Categories
Commentary Interview

Greg Rucka on the Big Two of DC & Marvel

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In a recent Greg Rucka Debrief on the Word Balloon with John Siuntres podcast (dated January 15, 2016), Siuntres, the comic industry’s greatest comic book conversationalist (not named Jonah Weiland of CBR), discussed as usual a great deal of ranging and fascinating topics with writer/creator Greg Rucka. At one point in the 2-plus hour conversation Rucka answered a question regarding the work he did for DC Comics last Spring for their CONVERGENCE event storyline (CONVERGENCE: THE QUESTION #1-2 with artist Cully Hamner), it was an answer in which he also addressed the prospects of doing more work with the Big Two publishers of DC and Marvel.

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“Getting to do those two issues of Convergence with Cully were tremendous and for me were as close to closure as I’m ever going to get in this industry, at least working for the Big Two,” Rucka said.  “That’s not to say I’m done period . . . I’ve learned that is a very foolish thing to say. But right now there’s just no plans. And the way the Big Two work right now, on their big franchises at least, I don’t think I’m a good guy for that environment anymore. I don’t see it. I put in a lot of years in those environments and I don’t really have a whole lot to show for it. The royalties I receive for that work are really minimum. I mean really miniscule. DC seems to be putting back into print some of what I wrote, but there have been years, years of what I did out-of-print. Not to be a dick about it but those royalties matter. That investment matters. I’d much rather put my time and effort into creating work that I and my collaborators own.”

Like other creator-owning writers such as Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis and most others, Rucka splits creator-ownership with his artistic collaborators right down the middle. He’s said before in other interviews that it is the very least he can do, given the division of labor that’s skewed heavily toward the artist.

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On the contrast of working for the Big Two and working on creator-owned work, such as his dystopian epic LAZARUS (Image), his supernatural/cop procedural BLACK MAGIC (Image) and his other crime series with a female lead in STUMPTOWN (Oni Press), Rucka went on to say, “We can tell the stories we want to tell. That we are not obligated to serving a corporate entity that doesn’t give a fuck about the story you’re telling, but cares only about the numbers, and frankly at the end of the day that’s true for Marvel and DC. They can crow all they like about the brilliance of their story but the fact of the matter is if the book ain’t selling then the book gets cancelled. And if I’m brutally honest our numbers on Lazarus are canceled numbers at the Big Two. The book would’ve been consigned to the dustbin of history a long time ago. The flipside of that is . . . we’re developing a television show.”

Taking in this account from Mr. Rucka along with similar statements from several other successful creators these days, the message seems simply this: essentially, for the less-seasoned creators and those just breaking into the industry, the Big Two still remain the spawning ground for what could become a successful career in comics (especially for the illustrators). You typically build your reputation, cache and public profile working for the factory that is corporate-owned comics before making the leap into lucrative creator-owned comics work (not to say you can’t start there, it’s just less-likely you’ll make a great living doing so exclusively). However, for seasoned veteran creators it seems that a reliance on work from Marvel and DC – both financially and creatively – is less of a crutch than it’s ever been, perhaps historically so. This could not have been said a generation ago, especially for writers.

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You can catch the entire conversation and more at: http://wordballoon.com/ or the Word Balloon Facebook page.

As for Greg Rucka, you should already be following the man and reading his works. Website / Blog

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Categories
Commentary

Creator-Owned Comics Demand Patience

By Brandon L. Rucker

imageAnd that’s all right.  I’m good with it.  However, some folks feel entitled to having all comics be monthly, thanks to the periodical standard set ages ago (although going way back many titles from the Golden Age and early Silver Age were actually bi-monthly).  Me, I’m a fairly patient dude.  I really am.  In a weird way a little less can be more for me (Marvel doesn’t grasp that concept, though, with their rampant redundancy in titles and accelerated shipping on some of them). So long as I don’t have  to wait more than 3 months between issues, I really don’t complain about the the less-than-monthly scheduling. I’m sympathetic to the task of producing creator-owned comics and am tolerant to all the main reasons why it “takes time to grow roses” as Todd McFarlane said back in the day.  For example, my favorite 5 comics series, all from Image Comics, of course, have “less-than-monthly” schedules.  Just out of curiosity I recently took a look at the release archives on the Image website to find the calendar year averages for my top five must-haves. Here’s what I found.

Saga = 8.75 issues — 9 for 2012 & 2014 (and 2015 will be as well), but 2013 was 8.

Lazarus = 8 — for its first full year of 2014 and this year looks to keep that pace.

Sex Criminals = 6 — in 2014, likely the same this year; wish this could move up to 8 or 9.

Southern Bastards = 6 — ditto.

Velvet = 6 — ditto.

I’m sure if you’re a long-time indie and creator-owned reader, you’re certainly no stranger to the act of being patient either — going all the way back to Los Bros. Hernandez’s LOVE AND ROCKETS, for instance.  A suggested alternative for the less-than-patient reader would be to buy series in collected trade paperback form, something Image and pretty much all other comic publishers are equally devoted to offering in the modern age. In collected ‘graphic novel’ form the reader can get a chunk of 4-6 issues that can be read at whatever interval at their leisure, or all in one sitting.

Eh, who am I kidding? That would just require a 6-month wait for the antsy, anxious reader.

At any rate, patience is virtuous.

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Categories
Commentary Image Comics

Just Make Mine Image! Comics, That Is

In light of recent news making the rounds at this year’s New York Comic Con, it’s become apparent that Marvel enjoys going to the well. Often. That should now be common knowledge for those in the know. I won’t even mention the news bits here as it would make me more complicit in their mission than I care to be. However, I must say that given one particular piece of their news, it now seems that their new hobby is to truly spite their fans (likely at the behest of corporate daddy-of-daddies Disney). So, this has given me pause to re-acknowledge the fact that for over a year now (with the exception of reading Cyclops, Daredevil, Hawkeye and Storm via free digital), I’m more than happy to largely NOT be reading, but more importantly NOT be buying any Marvel comics (okay, I had one small slip-up this year when I bought the first issue or two of Warren Ellis’ run on Moon Knight, but, hey, I’m merely human). So, please allow me to reaffirm something.

With titles such as: Birthright, C.O.W.L., Copperhead, East of West, The Fade Out, Lazarus, Rat Queens, Saga, Sex Criminals, Southern Bastards, Velvet, The Wicked + The Divine, and not to mention old indie classics like Cyber Force, The Darkness, Invincible, Savage Dragon, Spawn, The Walking Dead and Witchblade….plus so many more new and exciting ideas forthcomingwell…

…just make mine:
No events on repeat cycle. No inane crossovers. No tired characters in redundant storylines. No 20-page books at $3.99, no 30-page books at $4.99. For those of you caught in Marvel’s web — particularly financially — I’m available for counseling. I’m here for you, my fellow comic book fetishists. Consider this a PSA for the comic book faithful.

Happy reading. Do not settle for less than that.