can be seen here:
http://www.spxpo.com/artists_exhibits.htm

And these guys...
www.insightstudiosgroup.com


(edited to correct my spelling of the word "accept" so that you don't get derailed from the point, and because I forgot a good friend's site)

[This message has been edited by BaiNst (edited 11-12-2001).]
_________________________
FC Brandt
aka BaiNst
http://www.bainst.com

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#478335 - 11/12/01 11:20 PM 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
I wrote: "If the publishers decide to produce multiple versions of the same product, and the retailer chooses to carry that and only that, then that is what the consumer will buy."

BaiNst: This sentence (and the rest of the paragraph which I did not quote) pretty much proves my point. You, and consumers like you, are responsible for the lack of choice. You continue to go to stores and buy from their limited choice, rather than seeking out alternatives which (despite your later protestations) do exist, and since you're too lazy to look for them yourself, I'll do you the favor of listing several of them at the end of this "blabbering".

"I doubt you've once spoken to a self-publisher. Next time you're at a convention, try talking to a self-publisher. You're wholly incorrect, and your wrongness is only bolstered by the fact that many self-publishers make time to go to conventions and LOSE money doing so. It's true that they'd prefer to be carried by the retailers, and would love if you'd get out of your little consumer bunker, and actually help promote hard-to-find work, but the fact is, most stores won't carry their stuff, because not enough people will buy it, so they're happy to mail you the damn things themselves."

**********

You obviously have no clue who you're talking to.

FYI, I happen to *be* a self-publisher, have been published in the small press with Arrow Comics, been published as a writer of reviews of literally hundreds of various small press titles and about three dozen interviews with small press talent in both paper and online print, and quite possibly have met more professionals who have worked in this industry than you've got comics in your entire collection.

Just off the cuff, here's what *I* have purchased in comics since 1999, asshole:

HECTIC PLANET Vols. I-III TPBS by Evan Dorkin (Slave Labor)

GLOOMCOOKIE by Serena Valentino (Slave Labor)

THE GRIFFIN TPB by Dan Vado / Norman Felchle (Amaze Ink / Slave Labor)

ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE: ONE SHOT, ONE BEER by Larry Young & Charlie Adlard (AIT/PlanetLar)

CHANNEL ZERO by Brian Wood (AIT/PlanetLar)

QUICKEN FORBIDDEN by Dave Roman and John Green (Cryptic Press)

ELECTRIC GIRL by Michael Brennan (Mighty Gremlin)

WAHOO MORRIS by Craig Taileffer (Too Hip Gotta Go Graphics)

WANDERING STAR (conclusion) and DARKLIGHT by Teri Sue Wood (Pen & Ink Comics / Sirius)

FINDER and MYSTERY DATE by Carla Speed McNeil (Lightspeed Press)

RACHEL DANARA, MYSTIC FOR HIRE by Chris Wichtendahl and Jeff Zugale (that's right - the same one here on comicon.com who runs the same character as a digital comic - Pagan City Comics)

OPERATOR 99 and TAXMAN by Doug Miers and various arists (Comics Conspiracy)

TOHUBOHU: WORLD GONE WILD by David & Seth Bier, Gabe Aberola, and various (New Breed Comics)

PROPHECY OF THE SOUL SORCERER by Seaton, Blaine, and various (Arcane Comics)

NOCTURNALS by Daniel Brereton (Dark Horse / Oni)

THE MARQUIS by Guy Davis (Caliber / Oni)

NEVERMEN by Phil Amara & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)

HELLBOY by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)

GRENDEL: DEVIL'S LEGACY by Matt Wanger and the Pander Bros. (Dark Horse)

MAGE I & II By Matt Wagner (Image)

A DISTANT SOIL by Colleen Doran (Aria Press / later Image)

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE by James Robinson and Paul Smith (Homage Comics)

THE WIZARD'S TALE by Kurt Busiek & David Wenzel (Homage Comics)

POWERS by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming (Image)

AGE OF BRONZE by Eric Shanower (Image)

ATOMIC TOYBOX #1,2 (of 3, which to my knowledge was never released) by Aaron Lopresti (Image)

TREKKER one shot by Ron Randall (Image)

C.H.I.X. by Studiosaurus (Image)

SECTION ZERO #1-3 (Again a series that wasn't finished) by Karl Kesel & Tom Grummett (Gorilla / Image)

SHOCKROCKETS by Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen (Gorilla / Image)

Probably about thirty titles from Arrow Comics by various creators, so I'm not going to bother listing every single one of those...

