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Kurt Busiek wants to know: Is it creators or characters that win your money?

Steve Lieber drawing an equally awesome underwater world instead of a lost jungle world

Is a familiar creator enough to bring you to a new book, or do you only pick up a new title with familiar characters? The ongoing creator-owned debate is interesting in theory, but eventually it has to come down to practical application. And Kurt Busiek seriously wants to know.

Busiek posted an informal poll on his Facebook page on Tuesday after someone on Twitter said he wanted to read The Savage Land by Kurt Busiek and Steve Lieber. As that Marvel series doesn’t exist, Busiek wondered whether “a comic about a lost land full of dinosaurs and primitive tribes” would necessarily have to set within the Marvel Universe for readers to buy it, or would another dinosaur-filled lost land work just as well.

“If Steve and I wanted to do a comic about a lost land full of dinosaurs and primitive tribes, would it need to be the Savage Land?” Busiek wrote. “Would Ka-Zar, Garokk, Sauron and the ability to have Spider-Man and Nick Fury show up need to be part of the deal?”

He also pointed out the availability of such lands and his experience with creating one recently: “After all, Pellucidar and The Lost World are both in the public domain at present, and it’s easy to make up a new setting like that. In fact, the last time I wrote a place like that, it was The Phantom Continent, in Kirby: Genesis.”

Busiek and Lieber collaborated on the much-praised autobiographical digital comic Thoughts on a Winter Morning, so it makes sense for people to want to see more from them. But what’s the real urge? Any time-lost jungle story, or specifically seeing Busiek playing in the Marvel sandbox again?

I can pretty easily answer in favor of a creator-owned book. At this stage in my comics-reading life, that will always hold more interest to me even though I still, and probably always will, have a very soft spot for the Marvel Universe. Creator-owned books can add surprises and changes and twists to the concept that might otherwise be shut down because it would muddy a licensing deal or transform the characters. The book can stand out more instead of getting lost in the shuffle of 50 other titles headlined by more bankable and iconic characters getting more marketing attention.

But that’s just me. I might be out-voted in this. Most of the responses to his poll have been supportive of an all-new book, too, but I would hope that people who have “liked” Kurt Busiek, as opposed to Ka-Zar, on Facebook would vote that way. Maybe there’s a very quiet Savage Land fan movement that’s been waiting for the right time to surge. So let’s open it up to the unwashed masses and maybe, just maybe (if Kurt really does decide to do such a book), some of us will get our wish. Do you miss Zabu? Or do you want to see Busiek and Lieber create a new lost world?

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Creators all the way

Just to note — Steve and I aren’t actually planning anything like this, nor has Marvel approached us or anything.

Merely idle musing, prompted by one reader who said he’d read a SAVAGE LAND book by us, leading me to wonder, “Why the Savage Land, particularly? For the general idea or for the specific Marvel connections?”

kdb

From the title alone the first thought wsa of Gail Simone and Jim Califiore’s Kickstarter funded project “Leaving Megaopolis”. I will support creator owned work over their company work anyday, if given the option. I would gladly enjoy a Busiek/Lieber “Lost World”-style comic, or really anything he had to offer.

But hey, mer-people versus sea horsey-crustaceo-things?

Hey, Steve — !

Character definitely. Superman fan. Love his story and his supporting cast.

The only time I notice creators is when they do something excellent or horrible with the character and his story.

I might try a creator (if s/he wrote Superman well) to see what else he could do with a character I know nothing about. Otherwise it’s character. Character driven plots for me.

For me it can be either. I’ll buy [i]Legion of Super-Heroes[/i] no matter who’s writing it, on the one hand; on the other, I definitely follow my favourite writers from title to title.

[i]Merely idle musing, prompted by one reader who said he’d read a SAVAGE LAND book by us, leading me to wonder, “Why the Savage Land, particularly? For the general idea or for the specific Marvel connections?”[/i]

The one reader who said that may have had the idea that you two were, for some reason, a particularly good fit for the Savage Land; not a general Lost World kind of setting, but the Savage Land specifically. I often come up with combinations like that myself; the other night I realized that Francis Portela would be the perfect Aquaman artist.

I started with characters, but as time’s gone on, I have become a creator fan-boy lol

I am happy to say that Mr. Busiek is one of those creators :)

Creators. Non-Marvel related “Lost World” comic book would be very cool. And for me to pick it up, alas, it would have to be NOT published by Marvel Comics… The boycott continues…

good stories get my money.

But writers or teams that have traditionally produced good stories get my attention first.

i couldn’t begin to care less which company logo is on the cover.

Sadly, we know which one actually wins. The Superman comment above sums it up. People see creative teams as incidental.

Which is why we can’t have anything nice.

Neither; it’s the story.

Good writers can come up with bad stories on occasion; good characters can end up in bad stories. A good story is always a good story.

People like Kurt Busiek because he has one of the best batting averages in the business; a Busiek story is almost guaranteed to be a good story. I’m hard-pressed to think of a bad one, though I admit I did lose interest in his Avengers after a while. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be.

People like Ka-Zar and the Savage Land because a lot of good stories have been written about them.

It stands to reason that a combination of the two would most likely be fantastic. But it’s the story. Not the writer. Not the character. Those things are indicators of what you’re likely to get, but not guarantees.

@ Jim MacQ. – I see what you are saying, but then you’d have to go by reviews, and word of mouth for every single comic you read. If a creator has a good track record I’ll give them a shot, same with the established character. You won’t know which is a good story until you read it.

For me it’s a mix of character, creator, and story. I’ll check out anything with The Flash involved, and if Humberto Ramos is drawing something i’ll give it a spin, but if the story doesn’t grab me I probably won’t be sticking around.

I buy my books for the Characters. It is a bonus if I can get a good writer and a good artist, but I’ll read just about ANYthing, if it has my favorite characters in it. Up to a point. Even I can’t handle absolute dreck. And I will usually pick up something new by a favorite Creator, because I’ve read them before, and I like their work, so I’m willing to give a new character or story a chance.

But if you put Guy Gardner in it…I’m going to read it.

A proper fusion of the two.

I love Superman but I can’ t buy a book just because Superman is in it (and I haven’t for a very long time). At the same time though I can’t just buy a comic because of a favorite writer or artist if i’m not into the character or concept.

If it’s a creator working on an established character like Superman then the question they should be asking themselves is “Can I tell good Superman stories?” and not “Can I use Superman to tell MY stories?”. Or worse “I’ll prove how smart I am by deconstructing this long lived character” or “I’ll prove how edgy I am by taking this idea and making it gory and grimdark.”

Also in terms of artists I think more consideration should be given to “casting”. Put on artists whose work fits well with the story being told. Don’t have an artist who does well at cool cartoony superhero action if you’re story is going to be mostly angst and shadows.

If a writer or artist I like wis working on a new book, I will generally give the first issue a try. From there, the story and characters have to grab me.

“I can pretty easily answer in favor of a creator-owned book. At this stage in my comics-reading life, that will always hold more interest to me even though I still, and probably always will, have a very soft spot for the Marvel Universe. Creator-owned books can add surprises and changes and twists to the concept that might otherwise be shut down because it would muddy a licensing deal or transform the characters. The book can stand out more instead of getting lost in the shuffle of 50 other titles headlined by more bankable and iconic characters getting more marketing attention.”

This is so chock full of wisdom — I could hardly agree more.

That said, there are still a few instances where I’m suffering through books based on characters in the hopes they’ll get better. I’ve nearly weaned myself off of this, and yet I find Stormwatch in my pullbox every month…

For me it’s a combination; and it really depends on the property. My favorite character since I was 5 is Iron Man, but I usually don’t read a lot of his ancillary appearances. However, certain characters, like Deathlok, Man -Thing, Metamorpho, and Power Girl I’ll pick up all of their appearances regardless of who is working on them.

