quote of the day
“I don’t really know the hard numbers off the top of my head, but I know when it started at comiXology, we were doing 5% and as we’ve continued to work with comiXology and branched out into other digital platforms, we’ve seen digital sales go from 5% of print sales to we’re getting close to 25 to 30% of print sales. The digital market is jumping and rising and growing exponentially while the print market continues to grow. I can say that I’ve seen that on all of my other books, too, books like Invincible. The digital market continues to double over time, while the print market is completely unaffected. While I will say that there’s a lot of retailers out there and people who are hardcore fans of print comics that see digital as a threat, I can say that I’ve seen no end of evidence that that’s not the case at all, that we’re seeing a growing digital audience coinciding with a growing print audience and the two seem to be feeding off of each other in a way that seems to bring more sales to both, which is a really exciting and uplifting thing to see for the industry as a whole.”
“I don’t know if it’d be the same thing. I mean, of course I would do it, but I don’t know if it’d be the same thing. It’d feel strange, indeed, doing Constantine in that world. It’d feel surreal. All the guts would have to come out of him. It’d be amusing to see him wind up with all these superheroes while he’s all gnarly and scarred and carrying around a bottle of whiskey. If he was darker and practicing magic on his own, that could work, but a cleaned-up version wouldn’t work. He’s not Doctor Strange, is he? He has to be the mysterious Englishmen on the corner by himself, having a drink muttering to himself. A guy who has to sober up and get his shit together. A misfit among misfits. I’m very interested to see how they portray him, very interested.”
– longtime Hellblazer cover artist Simon Bisley, when asked by Comic Book Resources whether he’d consider working on the new DC Universe series Constantine
“Despite Marvel coming to me and asking for the Cap series, rather than my pitching it to them, it was constantly being sidelined and eventually dropped to my disappointment. Since Ultimates ended, I’d been less and less involved in a collaborative process at Marvel. They now had their various brain-trusts, architects or whatever the gang was calling themselves, and that was what led their creative process. It seemed a very closed shop and not what it was like when I signed up to do Ultimates at all. I felt like they wanted an illustrator not a creator, and that was very frustrating to me. I’d submitted several proposals for various series, getting nowhere; Cap was dropped, and I didn’t even feel involved in the story I was working on. It really felt like I wasn’t contributing the way I wanted to be.
Obviously the work I did there over more than ten years is a true high point in my career and, in looking at the Marvel movies, clearly influential, but I guess there’s a time when you feel like you don’t know anybody at the party anymore or nobody’s laughing at your jokes and it’s time to call a cab. Possibly, had I known the Ultron series was longer than the five issues I’d originally thought and if I hadn’t had the Cap book pulled from under me, I may never have considered moving on, but stuff changes I guess.
I don’t want any of this to sound anything other than light, frothy and pleasant though. There’s no regret or bitterness, far from it. There’s always things one could have done differently or better but I had an amazing time and got play with a lot of company toys, and it made my career in the best way possible. Now in going forward I feel like I have some incredible opportunities I might otherwise not have had.”
– Bryan Hitch, in a lengthy interview with Comic Book Resources, discussing his departure from Marvel following Age of Ultron
“As long as it’s not really Captain Carrot, I don’t care. If anything, I’m kinda amused by their rather lame attempt to fit an ‘edgy’ funny animal into the ‘New 52′ universe. Somehow, it reminds me of Warner Bros. Animation’s terrible LOONATICS UNLEASHED SatAM cartoon series. Where’s Ch’p, Thunderbunny, Jaxxon, Bucky O’Hare, Rocket Raccoon and Howard the Duck when we need ‘em?”
– Captain Carrot co-creator Scott Shaw, reacting to the announcement that the character will be reimagined in
DC Comics’ Threshold as “a borderline psychotic, booze swilling, whore-mongering rabbit” named Captain K’Rot
“It’s instructive to read something about a family wanting certain rights returned or better rewarded when most people really like what’s been done with those rights as opposed to their either not caring or actively hating the result. One of the reasons a lot of our comics-related issue discussions remain unsophisticated is that we frequently choose to fight our battles along fundamental “I like it”/”I hate it” lines and then kind of furiously stare at the other issues involved until we can find a way to make them comply to our initial impression. It’s no way to move forward.”
