Saturday, January 28, 2012

The $10 Million Comic Book

Marc Miyake left comment on "DC’s First Editorial Standards, Marvel Profanity":

Dear Jim,
Will Wonder Woman be in your upcoming post on the essential natures of classic characters? If she isn't, that's okay, because you've spent over a week on her.
I haven't commented lately because I felt completely lost in Aisle WW. An Azzupermarket isn't my kind of place to shop. Items arranged in a cryptic -- or chaotic? -- manner. Signs long on wordplay and short on help. A handful of customers in the store who sneer on simpletons like me who spend an hour looking for juice and leaving empty-handed. Yeah, I really want to go back there again.
Seriously, the last two posts lost me. I thought #1-3 would elucidate #4, but I ended up even more bewildered at Azzmart. I don't feel too bad since your non-comics friends were in the same boat. I've only read one WW comic since John Byrne's run in the 90s. And that issue didn't make much sense either.
What I don't understand is ... DC is part of a mass market entertainment company. Why can't its comics be as accessible as its movies? What if editors treated the New 52 like 52 movies on paper? Why keep producing niche products for the cognoscenti?
I keep hearing the argument that comics can't compete with movies, video games, whatever. So how was Shueisha able to sell over 230 million volumes of One Piece manga so far [as of 2010]; volume 61 set a new record for the highest initial print run of any book in Japan in history with 3.8 million copies (the previous record belonging to volume 60 with 3.4 million copies). Volume 60 is the first book to sell over two million copies in its opening week on Japan's Oricon book rankings. One Piece is currently ranked as the best-selling series of all time in manga history.

It's not as if the Japanese are lacking in entertainment options. Millions are choosing to read black and white manga without all the full-color bells and whistles that are standard in the US. Why? What are they doing right? Or even wrong, in your opinion?
What impresses me about the Japanese is how they manage to keep on coming up with new properties in new genres that are hard to pigeonhole. Calling One Piece a pirate comic makes one think of Pirates of the Caribbean or EC's New Trend Piracy. That label doesn't do One Piece justice. It's set in its own universe. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Piece#Setting>

I saw DEFIANT and Broadway as being in the Japanese genre-bending tradition. Those lines would have become even more diverse over time. If I had to pick one unreleased property to read, it'd be Spire. I'm listening to Ukrainian music at the moment. Fitting.
Why does diversity in comics work over there but not here? Yes, I know there are lots of nonsuperhero comics. I don't think comics will ever die because there will always be Alison Bechdels and the like who will express themselves through the medium. But the core of the industry remains a set of decades-old properties. Very different from the Japanese scene where series come and go and end. One Piece was planned to last five years -- it's lasted almost fifteen so far -- and "the author states, as of July 2007, that the ending will still be the one he had decided on from the beginning and he is committed to seeing it through to the end, no matter how many years it takes."
I've never read One Piece. But I respect creators who think things through. Who have structure in mind. Who know where they're going. That makes me want to invest in an epic. I don't want to deal with improv, with whatever stimuli the creators toss around to distract me while they figure out their next move.

Language and violence are stimuli. They really stir up some part of the audience. Anyone here remember a certain word in the Transformers movie from 1986? Shocking then, nothing now.

As we become accustomed to one level of stimuli, the creators feel they have to amp 'em up. More extreme! Push that button harder! Faster! Brute force is easy. Inspiring thoughts is hard.
But surely somebody among 300 million Americans can do that in comics.
As I read about Wonder Woman #1-4, I kept thinking, is this the best DC can do? Don't Diana and her audience deserve better?


Posted by Marc Miyake to Jim Shooter <http://www.jimshooter.com/> at January 27, 2012 1:45 PM 

ANSWER:

I won't be including Wonder Woman in my post about the essential natures of classic characters because I don't feel I have any special qualifications regarding her. The Marvel characters, yes, Superman, Superboy and the Legion, yes. Magnus, Solar, Turok and Samson, yes.

I have limited experience reading manga, but every manga story I have ever read was readable and had solid entertainment value. Even if the story wasn't about something of particular interest to me, I could see how it would be to the target audience. When the management of the big two and the creators realize what business they're actually in (the entertainment business, in case some of the aforementioned are reading this and wondering) then, maybe the American comics industry will have a chance to survive and thrive.

When Marv and Len used to say "female heros don't sell," or "westerns don't sell," or SF doesn't sell," or whatever, I'd always say "show me a good one."

Ahem....

Briefly, in shorthand....

The American comic book industry started out as a way to reprint syndicated strips and milk extra cash out of existing material. That worked, but comic book publishers quickly used up all the strips available. To keep the ball rolling, publishers commissioned new material, but they didn't want to pay more than they did for reprint rights, so new material was made for low pay under confiscatory rights conditions. No artist or writer wanted to be a comic book creator -- everyone wanted a syndicated strip, where the big money was. Therefore, comic books wound up with second-rate creators who couldn't make it in the big leagues, hacks, the rare significant talent who passed through on his or her way to greater things (Jules Feiffer comes to mind) and the occasional solid craftsman or even genius who arrived in the comic book biz for whatever reason and stuck with it.

Back in the early, big circulation days, publishers got lucky a few times with great properties created despite the lousy compensation and working conditions, creations that struck a chord -- Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel and others.  Mostly super heroes. Comic books had a great advantage with super heroes back when film special effects were limited, and low-res, limited budget TV was best suited to talking heads.

Later, a few more successes came along, also created under adverse conditions for the talent. Spider-Man, the Hulk, Wolverine...you know.

The comic book industry, by and large, from its beginnings has had a schlock mentality, a quick buck mentality. Most publishers thought comic books were a fad that would run its course (Martin Goodman comes to mind). Many were surprised to find themselves still in business years later.

The quickest, easiest way to make a buck in this business since the early days has pretty much always been to stick with the heaviest hitters of the past. But decades of schlock thinking at the top, decades of unguided, misguided or just plain bad creative work has desecrated and distorted some of those characters almost to the point that they are unrecognizable (the current Wonder Woman comes to mind. And did someone say the new Superboy is a robot? What?). Their equity has eroded.

At Marvel, I used to joke about making a comic book with the same budget as a low-budget movie. The $10 million Comic Book, I called it. With the budget to do it right, with the best talent actually doing the job rather than being self-indulgent, actually creating something brilliantly entertaining for millions rather than pandering to the few hard-cores left, I know we could create the next thing to strike a chord. Of course, it wouldn't really take $10 million.  It wouldn't even take a million. The point was that with the budget of a small film we'd have a shot (in truth, many shots) to come up with something that would blow people's minds and sweep the country. The world. 230 million copies sold is not out of reach.

Black and white or not, manga is relatively high budget compared to American comics. Top creators make money like rock stars. The money American top creators make, or ever made in comics does not begin to compare. Even the Image guys at their peak. Monkey Punch once came to visit Marvel. When I told him what we paid artists he was appalled.

So, to me, the answer is intelligent management and serious commitment by a major publisher. The $10 million comic book(s) need not be super hero. They need to be good ones.

Don't hold your breath.

Sounds like the author of One Piece has integrity, something in short supply in the comic book industry here.

226 comments:

1 – 200 of 226   Newer›   Newest»
gn6196 said...

You paint a pretty bleak picture Jim. Maybe when Comics as a monthly project goes away, we will have the dream teams do graphic novels and Comics will be fully realized.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why people keep believing in the "comics will stop being monthly" fairytale

A shift like that is unprecedented any any entertainment medium - TV, movies, books, music (sorry folks, 45s have been around forever)

I'd have to hear a pretty big heap of evidence as to why people think such an unprecedented shift would take place in comics

gn6196 said...

There are a few reasons but they are pricing themselves out of existence.

Anonymous said...

Jim,

I think Marvel could start everything over and reset the genre if it was done right. I think the problem (at least as I have seen it on your blog-I haven't read comics in years because they are horrible) is that DC rebooted for cash only. Had they rebooted to untangle all the crap and start fresh with decent story telling and good talent, it might have worked. I read Mr. Miyake's post and it struck me as a very good point. Another point I would make is that when I do see kids (and adults) with comics nowadays it is often Manga from Japan translated into English (or maybe made specifically for the American market, I don't know).

A point that John Byrne has made is how ridiculous comics have gotten; he laments the fact that everyone has to be related in some weird way and how ridiculous the story-lines get to try and make that work.

I know you and Byrne aren;t exactly on close terms, but I think you would agree that he makes a good point.

Marvel could start over and make it work. The properties themselves might be more well known than ever due to the movies and intense advertising that goes along with it.

Alternatively, Marvel could farm out the characters to all of the talent that exists at the smaller comic companies and focus on new media, movies, toys, etc., thus further exposing the characters in that way.

At the end of the day, comic books will only survive if a new generation of readers has something decent to read; along with an easy entry into the mythos. I posted yesterday about how I started off with the X-men (149) and I was so engrossed I spent a couple of years begging my parents for more (which I eventually got, starting with the double sized new thunderbird issue of X-men). I never would have bothered if the first book I read didn't draw me in with a good story.

Anyway, I love this blog and I think there are several old hands lamenting what is going on in the industry today. Unfortunately, the focus on developing the properties for movies, etc. is, I'm guessing, much more important for Disney, Warner, etc. I think the way to go comics wise might be to farm the material out to folks who give a shit about the comics themselves. People like you, Byrne, Claremont, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'll apologize for calling you an "old" hand, the term just seemed appropriate!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if they are pricing themselves out of existence, but you definitely don't get what you pay for anymore. Compare the size of a book from the 70's and 80's to one sold now. I think folks might understand the price increase if they were still getting quality writing and a book with some heft.

Anonymous said...

The digital format is really exposing the terrible artwork too. Just looking at preview pages, on a monitor that would be a little smaller than an actual page, is painful

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

Thanks for responding to my comment so quickly and at length!

I look forward to your post on character essences, even if Diana isn't in it. Twenty years ago, you told Vinnie Bartilucci what Magnus, Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man were about. I'm assuming your post will be in that vein.

This morning I was doing research for a sequel to the comment that you responded to, and I stumbled upon Chris Tolworthy's page on what Spider-Man is about. In one word, responsibility.

What is the new Ultimate Spider-Man about? Anyone still reading that series?

You wrote,

When Marv and Len used to say "female heros don't sell," or "westerns don't sell," or SF doesn't sell," or whatever, I'd always say "show me a good one."

The diversity of manga (which may be not evident from the series imported here) demonstrates that any genre can sell in comics form. I still haven't read One Piece (I did write that comment just yesterday, after all!), but I get the feeling that DC and Marvel wouldn't publish such a series about pirates on an fantasy planet. Way too out of their comfort zone. At best it'd get no promotion and be a miniseries exiled to the margins. But Shueisha had no problem putting it in Weekly Shōnen Jump (circulation 2.9 million -- if a US comic sold that well, it'd have a circulation of 7 million!).

I read Japanese, and I read Jump every week for five years (1987-92). (Why did I quit? Decompression!) I saw series about seemingly anything come and go. Shueisha was willing to take risks and wait for big payoffs. DC and Marvel, OTOH, are extremely conservative on one level (using the same characters for the past 50-70 years) while at the same time altering them beyond recognition, defeating the point of keeping them: e.g., Superboy:

Superboy fails to notice a house that's on fire and both Rose and he simply walks past it. Superboy then goes about his day as he lives with the Helpworths as his adoptive family [...] One of the things that bothers Dr. Fairchild the most is that he has passed and ignored the burning building four previous times as well [...] Rose and Dr. Fairchild have an argument about Superboy being a killing machine.

What would Mort Weisinger say?

(To be continued.)

Marc Miyake said...

These unrecognizable characters appeal mostly to fans who are loyal to names. Not essences. Would anyone read the New 52 Wonder Woman if it were titled The Olympians?

John Byrne once described corporate comics creators as caretakers.

You once said,

"These just aren't our characters and we can't just mess around with them like that. We do have obligations. I didn't carve them, but they're there."

Apparently nowadays "creators" can just mess around with characters. A cynic might ask, "Where's the harm? The In Name Only fans buy the stuff anyway, and even if they don't, there's gonna be another reboot or retcon around the corner to 'fix' the last writer's mess, so why not?" Caretaking ... or concept-breaking?

But what about the other fans? The civilians who could be reading comics but aren't?

The Japanese industry still courts civilians. The US industry has given up and turned into Club Cognoscenti. No outsiders allowed! It's no wonder that manga was "a ¥406 billion market in Japan in 2007 (approximately $3.6 billion)" whereas the US comics market is only a $600 million market even though the US has over twice the population of Japan.

Anonymous at January 28, 2012 2:29 AM linked to "Why Manga Publishing Is Dying". However, that article ends with,

The manga market is still much bigger than the American comic and graphic novel market, so don't count it out yet. While One Piece, Bleach and Naruto stagger along on their creaky geriatric legs, new manga are waiting to step out of their shadows.