As well, there are creators who I follow, like Bendis, Matt Fraction, Stjepan Sejic, Alex Maleev, Adam Hughes, and Amanda Conner. If their name is on a book (and not just as cover artist) I’ll pick up the book as I know I’ll be entertained.

And of course, category 3…hot coals and splinters under the fingernails couldn’t convince me to buy a book either written or drawn by Rob Liefeld.

I’ve got my favorite characters, but I definitely follow creators more than characters.

And Kurt’s point about “Why does it have to be the Savage Land?” is very well-taken.

I remember reading Strange by Waid and Rios and thinking the whole time, “This is great, but there’s no reason this down-and-out wizard needs to be Stephen Strange. Why didn’t they just do a creator-owned book?”

Put another way: when somebody asks me what my favorite Batman story is, I say Confession.

That depends. If it’s Astro City or say, a creator owned title, chances are, it’s the creator. Sometimes it’s the artist. Jim Lee’s work on Batman on the Hush storyline or the Justice League. Sometimes, it’s the character. Batman or Superman, but I do a spot check on the art and take a chance on the story. So for me anyway, I’d have to say both.

I am definitely drawn to creators, but it really isn’t an either or situation. Certainly fans buying from the Big Two are almost always following their favorite characters.

I’m awfully attached to the DC and Marvel Universes, but great creators can get my attention. But great creators on a DC or Marvel book, that’s gold.

And now I’m missing Kurt’s superb Superman run again…

I’m on the fence also. I’m a Batman fan but I don’t read all of his titles. Just the ones with a great team.

I have my favorite characters that I’ll buy in almost anything (Spidey and Silver Surfer being the big two), but for the most part, it’s creators all the way. That said, there are very few creators that I’ll follow to anything they do. It’s usually a mix of creator AND concept: I like Bryan Hitch’s artwork, for example, but felt absolutely no excitement whatsoever for “America’s Got Powers,” even though in the abstract I’d love to encourage Hitch to do more non-Marvel work.

But there are guys like–hey!–Kurt Busiek, where their name can get me to at least sample an issue or two of pretty much anything, even if the concept isn’t for me. Sometimes I end up being surprised (Conan!), sometimes I end up discovering that, yeah, it really wasn’t for me (Kirby: Genesis), but that creator gets the benefit of the doubt. That’s a pretty short list, though…

For me, the excitement for a new creator-owned series comes from two things in equal measure:
1. The concept. “Whoa, that sounds like a cool story!”
2. The creative team. “Whoa, X is writing it and Y is drawing it? I loved them in those other things that they wrote and drew!”

Creators every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I have stuck with a couple of books through thick and thin, and will give give books a try if they have a concept that intrigues me (or just sounds like fun) but I hope that I’m discerning enough to only want to read the good stuff.

Creator definetly trumps character for me. I have certain types of stories I prefer, but Im always interested in what my fav’ writers are doing. Example: I like the type of adventure stories that can be told w/ Green Arrow, but I didn’t pick up the latest versions until Ann Nocenti came onboard, because she has a great word-chops.

I’d agree with those who’ve said it’s a mixture of both, but I lean more heavily toward creators. I only have two pet characters (Flash and Fantastic Four) that I’ll follow anywhere. But there are dozens of writers and artists whose participation in a project will pique my interest.

Also: BRING BACK ASTRO CITY ASAP!

Creators and Genre. I definitely follow creators if they produce something in a genre I like. If Busiek, Morrison, Brubaker, Fritchman writes some boring human drama with no fantastic elements, no thrilling crime elements, then no I wouldn’t buy that from them. Comics are good at the mind-blowing genre, crime, weirdness, monsters etc, – comics are horrible at the quite human dramas (it ends up being far too boring in the end).

For me, 99% of the time it’s the character that I follow. And if it’s a creator that leads me to a buy a book 99% of the time it’s the artist. Not the writer. I don’t think I’ve ever followed a book because of a writer.

It’s a little of both for me. I’ve picked up a series with familiar characters and hung on to it with a mediocre writer. Only to compleatly drop the series when a writer comes on I don’t like.
I have also picked up a character I don’t care for because I want to see what a great writer can do on the book.

For me its characters. Take Spider-Man for example, I am always interested in whats next for him regardless of the creator. I like the fact that he has nearly 50 years of unbroken content as a foundation and the assurance that his book won’t be dropped next week. I’ve no desire to read someone else’s version of a character just like spider-man just because its their take on character regardless of how high profile the creator is.

The one exception is when a creator come up with a really innovative idea that no one else is doing. When its new and unique, that’s when a creator has my attention.

nine times out of ten, it’s creators.

Almost always it’s the creators but the project has to feel fresh and interesting. I love Dan Jurgens but I didn’t buy his recent Superman stuff because it had a “been there, done that” feel. But then again if Peter David came back to Hulk I’d be sure to buy it because The Hulk has gone through so many different iterations it’s a totally different feel these days. I’ve also been a buyer pretty much anytime Marv Wolfman’s re-visited the Dick Grayson and his Teen Titans era characters over the years because he always come up with an interesting perspective.

When I do follow a character usually it’s not one of the huge ones. I’ll give anything with Deadshot and the Suicide Squad a chance. (I was skeptical of the relaunch but it’s become one of my favs) the only characters I read just because I like them are the x-men characters but I only buy them if the story looks interesting.

Creators…but also what they are working on. I’ll buy a book by a creator I like who is doing an interesting story in a genre I like. I usually pass on naval gazing stuff stereotypical of the indie market. Creator owned super-hero stuff featuring a creator’s Brand X version of Marvel and DC IP has also been losing its appeal for quite some time now.

It’s both. A good creator makes a good character better. A good character can bring out the best in a good creator.

But honestly, there are characters I love enough to try no matter who is writing them, like Batman. And few creators whose work always grabs me these days.

After decades of reading terrible stories starring characters I like, I’ve become far less inclined to buy according to some corporate label in the top left-hand corner of a comic.
As a result, I’m reading a lot more stories that I’m enjoying and encountering a lot of creators (Kagan MacLeod, Brandon Graham, James Bastien, Aaron Renier, Kate Beaton, James Stokoe…) I’d never have encountered otherwise. I’m also doing a lot less of that teeth-gritting “I hate what they’re doing with (character x) but maybe the next issue will be good again.”

Creators and good stories all the way.

I’ll have to go against consensus and say that for me characters are more important. People may be attracted to the styles of various creators, but for me the details of the stories and characters are more important. Following creators does work out pretty well most of the time, but sometimes creators have an off-day or they change over time. For example, the Frank Miller of today is a parody of the Frank Miller of the 80s and early 90s.

I’ve tried stuff written by the creators who are the most-hyped on the internet like Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughan, and Warren Ellis and I have not really enjoyed the stuff that I read. (The exception to this is Morrison’s JLA, which I loved, but I didn’t really like the other stuff of his that I read.)

The one example of where I’d follow a creator is Kirby and Ditko. I love their Marvel, stuff but I haven’t read the stuff they did for other companies. I do plan to eventually read the New Gods, the Creeper, and the Question purely on the strength of Kirby and Ditko’s names.

Creator! I read everything written by Alan Moore, James Robinson, and Kurt Busiek.

For decades, I followed character, buying two-thirds of the super-hero comics published by Marvel, DC and the indies. But Marvel and DC editorial have ruined all the characters I loved.

When great writers like Grant Morrison and Mark Waid write characters like Superman and Daredevil, they lure me back to the characters I once loved.