I could list literally hundreds more books, but someone with even *your* infintestimally small mind should be able to get the point that I read a vast number of creator-owned, mostly self-published titles (even the Image titles I buy are technically self-published.)

As for my Marvel Purchases since 1999, hell that's short:

THUNDERBOLTS through #50
AVENGERS: KREE-SKRULL WAR TPB

That's all? 'Fraid so, Joe.

Dark Horse? Not including the creator-owned books listed above, just their "bread-and- butter" titles (i.e. Manga and Licensed)? Then we have:

BUFFY #1-25
ANGEL #1-12

Yeah, I'm burning a hole in my pocket there.

Image - Depends on what you call an Image book. If you're of the mind set that the Founders are Image and the rest are just self-publishing under the Image banner (which is basically how it works), then no, I don't read any Image books, because I wouldn't touch Top Cow, McFarlane, or Larsen's stuff (Or Liefeld's or the initial Wildstorm line when they were part of the mix.)

Then, you've got DC. I *must* be a DC fanatic, since according to BaiNst all I do is buy the mainstream:

JSA #1-25
LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #132-135
BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIIONS TPB
STARS & S.T.R.I.P.E. #1-11(??? Whenever it was canceled, anyway)
COUNTDOWN #1-8
CREATURE COMMANDOS #1-8
CAMELOT 3000 TPB
ANIMAL MAN TPB
TOM STRONG #1-6
TOP TEN #1-11 (12 eventually)

So yeah, DC's the breadwinner (if you could call it that). Again, about half or so of these titles were creator-owned or otherwise were outside the DCU and / or the Wildstorm Universe.

Getting the picture? I don't buy the mainstream as a rule of thumb. I'll maybe read through them at the local bookstore that carries them just to keep a base idea of what's going on (when I can stomach it), but purchase? Not even.

Furthermore, I don't go to comics shops on any regular basis, because as everyone has heard me state only about 10 million times on these boards- there AREN'T any within 80 miles of my home. Why not? Because the moronic retailers (all 7 of them) that *were* here were too fucking stupid to carry any of the above or other varied titles, despite my and other customers requests. They limited themselves to Marvel, DC sans Vertigo, Helix, Paradox Press, or any other of their non DCU products, Wildstorm (before the sale to DC), Toddy Mac's books and Top Cow. Period. Oh wait, I almost forgot- they also carried Chaos Comics' titty books for the 6 months they were "hot", too.

The result: They all pretty much canceled each other out and there hasn't been a comic shop here since early 1999.

I do mail order through a retailer in Michigan (I'm in Nevada), and even *he* has trouble getting the titles I want from time to time. (Particularly in the case of FINDER and QUICKEN FORBIDDEN for some reason... and with FINDER, which is a very successful small press title, I've had no less than 12 retailers tell me that they've had to deal directly with creator Carla McNeil, because why? Diamond can't be bothered to fill their orders. Go figure.)

BaiNst writes:

*******

"The sorry fact is, Diamond picks up a great number of independent books, and distributes them. And stores actually buy them, and put them on their shelves. Then, the consumers come in, and most go straight for the superhero shelves, and miss the alternate choices, causing retailers to place lower orders on consecutive issues, until the orders drop to such a low point that Diamond refuses to carry them any longer. This is a fact, and you can add that to your list of 'how it works' when you describe it to the next person, okay?"

*****

Acutally, asshole, that's NOT fact. That is what Diamond would have you to believe to be fact.

