INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Analysis | Rob Salkowitz kicks off the new year with big-picture questions about “geek culture”: With the popularity of comics-based movies, will continuity and nostalgia become less important? And will comics themselves become less important? “Putting out comics is a relatively costly and troublesome process with limited revenue potential relative to other ways of exploiting the intellectual property. A fan base that buys licensed merchandise and watches entertainment programming without needing a monthly fix of new art and story is probably considered a feature of the new comics economy, not a bug.” [ICv2]
Creators | Chew artist Rob Guillory, who will appear this weekend at Wizard World New Orleans, talks about the strange comics that he read as a kid (The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man) and the unexpected success of Chew, which will end next year with its 60th issue: “In the beginning, John and I were kind of like, ‘Well, best-case scenario, we can go 60 issues. Worst-case scenario, we can do five and go our separate ways and never speak again.’ I don’t know if we’ve seen the peak of our reception. I don’t think we’ll see how popular we’ve been until it’s over. When it’s wrapped and it’s the complete thing, I think people will start missing us.” [Best of New Orleans]
Legal | DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer, who hasn’t been associated with the show since 2000, has been brought back to the Gwinnett County Jail and booked on child molestation charges that date back to August 2000. The 51-year-old Kramer was released on bond after his initial arrest following accusations that he sexually abused three boys, and has avoided jail and court for more than a decade because of his health problems, although he was under house arrest for a while. He was arrested again in Connecticut in 2011 for violating the conditions of his bond after he was allegedly found alone in a hotel room with a 14-year-old boy. Atlanta Magazine ran a lengthy expose on Kramer last year. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Early last week an otherwise-respected comic book artist took to Facebook to rant about the perceived insult of women attending comic book conventions dressed as comic book characters. Others have since soundly disassembled whatever point he was trying to make, so I wasn’t sure if much value could come from one more person on the Internet condemning the tirade for being ill-conceived, juvenile and sexist. But then I just did, so there you have it.
That aside, this is hardly the first time there’s been an inordinate amount of hand-wringing over whether certain people are enough of a geek or nerd or fan or whatever to qualify for … I have no idea what — some mythical geek clubhouse, I guess. If it’s your job to be a comics encyclopedia, I suppose there’s some basis for this. But most of the time, it’s just teeth-gnashing over fans not being “fan enough.” The people fretting about it are apparently disturbed that someone is falsely enjoying, or not enjoying enough, what they enjoy. Honestly, I don’t understand it. Is it that these people are embarrassed to like what they like, and they think they’re being mocked for liking something silly? Whatever the reason, it no doubt says more about them than the person who may or may not like or know about something with enough fervor.
The folks at ICv2 pulled out their calculators this week and took a hard look at the “geek culture” (their term) segment of the magazine business. What they saw wasn’t pretty. In April 2000, the top selling magazine was Wizard, with a total of 71,310 copies sold in comics shops (all the numbers are from Diamond). In April 2010, they sold 9,316 copies; now they sell none, because the magazine has shifted online (where, Sean T. Collins observed, it’s not exactly tearing up the internet). The top-selling magazine in April 2011 was Doctor Who Insider #1, which moved a grand total of 3,537 copies—a drop of 95% from Wizard’s April 2000 number.
Of course, this isn’t surprising. Geek culture and a love of gadgets go hand in hand, and it’s natural that these magazines would lose readership to the internet. Print magazines have a significant turnaround time that keeps them from breaking news, but beyond that, the web has become the gathering spot for fans of individual properties. When you can connect with other fans of Torchwood, Sailor Moon, or RPGs via the internet, paper becomes superfluous. The irony is that the “geek” fan community is probably larger than ever; it’s magazines that have dwindled away to almost nothing.