Make your own Savage Land, Kurt!

@Jake Earlewine:
“When great writers like Grant Morrison and Mark Waid write characters like Superman and Daredevil, they lure me back to the characters I once loved”

I totally agree with you.
Great writers + interesting characters/concepts = Success

For me it’s writer+artist+premise. Doesn’t have to be equal weights too. That’s how Kirby Genesis won me over. Kurt (high points), Kirby characters (high points), Jack Herbert whom I’d never heard of but whose work I liked from previews (points, which became higher points later).

Sometimes “premise” is just “ongoing series of a character I like”. I don’t, for example, even look at what’s going on in Spider-Man anymore. I just know I like Dan’s take on the character, so that’s Dan+Spidey. On the other hand, I’m not that big a Daredevil fan, but Mark’s just got a top-flight caliber of artists on that book.

Sometimes there are negatives. I generally like the team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, and I love Captain Marvel, but I couldn’t be bothered with Curse of Shazam.

There aren’t really any creators or characters that could win me over in such a way that I would buy it just for the writer, just for the artist*, definitely not just for the character.

*Except George Perez.

I’ll follow a handful of certain characters regardless of who’s on the titles (such as Captain America and Batman) but only as long as they conform by and large to the characters’ predetermined personality and motivations. If they radically try to change the character, like Peter David did with Aquaman, I’m gone. I’ve collected Captain America for 37yrs and the only time I ever came close to dropping the book was when they replaced him with John Walker. I was so outraged at the time LOL!
I’ll follow a number of creators/ artists but usually only if they are working on a character/ concept I enjoy. For example, I love John Byrne, but I haven’t been interested in grabbing much of his independent titles. I too enjoyed the recent Kirby Genesis titles (when they actually came out!!!) and that’s because I’m a huge Jack Kirby fan.
Lately though I’m quite interested in trying new characters outside of the Big Two and have embraced a lot of the IDW and Dynamite books and characters – just picked up Thunda for a look. And there’s always the Walking Dead (although I’ve never bought any other Kirkman titles.)
I think it’s healthy to mix up the reasons why you’re interested in comics as a genre, instead of slavishly following a character or creator. That seems to be more habitual than an actual love of comics.

I think you’ll find this split down the middle between two different types of people. The devoted fan just likes what they’re a fan of: you like Dr. Who, so you watch all the shows, read all the books and comics, clamor for a movie, maybe debate the minute differences between certain creative approaches but still basically consume as much of it as you can.

The reader likes to read, so they follow certain reading habits like specific genres, authors, maybe even publishers. If you’re the kind of person who samples a lot of everything broadly, not just deeply into one or two specific things, your approach to fan-targeted things will be the same as your approach to the wall of new releases at Barnes & Noble: you know you like jungle stories and you know you like his previous writing, so you’ll give this imaginary Kurt Busiek jungle story a shot. You don’t really care that it’s the Savage Land. I love Star Wars, for instance, but I’ve only ever read the Timothy Zahn books, and only after years of repeated recommendations that I give them a try (because I approach it as a reader, not an omnivore).

I’d like to say creators but we’re really spoiled by the abundance of great writers nowadays … Character + writer would be how i’d choose [unless it's a Vertigo title]. It’s like Nolan on Batman … vs some other Batman movie or another Nolan movie.

Bendis on Daredevil, Brubaker on Captain America, Jones on Hulk, Morrison on JLA ..

Busiek on JLA would be a must buy.

I would pick up either one, but in my ideal world? A Marvel-set series, but one in which Kurt and Steve are left alone to do what they will, as Whedon did during his X-Men run.

I know the characters, and there are some which will get me to pick up a comic (Bat-Mite, White Rabbit). But there’s no character that follow.

Creators… yes, there are many which I will give carte blanche to, to at least read. (If it’s good, I’ll buy it.) Kurt Busiek is one. Have I read everything he’s written? No. But that’s because I have a limited budget, and a limited amount of time on this planet.

If it’s a known character with a known creator, then the total is greater than the sum of the parts.

Nothing against Mr. Lieber, but if you’re gonna do a dinosaur comic, Frank Cho should do the art!

Under normal circumstances it’s characters for me. Though I’ll admit that the wrong writer has previously destroyed a good character for me. I’m still waiting for Dan Slott to get out of Spider-Man, because I refuse to read the character as Slott writes him. (or well anyone who takes his example of turning Spidey into a loser insttead of a heroic underdog as he should be)

And it doesn’t matter how much I love a character, if Garth Ennis is writing the book they’d have to pay me to touch it.

I think it can be both but more the writer. For me personally, the characters I like are quite fluid. It can change depending on the writer. If you like someone’s writing style they can make you like a character that maybe you had previously dismissed.

It swings both ways for me… I have couple of characters that I will follow (Batman, Spider-man, Wolverine, etc…), but I also follow creator-owned titles… For example I discovered Ed Brubaker on his run on Cap America, and I loved it, now I follow his Fatale series with Image… So yeah both ways…

Its all about the creative team!

It’s both. I’m buying The Defenders because it has Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, and Silver Surfer, and I’ll pick up just about anything Green Lantern related, but I’ll also check out anything by Grant Morrison. I also read Brubaker’s Captain America even though I’m not a fan of the character.

Both, sorta. If it the book has some of my favorite characters on it, that’s usually the thing that gets me to pick it up and look the graphic novel over. First thing I notice after that is the creator, which is usually the dealmaker/breaker for me.

I have to say its a combination. I won’t buy a series just for characters unless there’s a creator I like on it. I will buy creator owned comics without an established character if I think its an interesting or fun concept. That said, some premises I like to see using established characters with a creator I enjoy!

Creators for sure. On the character front, I’ll only follow a creator I like to a licensed character if I reaaaally reaaally love that character – right now the only book is Batman. The rest of my pull otherwise (25-30 books I guess) is entirely made up of creator owned books by people I think write well and draw well. I wouldn’t be reading Batman just because I like Batman and want to know what’s happening, regardless of quality.

Did anyone else follow the controversy stirred up on Twitter yesterday by Liefeld claiming it was absurd to think that Snyder and Capullo could be credited with the success of their run on “Batman”? It’s pretty apropos to this discussion.
For my two cents, the creative team counts for everything. I’d never have read a “Conan the Barbarian” comic, or a “John Carter” title, if it weren’t for the draw of talents like Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan and Ramon Perez.

The bottom line is the creator(s), and that they have what they feel is a great idea to see produced.

There is an advantage to working within a corporate controlled comic universe, and that is that you get to play in a sandbox that has already much popularity and, importantly, has a life beyond that of the creator. Captain American and Superman would not continue to exists as they do today had the stories stopped being produced with the death or loss of interest of its creators.

And yes, with a creator owned property, what you lose in corporate sponsorship and an established mythology – is greater freedom to do what you want.

As a writer and artist myself, albeit less successful than Mr. Busiesk or Mr. Lieber, I would suggest the answer to the question is up to me. Because only I have the ability to think it over, come up with what I believe to be a great idea. Once I have the great idea – then i have an idea of where it fits. I love Marvel comics, and my idea could easily require exactly Marvel’s savage land. Or I may decide on something like a ‘savage land’ that is a parallel reality and there’s some people and animals that slip back and forth and are catalysts for interesting stories – a concept that doesn’t fit Marvel at all.

For me it depends who the character or characters is. For example, for team books, I only buy the books if I like at least a few of the members. Originally I bought Uncanny X-Force because Wolverine, Deadpool, and Angel. After reading the book, I started to like the characters and the writer of the book. DC anounced a new Justice League of America book and I might pick it up since it has a few people that I like in the book. Plus Geoff Johns is writing the book, so there’s a plus.