Spurgeon’s observation is helpful, because the first step in solving the problem is acknowledging the problem.
“I was [...] seriously disappointed when I’d heard about the demise of Vertigo’s Hellblazer recently announced, in favor of transitioning the lead character into the DCU entirely, not an idea I’m overly fond of. As a longtime reader of Hellblazer it was disheartening. I felt as if Vertigo was beginning to slowly be sucked dry, its life’s blood drained away. And with the departure of Karen Berger I have to admit that I’m feeling even more disheartened. And speaking as bit of a fan here, not an industry professional, I’m feeling torn between a struggle of anger about some things and rather optimistic for what the future may hold for Karen, and in turn for us as readers. As a creative editor Karen has something to say, always has, and I’m certain her voice will rise up out of the din and resonate with something new. And when that voice does sound, in whatever form that may take, I know I’m there to listen. Comics needs Karen Berger! ”
– J.H. Williams III, responding to Monday’s announcement that Karen Berger, executive editor and senior vice president of Vertigo, will leave after nearly 20 years at the helm of the DC Comics imprint
“Good editors are your partners in making good comics. They are on your side. They are the trained second pair of eyes who look at your stories without the baggage you bring to them (sometimes, sadly, artists can get too close to the comic they’ve been working on for years, and not see the occasional story snarl or character breakdown), and challenge you to make your comic the best it can be. They point out when a comic panel doesn’t read properly, when a character looks off-model, and sometimes they’ll even give you notes like ‘this looks awesome!!!’ with little hearts drawn in the margins. Good editors are worth their weight in gold.”
— Faith Erin Hicks, on why she prefers to work with an editor
Of course, I’m biased because I was an editor before I was a writer, but I think Faith hits the nail on the head here. Everything is improved by a second set of eyes. The whole piece is worth reading, because Faith talks about the sort of discussions she has with her editor and what she is and isn’t willing to change.
“They are their own thing. They do not need your imprimatur, O pompous reader of literary fiction. They are basically for -children, and for men (yes, men, really, men) who are a bit too thick to read proper books, as I was for many years, and still sometimes am, like if I’m tired or hungover or on a plane.”
— Giles Coren, explaining why comics should not be considered for literary awards
Pretty much everything in this column is wrong, including Coren’s assertion that “Nobody calls them ‘graphic novels’ any more”; he goes on to explain, “In America, which is the home of the genre, they are called more often ‘comic books,’ spoken as if all one word, and with an East Coast accent (since that is whence they come), so: ‘-karmicbwurks’.” Perhaps this article is intended as satire, but people in the comments and on Twitter are taking it pretty seriously; judging from his Wikipedia article, Coren is just one of those curmudgeonly guys who likes to toss out verbal bombs once in a while to get everyone talking about him. Mission accomplished!
“Monocultures are risky business, diversification a useful hedge in times of change, and women’s dollars are as good as men’s. In particular, the traditional commodities of geekery – comic books, cult TV series and video games – are going through a complete and painful transition in business model under the pressure of digital distribution, the normalization of copyright infringement and the increasing ill-health of their direct retail channels. Meanwhile, the successes claimed by geeks over the dominant culture – such as the billion-dollar successes of this year’s Avengers and (soon) Batman films – have come by expanding audiences out of the core demographic. Geeks inherit the Earth when they learn to talk to other people on it – whether they are selling movie IP or operating systems.
In the face of this insecurity, ‘fake geek girls’ are the equivalent of Communist sleeper agents in the uncertain ’50s – the number of women who have no interest in geek culture but want geek attention at a personal level is vanishingly small, but their phantom is used to justify prejudice more generally, with the aim of keeping an unknown quantity out of the clubhouse.”
– Forbes contributor Daniel Nye Griffiths, wading into recent dust-ups in in comic book and video game circles about “fake geek girls”
“I think the digital playground is still working out its own rules for comics and the best ways in which to incorporate comics. The conceptual problem is that when a new delivery system comes up, everyone tries to shove previous content into the new venue without understanding the benefits of the new form, like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. It’s not just a new distribution system, it’s a new system, and you have to adapt and create something new and suited to its rules. When television was aborning, the fledgling networks brought in radio drama writers who wrote dramas or variety shows that were structurally identical to what they’d done in radio; playwrights brought in from New York to give the new form legitimacy wrote one-set or two-set plays that could have been produced on any stage, they just filmed the play. Digital comics = the filmed play. We’re not there yet. But we’ll get there.”