The FACT is, Diamond is known to undercut their orders so that retailers who have ordered the independents don't get them, which makes the retailers think the publisher screwed up, thus causing a lower order in consecutive issues and thus allowing Diamond "cause" for them to cancel a title, citing "low sales". This is why so many retailers who *really* want to carry independents have to order direct from the publisher, because Diamond is fucking over both the small press and the retailers who want to support them. (Like FINDER, see above. Like Arrow Comics' LAND OF OZ, which shipped on time from Day One 11 months straight and showed slow but progressively improving sales figures, but was cut by Dimaond, who informed Arrow that they could only do minis and not a regular monthly. Who the fuck is Diamond to tell *any* publisher what format and with what frequency they can publish? Meanwhile, DAREDEVIL can ship 4-8 months late with little to no reprimand from Diamond. Go figure.)

Another additional FACT is that many retailers see independent publishers at comic conventions and buy up their backstock at the con, build up a clientele for the series back home, and then when they order from Diamond, they can't seem to get the new issues. Why? Because Diamond isn't fulfilling their end of the deal, and most retailers don't want the "hassles and headaches" of going to Cold Cut, FM International, or other small press distributors. Retailers want things "simplified" for them - so they're lazy. That's not my problem; it's theirs.

If the indpendents could afford fiscally and time-wise to traipse around the country to all of the conventions and get their wares out where retailers and consumers could see them, they'd probably sell about triple the orders that they get from Diamond.

But Diamond, with their exclusivity clauses, are going to support who's signed on with them and give them the most capital. And that means Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse (not even Image *really* gets the support, given the wide number of Image Central titles that "bomb" due to Diamond's lack of support towards diversity.)

Now, as for your so-called "fact" that consumers race to superheroes and avoid everything else - that, mister, is the RETAILER'S fault. That's right. The retailer's job is in part to be a salesman for anything and everything they carry in their store.

The *FACT* is, a good retailer who believes in their product can sell it to their customers. I've proven this time and time again by betting various retailers throughout the country that I could pick any self-published or creator-owned title I believed in, have them order the same number of copies as they would X-MEN (Or BATMAN, or SUPERMAN, whichever was their best selling book), and I would sell out of my book before they did that bestseller book, or I would buy the remainder of the copies myself.

Titles I've chosen over the years:

AKIKO
SCARY GODMOTHER
WANDERING STAR
DARKLIGHT
LEAVE IT TO CHANCE
THE WIZARD'S TALE
JOHN BYRNE'S NEXT MEN
HELLBOY
NOCTURNALS
ELECTRIC GIRL
BONE
STRANGERS IN PARADISE
QUICKEN FORBIDDEN

Just to name a few.

I have NEVER once lost that bet. NEVER. Every time "my" book arrived in the store, I would sit in the shop and I listened to the customers bitch and complain about crossovers, having to buy multiple titles featuring the same characters, how they hated what the publishers had done to their chaarcters. How they were going to quit comics altogether.

My reply: "Hey, you're sick of that? Try this instead...."

The problem is, whenever you promote these (or other) independent titles and get people interested in them, they invariably drop the superhero titles. Which these (and dare I say most?) retailers seemingly do NOT want. They want the "easy" sell of X / Bats / Supes / Spidey / Spawn / fill in the blank with whatever else has 5-10 titles a month, because the publishers generally produce them in such fashion that if you buy one, you gotta buy them all.

Now are *all* retailers like this? Of course not. But taking into account the number of retailers in the country v. the population of this country, and where the few intelligent retailers are located, the FACT is that the average person is SOL. (READ: AVERAGE PERSON - the guy who ISN'T READING comics, and you have no chance to bring into your market because of the stupidity that is this nonsense of exclusive distribution. It's high time you people figured out that the comics market is too small a niche for everybody and we're going to have to find a means to reach wider audiences. The Mainstream isn't interested in achieving that, except maybe for themselves through licensing.)


I wrote: "...creatively limiting genres..."

BaiNst:

******

"In the past year, I've seen them letting up here, and I don't even buy the stuff, so I'm further wary of your knowledge in this regard. I site the new talent that Marvel brought in to work on a few of their titles as an example."

********

And what "new" talent would that be, exactly? Please, "site" (sic) me a few, so that I can tell you who they are, what they've done, and that they are most certainly NOT "new" talent. Oh, I imagine there *may* be two or three names, but the vast majority are veteran talents from the small press and / or talents who have seen some success in other entertainment fields.