It’s a combination for me. There are a select few creators that I will read just about anything they do sight unseen. There are more where their name will get me to consider trying something no matter what it is or who publishes, though if the concept doesn’t sound interesting I may pass. Then there are MANY who are competent and entertaining that I enjoy enough on an interesting property, so in these cases it’s the character more than the creator that is the reason for buying. There are also a select few whose books I would not touch with a ten-foot pole. And occasionally I can be sold on an entirely new concept. So if a creator can get into one of the first 2 categories, then they are golden with me. If not, then I suggest they put their best foot forward on a property that I am predisposed to enjoy so that they can earn their chance to get into one of those 2 buckets. Ideally, of course, I prefer a creator in the first category on a property that I enjoy so I get the best of all possible worlds. For example, I usually enjoy the work of Bendis a lot, but start jumping up and down when I read solicitations for Daredevil End of Days, and will definitely buy anything by Gaiman but am doubly excited to read a new Gaiman Sandman story. So there is no single answer. But if it’s something like Savage Land where I am not entirely excited about the concept, then it definitely helps it if it features a character I usually enjoy, or is by a creator whose work I appreciate.

For me it’s a mix. Usually characters for DC and creators for Marvel. For the independents it tends to depend on whether I’ve come in from the first issue or if I can get hold of it, then decide.

Is this because of the Scott Synder/Rob Liefeld Twitter beef? Anyway its a mixture of both for me. I read certain titles because of certain creators.

For me it is definitely a mix of the 2 but really it comes down to what interest me more. I love certain characters/creators and are more inclined to pick up any of their stories but only if it interest me enough to make room in the budget for it. Example I don’t have the Spider-man, Deadpool, and Hulk Identity story that ran through their annuals even though I love all 3 characters. Also I like Busiek’s writing but I don’t follow Astro City because it doesn’t interest me (sorry!!) but if I had the money i would get both things cause I like the characters/creators enough to try out both stories/series.

Charles J. Baserap

August 26, 2012 at 11:53 am

It’s definitely a bit of both. Some characters get sales regardless of who is on them to differing degrees. When Winick was on Batman, he was also on Green Arrow, yet the sales of the former were almost 1 1/2 times that of the latter. It was the same writer, but the creator differed.

Now some creators definitely attract attention. Bendis, Johns, Morrison, Lee, Finch, Brubaker, etc. All of these guys attached to a title will almost always sell higher, but then factor in the character they’re on and you see even with the “big guns,” character plays a lot of it. Snyder’s Batman and Swamp Thing are both fantastic and critically acclaimed, yet the sales on the two books are drastically different. Same writer, but different characters.

Characters. Characters. Characters.

Superhero comics are soap operas. It’s the story of the title characters & their supporting casts that keeps me reading.

Who wrote the last episode of your favourite soap? Who was the camera man? Who directed it? I bet nobody knows or much cares!

Does it help if the writing is erudite, witty and thoughtful? Absolutely. Do I love it if the art looks great? Sure.
But I will (and have) followed my favourite characters through thick and thin, through one creative team and the next.

(unless it’s written or drawn by Rob Liefeld, when it’s immediately dropped!)

Characters endure. Creative teams move on. That’s life.

Character trumps creators for me. Yes, they can do a bad enough job to chase me off but if there’s a Power Girl series it could be by anyone BUT Liefeld and I’d be there…

For me at least it’s been a maturation process. Early on in my reading life, I only cared about characters, and often didn’t even know the names of the writers. I followed the Titans, Legion and New Mutants regardless of who was writing. As time passed and I became more able to distinguish between levels of writing quality, I’ve started to realize that there’s really no point in following some writers and there’s a lot of point in following other writers. I am, still, however, a little bit locked into the intellectual properties in that I do prefer books that are set in worlds I know. Being set in the Marvel or DC Universes is a selling point for me.

However, I expect the maturation process to continue progressing until its natural conclusion where the intellectual property matters not at all, and only the creators matter anymore. I’ve come tantalizingly close to, “Hey, Fabian is writing some “Captain Action” character I’ve never heard of, but it’s *Fabian*, so maybe I should get it!” or “Damn, PAD is awesome, maybe I really should give a shot to this Spyboy thing…”

Actually, I think Kurt himself is leading this movement — I think Astro City is one of the first things I’ve bought that was me plunging into a totally unknown intellectual property solely on the strength of the creative team.

I’ll be doing more of that in the future, I’m sure. I’m pretty sure that in five more years of maturation, I’ll probably be at the point where I’d buy “Lost World by Busiek” just as well as “Savage Land by Busiek”, but at the moment, I think I’m still stuck at the point where the latter does hold some extra appeal.

Creators and genre for me. I’ll be the first to acknowledge, though, that the major thrust of the mainstream American comic medium is pointed toward the character-buying audience. Lots of money and talent is invested in super heroes and revisiting pulp characters. It’s Marvel and DC’s job to sell characters, really.

I don’t have any interest in modern super hero comics; I’d hate to have my interest in the medium fade just because they aren’t creating Wolverine stories I enjoy.

For me it’s a little of both. There are definately characters that I tend to follow but if I don’t like what’s going on in their book I don’t keep buying it mindlessly. It’s the same with creators. I will tend to give something a try if I like the creators and if I enjoy the book then I’ll keep buying it. If I don’t then I buy something else. There are too many books to read for me to buy something just because “x” is in it or “x” is writing it.

I think things start with characters.
As a reader you want to read about certain characters.
But there are definitely creators who I will follow to books I might normally not read. I will give them a chance to sell me on it.
And certainly I support the creator-owned work from creators whose work I very much enjoy.
I’m probably more inclined to support the creator owned work as long as I find the scenario and/or characters involved somewhat intriguing over the WFH on a character I might only care marginally about.

I never understood people who follow certain characters. I love Spiderman, Batman and others, but I often dropped the books when creative teams took over whose work I didn’t enjoy. It often goes as far that I drop a book because the inker or colourist change.
Maybe living in Europe I am more accustomed to creator owned work, which is not to say that I dislike certain characters at all. Some teams just work better than others.

Both creators and characters. I’m interested in characters to the degree that they are written by good creators and I’m interested in creators to the degree they tackle familiar or intersting ideas.
For instance, I would like to read good Tarzan stories by top creators.
Seeing new takes on familiar characters is quite fun.

It used to be creators – I have large collections dedicated to specific artists and writers and used to buy “everything” they’d write, but after awhile, the creator would make something I didn’t care for. It happened too often for me to end up following one creator in this manner any more. I understand that every creative person is going to make something not to my taste, but I’ve realized that I eventually outgrown (or they move into a different direction than my tastes) a creator so I guess my tastes have had to adjust to being character-centric. However, since the creator’s portrayal of characters cannot be untwined, I guess it’s kind of a moot point. I’m a 40 plus year reader of Batman comics and I’ve read great stories and horrible stories about the character. I still love the character, but for example, I really don’t care for the current representation of the character and his world. Is that the character or the creator? Most likely the creator (or more appropiately, the editorial) – I will still purchase products that represent the version of the character I agree with, so I guess that puts me in the character camp.

There are characters that I will always buy and there are characters I will always buy. But if the story looks stupid then I’ll usually pass. I skipped the DC 52 even though Perez was doing Superman and Levitz was writing LSH. The Avengers was my all time favorite but when they got Bendis and turned the Avengers into a franchise I stopped buying them.

Right now I’m buying the JSA Earth-2 series, but I’m not really happy with the way they have changed all the characters so I’ll probably drop that in a couple months, even though I love the JSA.

I think in this day and age the editors have too much control over the books and that’s probably one of the things that ruins these stories.