If manga is "dying" in Japan, then comics must be dead here, given that the industry is much smaller in a much larger country. If I were a DC or Marvel executive, I'd love to be as "dead" as the Japanese.

Everyone knew all along that the megahits One Piece, Bleach and Naruto would end someday. That's just how the Japanese model works. As Paul Gravett wrote,

"Manga stay fresh and vibrant because they have to keep on finding new authors and winning over readers. Unlike in America, where Spider-Man or Superman are still wearing their underpants outside their trousers after forty, or sixty, years, in Japan not every successful series has to last forever. Manga engage you because they chart the lives and growth of characters and do actually come to a conclusion. It may take thousands of pages, but you can see genuine change going on, not just the 'illusion of change' found in most superhero soap operas."

I was impressed by your decision to kill Shadowman in 1999 and make him stay dead -- and by your confidence that you could create something just as popular after he was gone. That's the spirit that's still in Japan. So One Piece will go away eventually. So what, there'll be something else. Somebody among the 127 million Japanese will come up with something.

Somebody among over 300 million Americans can come up with something. We can do it ... for less than $10 million. Imagination is priceless. Let's use it.

Blade X said...

I haven't read the ONE PIECE manga, but I have watched the anime, and I noticed that OP has many superhero elements. The series seems to be a blend of pirates and superheroes, with the main characters being superhero pirates.

Anonymous said...

We are, we are on the cruise!

One Piece the anime also has some catchy music going for it.

Antifascist said...

Hey Jim,
I really love this blog. I'm learning a ton about comics and comics history. The quality of your writing has been turbo as well! One day, when I am braver, I'll ask some questions about a few things. For now, I am content to just soak in all the knowledge I can!

Later,
Antifascist

Matt Adler said...

I have to say, it really appalls me to see otherwise intelligent people giving opinions of a comic based solely on someone else's review! A review is meant to help you decide whether a particular item is worth taking a chance of spending time and money on... but it won't ever make you informed enough to comment on the work itself. I can read Roger Ebert's review of Pearl Harbor and think "That's probably a movie I want to avoid." I cannot read it and then go and write a post detailing how incomprehensible the movie was! I'm sure that in school, we all had teachers make clear to us that it was unacceptable to use only Cliff's Notes to do a book report. There's a reason for that.

Smarta55 said...

"Comic books had a great advantage with super heroes back when film special effects were limited, and LOW-RES..." - I didn't knew that movies back then were digital. :P

Defiant1 said...

Matt,

You are in denial. I've been buying comics since the 70's. I'm accustomed to what I do and do not like. The comics DC and Marvel are publishing are NOT what I want. They have only gotten worse. My local shops focus mainly on new comics. I honestly do not care if they go out of business. Actually, they ARE going out of business. My community lost about 5 in the past 2 years. They are no longer offering a worthy service. I don't even care if Marvel & DC go out of business. I consider their product that bad. I think that most of their talent is so underqualified that they should find an occupation more suiting to their skills. The problem with the industry is that people like you are in denial. Whenever I say I don't like what is being produced, I'm treated like I am incapable of locating comics on my own. I can spot comics I like instantly. I'm also pretty confident these days that if I do find a comic that I like, that everything will be rebooted, restructured, a new creative team, someone will die. Publishers have earned no trust. Essentially, some kind of bullsh!+ will be introduced to negate anything I like about a series.

Is it going to take more cutbacks and layoffs for you to accept that the product really is crap?

Matt Adler said...

When people say cane-waving (which is not what Jim is doing, he's actually reviewing the damn things) this is what that phrase actually means. Saying "the product is crap" is meaningless because there are dozens of different products on the shelves, some crap, some not. The only people who know whether they're crap are the people actually reading them. I'm not telling you what to buy; I'm telling you your opinion is only valid as what you've actually read. You can't speak intelligently about a book you haven't read. Period.

Ronnie said...

Manga... Not really a comparable thing at all. The issue isn't at all related to quality, it's about the perception availablity of comics in America vs. the perception and availability of manga in Japan.

MHull said...

It seems that the true future of American sequential storytelling lies in true graphic novels. The expense if producing monthlies inhibits hiring great talent and holding existing talent to high standards. Monthlies will not get more accessible to new readers, and pricewise they are unappealing to a new market ($3 for 2 minutes of reading, $2 minimum for the same digital, really?).

Graphic novels bring more bang for the buck, are easily self contained, and can reach a wider market than Diamond distributors through bookstores, libraries, and digital markets. The industry is just waiting for a quality publisher to adapt just such a model.

Unfortunately that publisher will not be one of the big two. Like Sears and Kmart they are past their time to die (except Vertigo) and the longer we as fans hold ontohem the longer we delay the comic revolution.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree with Ronnie. Manga is sold so many places in Japan. Convenience stores, which are almost on every block, sell the anthologies. Secondhand book stores, like Book Off, are common place. They sell used (but in great condition, not that it matters in Japan) manga by the truckloads.
Manga is marketed to everyone. Adaptations in the form of cartoons, or anime if you prefer, evening dramas and movies also help to keep visibility up.
For Japanese people, there is no big stigmatization (is that a word?) if you read comic books. It's just a normal thing. It's a part of life and culture.And of course I am talking about the general mainstream manga and not the "specialized" manga, if you catch my drift.
But even then, Japanese culture as it is, no one makes a big stink or fuss when one is seen reading the aforemention specialized manga in public, like trains or on the street.
Some of the tabloids, even include these types of manga!
Basically, Ronnie hit the nail on the head.
The current situation of comic books in North America will not change until the perception of it does and until one is able to buy them easily (in terms of cost and availability).
And, of course,until the general quality of comic books rises.
As Mr. Jim Shooter has said plenty upon plenty of times, it's the telling of the story that is of the utmost importance.
Do it well and things will fall into place.

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Ronnie and Anonymous at January 29, 2012 10:52 AM,

I agree that the perception and availability of manga in Japan and comics in America are different. But why are they different? Luck? No.
The manga industry has earned its status in Japan. The US comics industry could do the same. If it made products a lot of people want, perception and availability will change accordingly. But nothing good will happen if DC and Marvel just sit and wait for the public to change their attitudes and for civilian retailers to sell their comics.

Anonymous said...

@MHull

Wait, so if a single issue contains crappy art, gimmick-filled storytelling, and a forehead-slap-inducing decompressed story - somehow if I buy 6 issues of that bound in one "graphic novel" it somehow becomes good and worth buying??

Matt Adler said...

Marc,

That's a very simplistic view. The differences in the success of manga vs. American comics go back decades, and are not simply about who has "earned" it; to say so cheapens the contributions of the many great artists, writers, and editors who built the American comics industry. I'd advise you to read Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunleavey's fantastic history of the industry, "Comic Book Comics" for more info, but to sum up, the reasons why manga is so popular in Japan has far more to do with larger cultural and societal differences.

Anonymous said...

@Matt - you are in denial

I've read Wonder Woman, I've read Acton Comics, I've read Hickman's FF, I've read Slott's Spider-Man, I've read Greg Pac's heralded Hulk comics, and Bendis' heralded Daredevil stuff - it's rubbish!! It's not good!! David Mack's fill-in issues on Daredevil were miles better than anything Bendis did on the book

I'd love to test your "theory of unread books". Name your current favorite series, so I can read them and eviscerate them. But no, that would just give you an opportunity to offer 1,000 more excuses why, somehow, it really is good - and current comics are just fine

Anonymous said...

@Defiant - any other way we can see your reviews of the DC comics?? I went to that link and it requires a login

Definitely like to see your reviews

jimshooter said...

Dear Smarta55,

RE: "I didn't knew that movies back then were digital. :P"

Sorry you found the sentence unclear. It was TV that was low res. 525 lines.

Anonymous said...

Another difference is - in the 80's, when I bought a comic - even if I didn't like it, if the art or the characters didn't appeal to me - I never felt cheated out of my money. Now, about 80-90% of the time when I buy a comic, I feel cheated

Matt Adler said...

"I'd love to test your "theory of unread books". Name your current favorite series, so I can read them and eviscerate them. But no, that would just give you an opportunity to offer 1,000 more excuses why, somehow, it really is good - and current comics are just fine "

Yeah, I'm not sure if I would trust your reading comprehension-- since you're responding to something I never said. I never defended any particular book as being good, as you seem to think. I pointed out what should be obvious; you can't intelligently comment on the quality of a book unless you have read it. If you have read a particular book and hated it, great. What I said has nothing to do with that.

Anonymous said...

Figured as much Matt

PS - if you've read the comments on the WW blogs, more than a few people have said that they read the book, didn't care for it - and Jim's analysis helped them pinpoint why they didn't like it

But keep holding on to that "nobody read it" theory - it's certainly easier than confronting the weaknesses of a comic - or of current comics in general. And it keeps you from having to logically refute any of those criticisms

Marc Miyake said...

Matt,

Half a century ago, Mort Weisinger kept the Superman empire going and even expanded it after it lost its original creators. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko turned the sinking ship that was Marvel around and brought comics to new heights of recognition in this country. So I have a lot of respect for "the many great artists, writers, and editors who built the American comics industry."

But I have less respect for their heirs who have squandered all that cultural capital and lost touch with the mass audience. Mangaka still make products the general public wants. American creators don't anymore. Why not?

Think times are tough now? Imagine you're Stan Lee in 1961. Your company is keeping such a low profile that its only insignia on the covers is a tiny "MC," and before that you had nothing after the Atlas Implosion. The Wertham scare is still fresh in your memory. The Comics Code seal is still big. TV is getting bigger and there are no comic book-based shows. You could complain that American culture and society were against you, which they undoubtedly were, keep producing the same old stuff, and go out of business. Or you could produce comics that changed the culture .... which is what Lee, Kirby, and Ditko did.

Culture and society don't just exist. People created them. People can change them.

There are over 300 million people in this country. That's a huge talent pool. A major publisher with, as Jim put it, "intelligent management and serious commitment," could recruit the best of the best and start to retake the ground that has been lost over the years. The revival of American comics can't occur overnight. Revolutions take time. Stan Lee wasn't a household name in 1963. Nor was Osamu Tezuka in 1948. Revolutions might not even succeed. But fatalism gets us nowhere.

Mhull said...

When I say true graphic novel I'm not referring to collected single issues, but true novel length grapgic stories. Habibi being a great example. Collecting single issues just proliferates the problem.

Chris said...

As someone who does read One Piece, the reason it sells so well is because its so good. In an industry that's full of people churning out bad comics for the paycheck (talking about Japan, surprisingly), its a breath of fresh air.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

I've been meaning to take a look at One Piece. Is it really THAT good? What is it that makes it worth reading, and is it good for the whole of its 60 issue run so far?

Matt Adler said...

"PS - if you've read the comments on the WW blogs, more than a few people have said that they read the book, didn't care for it - and Jim's analysis helped them pinpoint why they didn't like it

But keep holding on to that "nobody read it" theory - it's certainly easier than confronting the weaknesses of a comic - or of current comics in general. And it keeps you from having to logically refute any of those criticisms "

And once again, you're not getting it-- my comment wasn't directed to anyone who has read it (obviously some people have), it was directed to the people who ADMITTED they hadn't read it, and yet were discussing it as though they had.

Why would I want to "refute" anyone's criticism of the book when I never said they were wrong for disliking it? I think you are really confused here.

Anonymous said...

Matt - you don't have to throw "confused" and "reading comprehension " around. I know exactly what you are doing - because I've seen countless people on the Internet do what you are doing. You're deflecting the argument and trying to take the conversation on a side-track

Why not address the criticisms of a comic when we can re-focus on some people who have not read it

Defiant already addressed your side-track (and validly - and which you ignored). I'm not going to do so because I'm not falling for that tactic

Matt Adler said...

"Why not address the criticisms of a comic"

Because I think you're perfectly entitled to dislike it. Why is that hard to understand?

Chris said...

@Anonymous

Personally, I love it because its got that classic superhero feel to it. The heroes are good; the villains are evil; there's no women in fridges, so you can let the kids read it.

Mr Oda's writing really helps it too. He manages to give off this great impression that he's got everything planned out; I've reread early chapters, and there's a lot of foreshadowing to stuff that he wrote 5+ years later. And he's quite good at being unpredictable, usually I never have a clue whats gonna happen next.

About if its good in its entire run: Its got a really slow start, but it picks up around volume 10 and it continues to get better from there on out; with a few exceptions (e.g. a certain story arc is way too long).

