Robot 6

‘There’s a lot of comic snobs out there, it seems to me’

wonderland14“Well, I think if I said it didn’t bother me, I’d definitely be lying. It bothers me on some level. But at the same time, we know that we can’t please everyone.

It’s funny, for such a unique fanbase and how until recently comics were really looked down on by mainstream America — which is another reason we wanted to start this company, and bring it more mainstream — there’s a lot of comic snobs out there, it seems to me. People who just go, ‘I won’t read that because there’s a scantily clad Red Riding Hood on the cover.’ Yet if you look at a Marvel comic or a DC comic, and it has a female character in it, they’re portrayed very much the same way, in my opinion.

So it does bother me a little bit. But then, at the same time, you can’t please everybody. I think the biggest success that we have is through word of mouth — people telling other people, ‘Hey, this is a good book, pick it up.’ Those fans will bring more fans to our brand, and if that wasn’t happening, we wouldn’t be in business. It is a little bothersome, but at the same time, I understand it, too.”

Zenescope President Joe Brusha, addressing the perception of his company as simply a T&A publisher

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But the real question is whether the publisher can maintain this level of profit *without* the cheesecake art. If he really published good stories worthy of circulation then these same stories could function without. However, puerile interests and sophomoric readers will no doubt not try the books sans empty objectification. After all, for many male comic readers, regardless of publishing company, artifacts that do not satisfy the male gaze are not worth spending what little money they have

@matthew: The sad thing is, you probably think what you’ve put down is smart.

I’ve flipped through your company’s comics on many occasions out with my friends, and I’m sorry, Mr. Busha, but you do sell T&A comics. T&A is what you’re known for with people in the same way that Avatar is known for ridiculously gory horror comics.

Yeah, but so what? So what if they sell T&A books?! In an ideal market there’s a variety of books for various tastes. The problem comes when there’s ONLY t&a books, and there are no books to attract readers who don’t find that sort of thing appealing. The market came frighteningly close to that in the 90s. And, it’s even more problematic when all mainstream superhero/ine books are also booby books with no other portrayals of women for young readers…
But, Zenescope, while not always my favorite company business-wise, is a niche company which appeals to a certain kind of adult reader, male and female, in a market which, wonderfully, is much more diverse than it has been in many years. Let ‘em have it.
TIM SEELEY

Zenescope comics are just embarrassing, and while DC/Marvel product isn’t great at portraying female humans, it really says something that Zenescope product is so lame as to stand out as something you’d be embarrassed to buy in front of your female friends. Also, he’s deluding himself that the stories aren’t bad. They are.

It isn’t that they have T&A covers. It’s that they have nothing *BUT* T&A covers.

Nothing wrong with T&A books, their readers, etc. There is an old saying, you are judged by the company you keep. So, if you make money selling T&A, don’t act so surprised when people who don’t like T&A might not try a “good book” because of a preceding reputation, even if said book contains less T&A.

“Yet if you look at a Marvel comic or a DC comic, and it has a female character in it, they’re portrayed very much the same way, in my opinion.”

He’s kidding, right? I know some like to make this gross generalization that mainstream readers are mouth-breathers, but when that happens, that’s just people being… (wait for it)… snobs! Because there’s little truth to it. But sure – let’s keep tearing down the Fake Geek Girl claim while quietly allowing the basement virgins label. That’s mature.

And is that the creator of Hack-Slash defending Zenescope? Next thing you know, he’ll be working for some corporate publisher he likes to trash. Oh wait.

I’ve never really understood the problem everyone here seems to have with T&A content in comics. Pay/subscription cable series are pretty much based around it, and there’s plenty of good stories there. It seems like there is a weird hermetic eunuch culture among alot of die hard comic book fans that I’ll never understand. But there are comics for those types too. I agree with Mr Seeley that it’s only a problem when it becomes the only stuff out there. But that’s far from the case. There’s more diversity in gender portrayals now than ever. Most men are always going to enjoy seeing attractive women in little/no clothing, however. It’s not anything scandalous and it’s really weird when people have such trouble with it.

Too often covers turn me off. I know, I know, “never judge a book by its cover.”. But Ii honestly have to say that if I never got past the covers I never would have discovered one of my all time favorite series, Hack/Slash. I thought it was going to be a book that was T&A and gore porn but oh how wrong I was.