I think the character is what brings me in, but it is the creator that keeps me coming back. Example: Lone Ranger, Phantom, Green Hornet, Shadow. All are really good characters and I have picked up all their books, but only the Lone Ranger and Shadow have kept me wanting more. I like Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt and I will pick up the new issues to see what they do with this character. I kept up with the Bionic Man, but recently dropped it; art was not up to par. Astro City managed to create its own buzz and popularity without any known characters with good storylines and impressive artwork. I think a Savage Land story would be an eaier sell that a Lost World, just because you would not have to explain who Ka-zar or Zabu are.

Gawd, it’s depressing reading a lot of these comments. For anyone who said characters, please grow up… If you really think that, I’d like to see the reaction you’d get from 99% of modern creators if you shared this opinion. These characters are dead and nothing but the basis for a toyline or video game without the hard work of generations upon generations of creators.

Bottom line, if you don’t care follow creators, you don’t deserve good comics but you’ll probably get them now and then despite your juvenile selection methods…

Honestly? I don’t care one bit about the creators. Not in the least. Similarly, I’m not exactly attached to certain characters either. If a creator leaves or a character gets killed off, I won’t be so dramatic as to dump a book. My loyalty is to the brand. For example, I don’t care who’s writing X-Men or what the roster is. As long as they can tell interesting stories then that’s all I care about.

The industry has created virtual rock stars out of these creators. This just creates a situation of inflated egos, sky high salaries, and artificial fame. Every artist or writer wants to be a Kobe Bryant There’s a place for that, but 99% of all creators won’t be that. The really valuable players are the guys who come in every day, play every game, and go unrecognized for their reliability. Those are the guys who really make the industry what it is, not the Greg Land or Rob Liefelds of the world. I’d much sooner buy a book, regardless of creator, based solely on its merit.

I also don’t care what the particular characters may be. I mean, obviously, if it’s a Batman book then I expect to see Batman. However, I’m more interested in the story. I don’t really care that Jean Grey died again or whatever. That’s not going to make me flee a book or pick it up. Good writing will keep me a loyal reader. Bad writing will make me run for the hills.

AND…. If a writer or team messes up a book once, it’s going to take quite a bit to regain my trust. Not in the writer, but in editorial for letting that bad story pass. It was long time after the Clone Saga that I got back into Spider-Man. It took a major effort on my part to forget that misstep. Imagine my disbelief when OMD crushed me again. I don’t blame the writer. I can’t hate the characters. I fault editorial, whose mandate it was to implement an obvious and offensive deus ex machina and attempt to pass it off as character development.

Roster changes? No big deal. Occasional changes to whose under the mask? Not a problem either. Shift in creative teams? Done occasionally, not a problem either. Bad writing? Screw you, Comic Company X. Get editors who actually care about the books they’re working on instead of bowing & scraping to the “suits” and the stock holders.

Hey guys, a little late here, I know. I’m in Miami and this storm has been keeping me busy!

Anyway, creators for sure. One example that comes to mind is the Cap relaunch for Marvel NOW! Cap’s my all-time favorite character. I like some of Remender’s previous work (Uncanny X-Force, Venom), but Romita Jr’s pencils and the ludicrous $3.99 price tag isn’t something I’m willing to go along with, so Captain America #19 will be my last Captain America issue for the time being, since 2005.

Depends on who the artist is after Romita, Jr., maybe I’ll pick up the book.

Same goes for the Gillen/Land Iron Man. Not a fan of Land’s artwork. I’ve collected the entire Fraction run, and once it finishes, I might be done, too. Only thing is, that I highly enjoy Gillen’s writing, so wether or not I pick up Iron Man will depend on word of mouth

Creators.
Creators are like storytellers or story-cinematographers to me.

If a book or book series offer appeal, I might buy it,
but never in a sense of: “Hey, Hellboy should walk in on this, or Superman must make an entry here”.

I dislike and don’t think good of overlapping or branded universes purely for the sake of selling more.

And if a story or series is done, why not start something new? New will be much better than muddying or repeating stuff that was already good. Retconning or rebooting cannot work and needn’t.
‘More of the same’ for a motto is weak and undermines the content itself.

Pellucidar! Pellucidar at Dynamite! Do it do it do it!! :) :) :)

(Hey, I can hope…)

I suppose like most people here, I can safely say “both” as the short answer, but as the longer answer… it’s mostly characters to me. I have a few non-“A List” characters that I will buy virtually anything they’re in, regardless of which creators are involved (unless it’s someone whose work I detest, like Chuck Austen or BMBendis, Greg Land, etc.) just because they’re in it, sometimes even if they’re only as wallpaper/background characters. At the same time, when it comes to my sole A List favorite (Storm of the X-Men), she has to be well-portrayed for me to buy it, since she appears in so much stuff that I’d go broke and run out of space buying everything.

Then there are a few times when I have bought something just because I creator I like is involved (see: Whedon, Cebulski, etc.) and have faith that it’ll be good on that basis. Most of the time, this extends to Chris Bachalo, whose involvement has gotten me interested in things I might not normally care about. I just love his art and it really makes me feel like my purchase was worth it when I see it and can hold it in my hands.

So like I said, it usually has to have a character I like in it for me to buy it, but there are some instances where I’ll buy something for the creator(s) involved. Oh, and I don’t buy much creator-owned stuff, certainly not just because a certain creator is involved. I don’t travel off the beaten path much, if you know what I mean.

Characters usually, with some creators getting in on it. I will read almost anything from Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Neil Gaiman, Tim Sale, Jim Lee, Frank Quitely, Ted McKeever, and a few others. However, as long as I’m reading comics I will never stop buying Batman titles. None of those creators could be working on a single thing and I would still be buying comics. If DC stopped publishing Batman, I’d stop reading comics. I have gotten more selective in that I don’t feel the need to read a Batman title if it’s poorly made, but I’ll still always buy any quality title related to Gotham.

Uh both and is that such a bad thing?

It probably takes a creator to do a company-owned character well for me to notice but I follow creators and read any independent/creator-owned book that might have good word of mouth or an interesting concept, preferably both. Chew is a good example of that as I hadn’t read anything from the creators but I heard it was good and sounded good. That said, creators like Johns & Reis can take a character like Aquaman, who I’ve never followed and make him interesting and fun to read.

Then there are some characters, particularly my niche favorites who are nobodies like Maggot, who pop up every once and I either check out that book or wait to hear if it’s worth it.

Wow, what an opportune time to have this discussion. I was brainstorming my next blog post around this idea, mostly in response to Liefeld’s suicide-bombing on Twitter the last few days.

Obviously everyone has characters they love, and everyone likewise has their own buying habits, but everyone I know falls in love with a book because of the execution. Batman is easily my favorite comic superhero, but that’s because of the incredible stories in which he’s appeared: TDKR, Year One, Long Halloween, Lovers and Madmen, Black Mirror, the Nolan movies, the Red Hood animated film, Court of Owls, on and on. I haven’t spent a dime on the Schumacher abortions entitled Batman Forever or Batman and Robin, or the Adam West show, or the silver age books in which he appears with his teenage Bat-son. Books that come out in an art style I don’t like, or with campy dialogue, or garish colors, or even in a cheap-looking format, don’t make it to my shelf.

Of course big name properties will generally outsell lesser-known properties, but a 5-minute internet search will prove that it’s not a hard fast rule. In my opinion, Aquaman has by far the lamest concept of any big-league DC superhero. The lamest CONCEPT, which has nothing to do with the execution of the monthly book. Not only does Aquaman routinely outsell every Marvel book, it has retained more of its initial readership since the New 52 launch than any other DC book, including all the Batman books.

Put Snyder and Capullo on Hawkman and see what happens.