DC and Image would be more likely places to find "new" talent, quite frankly.

And just how does talent have anything whatsoever with the genres being produced (or more accurately, not being produced)? I'd say it has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Next time you want to try "enlightening" someone, how about you try yourself?

Louis Bright-Raven

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#478336 - 11/12/01 11:45 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Ayo Offline
Member

Registered: 10/22/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: New York
you're mean! [img]/resources/ubb/frown.gif[/img]
_________________________
Don't gotta go rush to Toys'R'Us to get your cabbage patched, kid.

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#478337 - 11/13/01 02:33 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
Cannibal Dee:

I'm mean, eh?

No, I just have little tolerance for ignorance or accusations cast upon me as the likes of BaiNst's. Meanness doesn't even enter the equation, friend.

BaiNst (or any other self-presser) who has the audacity to blame the readers for a lack of interest in their titles is either incredibly naive, incredibly stupid, or incredibly untalented. Usually a combination thereof. Since I've not taken the time to look at BaiNst's comics work, I choose to say he's simply naive.

The extremely limited fashion in which comics are distributed (and the politics which curtail a fair portion thereof) does not allow the majority of works published to reach a wide enough audience. You do not blame the audience for not purchasing something which they've never had an opportunity to try. Nor do you blame an audience for a "lack of interest" in seeking your work out. Depsite that annoying line in FIELD OF DREAMS, just because you built it, DOESN'T mean they will come. You have to take the work to them.

Are there alternative means of distribution? Certainly. Are they effective? To a degree, obviously so. Enough to reach the widest potential audience? Most definitely not. Not even Diamond reaches the widest potential audience.

And that is truly the issue at hand in this thread. There is no lack of new ideas or new talent; it's simply that said ideas and talent are unable to get their wares put forth before the public at large for consideration.

Allow me to reiterate that last - Public At Large. *NOT* just comics readers. The Comics Community is at best a base audience on which we can (theoretically) rest some sales on, but given the fractured economy of the industry as it stands today, I would argue that it's best to seek a means to produce a product that can be geared towards a larger audience base. And that is a goal that publishers and retailers alike are going to have to join forces and work together towards in order to achieve within the comics industry, or publishers are just going to have to start looking outside the comics industry to reach those audiences.

I'd really like to see the former, but sadly I think we have to expect the latter as we move towards the future.

Louis Bright-Raven

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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
_________________________
Ron Phillips

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#478348 - 11/21/01 07:40 PM Re: Is a lack of new ideas and new creators killing the comic's industry?
Elin Winkler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/15/01
Posts: 72
Loc: San Antonio TX
Just thought I'd mention that Radio Comix does four anthologies. None of them are "highbrow" like Raw, Negative Burn, Blab or what have you, but considering the fact that most anthologies seem to die coughing blood, they do okay. Of course, they are very very niche market genre-based anthologies- one funny-animal, one for manga/American manga, and two adults only anthologies, but they have been coming out steadily for years now.

Furrlough, the funny animal anthology just published its tenth anniversary issue and is on issue #107. Mangaphile, our manga-based anthology, is on issue #13 (it's quarterly-and the youngest of our anthologies, at only two years old). The two adult anthologies are on issue #50 (nine years) and issue #25 (four years) and are published under our adult imprint (Sin Factory). Obviously, since they are such specialized genre-type anthologies, we aren't going to appeal to every new artist wanting to break in to the industry, but we've published a lot of new talent in those anthologies- and a lot of those new talents have also branched out and done their own series or books. (Scott Mills does books for Top Shelf, and still does the occasional short piece for Furrlough, for example.)

I agree with the previous posters that a) you are going to be finding new ideas and new talent primarily in the independent end of the comics pool, and b) yes, it does seem the majors aren't really looking for new people or new ideas. Superheroes are nice and all, but I like other genres of comics. After all, I'd hate to go to Blockbuster Video if the only type of movie I could rent was westerns, with no other choices.

--Elin Winkler http://www.radiocomix.com
_________________________
http://www.radiocomix.com

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