Hah. Yeah, thanks Mikael. “Working for a publisher I trash?” Not sure what you’re referring to or why it pisses you off, but enjoy.
TIM SEELEY

Jerzy said:

“I’ve never really understood the problem everyone here seems to have with T&A content in comics. Pay/subscription cable series are pretty much based around it, and there’s plenty of good stories there. It seems like there is a weird hermetic eunuch culture among alot of die hard comic book fans that I’ll never understand.”

I’ve started calling them “Neopuritans” myself.

http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-little-neopuritans.html

I wouldn’t call myself a comic snob. I bought Alley Baggett’s “Alley Cat” back in the day when I was a hormonal teenager. I was checking out playboy and porn as well.

Then I grew up. T&A comics haven’t appealed for the last 25 years.

If I want to see a pair of boobs, then I’ll watch a movie that has real ones. The ones in a comic are drawn. I don’t understand the appeal. That’s not being a snob.

I read Captain America for the action and adventure, not because he has a smokin’ pack of abs either.

I like good stories and good art. This is where Zenescope constantly fails. I don’t care whether the stories have T&A or not — I”m not an adolescent — but I do require good stories and good art.

Say what you will, but I started writing for Zenescope in 2012. Women have said that my work on Robyn Hood has saved their lives. To me, that means something.

Also, read No Tomorrow by Raven Gregory. If that doesn’t show you quality beyond what one sees on the covers, then… I just don’t know. I’ve written for IDW and Titan and many other publishers, and I put in as much effort and love into my Zenescope stories as I did those. They are very kind to writers.

“Women have said that my work on Robyn Hood has saved their lives”

Are you serious? How many women? In what capacity? How exactly did the comic contribute directly to their lives being saved? Does this mean you have a messiah complex? Are you Alec Baldwin in the film Malice?

Nope, not at all. But two people, one on a Youtube comment and one a Robyn cosplayer at a convention, told me this. No “Messiah complex” at all — that’s ridiculous and it’s clearly mocking the anecdote to get around the point of what I’m saying. Merely pointing out that some people care about these stories beyond the covers. The fact that there are folks out there who care about these books as much as I care about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Saga of the Swamp Thing, Y: The Last Man, Sweet Tooth, etc… that means a lot to me. The fact that people, from women in their twenties to men in their fifties, have cosplayed as characters that Raven, Ralph, Joe, or now even I have created… that means a lot to me. There are a lot of folks here saying, “I don’t care about the covers, Zenescope just tells shitty stories.” I’d like to ask which of our stories have they read. I’m all for a dialogue about the covers, because everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there seems to be a lot of generic bashing of stories that I’d wager most folks commenting haven’t really read much of.

But again – if someone picks up a book I write, if they don’t like it, that’s fine. Can’t please everyone. But to say “Zenescope puts out shitty books” full stop is, I think, ignoring a lot of great material. And hell, if Grimm Fairy Tales isn’t your thing (though I’d encourage anyone to challenge their perception and pick up a copy of the current ongoing or any of the current minis), how about the digital stuff Zenescope does? I just did two creator-owned series with them – one is an all-ages tale called Family Pets, and the other is a found footage horror comedy called Suckers. Ralph Tedesco is putting out a series called Guardians soon the same way.

I don’t know. I just care too much about writing to not comment on the blind bashing. I probably shouldn’t feed the trolls, but I think just taking a look at anything the company has done recently might make folks think twice.

But then, if folks don’t like the books, folks don’t like the books. Not trying to please everyone.

You’ll have to forgive my incredulity at such a claim that was initially given without any context whatsoever. However, you make a decent point that most of us probably haven’t read the contents.

No, it’s totally cool, Matthew. I get where you’re coming from. I could have definitely given more context to back up what I was saying. It would have come off way less knee-jerk.

In any case, if someone with an open mind wants to read the stuff, I’d gladly send a sample comic. My e-mail address is patrickEshand AT gmail DOT com. I take requests, suggestions, and hate mail.

And pictures of cats, please. Those are always welcome.

The “snob” comment just doesn’t hold up I’m afraid. Look: Maybe Grimm Fairy Tales actually is good beyond the covers and the character designs, but comics are a visual medium. The objection goes deeper than judging a book by its cover. It’s not like I personally haven’t tried to look past those, by the way. Comixology allows previews. Tried this for one part of the book or another for a few different issues. One of them involved this woman trying to commit suicide in the bathtub. My impression was…not improved.

Anyway: having cheesecake around is one thing, leaning on it like a crutch is another. Yes, it exists in cape comics, which is maybe the major reason it’s as pervasive in the medium as it is. But not everywhere, not in every book, and not every week. Therein lies the point. Let’s say the perception really is unfair. In its very consistent choice of covers, the publisher reinforces that perception at every opportunity.