Ill always personally read a few titles based purely on my love for a character (like Batman or the X-men) but usually the only way Ill try a new characters book is based purely of the creative team. So I find it to be both for myself anyway.

In regards to the original question, what’s wrong with both a Marvel Savage Land book and a brand-new Jungle Land book? Today’s market can allow for both books to exist and possibly do well. I’d love to see what Busiek can accomplish with Ka-Zar along with any original ideas or twists he can add upon the Jungle Land concept.

As for the second question, both. I have favorite characters whom I follow regardless of rotating creative teams as well as favorite creators whose work I enjoy, both for corporate characters as well as their own projects.

When I was young and first getting into comic books, my choices were always about the characters. Spider-man, Superman, Batman, GI Joe, Transformers – it didn’t matter who was writing or drawing, the characters drew me in.

In High School, I moved towards following the artists that I enjoyed seeing. As an artist, I wanted to see as much of the artwork of my favorite artists as I could. They inspired me and I would happily follow a bad book just for good art. That said – Spider-man was a character I followed regardless of art or story (yeah… Clone Saga… bought it all because I loved Spider-man).

After college, a combination of increased costs, maturation in my own tastes and distaste in some of the trends in comics led me to follow writers more – with the artists being a secondary purchase component and the characters driving it last. Again – I still maintain Spider-man in my pull list but nearly everything else is because of a writer I enjoy (I am really sad to see Ed Brubaker pulling back from Captain America and Winter Solider but it does give me hope for even more great creator owned stuff from him).

Inexperience and inflexible attitudes follow characters.

Maturity and experience follow creators.

Both. I will buy everything that, lets say Jeff Lemire for instance, write. But I will also buy every batman by any writers/artist…

Concept first, creators second.

Unless I’m going on someone’s recommendation, the first time I pick up someone’s work (goes for novels as much as comics) is because I’m interested in the concept of what they’ve produced. Batman – great concept – that’s why the character’s lasted so long and has generated so many great stories – because it’s an idea that readily lends itself to great stories.

Once I’m familiar with a creator’s work, I’m more likely to follow them onto something else. Doesn’t mean I’ll follow them blindly – Paul Dini’s Madame Mirage I went for because I know he does the crime-superhero stories so well. His Jingle Belle I’m not so interested in.

Equally I won’t blindly follow a comic book character no matter who’s working on it. Rob Liefeld or Felicia D Henderson are guaranteed to have me running from comic books that I might have otherwise at least tried.

Kurt Busiek’s Savage Land would not be a draw for me. And again it’s down to the concept – I’m a fan of lost worlds, but a lost world in a superhero universe doesn’t really appeal to the extent that Conan-Doyle’s Lost World or Burrough’s Caprona or Pellucidar do. So I’d be more interested in seeing something not set in the Marvel Universe and with something new brought to the lost world table.

Pretty much characters for original buys on my pull list, though liking a character some can get on my pull list if the writer is good or, conversely, dropped if I don’t like him or her. For an artist, the art has to be terrible to stop my buying, and if I like the character enough, not even then.

But for tpbs, requests from the library, and ebay buys, creators play a much bigger role.

Well-written stories

Characters can grab me, particularly favorites, creators can grab me, again especially favorites and creators on favorite characters will grab me the most but it always comes down to what they do with them.
Wonder Woman is a favorite and when I saw the art for Wonder Woman I was disappointed, not that it was bad, far from it, but it wasn’t what I thought of for her. But then I read it and what the team, and it is always a team, did and I was impressed. If I’m disappointed in the team working on a book I might pick up an issue of a favorite character but usually I’ll pass on a series if their not treating the character well.
Meanwhile there are creators who have come up with treatments of characters I don’t usually follow that intrigue me enough that I’ll go with them to see where they take me and the character.

Imagine your favorite director films a movie involving actors and characters you never heard of, and it goes straight to DVD. You haven’t read ANY reviews about this movie, so you cannot be swayed one way or another. It’s just a movie. It exists. Sans fanfare, sans hoopla.

Do you buy it?

I’m almost ashamed to say : I wouldn’t. Sorry, but there are just so many movies out there that combine directors, actors and characters I like that I won’t take a chance on so much unknown.

Remember, a Marvel book gets better marketing than a creator-owned book. You know if it sucks, more people are going to complain about it. Similarly, if it rocks, it’ll feel like the entire universe wants you reading this book. If it’s just a creator-owned book on an indie label, no one will be talking about it, good or bad. Without the marketing pressure to buy into this book, I feel people will instead choose between books that are all making more noise, be it good or bad noise.

It’s the very nature of marketing. Not all well-marketed books and movies are good, but neither are they all crap. Humans like to gather, it’s the very essence of what fuels social media. As a race that likes to gather, we tend to gather around the things that make the most noise, good or bad. Like the Avengers movie, or Total Recall, or Expendable 2. There are FAR better movies being made, but we don’t car. We want to criticize or applaud as a GROUP. The more the merrier.

Human beings have a longing to belong. You’re NEVER going to get that from books, music or movies on independent labels with no marketing budget.

It used to be characters when I was younger but now that I’m older, more well read and have more refined tastes I read book based on who the creators are, specifically the writers. I’ll still pay attention to the characters I like but it’s the writers now a days who get me excited about books. But keeping with characters can introduce you to new creators that you may not have read before.

For me, if the series is a new book series with new characters who I have no familiarity with, then its the creators who draw me in, assuming I like the creators. After all, there are certain writers who I just trust to come up with ideas, and those who I don’t.

In terms of major books with major characters, its a combination of the two. The reason I read books like BATMAN, TEEN TITANS, X-MEN and so on is is primarily because of the characters. I’ve been reading about these characters since I was a kid, and as such, they’re what keep me around. If one of my favorite creators in the books are involved, that will help keep me around. Then of course, if the book starts failing because of the staff involved, causing me to stop reading the book, and then a writer or artist I like, takes over, that might draw me back.

…Did that make sense?

My rule for picking up a title is “The three C’s,” that is 1) character, 2)creative team and 3)concept. All three must be intriguing before I commit. For example, I have a soft spot for the Fantastic Four which goes back to the 1964 cartoon. So I was interested when I saw Matt Fraction was going to write the book and then almost gave the book a pass when I discovered Bagley was drawing. Then I discovered that the family was going on a time and space trip. I was sold.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

August 26, 2012 at 9:28 pm

On the question of whether I buy based on characters or creators, it really kinda depends.

There are certain characters/teams, like X-Men and Hulk, that I simply have to buy because I love the characters. However, certain creators can, with the right series/character concept, bring me on to books I wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

If I had to put percentages on it, though, I’d probably I’m about 60-40% in favor of characters.

Creators. A character that I enjoy under one creative team doesn’t get an automatic exemption from being dropped when the creative team changes just because I like the character. This Marvel NOW thing has me looking to drop Iron Man, Captain America AND Winter Soldier when Fraction and Brubaker leave those books. Unless Gillen and Remender and LaTour pull out something great.

Hawkeye is not a character I’ve ever followed but reading Fraction’s take on him has- so far- been fantastic (only 1 issue in, I know…). I wouldn’t have picked up Hawkeye #1if it wasn’t for one of my favourite writers doing it.

The art helps a lot but the writer is key. The character/s are secondary.

It is , however, a writers mainstream work that gets me looking into their creator owned stuff. If I read a Busiek/ Lieber story that I enjoy from one of the big companies then I’m definitely more inclined to check out a creator owned piece by them.

There are several factors.