If you're interested in trying it. The US publisher used to print it in 3 volumes per a book, for around the price of a single volume. Thats been out of print for a while, but you never know, you might be able to find it in a poor neglected book store.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris, that was useful.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of what Marc says is spot on, but perhaps a large part of high manga sales in Japan may have to do with value for money or 'perceived value'. With some of those Manga digests, you get a lot of reading for your yen. At $3.00 for a 20 page US comic, it not only is poor value for money, but there is not enough reading in it. If you were going on a flight or a long train journey, why would you buy three DC comics for $9.00 that you would finish in about 20 minutes, when you could buy a paperback novel or a couple of glossy magazines that would give you a lot more reading time. In Japan, people are always reading Manga on public transport, but in English speaking countries even comic book fans seem reluctant to open their weekly comic purchases while travelling home on the bus.

When on an intercity train journey in Italy a few years ago, I was surprised to see how many people on the train were reading digest comics like Diabolik and Kriminal. Also, the comics were widely available at news kiosks and train station. They were reasonably priced, thick volumes, and usually contained extra features. For example, the Italian Mickey Mouse digest, Topolino, contains educational text features, movie reviews and so on.

I find it unlikely this situation will ever take place with American comics. Firstly, there has to be a complete sea-change in how the public regards comic book reading (and even popular, big-budget superhero films are not causing knock-on effects to comic sales). Secondly, comic books have to be good value for money and need to be readily available at places like railway stations and airport where people are going to buy them. And I can't see either of these situations happening in the near future.

Anonymous said...

-Brett Ballard

Anonymous said...

Matt,

I'm sure the comics publishers would love your "you have to read it before you can criticize it" theory--it would help them sell a lot more books. Myself, I'm pretty comfortable flipping through a tiny comic book and pretty quickly deciding whether or not it is worth picking up. I'm a pretty smart guy. And, I think this also speaks to Jim's insistence on making every issue an entry point. When I pick up a comic and quickly flip through it to see if I'm interested, if I don't know what the heck is going on right away, I don't bother. Jim's reviews of the new 52 have spoken to that point repeatedly.

If I were to do a comprehensive review on a comic book than, yes, I would agree that I should buy it and read it carefully, but I don't need to do so to say most of the stuff I see, and look through, at the store is crap.

Also, I think what a lot of us have been saying is that a lot of the comics turned to crap while we were still reading them regularly and we haven't seen the quality improve enough to jump back in and start buying them again.

I think most of us are sophisticated enough to decide rather quickly whether or not a comic peaks our interest and is worth a buy and a more serious read.

Defiant1 said...

Matt,

One word. Bullshit.

You sound like someone who has touched a lot of red hot stoves and still haven't learned your lesson. Some of us are keen enough to look at the warning signs of a poorly composed product.

df1

Defiant1 said...

Anonymous,

Try again. My reviews are here.
http://bit.ly/xXfEm1

I had the board open to all users but it was blocked at the category level. I'm glad you mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

Matt,

They're comic books not 500 page dissertations on the Ottoman Empire.

We can figure out relatively quickly if they are any good or not . . . and so can kids.

Defiant1 said...

I had a higher opinion of Wonder Woman #4 after reading Jim's blog than I did when I later picked up the comic in a book store and saw it in person.

I'd rather buy a "Where's Waldo" book and look for Waldo than play "Where's a good comic?" at the comic shop.

Anonymous said...

@Defiant

Cool - thanks. And thanks for the reviews

The only one of those 4 I read was Animal Man - because it was getting rave reviews from everyone

It wasn't good. Boring story, and a writer who was not good at exposition or dialog. On top of that, of course, the writer was going for the "indy", "Alan Moore Swamp Thing" feel - and failing

Perhaps it got a warm reception because some people who only read superhero books picked it up, and found it different. But from someone who has read a lot of Vertigo and other indy titles, it was a poor attempt at something offbeat or original

Anonymous said...

Like any medium, word of mouth is very important in the comics biz. That isn't to say that my opinion couldn't be different. However, if a movie gets a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, I'm not going to bother with it unless my girlfriend forces me.

At which point we, almost without exception, realize that the critical consensus was right and the romantic comedy we just wasted $20 on really did stink.

Matt Adler said...

I think all you Anonymouses (Anonymice?) are confusing "deciding whether to pick a book up" with "giving a critique of a book." The former obviously doesn't require reading; the latter does, if you expect anyone with half a brain to take you seriously. Of course, anyone can spout off an opinion about anything-- but whether it's an informed opinion is another question altogether.

Anonymous said...

No, we have clearly distinguished between giving a critique of a book and picking one up, in fact I, for one, specifically made that distinction--read the posts.

I think you've been checkmated and don't know how to respond, so you are doubling down on your earlier opinion without reading our posts or ignoring them altogether.

You have lost this argument, insulting people isn't going to change that.

Aaron Scott Johnson said...

I really like Slott's Amazing Spider-Man. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, some people do like it. I guess it is OK as a What If Spidey story

Dan said...

Publishers are killing the industry because...they don't want the market they have--and refuse to change to attract a different market.

1) They pander to fanboys, but say they want broad appeal.
2) They want young people, but charge prices only adults with jobs can afford.
3) They want casual customers, but produce decompressed stories and yearly crossovers that effectively require pull files at comic shops (long term commitment).

And on and on.

KLAWW said...

Comics are crap today, and it's unfortunate, because I love them. The talent is the problem; pure and simple. The writing is either pompous or bland. The art is garish and stiff, with no regard or respect to what has come before it(other than the trash from the late 80's and 90's perhaps). Both lack imagination and any sense of fun--fun ofcourse most likely being (mis)interpreted as camp and (sadly) relegated to parody only. Ultimately, what's left behind, is an ugly, inaccessible package. I'd rather burn a few bucks on a good back issue I've never read before(I've just picked up Strange Tales#142--I always wanted to see what lead to the Fixer and Mentallo becoming partners). I gonna stay optimistic, though. There are alot of fans out there--And once a few of them with talent break in, everything will be right with the comicbook world again!

Chris Hlady said...

At http://www.jimshooter.com/2012/01/10-million-comic-book.html?showComment=1327859812122#c5424897784159442052
Marc Miyake wrote something that caught my attention to Matt: "Mangaka still make products the general public wants. American creators don't anymore. Why not?":

I was listening to the comments through a "SPEECH" option, on my Mac. I've been listening to the comments, lately, as opposed to reading, trying to get a renewed feeling for these threads.
As much of what is being written isn't too interesting, no offence intended, it easy enough to let the words become like white noise, and breeze by, Still, this question caught by attention, but wasn't followed up how I expected.

Why don't Americans make products the general public want?

Let's break that word "products" down, and suppose cars. Why are Americans rightly hesitant to buy american cars? Because they are made on assembly lines, where people care more about prime-time tv, than doing a good job.

How can people on an assembly line be expected to do a good job, that is in any way innovative? Sure there are genius designers who get paid zillions to develop the prototype, with the hope that the idiots down the line are on the ball. Sometimes it works out, and people don't notice that they are getting quality merchandise. It may not be that spectacular, but it's all right.

But this is what happens when millions of dollars are on the line. There isn't too much room for innovation, or individualization, or risk-taking.

Turning to comics, nowadays, I'll hardly give anyone a chance to impress me, but when I do, I take note. Maybe I'll give that person's next work a little bit more attention, next time I'm skimming through. Something better be damn impressive to get me to stop my life, and pay attention to a new way of doing things.

By the way, I love that comment about the little MC on the old Marvel Comics, before they got the impression they were onto the customer reinforcement that they were onto something hot.

Nowadays, name-recognition could be a blessing or a curse. Claremont? Byrne? Shooter? Been there, done that, unless ... unless it's something good.

Probability is the people who break through in the new days, will be those doing going against the grain of the mundane corporate expectation of what means quality. It takes people who believe in their vision, and are lucky enough to have a new emerging audience agree with them.

Anyways, nuff said, back to listening to the comments while watching the Pro Bowl, and playing FreeCell. Cheers,
Chris Hlady,
Winnipeg, MB

Anonymous said...

Actually, Americans have returned to American cars in droves, which is why the Big Three are currently doing so well.

Hopefully, comics will pick up on the cue and realize that if you make a quality product people will notice and return to the fold.

Anonymous said...

Also, most assembly line workers I know do care about doing a good job.

Tue Sørensen said...

I think the problem with the US comics industry is a very simple one: it's too small. It does not maintain a big enough fan base and cultural presence to foster significant new generations of enthusiastic talent with amazing new visions for art and story.

Having successful Hollywood movies and being owned by Disney, Marvel could be, hell, Marvel *is*, in a position to change this. But are there any signs that they're even interested in changing it, or do they just want to pander to the same old audience, using the same old stories and art? Sadly, everything so far suggests the latter. One can only hope that they will wake up and smell the opportunity they're about to miss.

Anonymous said...

I hate Rob Liefield.

jimshooter said...

RE: "perhaps a large part of high manga sales in Japan may have to do with value for money or 'perceived value'. With some of those Manga digests, you get a lot of reading for your yen. At $3.00 for a 20 page US comic, it not only is poor value for money, but there is not enough reading in it. If you were going on a flight or a long train journey, why would you buy three DC comics for $9.00 that you would finish in about 20 minutes, when you could buy a paperback novel or a couple of glossy magazines that would give you a lot more reading time. In Japan, people are always reading Manga on public transport, but in English speaking countries even comic book fans seem reluctant to open their weekly comic purchases while travelling home on the bus."

Your point is excellent. But manga sell tremendous numbers of copies per issue, so the unit cost is lower, so the cover price can be very low relative to American comics and the value for money greater. If American comics sold better, if the print runs were higher, the price per copy could be lower. So, how can we change things?

My point is that 1. A major publisher has to make the investment and commitment to produce high quality products with excellent entertainment value and sell them at a low price point, almost certainly taking a loss for a substantial period of time. 2. A breakthrough is made. Something new, something brilliant catches on and, Harry Potter-like, sweeps the country, if not the world. Other things catch on. Some others at least benefit from increased exposure. 3. Ta-daaa! We're in a manga-type market. The format has gained acceptance and awareness. High quality, low cost comics are on sale everywhere. The paradigm has changed. The storytelling medium I love lives to fight another century.

(RELATED ASIDE: When X-Men was doing gangbusters, Marvel's President and Financial VP wanted to raise the price of X-Men only, to cash in on the demand. At that point, there was no cost-pressure on any Marvel title, least of all X-Men, that would justify a cover price increase. It was a solely a cash-grab. I counter-argued that we should LOWER the price on X-Men. It would be unprecedented! A price decrease! And, then, maybe the best-selling regular book in the biz would sell even more. We fought to a draw. X-Men stayed at the same price as everything else. I don't remember what the prices were at the time, but can you imagine if X-Men was 50 cents and all other comics were 75 cents?)

jimshooter said...

Dear KLAWW,

RE: "Comics are crap today, and it's unfortunate, because I love them. The talent is the problem; pure and simple. The writing is either pompous or bland. The art is garish and stiff, with no regard or respect to what has come before it(other than the trash from the late 80's and 90's perhaps). Both lack imagination and any sense of fun--fun ofcourse most likely being (mis)interpreted as camp and (sadly) relegated to parody only. Ultimately, what's left behind, is an ugly, inaccessible package."

I read Amazing Spider-Man #7 49 years ago. It was an exciting, dramatic, action-filled story, complete in one issue, though in continuity. Spider-Man (and Peter Parker) made wisecracks and jokes throughout. I laughed out loud frequently. I was involved with the people in the story. I cared about them. Their struggles, troubles and rare triumphs meant something to me. It had an element of romance. To this day, I remember reading that book as great, unforgettable fun.

Chris Hlady said...

Ah, finished listening. The worst one was my own comment, although totally hilarious. Must remember to copyedit before posting.

Right.

Re: Assembly Lines. Of course most people care about doing a good job, although Quality Control isn't always on the ball. Believe me, it happens.

Re: Wonder Women/New 52: I really tried to care, the other day, leafing through #1-5. Absolutely could not. Ditto, on every other New 52.

Almost bought Walt Simonson's Legion of Super-Heroes, but hedged. Maybe I'll go back. Although, even with Walt, I'm not as excited as I was in the Manhunter days. Boy, what a joy to be younger.

But back to the magic of Lee/Kirby/Ditko, which was after all, built on the bullshit that Kirby and Ditko would be rewarded for their ingenuity.

It must be nearly impossible to find young creators nowadays naive enough to believe anything that "Money" says. It's a high-wire act gaining popularity, and not selling out to the exploiting powers-that-be. Moreover in the days of SOPA and PIPA, how can one aggressively market oneself without opening them-self up to derivative-development and nuisance-lawsuits?

Thanks, Jim for the forum for these issues to be discussed. Thanks for the brilliant, crystal-clear writing. May you get the $10,000,000 to make your mark again.

Shawn James said...

I pondered if the monthly comic can survive in these economic conditions. I even wrote an eBook about it:http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/101710

The product itself costs too much in comparison to other forms of entertainment and provides little entertainment value for the consumer.