I will cede a certain temptation to Robyn Hood though. Anything to do with that legend and Zorro I have a weak spot for. But yes, there’s an image problem and it’s not simply an invention of an imaginary faction of comic readers suffering from extreme cognitive dissonance.

I think Revival by Tim Seeley is damn good comic books.

As someone best known for doing erotica: there is nothing wrong with T&A as such.

There IS something wrong with cheesy art, no stories, and a general belief that all you have to do is put some poorly-drawn airbrushed breasts on a cover and somehow you’re automatically entitled to people’s money.

So, you know, make better books, Even better T&A books. They exist. (Bomb Queen for one)

I don’t think it’s necessarily snobbish to look at a Zenescope book, see that the cover is “Hey, it’s that thing from when you were a child, but with giant boobs and no pants!” and decide that maybe the comic isn’t right for you. When you (I’m using the royal “you” here) actively choose to promote your books as T&A with the covers, you’re making a decision to place yourself into a niche. You are going to turn away far more women than you’ll attract because of the T&A pandering. You’re going to turn away men who aren’t interested in having their childhood stories blatantly sexualized. You’re the one making the choice to limit your audience by making your last line of advertising – the covers – all about cosplay softcore porn.

Maybe the stories inside are great and aren’t just T&A. Creators in these comments have said that. But with limited money for comics and only so much time in my day, I’m okay with missing out on a great book when it uses its cover to tell me, “You’re not really the kind of person I want to buy me.”

As for the Marvel and DC thing, I think Mr. Brusha misses the fact that usually when they resort to this kind of pandering, people complain about it and make tumblrs to mock it.

“Maybe the stories inside are great and aren’t just T&A. Creators in these comments have said that. But with limited money for comics and only so much time in my day, I’m okay with missing out on a great book when it uses its cover to tell me, “You’re not really the kind of person I want to buy me.”

But NIck, isn’t that inevitable with any work that is in any way dependent on a niche audience?

I think Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez have crafted some of the best comics stories of all time. But they aren’t accessible to a wide audience, much as I and others might wish it so. As much as the T&A comics, they are dependent on a niche audience to support them. To people looking for cheap thrills, the Hernandez’s covers also say, “You’re not the kind of person I’m trying to reach.”

@Gene The issue isn’t that the comic is trying to market itself to a specific audience.

The issue is that the comic publisher is saying that the comics aren’t relevant to that genre (in this case T&A), while simultaneously greenlighting covers and marketing materials that are sticking it directly in the exact genre he says it isn’t part of.

If the publisher wants to change the perception of that all of their comics are just T&A, then something needs to change in how they’re marketed. Either moving one of their less boobtastic lines up to be one of their flagship titles that they advertise as much as their more cheese-cakey fare, or a few variant covers or character designs in the titles people associate most with them, or their promotional materials like posters and banners, or the samples they give for Free Comic Book Day.

What they’re doing now is like if you have a gritty action movie set in the reign of King Richard III and say it isn’t a fantasy, while your marketing department edits trailers where the voice over talks about a mystical prophecy and advertises with posters where the characters are cast in the shadow of a dragon.

Half of the reason Japanese comicsso well in America is due to girls and some women enjoying the gay relationships / boys in bathing suits overload that some of those books are. If you don’t like zenascope.. Don’t buy it. It’s not one of hhe big 2. It’s not a defining 1/2 of the market. It’s a niche that some appreciate. No different than certain movie companies. I normally agree with feminist criticisms of mainstream comics- they are the mainstream and have a responsibility as market leaders to set a generalist tone that’s healthy for public consumption and thereby base-lining the entire industry. But a specialty publishers who quite honestly is fairly tame considering what’s possible should be able to consistently appeal to a niche market. Zenascope doesn’t push it’s aesthetic as the one ALL comics should adopt… They just do what they do.. I think this is driven more by trolling impulse than genuine complaint. There are other – look Terry Moore has sexy women all over his books.. He doesn’t (and shouldn’t) catch all the hell zenascope does. Like others have said, today’s range of comics is great. We all have choices. Use your power to chose but don’t be a hater as a reflex. It weakens the real criticisms of truly problematic imagery (ex: a recent “crossed” cover). Apologize for typos in advance (fat fingers on phone :-)

Difficult to not see how pathetic it is someone buying a comic book exclusively because of T&A.
It must be shame of buying porn

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