The News Blog of Comics Culture
Continuing the thread of inquiry that has been going on here at The Beat of late, Dean Haspiel has a nifty little slideshow for you.
Ah yes. All big corporations are evil and out to crush the little people.
I think I’ll sip my Coca Cola while looking at my iPhone. Maybe I’ll Google “evil corporations” so I can warn all my friends on Facebook.
Evil? Who said anything about evil? It’s my choice to work or not work under those conditions. And, I’ve worked under those conditions often.
Now go be a good consumer and buy all the stuff I worked on so I can, one day, roll my eyes in my Rolls Royce.
The system that is in place, that Dean adroitly described, is neither good nor evil. It’s how it is being used is what makes it for good or ill. Currently, it’s mostly for ill.
It doesn’t have to be, but Corporations, not really being people but engines to create capital, choose to do what best serves their immediate needs/desires. And it’s that selfishness that can be percieved as “evil.”
If it wasn’t for DC and then Marvel hiring an artist named Todd McFarlaine, he wouldn’t have gotten the fan base that allowed him and others (who were in basically the same situation) to start Image. With that result, I can’t say the system used by Marvel or DC is evil. Maybe old-fashioned and short-visioned, but not evil.
Now, excuse me while I work on my creator-owned comic.
where has all the experimentation gone?
All too often i see creator owned books, that sound like crazy concepts, but the art and presentation in general looks like an audition piece for getting work at Marvel or DC. There is very little experimentation and risk taking happening.
Its a shame because these same artists post amazing sketches and such on their blogs, but really hold themselves back and even over-process their work when its for publication.
So much fear in producing something that’s a bit different or unexpected.
I think, with any sort of production system there will always be game changing events. At some point, the ‘indie comics’ world will eclipse the super hero genre/publishers. The universe will expand and contract. It seems that artists now have a lot more options than they did even just a few years ago and this is due more to the expansion of the graphic novel category in the traditional publishing world. Funny thing is, the traditional world is so foreign to many in the recent generations of artists that they dont seem to comprehend it. There is an additional caveat: the pubs are looking for kid friendly stuff that will develop as a series. Wimpy Kid, Amulet, Amelia Rules! Baby Mouse, and Bone are what those houses are looking for. Every time a story hits about how many zillions of dollars Wimpy Kid has raked in, the big houses send out more scouts to find the “next” Wimpy Kid.
What I think bothers me greatly about the current environment with the comics/hollywood industry is the push for a share in the intellectual property. Is there any comics publisher left who isnt demanding a slice of everything the artists create? There are a few but they dont seem to have the wheels to promote the books they publish(which is yet another conversation to have).
I know and understand why the publishers have this pavlovian urge to grab all or part of the IP but they dont seem to realize how much they are crappin’ up the environment with this mentality.
As for the new ideas? They are probably on deviantART….
They ‘use’ you? Then you should be ‘using’ them too.
Not everyone wants to be rich. I don’t. Life is far, far more than that. I have friends who feel the same. But when the desire of OTHERS to get rich limits my chances of getting work out there and sharing ideas with a larger audience, then there’s issues. If good ideas are passed over for something that execs believe will make them more bank, then there’s issues.
What’s more important, in the oxymoron that is creative industry, money or art?
@Richard: “Rich” doesn’t even enter into my thoughts… I’m acquainted with too many established and popular cartoonists to harbor that illusion. I’d love to make a living at it, but I’d settle for not losing too much money on it. :/
@Joey: But as a counterpoint to that, if anyone wants to see experimentation in the medium, they need to put up dollars to support that. For example, I like to think that the kind of mosaic storytelling with various visual techniques that I’m trying to use for my queer semiautobiopornographic novel would qualify as “experimental”, but it’s an experiment I can’t pay for on my own. :( At least I don’t need to worry about Warner or Disney taking it away from me with a rights-grabbing contract. ;)
There is too much in-fighting in comics. the war is outside, not in here.
@Jason I know more than a couple pros as well, and I wasn’t inferring them. I was inferring those they work for. The check signing suits.
Right on, pulphope.
@pulphope and Matthew
A man must conquer himself before he can conquer the world, right?
@jason A Quest–it really doesn’t.
Groundbreaking art has never been dependent on getting a paycheck for it. Picasso, Van Gogh, Pollock, Warhol didn’t need anyone to pre-order their stuff in order for them to create it. When those artists changed the world, they were broke and unknown. The checks and the praise came later….with lots of ridicule and controversy in between.
creators wonder why their indie books don’t sell, maybe its because what they’re creating is often nothing more than a slight twist on what we already have instead of truly being a new idea.
To me, a “new idea” is a completely new approach of telling a story with sequential art. Its conceptual and execution. Its not just coming up with a new plot device, genre twist and alternate color for a costume.
There are no ideas because no one wants to pay for them anymore. There’s a shrinking number of paying readers from the general public and a shrinking number of buyers.
