Flashback: TWO YEARS AGO

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From: THE BEAT — This is what they want, March 6, 2007:

But there you go, if you listened to the internet, you would think turning WONDER MAN into a book about a cranky superhero who goes to an eccentric Alaskan town would sell like gangbusters. Or Batgirl as a homely but quick witted assistant at a bitchy fashion magazine. But then you see that nothing sells that isn’t a franchised tie-in these days. In our perfect world AGENTS OF ATLAS and WELCOME TO TRANQUILITY and JONAH HEX would be selling 50K a month. In the real world they struggle to sell 20K. There is no market for the quirky creator driven book anymore. The audience craves shock and horror and not solid, character driven fiction. You can’t blame the Big Two for giving the people what they want. As an observer and a sometime editor, my instincts tell me that readers want characters they can identify with and clear problems that these characters need to solve. But the real world shows no evidence whatsoever for this. Was I wrong all along?


Wow, am I a hamster on a donkey wheel?

Comments

  1. Can I be the canary in the mineshaft who cries wolf?

    And two months ago, people wanted comicbooks with President Obama on the cover.

  2. Oddly, Marvel did make a book about a (semi) cranky superhero in an eccentric Alaskan town – though it starred the superheroine Hellcat, rather than Wonder Man. Although it had smart, witty writing from Kathryn Immonen and beautiful art from David Lafuente Garcia, it sold about as well as you’d expect (which is to say, poorly). Hopefully it’ll find some legs in trade form.

    That was probably your eeriest prognostication.

  3. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. says:

    The main problem is that “quirky ideas” is usually a euphemism for stupid.

  4. Except when it isn’t.

  5. Kirk Boxleitner, a.k.a. K-Box says:

    This entire post reads like a non-sequitir.

    Did you actually have a point, or are you talking to hear yourself talk?

  6. Hellcat is a great example of fresh ideas & incredible art = no sales, which is tragic, but the reality we face currently.

    One could argue, that to maintain American comics’ survival, most current comics have widespread stronger artwork than ever before (or at least decent art polished by amazing coloring) but it doesn’t seem enough.

    Millar & Hitch’s Fantastic Four is another example. Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man, Jonah Hex, etc…

  7. Wraith says:

    I said it before, and I’ll say it again, publishers,editors,and creators should take what internet comic fans say with a grain of salt (including my comments). Sometimes the opinions of comic fans reflect the opinions and tastes of most paying customers, and sometimes they don’t.

    For example, remember how most internet comic fans were complaining about Claremont’s writing on UNCANNY X-MEN and blaming/accusing him of ruining the characters and causing sales on the book to fall. These same fans were also asking Marvel to fire him from the X-books and hire big name popular and/or critically acclaimed writers to write UXM (and the X-books in general). Marvel listened to the fans, and fast forward a few years and UXM is selling lower then Claremont’s last issue on the book.

  8. ~chris says:

    SCOTT.
    PILGRIM.

  9. Josh Sinhspar says:

    Yeah because Claremont’s Exiles sold so spectacularly. Oh wait, it got cancelled a year in.

  10. Wraith says:

    Josh, no matter who was writing EXILES, the book would have still been canceled do to low sales. Like I said in my previous post, if removing CC from a book and replacing him with a more popular and/or critically acclaimed writer is enough to make said book sale better, then sales on UXM wouldn’t continue to fall.

  11. Steven R. Stahl says:

    The issue is the enforcing of meaningful editorial standards. I believe you’ll find that character-driven stories are generally acknowledged to be better than plot-driven stories. After all, in a hero vs. villain conflict, it’s unlikely that the hero is going to lose and allow a city, planet, or universe to be destroyed by the villain. Subplots handled by a skilled writer are often more engaging than the main plot in an issue.

    Given that, what’s with all the events? They’re not character-driven stories. They’re practically the opposite, even allowing for flaws in execution. When an editor publicly praises character-driven stories and then proceeds to publish stories that dispense with characterization, he’s a hypocrite at best. Take a look at the results of this Google
    search.

    SRS

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