Right now a 32-page comic book just costs too much and takes too long to get anywhere for a casual consumer. A kid can finish a video game or three in the time it takes for a comic book storyline to finish these days. I could finish a novel in that time as well. Decompression isn't helping in this time of crisis. Creators have been phoning it in on content. The industry desperately needs new readers and no real efforts are being made to introduce them to the medium.

It's clear to me the casual consumer will not pay $3-$4 for a comic when they have cheaper options in front of them. people who do want comics are buying digests. $5 will get a comic reader an Archie digest with a lot of pages and multiple stories.

I feel comic book could go on but the way the medium is presented going to have to change if the industry has any hope of surviving. The industry has lost too many readers and alienated too many retailers for the current business model to work. DC spent millions advertising it's relaunch. The result? The usual. Huge spike in the first month of sales, then a slow decline back to the old numbers in a lot of cases.

The paridigm is going to shift, because the business model for publishing comics is obsolete. It's just a matter of someone creating the right business model. Until then, Time Warner and Disney are just sitting on the catalogs and keeping the trademarks relevant while they make money on licensing.

Anonymous said...

Don't tell the guys at Marvel and DC. They think they're doing great work - and that the industry is OK

I turned my young cousin on to some comics a while back - but I gave him mostly older stuff from the 80's. I really would not know what advice to give him about walking into a shop and buying new comics


People say buy Waid's Daredevil. OK, what else? Uncanny X-Force is ultra-violent. Invincible is really bloody, even including dismemberment

KLAWW said...

Excuse me folks, as I veer off course, but, thanks for the reply Mr. Shooter--You would have been EIC at Marvel when I was reading those books(and DC's)back in the day. I'd never written to any, so this is a real treat! I've enjoyed alot of the articles here. It's been an especially good distraction tonight as I deal with my own symbiotic relationship of script and art: howling at the moon while toiling over animation storyboards. Hope that doesn't come off as sarcastic; there's nothing else I'd rather do. Except draw comic books...hmmmmm...
Good night all.

buddy said...

Defiant1: wow, quite a bit of moxy, browsing comics in a store and then posting defintiely damning reviews of them. Not that I would put much stock in your opinion anyway, as you are either dismissive of or completely ignorant of 2 of the greatest runs in comics history: Alan Moore's Swamp Thing ('I own quite a few Swamp Thing comics and the only ones that interest me are the old Wrightson issues. Were they written by Len Wein? I'm too lazy to look. Don't care anything for the Vertigo stuff I picked up in bulk') and Grant Morrison's Animal Man ('He a "C" class superhero that has never interested me.'). Sounds like you've been waving that cane since at least the 80s.

Defiant1 said...

Buddy,

I think average intelligence people aren't smart enough to detect Alan Mooore's disdain and mockery of the comics he grew up reading. I have no interest in reading his work. He's a self-proclaimed anarchist. The message he puts into his work attracts those who see it as unique and different, but in truth it's no less derivative and he's just using a different formula. Is his work deeper and more involved? Yes. Is it something that I want to read? No. I was handed a Watchmen TPB and I read a couple of issues with and gave it back to my friend. I don't particularly want to read about rapists, pedophiles (Lost Girls), or some of the subjects he writes about. His creative style isn't much different than pissing on a wedding cake at a reception. Yes, it stands out, but it's really against the grain of why most people are there. Alan Moore's work simply doesn't impress me as much as he impresses others. That doesn't mean he's not intelligent. He's just not intelligent enough for me to be impressed.

And Buddy, I've always gotten along great with store owners. They know I'll buy something when I like it. Retailers used to compete for my business by offering lower and lower discounts. I was getting 45% off on comics up until I quit subscribing in 2000. I usually talk shop talk with them. I don't talk fanboy chatter. The ones who try to put on a show about how wonderful things are for their store and the hobby, their story changes when they close their business. Do you think they are going to hold a grudge by me speaking the truth? I had two retailers tell me I was their favorite customers because I could shut up the customers that annoyed them. One girl said "I don't even think you know you are doing it." I disagreed and said "No, I wanted them to shut up too."

Matt Adler said...

"in fact I, for one, specifically made that distinction--read the posts."

Sure, I'll get right on that-- which Anonymous are you again? Want to make sure I didn't miss the post where you, specifically, (as opposed to any of the other Anonymice) made that distinction.

"You have lost this argument"

There hasn't been an argument, since I haven't disagreed with anything any of the Anonymice said.

Antifascist said...

"I think average intelligence people aren't smart enough to detect Alan Mooore's disdain and mockery of the comics he grew up reading. I have no interest in reading his work. He's a self-proclaimed anarchist."

Defiant1, what other kind of anarchist is there? I'm an anarchist, and I don't believe anyone else gets to proclaim that for me. Why would Alan Moore's political leanings keep you from enjoying his work? other than V for Vendetta, I can't recall any of his works dealing with anarchism. I could be wrong though.

I think Alan Moore's love and adoration for these heroes comes through immensely in his work, particularly his work on Superman and Supreme. I also think that he is not a one-trick pony as you state. His Swamp Thing stuff is vastly different from Top 10 or 1963, which are also vastly different in and of themselves.

"His creative style isn't much different than pissing on a wedding cake at a reception. Yes, it stands out, but it's really against the grain of why most people are there."

I'll bite; why are most people there? (I'm also not convinced his creative style is like "pissing on a birthday cake", but that's subjective.)

"That doesn't mean he's not intelligent. He's just not intelligent enough for me to be impressed. "

So his work is "deeper and more involved", but it's not "intelligent enough" for you? That seems dichotomous to me. Please clarify.

Anonymous said...

When DC Comics tried to introduce a line of cheap, digest-sized graphic novels about ten years ago, they were a complete failure... despite the fact that two of them went on to become extremely successful films: The Road to Perdition, and A History of Violence.

These sold badly for several reasons: firstly, they were published under DC's obscure Paradox Press label; secondly, they were not readily available outside of comic book stores, and thirdly, they were three-part novels, which was probably off-putting for potential readers who wanted a book with a starting and an ending.

When Tom Hanks was doing his publicity tour for the film he made the idiotic comment "It's based on a graphic novel, whatever that is". Meaning that the star of the film hadn't even bothered to sit down and read the source material of the film he was being paid millions for. I've hated Hanks ever since. People bought Max Allan Collins' novelization of the screenplay of the novel, but his original graphic novel still didn't sell.

-Brett Ballard

Anonymous said...

To Chris Hlady,

I didn't know you could listen to the blog. That must be useful unt jkirrneyigktj goes wron khhryf isuehzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

Just a word to 'pretty smart guy', the word you're looking for is 'piqued'.

Anonymous said...

Jim, I know you get way too many of these requests, and you've already got too much stuff in the queue - but if you have any Michael Golden stories or recollections, I'd love to hear them

Thanks

Anonymous said...

I remember my fist exposure to Michael Golden's art-I was blown away. It was the Avengers Annual with the X-men crossover. He is a great talent. I also wonder about artists whose names you don't hear much anymore; Kerry Gammill for instance.

Neil

Brent E said...

Just a few observations:

Alan Moore is a fantastic writer; the entire ABC line is full of books showing his love for the medium. He has proved he can take a bad/average book and change it into something compelling (Miracle Man, Supreme, Wildcats, Swamp Thing) and that he can tell compelling stories that stand alone (From Hell, V for Vendetta, 1963).

To Matt Adler: Something that happens on this wonderful blog, is that people will jump down your throat if you don't agree that you can judge every comic on the stands based on glancing through a few pages of two or three titles. Or, God forbid, it's bad to review an issue based solely on somebody else's review. You need to give up this fight. Obviously, the people that claim they just want good comics and will go back to reading them when some good ones are made have "won this argument." They will let us know when good comics are being made. Because, you know, they'll be reading them then. They'll know which ones to read, and support them. It all makes sense. It's almost TOO brilliant...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the first time I saw Golden's work was the GI Joe Yearbooks - brilliant stuff, with the October Guard

I wonder if his DC stuff was as good as his Marvel stuff

Chris Hlady said...

to brett ballard:

it seems silly to hate Tom Hanks, for saying on a publicity tour, "It's based on a graphic novel, whatever that is." It actually means, many of the people who are aware of him, may not be aware of graphic novels. That's courtesy and consideration, and hardly something to despise.

Comics are a niche market. Graphic Novels have a long way to go, and may never get serious consideration from a mass market. Prose is much richer in so many ways, as it gives the reader the opportunity to use their imagination, as opposed to appreciating someone else, which of course, would be nice, but is hardly popular.

Cheers. P.S. I don't hate you for not appreciating my artwork, which is an even smaller niche market. ;)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, besides, the worse ones are the actors and directors who read a lot of the source material (comics) and STILL don't get the character

Sam Rami I'm looking at you

The Zug said...

Jim,

Imagine for a minute a budget for comics the equivalent of not a low-budget, but a big-budget blockbuster, $150 million or more.

How many great comics could be produced for the price of 90 minutes of film?

I know if I had a choice, $150 million on comics or a single movie, I'd take the comics every time. Not only would the comics provide me with far more than 90 minutes of entertainment, but the overall quality would like be better too. For all the mild entertainment of Thor or Nolan's Batman movies, do they surpass Simonson's Thor, or Dark Knight Returns? I would say hell no, they don't.

Anonymous said...

Brent E,

The only one jumping down anyone's throat is Matt E.

But, I'm sure he is glad that you just gave him some company in that respect.

Why don't you two just let folks comment without pontificating on whether or not to rest of us are qualified to have an opinion on whether or not the majority of the comics we see out there are quickly, and easily, identifiable as garbage?

As for the "anonymous" label, I'm not sure what the issue is with folks posting as anonymous is; as long as no one is trolling, it isn't a big deal. I'm certain we don't need to be insulted for posting anonymously or disagreeing with Matt (or you). We don't need the pontificating about posting anonymously, either.

Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Zug - agreed

The best comic movie I've seen is Sin City - and it still isn't better than the comic

Although, you can't get Carla Gugino in a comic - but I digress!

Anonymous said...

wouldn't it be useful if anonymice used some form of identification for ease of reference and to allow readers to more easily follow the arguments/discussions - if only initials (not even your real ones)?

QW

Anonymous said...

Brent E,

We will let you know. In the meantime, I'm sure publishers will be happy to know that people like you will keep buying the garbage they put out because you can only tell if a comic is good if you buy it first.

God forbid that anyone base what they want to spend their hard earned money on based on reviews by an expert like Jim Shooter; or based on a quick look through at the store because, you know, comics are such a difficult medium to understand that one must do an in depth reading before they can properly judge whether something is worth buying.

Anonymous said...

Hollywood people not reading the source material shouldn't be surprising. I mean look at the vast wealth of material they had for Fantastic Four and GI Joe - and look at the pile-of-shit movies they made out of them

Heck, if you set out to make a worse GI Joe movie, you couldn't do it

Anonymous said...

I watched only one of the three movies (FF 1 and 2; GI Joe) that you referenced. The advertisements on the other two were enough for me to make an informed decision not to bother watching that schlock. The one I did watch, FF 1, I did not see in the theatre and just happened to watch on video with a friend.

It was terrible.

The Zug said...

How much did the Watchmen graphic novel cost to produce? I mean from Alan Moore's pen to the final product on the shelf.

Whatever it was, it was undoubtedly a fraction of what the movie cost.

And whatever you think of the movie (I thought it was crap), I think most would agree that it was inferior to the source material.

You could remake that movie 100 times, spending $500 million each time, and each time it would be inferior to the source material.

And yet we all go crazy about seeing these inferior renditions on the big screen. "Iron Man's armor looked just like it did it my dreams! Yippeeee!!!!!"

I understand that Hollywood is where the money is. I understand why DC and Marvel and the creators want the movies made.

What I don't understand is why we care so much.

I know it won't ever happen, but I wish we'd shift our focus from nonsense like whether Jack of Hearts is going to be in the Avengers sequel and who's going to play him, to celebrating those folks stretch the limits of sequential art, a medium every bit as good as film.

Matt Adler said...

On the subject of anonymity; I certainly don't expect everyone to use their real name, as I do. I'm not worried about putting my name and reputation behind what I say, but I don't begrudge others who are. But I do find it amusing when one of an unknown number of Anonymice in these comment sections accuses me of not having responded to his post-- when, of course, I have no way of know who he is or what he posted! And this person doesn't even seem to get the irony of it, which is doubly amusing. Like QW said, it isn't hard to establish an identity for yourself, even by just signing initials. The downside, of course, is accountability-- once you establish an identity, its not as easy to say whatever nonsense you want and expect to be taken you seriously, because people will remember your track record. Which, I suspect, is the reason some of our Anonymice avoid doing so.

Anonymous said...

More name calling from Matt.

Let it go, friend. Let's just enjoy the blog.

Matt Adler said...

I'm not calling you names; you don't have a name to call you!

Anonymous said...