Buyers will only buy if there’s a possiblity of a live-action movie option down the line because film is the one of the two places ideas from comic books or cartoonists can become profitable anymore.
Honestly there weren’t too many original ideas in comics at a given period of time anyway.
History flattens our view of things and allows us to forget smaller details. Details like the original ideas that time rightly forgot.
There are as many good ideas in comics today as there were in the 1920s of comic strips. More, actually. There are more comics and thus the raw number of good material increased even if the percentage of good material did not increase.
Idea-wise comics are great today. Overall, in general.
“There’s a shrinking number of paying readers from the general public and a shrinking number of buyers.” (S.T.T.Mike)
From the Bureau of the Census:
“The United States as a whole saw its population increase by 2.8 million over the 15-month period, to 311.6 million. Its growth of 0.92 percent between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, was the lowest since the mid-1940s.”
From 2000-2010, the population increased from 281 Million to 308 Million.
The game is changing this year and next.
Smartphones allow people to be connected to the Internet quickly and constantly. (I use my phone in bed.)
Users are adept at searching, and at having data pushed to them automatically via RSS feeds (such as Google News).
Social media allows publishers, creators, and readers to publicize The Latest Thing. There is no better marketing than Word Of Mouth. (That’s why movie theaters give barbers and beauticians free movie tickets… they’ll chat up the movie with their customers.)
You don’t have to go to a comics shop to buy or read a comic anymore. It’s available online. Or you can visit the local library or bookstore.
Saga #1, from Image, has sold 70,000 copies in four printings (a fifth is shipping soon). It’s available digitally. The paperback ships in the Fall. CrossGen and Boom! proved that digtial sales do not hurt paper sales, but actually encourage them.
Then there’s webcomics… the latest version of self-publishing.
Hollywood has no prejudice against creator-owned properties. (Kick-Ass, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead…) They’ve been dealing with prose authors for decades, although the current breed of scribbler is more astute than those just selling an option.
Want to make big bucks via a corporate publisher? Go to one of the traditional book publishers. You control the copyright and other rights, they’ll market the book. Of course you’ll need an agent, but that’s not impossible.
Maybe the best way to put it is this way: Creators should never hold back on their ideas. Just tell/write/draw the story THEN focus on the business side. Also: learn to set proper expectations because every story has an audience but not every audience is going to buy the story.
The traditional comics houses are a tough nut to crack.
The best thing to do is get your story rolling on a site like deviantART.com where you can build a global audience who will then buy direct.
Do make friends with editors as they will help you do a better job of delivering your story. As a diamond needs a gem cutter EVERYONE needs an editor. A good editor will call you on your s*** and keep your story working.
I’d also add that you can use platforms like keenspot to promote your book as well.
I guess the other message here is that you need to promote your own stuff. Dino and quite a few other creators are constantly promoting their work or talking about everyone else’s stuff. It keeps them on the radar and helps to sell the books.
As for the new ideas? Again, I point to deviantART.com That is an amazing universe of creators.
But DeviantART is peopled by artists in general and comic artists in particular, so they suffer the same fate as comicspace. Namely, generally broke comic artists trying to sell their wares to each other.
Of course there are exceptions, but I see no reason to believe what I say is the general case.
@joey: You’re arguing in circles. When VanGogh, Pollack, etc were experimenting in impoverished obscurity, the commercial side of the art world was wondering aloud “where are the new ideas?” Meanwhile, as you ask the question today, there’s plenty going on, under your radar….
My point was that if you want these new ideas to break thru and thrive during the creators’ lifetimes, so they can surpass the starving artist’s limitations, they need financial support for the work.
” you want these new ideas to break thru and thrive during the creators’ lifetimes, so they can surpass the starving artist’s limitations, they need financial support for the work.”
To reiterate, no one wants to pay for it. Those who can and want to already are supporting artists. All that I’m afraid is beyond the core supporters, are ephemeral supporters, for whom enjoying a certain comic or supporting a certain writer is a short phase in their lives. Manga readers and Neil Gaiman Sandman fans come to mind. Neither demographic have had any staying power, at least certainly not in numbers that the we saw in the past.
It is interesting to watch Hollywood running out of brand name IP. What do we have coming up.. A Spider-Man redo (3-4 years after the last one) and a Superman redo (3-4 years after the last one). Battleship seemed born of desperation. Dark Shadows (where’s Barnaby Jones?) Does anyone want to see a remake of Recall? They are really boring me now. Maybe I am getting older — but I do not think that the problem — I think they are REALLY GETTING BORING.
I suspect that, someday, multi-national entertainment companies may present contracts that appear more equitable to low-level creators, whom those same companies have come to acknowledge provide much of the new blood that forms true financial bed rook.
Alas, that will likely be too late for those reading this board (and perhaps for the long term future of American entertainment).
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