Thursday, 21 August 2008

Comic Book Confidential: What Next?

Pop on down to Word Balloon, the "comic book culture podcast" and listen to the following episodes:

Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, offers a challenge for creators to go out on their own, away from corporate characters, once they reach a certain level of success.

Brian Michael Bendis, mighty maven of many Marvel mags, begs to differ.

Then pop back here and offer your opinion, either in the comments, or the sidebar poll.

If no consensus is reached, both men will be sent to THUNDERDOME!

1 comment:

  1. Warning - There'll be some rampant fanboyism, so some people might not have any clue what I'm talking about.

    As I'm not a fan of podcasts, I'll just take you on your word and assume that the poll options sum up the arguments. I do find the two different proponents to reflect their arguments well - Kirkman has written, and still writes, some of the 'corporate character' titles, but the superhero most know him for is his Image-published creation, Invinceable. Bendis, on the other hand, is definitely a man of the party line, famous for creating the first title of the Ultimate line (also, coincidentally, the only one that doesn't flat-out suck), as well as a mostly-awesome run on the Avengers*. The only things I can think of them having in common are preferring to work with Marvel, and having piss-poor runs on Ultimate X-Men**.

    From the look of things, we're ignoring the question of the value of the corporate characters as 'iconic' and so forth, so, I'll leave that factor out of things, and form my opinion from the parameters Kirkman and Bendis have set down.

    Because of this, I'm siding with Kirkman - %$*% the big guys.

    The reason that the market can't support much beyond the major publishers is the fault of the major publishers, because the two biggest names on the block, Marvel and DC, have no real accountability.

    First, Marvel. Technically, they've been doing better since Quesada took over, nearly a decade ago. Granted, part of this is because of Quesada has the mindset of a pimp - he'll do anything to the property if it might mean money. If he thought there was dough to be made by dressing prostitutes like Storm and having them fist their clientele, by god, there'd be streetwalkers in uniform faster than you could say 'Chris Clairemont fetish'. And now, they've gotten all of this movie cash to play with. So, it doesn't really matter what happens in their comics, if readership goes down, etc, because their money will flow in from another angle. Add in the fact that Marvel will let writers do any asanine thing they want with the characters, reversing other writers plots faster than you can say 'Doombot', so you get really ambitious, pretentious crap that they can tell themselves was successful even when it wasn't.

    Now, DC is owned by Warner Brothers. They don't really have to worry about running out of money - WB will always hold onto this property, so they'll always be able to make a crappy Superman movie whenever they want. So, they already have the freedom to not worry about the bottom line when they act stupid. Then, you add in the price they pay for stability - taking orders from the guys up top in the name of that 'synergy' stuff you've mentioned.

    Here's an example from a few years back....

    WB: ZOMG! The kids sure like those cartoons the Japs make about teens with powers....HEY! DC has teen heroes of some sort....Yo, DC! We're taking your Teen Titans property and turning it into a cartoon! That takes place in the future! In which the characters are turned into bad anime stereotypes! You still have them, right?

    DC: Uh, actually, right now, the 'Titans' are a grown-up team that spends most of its time humping each other. Our kid team is 'Young Justice', which is a fun and successful story about-

    WB: Yeah, whatever, don't care. Axe that title, turn them into the Teen Titans. Synergy, man!

    And so it was. Eventually, they realized that that 'humping each other' should be a crucial element of their teen team, so they put an appropriately crappy writer on to make sure that there was more pointless sex.

    And because of stupid, stupid stuff like that, the industry suffers. Basically, there IS no industry - movies have managed to assimilate the bottom line of the big guys, with Hollywood basically rewarding them for doing stupid stuff. Breaking off to do your own thing might be the only way to save the industry from assholes like Joe Quesada, Mark Millar, Brad Meltzer, and Greg Rucka, who care more about money, violence, and their own ego than telling a good story.

    *He started losing me around that whole re-re-re-reversal where they decided that Xorn really was Magneto's powers after all, and the Sentry just threw Magneto into the sun, even though Magneto was supposed to be dead. Still. Again.

    **That's kinda not fair, as nobody's had a good run on Ultimate X-Men. I blame Mark Millar for setting it up to be a shitty title from the get-go.