Some characters get my attention no matter what. Daredevil. Iron Fist. Iron Man. Spiderman. The Transformers. These characters captured my attention at one point or another to the point that I can endure bad stories until better ones are written. Even the bad stories can be stomached for a better end result ie. One More Day’s ridiculous end to the Peter/MJ marriage in exchange for the great comics that came afterwards.

Other times, a good writer can attract my attention. I don’t really enjoy the Fantastic Four. I enjoy elements of it and cameos in other books, but I rarely can stick with the title. Hickman came in and I gave it a chance. He had hype, good reviews, and I loved Secret Warriors. I enjoyed his run. I’ll give the new writer a chance, but I have a feeling that I’ll be dropping the title again. The same thing goes for Mark Waid. If I see his name on a book, I will give it a chance. I enjoy enough of his work to go on name alone.

At the same time, a bad writer can push me away. I’ve liked a handful of older Jeph Loeb books, especially Daredevil: Yellow. But he’s had such a long string of horrible books that I try to avoid his work (he practically killed all interest in the Ultimate universe with a few horrible stories and I’m afraid he’ll do the same thing for Marvel Animation).

As for the Savage Land vs. generic lost land… I think it is just that the Marvel Universe has many areas that have either gone without a serious spotlight or that haven’t been extensively covered in recent years. I think people are less interested in the Savage Land so much as they want a sense of completion, they want something that fills whatever void is currently in the lineup. Why does it need to be set in an already existing universe? The Marvel Universe is excessively rich in characters and history. There is no need to create a background, to do “world building” in the middle of a story. Do I need another unknown lost land to care about, learn the origin and history of, etc…? Sometimes it is better to simply look closer at the present or to move forward than it is to start from scratch. For the most part, I think that’s why new characters and new ideas are such a hard sell now-a-days.

My answer: both, or neither. I follow both creators and characters to a degree, but I don’t literally follow either everywhere for the most part. Of course, what’s important is that the book is good. So, we give credit to the people making the book. But if, say, two good teams happen to be on one book back-to-back, I’m technically following the character. Some jump off the book when the creator they follow leaves, I like to take a look at what the next team will do with the characters. And the characters I like are why I’m sticking around to try the next run. So, bit of both.

Characters or creators is an old question you see brought up in regards to comics a lot. For me, the question is “Read good comics that you like?”, and the answer is “yes I do.”

Robert Kirkman is obviously the man, Invincible being one of my favorite books. But I’m not gonna pick up a book just because it says Robert Kirkman on it. I didn’t dig Astounding Wolfman, or various things, but I have loved much of his work. I guess by following him, you could say I’ll at least look at the 6-page preview for anything else he launches. But I’m not literally following him.

For a series with a rotating cast of writers, let’s take Witchblade. I follow the character of Witchblade’s wielder, Sara Pezzini, to a degree. For example Ron Marz recently had a long run, and when he left Tim Seeley came on. Since I like what both of them have done with it, the creator change didn’t stop me from sticking around. Plus I was already a fan of Tim’s. But if a writer I’m not into or have heard of is on Witchblade, I will still check out a preview just because it says Witchblade on the cover, much like how I’ll check out a preview just because it says Robert Kirkman on the cover.

Long story short, Kirkman should write some Witchblade sometime.

I am on the fence with this as well. I am a Jim Starlin fan and would buy almost anything he wrote and/ or draws. He is an easy one though as he usually deals with mystical or space stories (both of my favorites). I wouldn’t buy a Catwoman series done by him, as I have zero desire reading about that character.
Yes, it has to be combination of both character and creators I enjoy. I love the Doom Patrol and would buy a series by Byrne of Giffen, but not Bendis, or Bruce Jones. I will say this, I would have been all over an OMAC (from DC New 52) styled independent book by Keith Giffen, but so many things in the book were tied to other Kirby ideas which increased the enjoyment.
Conflicted :(

For me it’s a mixture i’ll buy a Punisher story written by anyone and any story that Taskmaster or Daken appear in. But I also buy everthing written by certain writers such as Jason Aaron, Azzarello and Garth Ennis.
I have favourite artists but I tend to not buy a series just for the artist.

Characters. I buy comics to read stories about the characters I like. There might be a great creative team on a particular book, but if its a character I have no interest in, I’m not going to buy it because its a character I dont care for.

“Gawd, it’s depressing reading a lot of these comments. For anyone who said characters, please grow up… ”

Sod off with your condescension.

“If you really think that, I’d like to see the reaction you’d get from 99% of modern creators if you shared this opinion. ”

Really dont care in the slightest about what “modern creators” might think of my buying habits. I buy what I am interested in, and that is stories about characters I like, regardless of who writes/draws them.

I’ll flip this around and say that there are plenty of books I won’t touch because a certain creator is involved, but I’m struggling to think of a scenario where I would ever pass on something because it featured a character I wasn’t a big fan of.

I pretty much approach comics the same way I approach other media. If a new project by a creator I like comes out, I don’t really care what it’s about. If it’s a creator-owned book, I’ll probably be there. Then again, if it’s one of five titles in a superhero franchise, I’ll probably give it a pass. If it’s a 20-page, $3.99 Marvel title, I probably won’t be interested, particularly since it won’t be self-contained for more than six issues, anyway.

Most Marvel and DC books are disposable in terms of quality; you just notice that creators don’t really have the freedom to express themselves at these companies, and for the kind of material that they do produce as a result, the books are about 200% overpriced. I’d rather just buy CHEW or FATALE or LAZARUS instead and know that I’ll get something that’s inspired and has a heart and a soul, even if it’s four bucks — I happily pay that price for 20-page stories when they don’t read and look like they were written and drawn by robots.

The words “Spider-Man” or “Batman” on the cover of a comic don’t mean I get a quality book. The words “Ed Brubaker” or “John Layman” or “Greg Rucka” (or “Kurt Busiek” or “Steve Lieber”) on the cover of a creator-owned book do.

Both for me.

Any Batman and (Joss Whedon’s) Angel story and I am there, no matter what the creative team is. (Come on I still follow Angel after the horribleness that was his story line in Buffy Season 8 – THAT is dedication)

And there are certain creators for whom I will at least try their new stories – Garth Ennis, Mark Miller, Brian K Vaughan & Joss Whedon come to mind.

I tend to go with characters as long as I like what the creator is doing. I dropped Millar’s Fantastic Four because I don’t care for him as a creator even though I’m a Fantastic Four fan. I’m a big John Byrne fan, I buy Next Men and Trio but I’m not as interested in his Star Trek stuff because I’m not a big Trekkie.

Creator. And mainly artists – for me no matter how good the writing is I can’t get into the story if I don’t like the art.

It is a combination of character and creator for me. Ideally, I prefer titles that are in an isolated universe which maintain a single creator over planned number of issues. In the case of characters who have a long term history, there are writers who will drive me away from characters that I enjoy–when I find out that there is a change in the writing staff, then I will give the series another chance.

Like many it is a mix.

Will read Superman/Supergirl/Legion no matter who writes them … but will complain if not done well.

But I follow creators a lot more now. I never read Cap America or Iron Man before Brubaker and Fraction took over respectively. Didn’t really read XMen before Grant Morrison. Didn’t read Conan before Wood/Cloonan. On and on …

I have to have the best of both worlds.

I won’t follow a creator anywhere. It has to be a place I would want to go anyway.

And I won’t stick around just to watch a fav character being tortured. I’ll move away and go somewhere else.

I like creative TEAMS the most. Two or more people that when they got together something special, unique and surprising happened.

98% of the time, it’s the creators.

I’ll follow Grant Morrison, Darwyn Cooke, Warren Ellis, JH Williams III, Becky Cloonan, etc, etc, into Hell, as long as long as they are working on something I’m interested in reading – and even if I’m not, I’m going to give it a shot.

