Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kill Your Idols AKA Let's Be Real About The Comic-Book Industry For A Minute

The Truth, A Hard Pill To Swallow
Lately I feel I've been too nice, whether that is because I've mainly reviewed things I liked, haven't had the time to read shoddy comics, or have cut said crappy comics from my pull-lists to save money. That said, I have had some thoughts swirling around in the my head that seem to be primarily negative and I should just be honest and get them out there, as that has always been my goal. Even if it means "Killing my idols" AKA bringing even those in comic's I love the work of down a peg, I shall now get real about comics. Now then, let's begin giving folk some of the reality they need!

I figured we would lead off with someone who really needs a dose of reality and that would be DC. The company seems to have a gift for pulling off stupid stunts at a such a rate that the website, "" is an actual thing, with the counter being reset at an alarming rate. Whether it is creator mistreatment and interference (See: All the people who have quit books), ill-thought out press campaigns (Example: "Draw Harley Quinn trying to kill herself, and have her be naked too for good measure!"), or just general stupidity (Too many things to make a link to), DC has often been behaving in a way best described as insane.

Their business strategy seems to be them asking, "Will this make us money/garner press attention/get more readers right away?" and if the answer is, "No," them then trying to drastically change things even if a little patience could help bring in more money/readers/press (at least press that isn't horribly negative). DC is doing well economically right now, but it seems to almost be more despite their actions in running their business than because of them.

Compared to DC, Marvel is a happy haven for creators who want a little more artistic and creative freedom. The company is far from perfect though, as I am not the only one getting sick of all these re-launches of comics that make zero sense. "Wolverine and the X-Men" is being re-launched despite little changes to the comic, the main "Wolverine" comic is barely nearing double-digits and will be "coming back" with a new first issue despite having the same writer, following basically the same plot he already had going.

Those are just the X-Men related books, as all the Avenger's comics are a huge mess of random titles too. Oh, and is it just me or does all this, "Inhumanity" business really remind folk of "Earth X" with a strikingly similar plot of the population turning into "Inhumans" with some of the only big differences being not everyone is transforming and this is taking place in the modern day?

Image Comics
You guys are actually in a new golden age of success, basically. You are seeming to be pumping out a lot of new comics in the hopes that one becomes the next "Walking Dead" however. Maybe slow down on that.

Independent Comics
I love the smaller publishers, they put out some amazing things. That makes it all the more sad that you have some entities dying due to poor business, or others such as a relatively-bigger publisher like Fantagraphics turning to Kickstarter in order to assure survival in this rocky market. It is just unfair that the big companies can put out the umpteenth "Justice League" or "Avengers" book and make a ton of money while some people who are putting out stuff that is just as good (or better) in quality face an uphill battle to stay in existence.

Alan Moore
Alan, I love your comics, buddy, and I agree you get screwed-over way too often ("Before Watchmen", anyone?), but if you are going to come off like a really cranky old man in all your interviews you're going to find people are less-then-sympathetic to you. Maybe just shut up and let your work speak for you, as it is some amazingly good work.

Frank Miller
Again, I love your comics (or most of them) too, but you come off as a crazy-person with the Islamophobia and such. You seem to have a been a bit better about keeping your mouth shut lately though, so I'll give you credit for that.

All The "Forgotten" Creators
I'm not mad at you guys, I'm mad at the companies who let you make such amazing works for them and then promptly forgot you once you are in need. Too many men and women have died in poverty despite creating comic characters that bring in absurd amounts of money because they didn't get any intellectual ownership over their creations and the big companies such as DC and Marvel could care less when their health takes a turn for a worse or they need help due to the general issues of getting older. It is disgusting that people who did so much get so little as thanks.

Sexual Harassment in Comics
This one has got me especially mad. At first people seemed to at least be talking about sexual harassment in the comic-book industry after some unsavory facts started to come out about creators such as Brian Wood. It seems people already are starting to forget/not care about how rampant sexism and harassment can be in comic-books and the issue is just going away. It basically makes the new joke-article on the The Comic's Journal by the ever-awesome Tucker Stone and Abhay Khosla seem far too true in its, "How to break into comics and still be a huge creep" theme.

I guess we as a comic-reading population really are going to just quietly push this issue under the rug as if it were some dust we'd rather not have to sweep up and try to clean the industry of. It makes me really sad, and even more mad that just as with almost any other controversy in comics this is going to slowly go away, as the fans would rather be able to keep reading their fun stories and pretend that a lot of unsavory stuff isn't going on than face the uncomfortable truth that things are messed up.

The Comic-Book Industry Overall Is a Dysfunctional Mess
It seems for every amazing comic or great idea we have 3 times more stuff that is boring, derivative, or otherwise not worth reading--but that is nothing new. The mainstream companies are behaving in a matter more erratic than a drug-addict coming down, the more independent labels continue to be ignored by much of the population, and sexual harassment occurs in comics and we turn a blind-eye. Some of the best creators have now been reduced to cranky old men by an industry that screwed them over, or are dying penniless because creators of characters who generate millions of dollars can barely scrape-by due to being ignored by the companies they helped make so successful with their stories. If this doesn't describe an industry that is a dysfunctional mess then I don't know what does.

You know what though? Despite all these problems I still love comics, because there are those amazing stories that just leave you bewildered and amazed. Some companies are treating creators right, sexual harassment at least was talked about and maybe, just maybe some impact will be had in stopping it. I may be striking some of the idols down right now, but I don't want them to be having problems. I want the big companies to get their act together, the small ones to thrive, creators to be happy and not abused sexually or financially. I want all this and truly hope for positive things. I just also know that in reality a lot of stuff is seriously messed up, and won't be getting much better anytime soon. How's that for a bummer of a closing thought?

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