– J. Michael Straczynski, on the state of digital comics
“The great thing about the Hulk is that, as we saw in the Avengers movie, I don’t care if you’re 300 yards away when he changes. You pee your pants because you know your life is likely over, whether you’re his friend or his enemy. It’s like being in the middle of a lightning storm — you just don’t know. And I never want to lose sight of that sense of danger to the book.”
– Mark Waid, discussing the Green Goliath as a force of nature, and a weapon of mass destruction, in Marvel’s Indestructible Hulk, which debuts today
“I thinks it’s a truly different world now in that getting out and publishing your own work is paramount rather than just another strategy. A lot of these companies have so many options that digging through the horrors of a submissions pile is never going to match getting an impression from what people are seeing out there and then pursuing the best of it”
I’m still catching up from being offline all last week, so I apologize for leaning heavily on Mr. Spurgeon today. He makes a great observation, though, about the choices that comics publishers have and how that should affect creators hoping to be published by those companies. If I were looking for stuff to publish, I’d be scouring festivals and the Internet for awesome self-published stuff too instead of digging through my slush pile. Better to see what creators are already actually doing than what they claim they can do in a pitch.
(Cover detail from Dave Ryan’s War of the Independents)
“… more time has passed between John Constantine being created and now than between the creations of Hal Jordan and John Constantine. That is … I don’t know if that’s depressing or astonishing or what. These characters aren’t young. An era of comics that many of us think of as still ongoing is really receding in the rear view mirror.”
– Tom Spurgeon, making me feel old
“Between the New 52, Before Watchmen, and Marvel Now!, 2012 has been an exhilarating year for mainstream comics, but none of these events have been as thrilling as the creative renaissance at Image Comics. High-profile launches from Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker, and Brandon Graham have given readers riveting stories unlike anything at Marvel or DC, and these titles have expanded the publisher’s brand to satisfy a more diverse audience. No new book has done that as well as Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, a science-fiction fantasy/war romance that’s part Shakespeare, part Star Wars, and all awesome. [...] Across Image’s line, there’s a confidence in the storytelling that stems from total creative freedom. With no editorial interference, these creators are able to create the exact type of books they want to see, from the story contents to the production quality. That complete control breeds fearlessness, and these writers and artists are putting out stories that fully exhibit their imaginations. They’re paving new ground for the future of the industry. There’s no reason for comic books to be so strongly defined by superheroes, and Image has taken huge strides to build a library of titles that offers as broad a selection of genres as prose, film, or television.”
– The A.V. Club critic Oliver Sava, in his review of Saga #7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
“If our ‘base’ won’t reliably support female-led books (and that is a whole other conversation that I do not have time for) then we need new readers. Strictly from a sustainability standpoint, we need new readers — our readership is aging and dwindling and the goodwill we should be getting from the comic book commercials commonly called ‘tentpole movies’ we are, in large part, squandering. As an industry we put up high thresholds against new readers — whether it’s something as culturally repugnant as this whole ‘authentic fangirl’ crap or just our mind-boggling practices of shelving by publisher and numbering books into the 600s.
Think about the manga boom for a minute. The American notion had always been that women would not buy comics in significant numbers. There was even a commonly bandied about notion that ‘women are not visual.’ Who bought manga in the U.S.? Largely women and girls. At ten bucks a pop, no less. Women spent literally millions of dollars on what? On comics. Now, some people will argue that that had as much to do with the diversity of genre in manga as anything else — and that is a fair point. But I would argue that there is nothing inherently masculine about the science fiction aesthetic, nothing inherently masculine about power fantasies or aspirations to heroism.”
– Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, from her much longer response on Reddit to the question, “Why do you think it’s been so difficult for Marvel to establish a female hero who isn’t 1.) based of a male counterpart, 2.) made to give gender balance to a team or 3.) made to be the love interest of a more popular male hero?”