Courtesy of Tumblr (special thanks to Brian Michael Bendis).
~ For February 2017 ~
DC & VERTIGO
Frostbite #6 (of 6)
The Wild Storm #1
The Fix #8
Green Valley #5 (of 9)
Kill or Be Killed #6
Loose Ends #2 (of 4)
Paper Girls #11
The Old Guard #1
Sex Criminals #16
Southern Bastards #17
Jessica Jones #5
Rough Riders #1
The Dregs #2
Savage #4 (of 4)
Grave Lilies #2
The poll Question I posed to the members of my Facebook group The Comic Book Underground last week:
The majority of your monthly and/or trade paperback reads come from which of the following publisher?
With only 21 participating votes, the results were:
DC Comics (Including the Vertigo imprint)
Image Comics (including the Top Cow, ShadowLine & SkyBound imprints)
Marvel Comics (including the Icon & MAX imprints)
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.
“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.
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.
Facebook: Comic Book Fetish
By Brandon L. Rucker
Brian Hiibbs has historically overreacted to things happening in the market. And as usual I disagree with his chicken little perspective. As what’s very obviously just a niche market in this modern era (meaning the days of half a million-to-a-million-selling issues are waaaaaaay behind us), the only way the comics publishing industry takes a “crash” is if those faithful to the Big Two truly say “ENOUGH” and truly walk away cold turkey. As evident in the continued support of regurgitated ideas (mainly looking at Marvel on this), that’s just not all that likely to happen. So long as the Big Two maintain their market share, things will be ultimately “fine”.
And if they do happen to lose more market share, and we do “crash” a bit, would that really be so bad? It would force the course-correction of the Big Two while the indie, licensed properties & creator-owned market (i.e. non-superheroes) continue to increase market share, truly creating a landscape of diversity. Remember, all that market share gained by Image over the last 3-4 years was given up by Marvel (plus IDW & Dark Horse). Throughout all of this DC has relatively maintained their comfy spot in the market as the perennial Number Two (though also ceding a little bit of their share of the pie as well).
Granted, Hibbs is opining from a retailer’s perspective while I’m coming from more of an invested observer and general commentator perspective.
There are those who say that Marvel’s tactics have been deplorable since the Joe Quesada era began. However, in a lot of ways, it really goes back further than Quesada if you look at Marvel from a historical perspective. However, given the more realistic “niche” aspect of the industry, their methods are more magnified and pronounced than perhaps in the past. Of course, there was no social media nor a big comics media presence back then to put such a wide lens on things. That doesn’t excuse them in any way, however. I’d also say it’s a thin line between writing truly good fiction and giving the fans what they want.
Facebook: Comic Book Fetish
I shouldn’t spend a lot of words on this, because there’s a side of me that finds the situation to be very irrational (my big pet peeve) and unnecessarily sensationalist. After all, the controversy concerns something a FICTIONAL CHARACTER did in a FICTIONAL STORY. Not a true story, mind you.
Last week, DC Comics released Action Comics #900, a milestone issue of one of their earliest publications, a periodical that began in 1938 with the debut of a certain character by the name of Superman.
Superman, the ‘original Golden Age superhero’, was created by writer Jerry Siegel, of Jewish-American descent, and illustrator Joe Shuster, a Canadian-American. An historic fictional icon, there’s really no need for me to rehash the character’s history.
So, the recent controversy is in regards to the lastest issue of Action Comics where Superman, an alien from another planet called Krypton, decided to denounce his ‘American citizenship’. Keep in mind that this is a fictional character protrayed in a dramatic situation…you know, a STORY.
Some people are up in arms about the decision. Now you could say that this is exactly what DC Comics (who get their butts kicked in sales monthly by their longtime rival, Marvel Comics) wanted to occur in the wake of their first ever landmark 900th issue of one of their publications. Heck, Marvel has been gobbling up the headline-generating storylines regularly since at least 2006’s superhero Civil War storyline, when Spider-Man unmasked himself to reveal his secret identity, for example (which has, naturally, been reversed).
So this gets DC Comics some much-needed press and an opportunity to garner more sales on one on their lesser selling titles. That’s a good thing. They are, afterall, a profit-generating company using art for commerce. Nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with a fictional character previously thought to be ‘An American Icon’ denouncing his American ‘citizenry’ in a story that could lead to some interesting plotlines.
But, you know how people are. They’re not happy unless they have something to rally against, right? So a lot of people are up in arms and decrying the move as ‘anti-patriotic’ and being irrational about a fictional character in a fictional event.
Really, people? Spend your energy on the mistreatment of human beings in a third world country, rather than cry foul over a comic book…a piece of art that harms exactly no one. I could rant so much more on this, but I don’t have the time as I need to start getting ready for work (thus, the reason this post won’t have but one hyperlink for now). So restraint is in order here.
Over at Newsarama, some comics professionals were asked for their opinons. I found many of them to be very sensible (my favorite word). Check out these examples:
The question was:
B. Clay Moore: I’ve always thought it was a little silly that Superman would adhere to “the American way” in a modern context, so his status as a citizen of the world makes perfect sense. That’s not a knock on the United States, I just think it’s just a more logical, inclusive perspective.
And I’m not sure I understand the implication in the second part of the question. Does the killing of bin Laden somehow make the United States superior to the rest of the world? I would hope bin Laden’s death doesn’t translate into new waves of jingoism and xenophobia. Job well done, yes. But there’s a global perspective at play here, too.
I think the correlation is strange, personally, and I don’t think it would have much long-term resonance in relationship to anything Superman does.
Cary Bates: To my way of thinking, Clark Kent is the U.S. citizen, not Superman. In recent times I think Superman has been more widely portrayed as a “citizen of the world” anyway, with less emphasis on being a symbol for America. This trend has been going on for a while. I remember some critics taking issue with 2006’s Superman Returns, because the signature slogan “truth, justice and the American way” was truncated when Perry White asked if Superman still stood for truth, justice and “all that stuff…”. With respect to Osama Bin Laden, he was an enemy to the entire free world, not just the U.S, though it’s only fitting that it was our Navy Seals who took him out. I’d like to think Superman would have approved.
Ron Marz: Osama bin Laden’s death is a serious event with real-world consequences. Superman’s citizenship is much ado about a make-believe person. Honestly, even mentioning them in the same breath is ludicrous. The people using the Superman story to further their own political agendas — Breitbart, Huckabee and all the rest — should’ve been ashamed of themselves last week, and should be even more ashamed of themselves today. I’d prefer to praise the real-life heroes who carried out the bin Laden mission, rather than waste time debating the citizenship of an imaginary hero.
Kurt Busiek: I haven’t read the story, so I haven’t seen the announcement, just other people describing (and usually fulminating) about it.
As such, I don’t have any reaction. I do find it amusing that the people who are most up in arms about this seem to be the people who most want to keep illegal immigrants out of the US. Apparently, when they come by rocket, it’s OK?
When I was a kid, though, Superman was a citizen of all nations, and I never had any problem with that. He’s not just an immigrant to the U.S., he’s an immigrant to Earth. That works for me.
I’m out of time and should really be going. But this controversy had some legs. Naturally, news outlets, particularly the conservative Fox News and their correspondents, had a field day with it. ‘Nuff said on that.
I don’t know. I just find it all to be a bit ludicrous.
All right, I’m out for now….