Life is too short for shitty comics.

For me, it’s either characters (BATMAN, GREEN ARROW, ADAM STRANGE, DOCTOR STRANGE, SHAMAN, ECHO) or themes (Native American cultures, owls, 1960s psychedelic counterculture, cyberpunk).

For example: I’ve been collecting comic books since 1959, and my favorite creator is TIMOTHY TRUMAN. I love his work on SCOUT, WILDERNESS, HAWKWORLD, and TUROK, but there is no way in hell that I am ever going to buy STAR WARS or CONAN!

I’m an ASM completionist, but aside from that I follow creators.

Personally (after probably having found this far after it is relevant…), I think it’s a balance. Creators are the ones that establish 2 things: The world as it stands, and the Situations as they arise. Characters are put into the world and interact in general, and then act and react based on their personality to the Situations. I think you need someone inventive to be able to put themselves into a characters head. You need someone make the setting and the overall story come alive. You need someone cunning to beat the living daylights out of the protagonist and give the audience a reason to WANT him to get back up.

It’s why I rarely read DC or Marvel any more. Too much restarts, rewrites, and too many rehashes. There’s not even a base-line scale for what fits into a good story, just ‘power creep’ stories with very little character development.

It’s a mix. It really depends on the product that you end up getting at the end, I think. For example, I really enjoy Bendis when he’s left to his own devices – like on Powers – but for me, personally, his Marvel stuff (with the exception of Ultimate Spider-Man, which again, is kind of him being left to his own devices) tends to just not hit me the same way his other stuff does.

I am a creator over character person for sure, but as at least one commenter has said before me, I tend to weight genre higher than character as well. I’m much more likely to pick up something if it has anything to do with science fiction, and I’ll take a glance at horror, crime/mystery, fantasy, and comedy.

It’s generally the characters, then the creators. I’ve purchased comics for 50 years and I’ve had several writers & artists who I preferred, but I prefer their work on the major DC or Marvel characters rather than their own books. Mr. Busiek is one of the exceptions – I always liked his Astro City work, but it’s too infequent and there were storylines that just never seemed to go anywhere (like the Dark Age saga.)

Most of the fans seem to follow the characters (like the X-Men, Superman, Batman, Spider-man, etc.) without paying much attention who is writing them or drawing them – if that wasn’t the case neither DC or Marvel could get away with so many poor writers or artists working on their main titles. And the independent books may sell well for a particular creator, but they get a LOT more eyeballs on the major characters each month…

I follow writers mostly but it helps if there is a character I love involved. But I’ve often said a good writer can make the lamest character cool. I think it’s interesting though that it seems the people who follow characters only seem to be DC fans.

I agree with a lot of people who say it is a mix. I love Peter David when he was on Hulk. When he left, I dropped Hulk. He moved to Captain Marvel, a character I had no interest in, so never got it. He moved to X-Factor, which was again, something he has done well in, and again, a team I had no interest. He did She-Hulk, which I thought his run was terrible.

Which is now interesting, examples of
Character I love + creator I love = Good (Hulk)
Character I love + creator I love = Bad (She-Hulk)

I always remember reading Astro City, and commenting, “It is just the Fantastic Four written by the guy. Why doesn’t he just write Fantastic Four?”

I think what he is really asking.
Would you buy “Kurt Busiek does Savage Land” or “Kurt Busiek does The Land of Savages, a creator inspired world of dinosaurs starring Ko-Zor and Hanna.” I know at least one person up there commented how the ripoffs are getting to be old.

>> I think what he is really asking.
Would you buy “Kurt Busiek does Savage Land” or “Kurt Busiek does The Land of Savages, a creator inspired world of dinosaurs starring Ko-Zor and Hanna.” >>

No. That’s not remotely what I was asking.

I’m not even thinking about doing a lost-world series — I was bouncing off someone else saying they’d read one by me and Steve by wondering what the appeal was there, the genre or the continuity. This has gotten turned into a question about creators vs. characters, though that wasn’t the initial question (since both examples had the same creators).

But I have no plans whatsoever to write Ko-Zor or Hanna. Although it’s kind of amusing to be decried for planning to rip off two of the most-derivative characters in comics history. Had Bob Byrd not swiped Tarzan almost whole cloth in creating Ka-Zar (the dinosaurs came years later) and Shanna not been borrowed enthusiastically from Sheena, would either character exist at all?

kdb

I don’t know if anyone’s touched on this above (sorry if you have) – – but I think it’s characters first, when you first get into comics… AND THEN, when you get used to the different writing and art styles and find yourself preferring different ones, then you’ll start looking at creators. At least, that’s how it worked for me! :-)

So yeah, had my share of buying X-Men books, ‘cos I loved the different characters. This was mid-90s or so. But I first noticed it with ‘X-Men’, when Jim Lee left 10 issues in and they brought on Andy Kubert on I think… different art style… which I didn’t like. So I dropped the book.

That saying… creators aren’t necessarily guaranteed gold either. Like Brian Bendis… I loved his Image stuff more (yay to ‘Jinx’) than any of his Marvel. Like Mikel’s comment on ‘She-Hulk’ – yeah, there was a time Peter David put out brill stuff. I still love his ‘Spider-Man 2099′ or first ‘X-Factor’ series with Larry Stroman. Maybe it’s a more editorial thing now, that’s changed his work.

These days… I’ve become much more into genres of books, rather than creators. In fact, I love discovering new books without knowing anything about the creators or where they’ve come from.

Like the recent ‘Enormous’ that came out from Image – brilliant book!!! Or the graphic novel called “Drafted”, which was SO absorbing – a stunning book.

I like how, not knowing who the creators are, it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the story! I prefer that now. I don’t follow so-called “well-known” creators anymore. I’m buying comics and OGNs for the story.

Richard

(PS, Lovely to see Kurt Busiek on here. Just read ‘Arrowsmith’ for the FIRST time over the weekend. A joy.)

it’s the story, the characters. it’s the writer’s job to make the reader care about the character and their plight, not about the name on the credit box.

Here we have Kurt asking people if they care about character over creator or vice versa, while on Twitter Matt Hawkins from Top Cow is suggesting aspiring writers to focus on character first. Notice that here you have an editor telling aspriing writers that characters come first. Not popularity, not fame, not recognition, but character.

What’s your point, Michael?

that the answer to the question is that character come first.

whether that character is familiar or not is irrelevant. the character has to engage the reader so that the reader will want to read the story. once that’s done, once you’ve hooked the reader in, it doesn’t matter who the creator is.

The true core of the discussion is content versus marketabiity.

Creator A’s name may be more marketable than Creator B’s name, meaning that if Creator A does a comic about a singing and dancing bunny while Creator B does the comic book equivalent of Lord of the Rings or Catcher in the Rye, the singing and dancing bunny will sell more copies because Creator A’s name is more marketable.

If the dancing bunny is Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, the comic might sell more copies than if he was a pastiche of Hoppy, but even then the pastiche of Hoppy by Creator A will sell more copies than whatever Creator B comes up with because the name will tip the balance.

Content balances the scales.

Creator B, knowing that his name is not as marketable as Creator A’s, has to tell the greatest possible story he can, and come up with a character whose plight will engage the readers so that they will want to read his story based on said plight and not how well known he is.

Ultimately, Creator A will have a comic about a singing and dancing bunny that sells on the merits of his renown while Creaor B will have a story that sells on the merits of the character.

If it had Cool characters like a half man pteradactyl, a jungle man with a sabretooth cat, a futuristic city of mutates juxtaposed against prehistory then I’d read it. Otherwise there’s a reason Burroughs comics don’t enthrall anymore. We’ve pushed past those unknowns.

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