Yes, We would all hate to be remembered with Matt's track record.

Dude, let it go.

Matt Adler said...

Is that you, Anonymous?

jimshooter said...

Dear Anonymous,

Michael Golden stories are now in the queue. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

If they could figure out a way to get Carla Gugino in a comic----well hell, that would solve the sales problem. I'd probably buy two.

--Ramage

Anonymous said...

Matt, you're right. I've been converted to your point of view. Really, truly. I don't know what I was thinking. Thanks for putting me right. I've been an absolute idiot.

Thanks for your wise counsel.

What?

You don't believe that I'm the anonymous you have been arguing with?

How could you doubt me?

OOps - Pandora, watch what you do with that thing...

Brent E said...

To anonymous that wrote this:

"The only one jumping down anyone's throat is Matt E.

But, I'm sure he is glad that you just gave him some company in that respect.

Why don't you two just let folks comment without pontificating on whether or not to rest of us are qualified to have an opinion on whether or not the majority of the comics we see out there are quickly, and easily, identifiable as garbage?

As for the "anonymous" label, I'm not sure what the issue is with folks posting as anonymous is; as long as no one is trolling, it isn't a big deal. I'm certain we don't need to be insulted for posting anonymously or disagreeing with Matt (or you). We don't need the pontificating about posting anonymously, either.

Grow up."

I never mentioned the word anonymous once in my post. This blog doesn't have an edit function, so I'm not sure where you're getting that I did. In fact, I didn't even respond to an anonymous (or anybody besides Matt for that matter). I guess that means I need to grow up, and quit jumping down anyone's throat.

I noticed however, that Matt (and myself) have been jumped on for things we've never said on here (repeatedly, almost every time I post something).

Also, if the original remark was "the majority of comics I read are garbage" that's fine, I've said every time I've been on here that my issue is with people judging comics they've never read. Many posters tend to waiver between "the entire industry is crap" and "most of what I read is crap." I'm fine with the latter.

My former post was simply pointing out that if we sit around waiting for the former to identify what are the good comics worth reading, we will be waiting for awhile because they've already decided it's crap before it's come out.

Now then, I've either gotta go "grow up" or just enjoy books like Avengers Academy, Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, OMAC, The Twelve, and Rachel Rising (all coming out on Monday).

Can't wait to hear how I'm name calling, and being a bad poster by not allowing other people to be negative enough, and how I said the holocaust was fake (it's tough guessing what I'll be accused of saying next around here...).

(I too am fine with anonymous ids, I just dislike how long they make my posts look since I need to copy them to reply under this thread layout.)

Anonymous said...

Brent, shouldn't you be off touching hot stoves??..

Brent E said...

To the anonymous that wrote:

"Brent E,

We will let you know. In the meantime, I'm sure publishers will be happy to know that people like you will keep buying the garbage they put out because you can only tell if a comic is good if you buy it first.

God forbid that anyone base what they want to spend their hard earned money on based on reviews by an expert like Jim Shooter; or based on a quick look through at the store because, you know, comics are such a difficult medium to understand that one must do an in depth reading before they can properly judge whether something is worth buying."

Again, the initial issue was not with people basing what to spend their money based on Jim's recaps. It was with people reviewing the comic themselves based on the recap. (My exact line was "Or, God forbid, it's bad to review an issue based solely on somebody else's review.")

Then again, that would make our lives easier. Let's say, Ebert reviews "the Artist" and gives it four stars, and also gives "Usual Suspects" 1.5 stars. Now then, Roger Ebert is a well known name in film criticism, although he has his detractors and many don't agree with him. However, imagine if based on his single review of those films, Michael Phillips, A.O. Scott, Christy Lemire, etc. all reviewed the movies without having seen them. Now then, these are all intelligent people (give or take). They are taking what they've seen and their own experience of watching thousands of films and applying their own life experiences. Do you still think their reviews are worthwhile at that point? (Those are the actual star ratings, btw.) In the case of "The Artist," the effect would be more people praising a wonderful film. With the Usual Suspects, it results in people ripping apart a film for flaws in its structure, twist ending, and unconventional story telling.

In my opinion, the reviews based off only reading another review are next to worthless, or worth about as much worth as a random comment in an obscure thread from an anonymous poster.

(Sorry, couldn't resist that one.)

With regards to the other part of your message, as I've said before, I'll take my chance and try to find something enjoyable from a medium I love, rather than condemning everything that comes out from thousands of different individuals of varying skills and styles.

Chris Hlady said...

It would be nice to be able to select from a list of some other anonymous monikers, like:
Secret Admirer
Professional Acquaintance
Unabashed Fanboy
Narcisistic Nemesis, or
Knuckle-headed Knowitall

Not mention, "Like" buttons and Google "+1"s, or "I'd buy that off the Spinner Rack."
Food for thought

Brent E said...

To the anonymous that wrote:

"Brent, shouldn't you be off touching hot stoves??.."

So what's the plan? Sounds like you're ready to give up on the entire medium. Afterall, trying any new book, no matter how good it looks to you runs the risk of leaving you BURNED! (Oh, I'm so clever, I used the stove metaphor back at you! Wow, good times.)

Anonymous said...

Brent - I know you aren't very self-aware - but do you have any idea how ridiculous, off-the-mark, extremely exaggerated, and illogical your Roger Ebert example is?


I'd love to see you try to logically link your Robert Ebert example to someone smelling a shitty comic from afar

Brent E said...

Anonymous who wrote:

"Brent - I know you aren't very self-aware - but do you have any idea how ridiculous, off-the-mark, extremely exaggerated, and illogical your Roger Ebert example is?

I'd love to see you try to logically link your Robert Ebert example to someone smelling a shitty comic from afar"

More name calling, nice. The link? Jim writes a review. Somebody else who hasn't read the comic reads the review. That person writes in length reviewing that comic.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Shooter,

I was wondering if you have any plans or even know about Kevin Smith's 'reality series' titled Comic Book Men. It's 6 episodes long, will be shown on AMC starting Feb 12 and is shot at his comic book stores and stars his friends at the shop.

I didn't mean for this to sound like such a promo ad for the show but I wanted to give you the info about it in case you were not aware of it. I myself will not be able to see it as I actually don't have cable tv and cannot get AMC via antenna.

Thanks,

James Roberts

Aaron Scott Johnson said...

And people say fanboys are curmudgeonly.

I love comics. I read bad ones, I read good ones. I'm happy they're still making them.

Defiant1 said...

Brent,

I'd be perfectly content if all the comic publishers shut down. Modern comics today are worse than the mainstream comics I snubbed at age 12. My standards are higher now. Modern comics are worse than the comics which disappeared during the mid-80's B&W implosion.

Compare any comic made today to illustrations in the book "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way", and you won't find too many that even come close.

Yes, I've been burnt. I've vested time and money into countless comics that no one remembers or cares about in 6 weeks. I could have waited for a store to shut down and bought them in bulk for a dime a piece. It's only a matter of when, not if. In all honesty though, I don't even want modern comics for a dime. My friend bought 50 long boxes of modern comics from a guy that just wanted him to haul them off. My friend gave him money out of kindness and sense of guilt over how much the guy had invested in them.

The publishers don't care about their characters, why should the readers?

Anonymous said...

Brent went to the well with The Twelve - a book that has been dead for 3 years, and is now back (for 1 issue at least)


-Anon1

Defiant1 said...

Antifascist

There are personality types that need all the dots connected to figure things out and there are people who can glance a set of points and see the whole picture without connecting the dot. I'm confident that my post above said all I needed to say and that the words will sprout like seeds in your mind one day and you'll understand.

Anonymous said...

Wait Brent - how do you know The Twelve is currently good? The issue does not come out until Wednesday. Certainly you're not reviewing a comic without having read it!!

Shawn James said...

Defiant1

I hear you on the indie B&W comics from the 80's. I bought quite a few of these when I was 13.I Reading them now...Yeah they're pretty BAD. If modern comics have writing worse than this (and from what I've seen they are) Yeah, comics have fallen way off.

You make a good point. If the publsher doesn't care about the characters or their quality of their product, then why should readers care enough to invest their money and their time in buying them?

A comic publisher isn't entitled to your money. As a consumer you have a right to take your money elsewhere.

If the comic publishers can't get what they're doing wrong and adapt their products and business models to today's customers, then yeah, they need to go out of business. That's how business is done in America. Businesses that don't change go away like Gimbel's Woolworth and Caldor. While it would sadden many to see Marvel or DC on that list at the end of the day it could be the wake-up call that gets people in the industry to get their stuff together and step it up.

Kid said...

We have the same thing going on in the UK. A comic called The Dandy, which has been published weekly (in the main) since 1937, was relaunched a year or so ago with a few artists whose undisciplined styles, to my eyes, don't lend themselves to sequential storytelling - even in a humour comic for kids.

The comic promptly lost half its readership within a few months, but the editor and artists deny any culpability for driving them away. When nobody takes responsibility and blames the (departing) audience, there doesn't seem to be much hope for the future.

Anonymous said...

Steve Wacker at Marvel claims that there are more people reading comics now than ever before in history. I'm guessing he either means through international exposure, or digital - I'm not sure. He will not get specific - beyond saying that people on the outside, like fans, don't know what they are talking about - and a marvel insider like him knows the real numbers


I say this because of your comment about the creators not taking any blame, and not seeming to realize (or care) that they are driving readers away

Kid said...

Perhaps, world-wide, with the rise of Manga, more people than ever ARE reading some form of 'comic', but - in the case of Marvel and DC superhero comics - I doubt it. And Britain sells nowhere near the number of comics it sold twenty years ago - and even then the industry was in decline.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he was including Manga. He seemed to be talking about monthly sales

One person in the discussion tried to guess that Marvel has subscribers - that would not be tracked through Diamond sales

Wacker made a comment about how the old newsstand days had returns that were counted as sales - but as I said, he was being coy - telling us that angry fans did not have the info that he did

Kid said...

We'll have to wait and see, I guess. However, I hear that comics shops are closing all the time - hardly sounds like sales being up, even allowing for subscribers.

Or maybe he's going for the statistics angle. You know, they sell 70% of their print runs per mag sort of thing, compared to only 40% twenty-five years ago.

This, of course, does not account for the fact that print runs were far larger back then than they are today, so 40% all those years ago is still a greater number than 70% nowadays, given the smaller amounts printed.

buddy said...

For those few around here who haven't written off modern comics completely: Warren Ellis' current run on Secret Avengers is worth checking out, esp #s 18 (featuring Shang Chi drawn by David Aja, one of the few contemporary artists I really like) and 20. Each issue is a self-contained story, with almost too much compression- things usually start in the middle of an adventure, with context thrown in along the way. But I've only read his issues, none of the prior ones, and had no trouble figuring out what's going on.

ja said...

Anonymous said: "Steve Wacker at Marvel claims that there are more people reading comics now than ever before in history."

This reminds me of when I was hearing stories about how The Powers That Be at Valiant - who had some titles that sold gangbusters, but mostly not - would use the overall average of Valiant's sales to make it seem like their average title's sales were WAY bigger than they actually were. Using those manipulated numbers to make it seem like Valiant was more equitable than it was, to facilitate the sale.

Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors... =P

czeskleba said...

Wacker made a comment about how the old newsstand days had returns that were counted as sales
*********************
He's got it backwards. Because of affidavit returns there were instances in which sold copies were falsely counted as returns, not the other way around.

In the early 50's Walt Disney Comics and Stories was selling 2 million copies per issue. And back then, each copy sold was probably read by multiple people, so total readers would be even greater. Whereas now (with multiple copy buying still common) each comic sold does not even equal one whole reader. To suggest American Comics have more readers now than ever before is foolishness of a crack-smoking degree.

Anonymous said...

czeskleba - I agree, particularly about the crack-smoking part. The only difference I can see for modern comics are trade paperback sales. Yet, the top-selling TPB for 2011 was Walking Dead, at 35,000 copies of one of its volumes. But that is 35,000 for the whole year - not a single month

Subscriptions - Marvel had subscriptions as far back as the 60's - I have bought quite a few silver age comics with the subscription creases in them

International - same thing. I've seen silver and bronze age comics with the British pound on the cover

Digital - Wacker was talking about Marvel. Well certain comics like Mark Waid's Daredevil is not even available in digital from. And as someone else just said - a random issue of Uncle Scrooge used to sell over a million comics in 1 month. Marvel's recent Hulk #1 sold about 100,000 - and that was with 7 variant covers, some of which were 1:25 and 1:100 variants - causing retailers to buy multiple copies and dump them on eBay

As someone else just said, Jim already debunked the "returns counted as sales" idea. That was the whole purpose of the coves being torn off - Marvel would get those back, or get an estimate of them, and NOT count them as sales

Try as I might, I can't see any way current comics are making up the sales gap through some imaginary venue that didn't exist before

Anonymous said...

