Tuesday, February 26, 2008

5 Reasons Why The Comic Book Industry Deserves To Live

If you read this blog, you know that I think there are quite a few things wrong with the comic book industry. I say it with love, though, because I hold comics in such a high regard. I don't like to see the industry represented in a bad light and I, among many people, see the potential for something greater. I've been knee deep in these funny books since I was in second grade. Here are five reasons why the comic book industry deserves to live.

1. Comics are the modern myths. They've moved me to tears and laughter. They've helped me through the worst of times. They've been a muse to my favorite entertainers. Their iconography shapes our popular culture. If you're reading this, chances are they've had a lasting effect on you. If they haven't moved you similarly, believe me when I tell you that they could. There are a lot of things to love about today's comic book industry. Here are some reasons why the comic book industry deserves to live.

2.The Internet (duh.)

It has never been easier to find comics that suit your taste. And once you find them, chances are it's also pretty easy to get in touch with their creators and tell them how much you enjoyed their work. And if you can't find them, you can hook up with other creators and make them.

While many of the main sources of comic book industry news are not making use of the technology available to them as a result of Web 2.0, there are still plenty of industry giants that are. That has a powerful and far reaching effect, because it results in comic books being mainstreamed as another viable source of entertainment. Through sheer access, the Internet is smashing down the walls behind which the industry has barricaded itself over the years, by marketing only to its loyal fanbase.

3.Omnibus Editions

Even if you hate what today's comic book industry has to offer, there are glory days to be relived! Through series' like Marvel Essentials, you can do just that. These collections are essentially (ha!) the foundation of Marvel canon, reprinted on low quality paper in large chunks of about 25-30 issues each. The result is very reasonably priced, bare-bones editions of fan favorites. They look pretty good on the shelf, too. DC has something similar going, but I can't speak to those, as I haven't purchased any, yet.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, omnibus collections can give you a garish, "as it was meant to be" experience that allows the work to be showcased in a better light than it had when first published. Case in point, the Jack Kirby Fourth World Omnibus Collection. This type of collection gives the reader, typically, I'd imagine, one that holds the collected material in high regard, something more substantial and weighty on which to hang his/her admiration. An added benefit of these collections is that, through the inclusion of additional materials, their effects on culture can be examined and historical context can be given to the collected material.

4. More With Less

Comic books tell a huge variety of stories with a minimum of resources. At their best, comics can be as epic as the grandest movies, or as introspective as the most brooding character studies. As a visual medium in an increasingly visual world, comics can deliver everything that movies and television can, on a more cost effective scale. They can be used to tell visual stories that would be deemed too weird for television airwaves, or the big screen. When they do hit, comics serve as a dry run for bigger things.

5. Walt Simonson

Walt Simonson is fucking awesome. When he draws, he makes use of blank space and that makes his art just jump off the page. Words can't describe it.


Digg this

Monday, February 25, 2008

5 Reasons the Comic Book Industry Deserves to Die

1. Giant, Plodding Crossovers-
Crossovers accomplish two things for comic book companies. First, they instill a sense of the epic. Having a story that is too big to be told within the framework of a single title gives the reader a sense of the vastness of the universe that houses their favorite characters. It shows readers that the actions of their favorite characters have far reaching consequences; that what their heroes do (or don't do) really matters. Conversely, when a character has his/her own book and is forced to deal with the actions of other characters in other comics, it has a tendency to water down characterization. Not only does it become an issue of too much going on at once, but it turns our heroes into reactionaries. I read comics for the myth. A young boy, after witnessing his parents' violent murder, takes on the mantle of a bat and metes revenge on the world of crime. Holy shit. That is something I can really get behind. But I have to read about why Batgirl and Green Arrow are bickering, instead.

Second, crossovers are a tried and true way to boost sales. They instill the sense of vastness that the canon-obsessed superfans demand. It is here, though, that the big companies are missing the forest for the trees. By occupying the well known, iconic titles with canon heavy crossover stories, the big publishers are insuring that new readers that pick up the book have no clue what the fuck is going on. I know they summarize what has gone before, but fuck summaries. Comics are, by their nature, a medium that was meant to be immediately immersive. They are basically building barriers that keep casual readers out. In order to foster growth, for every large scale epic, there should be at least two jumping on points to get new readership involved. Which, at least partially, brings me to point #2.

2. Lack of Commitment to New Ideas
I can't tell you the number of times I have passed on buying something new that looked really cool because I didn't have faith in the publisher to see it through to completion. It is understandable that such a fledgling industry must be selective in allocating valuable resources, but I can't abide leaving stories, once begun, unfinished. Publishers are not always to blame either. I think this problem is just as attributable to fickle creators.

3. Fickle Creators
Your favorite artist or writer is going to draw or write your favorite character for your favorite book! This is going to take things in a whole new direction and completely change the character! Awesome! Then once you settle in and really start to trust in where s/he is taking things, s/he will get a better deal to go do something else! Coo--wait, what? Sadly, I think that legendary runs are a thing of the past.

4. The Speculator Boom
Nothing really defines the ugliness that the comic book industry is capable of quite like the Speculator Boom years (1985-1993). In this period, originality was large scrapped in favor of gimmicks like sealed polybags, multiple covers, and the supposed deaths of iconic characters that publishers guaranteed as great investments. To meet high demand for these books, publishers printed them in record numbers. With so many copies in circulation, the effect was the opposite. The bottom fell out of the industry, tons of stores had to close, and Marvel even had to declare bankruptcy. In short, the industry got greedy and the fans allowed themselves to be suckered. Everyone ended up looking kind of dick.

5. Sleepwalker
Man, Sleepwalker sucked. Look at him. He looked like a fetus.

Digg this