On the upside for comic collectors; there may actually be comics that become valuable in about 40 years because they are selling so few today, they may actually be rare. Nah, the only customers are hardcore fanboys that bag and board all of 'em.

Neil

Matt Adler said...

"You don't believe that I'm the anonymous you have been arguing with?"

At this point, I'm not even sure all of the Anonymice are real people. This could be a Tyler Durden situation.

Brent E said...

Shawn James wrote:

"A comic publisher isn't entitled to your money. As a consumer you have a right to take your money elsewhere."

I agree completely. I am not for supporting bad comics, regardless of publisher or creator. That being said, the idea that all comics coming out now are bad is false. Again, I know not everybody loves OMAC, but a lot of people that tried it out did. The problem is, that people were already writing off the new 52 as being more of the same crap, or writing off Didio because of his previous work, and the effect is 8 issues in in and it is cancelled.

The effect of this hard line "I don't support the entire industry now because comics aren't as good as they were in the 80's blah blah blah" is that good books go unnoticed and get cancelled. This despite the fact that on the internet there are hundreds of websites, blogs, podcasts, etc. that can help you find good comics WITHOUT EVEN HAVING TO BUY THEM (and thus support the bad ones). Wow, what a concept?

Say Jim Shooter reviews Daredevil or Batman and enjoys it, and you have similar tastes to him, while he doesn't like Red Hood and Wonder Woman; could that be a starting point to at least taking a look at some of the books on the rack. (Can't wait for somebody to say this contradicts my earlier post; I understand though, reading can be difficult sometimes.) Similarly, OMAC was loved by nearly every comic review site I check out, but it was the lowest selling of all the original 52 comics since readers had their minds made up before it ever even came out.

Look, if you read a comic and don't like it, please don't continue buying it. I completely respect Defiant1's take on every comic he's tried and not enjoyed. Ditto for all the anonymous individuals.

Some other posters have ripped on me for buying "The Twelve." Well, the first 8 issues were amazing, so you bet I'll be finishing that up. Similarly, I will be eagerly awaiting "Saga" from Brian K. Vaughan this month, based on having enjoyed pretty much everything he's ever written. Those are two books I don't think I need advanced reviews to purchase and expect to enjoy. I'd hate to think I could have missed out on books like Ex Machine and Y The Last Man because I thought Secret Invasion was a shitty crossover.

Anonymous said...

I bought the first Y, The Last Man and on the scale of 'huh?' to 'wow!' gave it a hmmm. I skimmed through the last few issues (just glancing at the pages) and nothing much seemed to be happening. Didn't buy any more. Was I wrong? Why was I wrong?

Moped said...

It seems like one of the key differences between the Manga and American Comic book industries is innovation. American comic books retain and revamp the same characters over the course of decades. I am by no means an expert in Manga, but having read it over the last decade, it doesn't seem like they maintain characters in the same way American companies do. Elements are borrowed and revived but they don't re-use the same series over and over, to some degree I think that adds to the vitality of the industry. There is a manga called Bakuman that is about two mangakas (manga creators) and in the manga they describe the process for creating manga, as well as the process for staying published in Shonen Jump (manga mag).

Shonen Jump has about 20 comics in it, which is published WEEKLY.

Its pretty competitive, if your book slides in the ratings into the bottom 25% of popularity you are cancelled. They make a decision to cancel every few months. Popularity is determined by reader feedback through questionnaires. So basically if your books aren't written well enough for somebody to pick it up and understand it or at least be interested in it, the chances are you are toast.

This system while pretty harsh, does have the benefit of iterating through lots of ideas quickly to find "hits" quickly which is not something that the American industry can really do since they are charging 3 dollars a pop.

Brent E said...

Anonymous wrote:

"I bought the first Y, The Last Man and on the scale of 'huh?' to 'wow!' gave it a hmmm. I skimmed through the last few issues (just glancing at the pages) and nothing much seemed to be happening. Didn't buy any more. Was I wrong? Why was I wrong?"

Here's an except from a review for the final TPB on Amazon.com (another great place to read multiple reviews of collected editions for different takes):

"There have been some great long series in comics, but Y: THE LAST MAN is unique in that all ten volumes making up the entire run tells a single story. The various books truly have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Other series may have a background arc that extends throughout the various books comprising their run, but Vaughan's masterpiece introduces a number of questions in the first volume that are developed in the ensuing nine volumes and answered only in the last. Will the human race survive the loss of all the males? Will Yorick be reunited with his finance? What do the Israelis tracking him have in mind? These and other stories are developed gradually over the course of the entire run.

The tone of the series as a whole tends to action drama laced with pop cultural references and humor. You laugh on one page, only to have something really horrid take place on the next. But none of the shocks of the first nine volumes comes anywhere near the shocks found in the final issues comprising Volume Ten. I won't go into details, but while all the main stories are completely wrapped up, they won't please every fan. While most of the news for the human race was positive, things did not turn out all that well for most of our heroes. Indeed, some of the arcs ended in utter tragedy. Though the story as a whole focuses on Yorick's constant joking about everything, the book's final events bring even his jokes to a halt. Some things are beyond wit. One event in particular is so shocking (you'll know it when you see it) and so unforeseen that it completely changes the nature of the entire series.

In a story like Y: THE LAST MAN it is absolutely essential that you end the whole thing well. This volume does precisely that. It cannot, of course, be read on its own. Anyone wanting to read the entire series needs to start with the first volume and move forward. FABLES 10 came out earlier this month. You might, with some difficulty, be able to start reading in that (wonderful) series with that volume, but Y: THE LAST MAN has to be read from beginning to end. Starting with this volume would be like beginning GREAT EXPECTATIONS with Chapter 25...

In a way, I'm truly saddened that this series has come to an end. For years we've been looking forward to the next issue and looking ahead to the distant future (which is now past) to find out how everything ends. I confess it didn't end like I had expected or even how I had hoped. But sometimes as readers we get the story we needed instead of wanted. In the end, it was a great read."

Brent E said...

For my own part, I think the review does a good job of praising the series. It's obviously different reading it now in collected form where the cliffhangers each month are resolved after only a page turn. The characters that BKV creates feel like real people, and as a reader you become vested in what happens to them much more knowing that if a character dies it's final. I don't know if it's for everybody (different issues touch on things like sexual abuse, gay/lesbian relationships, and there's a penis in it) but I can honestly say my wife, parents, and coolest neighbors all gave the first TPB a try and stuck with it for volumes 2-10.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brent. I recently asked about One Piece. Chris had good words to say about it and every review seems positive, so I've ordered a couple of issues from Amazon. I'll probably give Y another look.

On the theme of print runs determining how much a comic has to sell for, is there anything to stop Marvel and DC (and others) combining their print runs for a better deal for everyone?

Anonymous said...

Brent E,

No one is condemning "everything," just the crap.

Anonymous

Brent E said...

Re: Anonymous that wrote: "No one is condemning "everything," just the crap."

Shawn James wrote:

"If modern comics have writing worse than this (and from what I've seen they are) Yeah, comics have fallen way off... If the comic publishers can't get what they're doing wrong and adapt their products and business models to today's customers, then yeah, they need to go out of business."

Defiant1 wrote:

"I don't even care if Marvel & DC go out of business. I consider their product that bad. "

Anonymous wrote:

"I'd love to test your "theory of unread books". Name your current favorite series, so I can read them and eviscerate them."

Marc Miyake wrote:

"But I have less respect for their heirs who have squandered all that cultural capital and lost touch with the mass audience. Mangaka still make products the general public wants. American creators don't anymore. Why not?"

Klaaw wrote:

"Comics are crap today, and it's unfortunate, because I love them"

Do I really think any of these people would say that EVERY book coming out is bad? No. But, on a message board people tend to speak in hyperbole. They're more interested in winning an argument or joining a bandwagon. I've tried to respond directly to comments on here, and to what is actually said.

On this blog, the bandwagon is that modern comics = bad. Trolls are people who enjoy the books they read. Nobody reads what you actually post, and instead replies to what they think you're probably writing about.

Go ahead, fire away.

Brent E said...

My last comment was deleted... should I repost it or was it in violation somehow?

cesare said...

Some rough math - just happen to be using Y- the Last Man trades...

10 volumes, 1440 pages. $140 cover price

That's around 8 hours of reading at a comfortable pace (20 seconds a page)

$17/ hour

and if you buy floppies, those numbers nearly double. Wow.

Is even the greatest comic book ever written / drawn worth that? To me, someone who loves the medium, I still have to say, those numbers don't make much sense.

(though I avoid that kind of cold, hard evaluation when shopping for comics - otherwise, I might just not spend that money on the rags.)

Brent E said...

In response to Cesare:

Here's a great post from the website www.ifanboy.com on this issue:

"I don't want you to take this the wrong way [insert name of commenter], because I can see where your coming from, and it all seems very simple when you look at it this one way, but the thing is, I hate this question. I hate it down to the very marrow of my bones. That is because you're trying to quantify something that should be unquantifiable. Now you have every right to decide what you want to pay for your entertainment. No one would argue that. And if "time spent consuming" is how you want to decide where to put your dollars, then by all means, go your own way, Stevie Nicks.

But is that right? To me, I don't think so. It's about what it's worth to you. You might breeze through one comic in 3 minutes, and another in 18 minute, but they both cost you $3.99. But the one that took longer might have been bloody awful. But, according to your calculations, it was a better value. Meanwhile, the quick read might have blown you away, with page after page of fast paced, and stunning storytelling by your favorite artist. I like some artists and writers more than others, so shouldn't I be paying less for artists I don't like as much? I can pay to go to a movie, yes, but afterwards, I'm not putting that movie on my bookshelf and I don't have it to refer to later, unless I also go out and buy that DVD, in which case, it's most likely that I will pay money for it, and shelve it only to watch it maybe once. I've got a couple hundred DVDs and Blu-Rays I paid about $20 for, and they each provided about 90 minutes of entertainment, and cost me lord knows how much in rental space they take up in my apartment.

It's all up to you though. I read comics in all sorts of ways. They might be worth something different to me than you. Some I read for entertainment. Some are instructive on the craft. Some are by amazing artists, and I just want to learn how they do it. Others provide hours and hours of material even though they are figuratively composed of actual shit (Fallen Sun). Others do all those things. Some I wouldn't have paid for in retrospect, and still others I'd have paid more for.

If you don't want to pay the price, and you don't think it's worth it, then DO NOT BUY THEM. (This is not the same as, since I don't think they deserve my money, I am entitled to steal them for free from the internet, it should be noted.) I've played crappy video games for a couple hours, but the experience had less value to me, than comics I read in a few minutes. Choose wisely, and don't pay for anything you don't like. If it doesn't seem worth it, then comics might not be for you. A Porsche costs a hell of a lot more money than a Hyundai, and they're both going to get you where you want to go. By this logic people use for comics, eveyone would be driving Sonatas. But sometimes, you have to pay for something because it's that good. If it's not that good, don't bother, and go see another movie.

Brent E said...

I'll post this a second time, but if it gets taken down again, I'll give up on it.

Re: Anonymous that wrote: "No one is condemning "everything," just the crap."

Shawn James wrote:

"If modern comics have writing worse than this (and from what I've seen they are) Yeah, comics have fallen way off... If the comic publishers can't get what they're doing wrong and adapt their products and business models to today's customers, then yeah, they need to go out of business."

Defiant1 wrote:

"I don't even care if Marvel & DC go out of business. I consider their product that bad. "

Anonymous wrote:

"I'd love to test your "theory of unread books". Name your current favorite series, so I can read them and eviscerate them."

Marc Miyake wrote:

"But I have less respect for their heirs who have squandered all that cultural capital and lost touch with the mass audience. Mangaka still make products the general public wants. American creators don't anymore. Why not?"

Klaaw wrote:

"Comics are crap today, and it's unfortunate, because I love them"

Do I really think any of these people would say that EVERY book coming out is bad? No. But, on a message board people tend to speak in hyperbole. They're more interested in winning an argument or joining a bandwagon. I've tried to respond directly to comments on here, and to what is actually said.

On this blog, the bandwagon is that modern comics = bad (not Jim's message, but that of many commenters). Trolls are people who enjoy the books they read. Few people read what you actually post, and instead replies to what they think you're probably writing about.

DJRJAY said...

Jim, since you are adding Michael Golden to the que, can you include some stories about the genesis of "The "Nam?" That was where his art first caught my eye.

cesare said...

Brent,

Though it may not be obvious from my comment, I absolutely agree with you on every point. However, I still think the value point is worth discussion, I WANT to buy comics, and I do. But you and I are died-in-the-wool fans. I think most entertainment industries, sports, movies, whatever, also count on casual fans. And casual fans are going to evaluate the 'worth' of the product based on, though perhaps unconsciously, similar calculations.

Anonymous said...

and cesare, I think the New 52 proves your point. Here was an example of a sales tactic that was designed to be an entry point, and a way to grab new readers. Yet it has already failed to keep new readers, with sales falling off after just 3 months

They, generally, are not putting out a product that will get and keep new readers

Brent E said...

Cesare,

Sorry for any mixup; the post was essentially copy and paste from that website that I thought provided some good points to that theory (no nothing directed at you personally). I agree, it's something that many individuals that don't read comics would consider before purchasing a new book.

Anonymous said...

I drive a Malibu. It looks nice, gets good mileage, and has been a quality car.

Would I have considered it when GM was pumping out junk years ago?

Probably not. However, now that GM has recommitted to quality, I once again take time to look at their vehicles.

Simultaneously, Toyota has failed to reinvent their product line and has had some serious quality issues. They have lost market share because of that and some supply issues. Comics are having the same problems.

GM has been able to win back the consumer by putting out quality.

Marvel, DC, and comics in general can do the same thing. Start by putting out a quality product and win back the consumer.

Anyway, I admit it is a very broad analogy, but I think it fits in some ways.

cesare said...

I want DC to succeed, I'm not trying rip them just for the sake of it, but, anyone see DC's new 'branding'?

I get the page turning motif, and I can see the D, but, it also looks like something coming unglued, peeling away, and.....flaccid. There are other aspects that bug me too......


I'm a graphic designer by trade by the way, for what that's worth.

I sense panic over there......just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Anonymi 1 - naw - it's a good analogy.

But the powers that be at Marvel and DC will never do it. They are going to have to fail, and get ousted - before we see a change in strategy

Anonymous said...

cesare - hopefully there is panic. Hopefully the ship is sinking, and the rats are floating out to sea - then maybe some new, not-idget, people will be put in charge

Matt Adler said...

I think they should put Anonymous in charge. That way, when things go wrong, they won't know who to blame!

Brent E said...

Matt Adler:

I tried responding to Anonymous awhile back but my post was deleted. Apparently, the support of anonymous is indeed the final word. Tread lightly, fellow name user.

Edward said...

Question for Jim:

In this post, you stated the following: "But decades of schlock thinking at the top, decades of unguided, misguided or just plain bad creative work has desecrated and distorted some of those characters almost to the point that they are unrecognizable (the current Wonder Woman comes to mind. And did someone say the new Superboy is a robot? What?). Their equity has eroded."

My question to you is what you mean by the word "equity". I've heard you use this before, I believe when you were telling a story of someone asking you where Marvel should go after they cashed in on Spider-Man #1 and X-Men #1. Your stated response was something along the lines of "they stripped mined all of the 'equity' it took us years to build into the system, now they need to come up with something new.".

Ever since I read that comment, I've been thinking about what you meant by "equity", and now I see you use it here as well.

What exactly is it that you mean by 'equity' in this sense? I've tried to noodle it out myself from the context, but am just coming up blank. Perhaps it's obvious to others, but I'm just not grasping it.

And thanks for your blog. I love coming here and check in on an almost daily basis. Love reading your stories on the history of Marvel and the cast of characters you worked with in those days. Seems like they were heady times indeed!

Ole M. Olsen said...

Dear Brent E: You say a lot of sensible things. Thanks!

Dear Anonymice: It's impossible to tell you guys apart, and it's just confusing. I for one don't mind anyone posting anonymously, but please sign SOMETHING. Use some fake initials, make up a nickname, whatever. Thank you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Matt

Yeah, I hate when intelligent, competent people are put in charge. In fact, I go on the Internet and attack people who prefer it

Ever work for an idiot boss Matt? Did you enjoy it if you did?

Anonymous said...

I took 'equity' to mean the goodwill built up over the years by the production of good, solid storytelling. The loss of 'equity' being due to an abuse of this status by cruising with crappy stories, die cut covers, other gimmicks, etc. that has caused the titles involved to lose their previous reputation. Of course, I could be wrong.

QW

Anonymous said...

Anybody else noticing their posts being deleted in this thread?

Anonymous B.I.G.

Anonymous said...

Equity also being something that is built.

Taking careful care of the characters. For example, Roger Stern's Avengers run, or Simonson's Thor run - no one had to come after them and undo a bunch of crap that had been done to the characters.

Anonymous said...

B.I.G.

No. Never

Ole M. Olsen said...

Anonymous B.I.G.:

Yes, a comment from me complimenting Brent E and kindly requesting you Anonymice to pick some kind of signature (like you just did :-) ) disappeared.

So either Anonymous has been put in charge, or the auto-filtering is going a bit amok.

Lukas Kendall said...

To Edward re: "equity":

I'm not Jim but I think I can answer the question about "equity" re: comic books, and Jim can expand or clarify if he so chooses.

"Equity" refers to the value of the characters and intellectual property ("I.P.") creations. Spider-Man has value in the marketplace. He doesn't "exist" the way real estate building does, or a software company does, or a drug patent does, but the owner of Spider-Man can sell his rights to the movies, to toy companies, to clothes makers, and on and on. "Equity" is "value."

The owner of such characters, or intellectual properties, are wise to make sure that the material is neither overexposed nor underexposed—that the products made from his stories and images are quality products—and that the public's interest is strong and growing. You want people to be aware of Spider-Man and think he is cool, not that he is tired or lame or his stories are weak and just exploiting geeks' money. That popular sentiment towards Spider-Man gives him equity and lets the copyright owner profit from (wisely) exploiting him.

Lukas Kendall

Anonymous said...

Edward,

I'm thinking of equity more in terms of trust and integrity. I don't want to speak for Jim (I can't, of course) but I'm guessing this was his meaning when he used the term in the context quoted.

I believe both anonymouses answered correctly about good will and caretaking of the characters.

The industry itself has lost integrity and the trust of a fanbase that was built up over several decades. Bad writing, terrible artwork, endless reboots, 5 different covers for the same book, lack of value, mindless crossovers, etc.

Someone on here stated that something to the effect of they used to feel like they got value even if they bought a comic they ended up not likeing. That speaks volumes about where the industy was and where it is now. That type of satisfaction builds equity and trust in the industry.

Because of the endless gimmicks and lack of focus on storytelling in many, if not most, comics put out these days, folks feel like they've been getting ripped off when they buy a comic. Moreover, (and, Jim, apologies but Secret Wars II had a lot to do with this) when you have to buy every, or almost every, title in the stable to finish a story that you started by innocently buying one book, it also lessens the equity a company has built up with the public.

Most folks understand that the comic book companies are in business to make a profit and don't have a problem with that as long as they are receiving quality in return for their patronage. However, when folks start to feel like they are being taken for granted and it is just assumed that someone will plunk down a few bucks for whatever garbage they put out just over that individual's love for the character, the customer feels taken advantage of and the equity you have built up with that customer begins to erode.

Anonymous said...

Best comment ever:

"You want people to be aware of Spider-Man and think he is cool, not that he is tired or lame or his stories are weak and just exploiting geeks' money."

Hilarious.

Thanks, Lukas. I think Jim's meaning of equity in the context Edward was discussing was a bit different than your more general definition, but this comment is spot on.

And I'm still laughing.

jimshooter said...

Dear czeskleba,

RE: " To suggest American Comics have more readers now than ever before is foolishness of a crack-smoking degree."

Note that Wacker said "more readers." Is he counting estimated online-pirate readers? If Marvel Comics publications are actually selling more, then Marvel must be ripping off creators for all those royalties they're not paying!

jimshooter said...

Dear Brent,

RE: "My last comment was deleted... should I repost it or was it in violation somehow?"

We don't delete anything except really blatant spam. I guess we'd draw the line at really vile stuff, too, but so far no one has gone entirely over the top.

JayJayJackson said...

Dear Brent,

For some reason I can't figure out two of your comments got caught in the spam filter. I went in and un-spammified them.

Anonymous said...

Ole - your comment did not disappear

Brent E said...

Jay Jay/Jim,

Thanks for the fix. As always, keep up the good work on the most interesting blog around.

Anonymous said...

Brent E,

People (including Jim) on this blog are dogging much of what is new because it is bad. It has nothing to do with the bandwagon.

Your implication is that folks are just going along with the bandwagon. Trust me, comic books aren't that complicated. I suspect that most folks commenting on this blog are adults. I suspect that because most young kids who read comics probably don't know who Jim Shooter is. As adults, we are all perfectly capable of looking at what passes for a comic book today and making our own decisions on whether or not it is a quality piece of work. No bandwagon needed.

Having said that, I don't think you are a troll for reading comics or feeling as if comics today are getting a bad rap. I think its great that you are still passionate about the medium. I just think you may want to give the rest of us a little bit of credit; just because you are going against the grain doesn't make you any wiser or more able to intelligently dialogue about comics than anyone else.

Also, your posts are well thought out and intelligent, no need to reply to, and argue with, every single comment someone has written that is, or you think might be, directed at you.

It seems defensive. It reminds me of the guy at the party who argues with everyone else instead of just having fun and, as a result, doesn't get laid . . . ever.

Just chill.

Peace.

jimshooter said...

Dear Edward,

RE: "In this post, you stated the following: "But decades of schlock thinking at the top, decades of unguided, misguided or just plain bad creative work has desecrated and distorted some of those characters almost to the point that they are unrecognizable (the current Wonder Woman comes to mind. And did someone say the new Superboy is a robot? What?). Their equity has eroded."

My question to you is what you mean by the word "equity"."

Equity, used in that sense, is a word of art in intellectual property trades. With regard to characters, it means accrued value -- the worth of the property. Number-cruncher IP types boil it down to current revenue-generating ability -- how much can it be exploited now. Less venal types think of it as the enduring appeal of the character -- how much does it mean to the hearts and minds of the consumers.

jimshooter said...

RE: "Dear Anonymice: It's impossible to tell you guys apart, and it's just confusing."

I'm sorry, but "Anonymice" just cracks me up. So funny. Ahem. That is all. Resume your normal activities.

jimshooter said...

RE: "To Edward re: "equity":

I'm not Jim but I think I can answer the question about "equity" re: comic books, and Jim can expand or clarify if he so chooses.

"Equity" refers to the value of the characters and intellectual property ("I.P.") creations. Spider-Man has value in the marketplace. He doesn't "exist" the way real estate building does, or a software company does, or a drug patent does, but the owner of Spider-Man can sell his rights to the movies, to toy companies, to clothes makers, and on and on. "Equity" is "value."

The owner of such characters, or intellectual properties, are wise to make sure that the material is neither overexposed nor underexposed—that the products made from his stories and images are quality products—and that the public's interest is strong and growing. You want people to be aware of Spider-Man and think he is cool, not that he is tired or lame or his stories are weak and just exploiting geeks' money. That popular sentiment towards Spider-Man gives him equity and lets the copyright owner profit from (wisely) exploiting him."

Lukas Kendall


This answer is so much better than mine. I should have just shut up and let the smart people talk.

Anonymous said...

For those on the fence, or curious about some new comics - Animal Man this week is pencilled by John Paul Leon. For my money, one of the best pencillers in the biz right now

-Anonymi 1

Anonymous said...

re; anonymice

those who take it too far: annoy-ny-mice?

those who are too whimsical: hey-nonny-mice?

Matt Adler said...

I don't think I can take full credit for "Anonymice"; seems to me I heard it somewhere else first. But it seemed to fit with the absurdity of conversing with an indeterminate number of indistinguishable entities... and it rolls off the tongue more gracefully than "Anonymouses". Glad other people, including our host, got a chuckle out of it too :)

Defiant1 said...

Shawn James,

Your reply to me makes it clear that you get what I'm saying.

Let me go further. From what I can tell, the publishers and creative talent are trying to tell the consumers what quality is. We get press releases. We get creators figuratively patting each other on the back in online settings. We get the "we love comics" cheer to make comic fans feel guilty if they aren't hopping aboard the status quo bandwagon. It needs to be made clear that customers define quality.

In the career choice of "Quality Assurance", one bit of rigamarole that is expected from a company is a "quality policy". A quality policy is typically a one line statement that sets the quality objectives of a company or organization.

This web page gives some example if you read ahead a little bit.

http://www.simplyquality.org/qpgalery.htm

A quality policy normally involves expressing a goal to meet the customers expectations and newer ones set a goal to improve the processes and improve the customers satisfactory perception of the product. Continuous improvement involves tracking "performance metrics" which are criteria used to measure an organization's activities and performance. Sales figures might be one metric. Reader loyalty might be another. Satisfaction survey results would be a "metric". I don't see ANY evidence that the publishers are tracking any quality related performance metrics other than sales figures.

I don't see satisfaction surveys. I don't see quality initiatives to resolve consumer complaints or standardization of processes so that a consumers quality expectations can be maintained.

I realize that creativity and innovation often needs a liberal amount of freedom. By the same token, the consumers expectations should be a TOP priority. It isn't, because any attempts to communicate dissatisfaction are treated with disdain.

cesare said...

I'm addicted to this blog, there I said it.

Anyone read Tom Strong 'back in the day'?

When I read those comics, it felt like the characters, from issue #1, had been around forever. The Strong 'universe' felt like it was complete, and I felt like I was privy to it all, though, in the early issues, I had never met any of them. The weight of their backstories, previous adventures and encounters with arch foes made it feel like it had been going on forever.

And, it NEVER felt like 'nothing' had happened over the course of an issue.


(oh, and I loved Sprouse's artwork too, needless to say)

How did Moore do that?


What made me think of Tom Strong? I guess I was pondering which books have I read of late that even young kids could enjoy.

No profanity, tasteful and subtle sexually charged moments, no gore, and no 'angst' either. Just good fantasy in a genre that's lost its way.

I have no idea how well it sold, but I think books like that are keu to getting new people interested in the genre, and medium in general.

buddy said...

anon @6:41- Yes! I dropped Animal Man after a few issues, but will pick up this one just for Leon's art.

Anonymous said...

I think the anonymice thing is something that only a douchebag would come up with . . . and only a douchebag like Jim Shooter would weigh in in support of.

Glad I contributed to your blog . . . asshole.

jimshooter said...

RE: "I think the anonymice thing is something that only a douchebag would come up with . . . and only a douchebag like Jim Shooter would weigh in in support of.

Glad I contributed to your blog . . . asshole."

I guess I laugh too easily at word plays. Sorry, no offense meant to anyone. But it did make me laugh.

Matt Adler said...

Wow, some people are REALLY sensitive.

And I have to say, Jim is a class act... I probably wouldn't accept someone talking to me that way on my own blog as gracefully.

Ole M. Olsen said...

Anonymous said:

"I think the anonymice thing is something that only a douchebag would come up with . . . and only a douchebag like Jim Shooter would weigh in in support of.

Glad I contributed to your blog . . . asshole."


Ah... here's where I begin to have a problem with anonymous messages.

Do you have something important to reveal that you can only do anonymously lest the blue meanies come after you? Great, go for it!

Do you simply prefer to not reveal your real identity? Fine.

But hiding behind an "anonymous" tag to spew insults and slander? Sorry, that's where I draw the line.

It speaks volumes of Jim and JayJay that they let messages like that stay up.

As a consequence, who's a douchebag and not becomes fairly obvious.

Mary Poppins said...

We're all pretty much anonymous here. I don't care if you elect to use your name or not. How many people know that I'm really Dorothy from Oz and not really Mary Poppins?

Anonymous said...

Re: Douchegate

That poor little wordsmith must have taken time away from his job with the brains trust to trawl through umpteen posts and comments trying to find something to pin on you, Jim. Eventually he struck gold - Jim Shooter found some harmless thing, which somebody else contributed, based on a term used somewhere else, amusing.

A word to our 'brains trust' buddy; why waste your time polluting this blog when you could be out there trying to find out which Dikhed was your father.

Actionlad, the lad of action said...

Jim's right. Nobody wins with a headbutt.

Brent E said...

Defiant1:

Data is very helpful in any field. I agree that comic publishers should be utilizing various metrics to attempt to improve their product (or at least their sales).

Two thoughts though: I believe DC comics got some heat for doing just this during the first month of the new 52 by having Neilsen reps at comic shops getting feedback on the new 52. It seemed most of the problem people had with this was due to an overzealous surveyor, but I'd have to think one could get a more accurate answer than relying on just internet surveys.

I do worry however that comic companies idea of metrics are just tracking how many copies a cover with Wolverine sells vs how many a cover with Moon Knight sells, or how many issues a Civil War Tie-In sells compared to a standalone issue of She-Hulk, etc.

Jim, did you guys do any sort of tracking like this at any of the various companies you have been a part of?

Matt Adler said...

Dear Ms. Poppins;

At least if you are posting consistently under a distinct name (even if it's not what your mother named you), you can establish an online identity for yourself and build a reputation, either positive or negative. The problem with using the "Anonymous" handle is that because there are multiple people using it, there's zero accountability; the next time someone with the Anonymous handle posts, it could be the person who was calling Jim names, or it might not. We don't know. Thus, anyone who chooses to post that way avoids responsibility for what they're saying.

Anonymous said...

I think Jayjay should print up some Anonymice t-shirts.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of strip-mining equity, DC just announced that it will be doing 36 Watchmen prequel comics. Coming soon

cesare said...

I can hear Alan Moore groaning from here.

Anonymous said...

The only two blogs I regularly follow are this one and "Diversions of the Groovy Kind". I was checking out Ol' Groove's blog earlier and I thought it might be interesting if Jim reviewed one of the issues he posts from the 70's; kind of a now(WW) vs. then. Groove tends to put more obscure issues on his blog so chances are there are plenty there Jim hasn't read before. He also posts the entire issue so everyone interested could read it as well. Just a thought.

Neil

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Moore has already voiced his displeasure in the NY Times

jimshooter said...

Dear Defiant1,

RE: "Jim, did you guys do any sort of tracking like this at any of the various companies you have been a part of? "

No. Our marketing guys spoke frequently to the direct distributors' warehouse managers and to comic shop owners, just chatting and getting feedback, but that's about it.

marco said...

Link to the New York Times piece.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/books/dc-comics-plans-prequels-to-watchmen-series.html?_r=2&smid=tw-nytimesarts&seid=auto

Nice line about Moby Dick by the disgruntled Moore. Though Jane Eyre, for instance, has a prequel and sequels, and I didn't hear Charlotte Bronte complaining.

Anonymous said...

It's a cash grab by DC. You can run down Moore - or attack his logic all you want.

Even if Moore's logic is flawed, or his analogy is not apt - it's still a cash grab by DC

Edward said...

Thanks all for the clarification on "equity". I was definitely on the wrong track with that one.

This is a great blog and a lot of really smart, thoughtful people take time to comment on it. But for what it's worth, let's chill out a little bit people. I don't know if my perception is accurate, but the sniping and arguing back and forth seems to me to have really increased recently. I'm not one to discourage thoughtful debate, but some folks seem to be getting emotionally wrapped up in the back & forth sometimes. There are over 180 comments on this particular thread, and a good bit of it seems to be valueless sniping back & forth.

This is an awesome blog - we should take care to preserve its "equity" (Ha! See what I did there? Huh? Huh?)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Edward. How about we set ourselves a standard of discussing rather than arguing - and if we do argue, then we can do it civilly. And, can't we have some initials or something for the mice, for reasons cited earlier.

QW

Anonymous said...

Don't you like people who try to set ground rules, control other people's behaviors and thoughts

Anonymous said...

Sort of like The Constitution you mean? Or the rules of baseball. Am I asking too much for you to act towards people you are writing to in the same manner as you would if you were talking with them face to face?

QW

jimshooter said...

RE: "I thought it might be interesting if Jim reviewed one of the issues he posts from the 70's; kind of a now(WW) vs. then."

Interesting idea. Another thing I've been considering is analyzing early works by Byrne, Miller, Giffen, Stern and others and comparing them with their current or more recent works. Worth doing? Or not? Suggestions welcome.

Anonymous said...

Jim - I think it is worth doing

I am pretty fascinated at how creator's work changes over time - whether it be Martin Scorsese, Elton John, or whoever

So from a selfish standpoint, I'd love to see your analysis on such a topic

cesare said...

Would definitely enjoy that, include Neal Adams in that group! Re: Batman Odyssey (I'm a HUGE Adams fan, from back in the day, but....) Byrne too, for sure, man those Clairmont / Byrne X-Men just rocked.

Anonymous said...

QW

Have you ever really thought deeply about rules and their role in the world??

I have. They exists mainly for the rule-breakers and delinquents. Intelligent, thoughtful people really don't need them. But the bullies and jerks and louts from kindergarten, who by the way end up being adults versions of themselves - require rules, guidelines, stop signs, and penalties.

To put blind faith in the nobility and necessity of rules, as you do, gives rules an air of inherent virtue that they don't deserve

They are here for the jerks - that's their only utility

Anonymous said...

Batman Odyssey - whew boy

I was also pretty jazzed when Byrne and Claremont teamed up for the first time in forever for some JLA issues a few years ago - what a disappointment

Anonymous said...

If you look at my initial comment, I wasn't looking for rules, just suggesting we should have a standard of communication that is constructive and clear to follow. So we have a chance of knowing who is talking to who.

The need for clear communication, to a reasonable standard. Hmmm. Where have I read about that recently?

QW

However, if there were no rules, wouldn't that lead to chaos and anarchy? Even reasonable people have rules, they are just self imposed.

Brent E said...

Anonymous who wrote: "They exists mainly for the rule-breakers and delinquents."

That's true, but it still helps out the non-rule breakers as well. For instance, rules and laws provide a baseline that when crossed allows the rule breakers to know there will be consequences.

I'd like to think most intelligent people would not need rules/laws, but there's situations where people differ. In the law we apply objective (what a reasonable person would think) and subjective (what's reasonable to that specific person) depending on the crime. But for things like speed limits, we just pick a number. If it's nice and bright out, reasonable on a 65 mph road might be 70 mph for one person and 120 mph for another.

Having a bright line rule protects people from others' ideas of what is reasonable. Somebody mentioned baseball, and that's similar to me in that many people don't think steroids should be against the rules since vitamins and supplements are OK. Again, how far out do you draw the line though? Do we want to make it so in order to play the sport competitively, you need to put your health in danger?

Rules/laws at least attempt to keep things at a level playing ground for the people who had no intention of cheating.

As per the message board anonymity discussion, I'd prefer is people had signatures or handles so you could know who you were talking to, but I know I wouldn't post here if it disclosed my full name.

Mark said...

Another thing I've been considering is analyzing early works by Byrne, Miller, Giffen, Stern and others and comparing them with their current or more recent works.

I love the idea. I think Frank Miller is the strongest candidate, and would suggest Howard Chaykin would also be worthwhile, for the following reasons:

1) I've "grown-up" with both artists. Chaykin was drawing Star Wars when I was three or four, and Miller was still writing Daredevil when I was twelve. 300 lured me back into comic book stores when I was in my late twenties, and the thought of a Black Kiss sequel or prequel in my late thirties piques my interest as much as the original series did when I was seventeen.

2) Both men have found some small success as writers outside of the comic book industry. They have a "mainstream" approval that John Byrne, as good as he is at writing and drawing superheroes, just doesn't have. They can reach, and speak to a much larger audience than just people who walk into comic book stores.

bcolflesh said...

"Another thing I've been considering is analyzing early works by Byrne, Miller, Giffen, Stern and others and comparing them with their current or more recent works."

Byrne, just for the sheer number of ALL CAPS posts it would generate on his forum.

Chris Hlady said...

Before Watchmen ... gag
Jim reviewing past and present work of the stars ... absolutely


Anonymous asshole signing his post ... asshole - just priceless.

Carry on,
Chris Hlady
Winnipeg, MB

Matt Adler said...

"Another thing I've been considering is analyzing early works by Byrne, Miller, Giffen, Stern and others and comparing them with their current or more recent works. Worth doing? Or not? Suggestions welcome. "

I'm all for this. Why not start with Giffen's OMAC, since that was part of the New 52 relaunch? Or maybe Miller's Holy Terror, since that was so controversial.

Anonymous said...

Holy Terror might blow up this comments section

Anonymous said...

On the anonymous thread: If folks want to post anonymously, I don't see the problem with it; it is an option for a reason. As Mary Poppins stated, we are all fairly anonymous anyway.

Brent E and Matt Adler seem to want to lay out ground rules for everyone else on this blog. Jim, if you don't want the anonymous feature used, just say so; your passive aggressive defense of a couple of guys who are clearly going out of their way to kiss your ass isn't the way to go about it.

Brent E and Matt seem to just want to argue with everyone else and then complain when the responses come in anonymous; I'm fairly certain no one wants to have to continue to argue with those two nerds every time they comment from here until the blog ends, which is what will happen if the "anonymous" tag isn't used.

Best post, the "anonymous" explaining why Brent E is the guy constantly arguing with everyone at every gathering he has ever been invited to and, because of it, not finding any *ahem* companionship.

We'll post anonymously if we want to fellas. I know I have done so several times and this is the first thread where anyone has taken issue with it.

QW-I suspect these people do act in this same manner when addressing people face to face. They are forced to try and control people on an internet blog because when they do so in face to face conversation they quickly discover that people don't take kindly to that kind of argumentative attitude.

Here is a suggestion, since we are not playing baseball and the Constitution says nothing about anonymous Blogger posts, lets let people post the way they want to without resorting to "name calling" and criticisms to try and get them to do what we want.

Anonymous said...

Back to the blog and its content.

Jim, I would love to see the suggested analysis of early works by Byrne, Miller, Griffen, Stern (and others).

I might even post anonymously about them.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 226   Newer› Newest»