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The Prophet Exception: More On Artist Changes

February 26th, 2012 by | Tags: , , , , , ,

I said that artist changes due to double-shipping mainstream comics devalues the artist. Not all art changes are evil, though. Sure, some of them are of the Final Crisis variety and result in terrible comics, but every once and a while, people get them right. Artist changes, guest artists, however you want to call them–they can be used tactically, as a way to showcase an artist or add a little extra punch to a storyline.

This may be weird, but follow along for a minute. One of the best examples of the way a guest artist can make something extra dope is a song. It relates to my point about unwanted art changes being like new actors showing up in old roles in a movie or a song changing direction mid-stream. It’s Big Boi’s “Fo Yo Sorrows,” off that Sir Lucious album:

It happens around 0:55. Too $hort, the legendary rapper out of Oakland, pops up to drop four bars and then bounce. That’s a quarter of a verse. It’s a cameo, but it goes deeper than that. At 0:47, Big Boi flips the word “bitch” just like $hort made famous, and then says that $hort was one of his favorite rappers. For Too $hort to pop up on this song for something that’s little more than a cameo is ill. It’s rappers playing around and having some fun. It’s not really a guest spot. It’s something you smile about, because you’re in on the joke.

That’s the feeling that art changes should give you. A little spike of glee, or a chance to explain to everyone you know exactly why what just happened is so good.

The Immortal Iron Fist did it well, for the most part. The flashbacks to adventures of other Iron Fists were drawn by a variety of dope artists, each one tackling a different Iron Fist. David Aja drew the modern pages, and his art served as connective tissue between the flashbacks. He set the tone and stage for the book, and then when the story required that the tone and stage change, Travel Foreman, John Severin, Russ Heath, and Sal Buscema tagged in to get it done. Aja is Big Boi, and John Severin is Too $hort. He brings with him a history and pedigree that people on the inside will get, while others will just go, “Yo, that looked pretty cool.”

Big Boi/Matt Fraction/Ed Brubaker had a good reason for their guests showing up, too. It’s not just a willy-nilly thing. There’s a point. It’s an enhancement, rather than someone just plugging another gear into the mix so that the machine goes faster. It turned Immortal Iron Fist into a jam comic. It provided variety.

There’s a really good example of what I’m talking about coming up later this year. Prophet started life as a Rob Liefeld/Dan Panosian joint. As part of the big Extreme relaunch, it’s currently in the hands of Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Richard Ballermann, and Ed Brisson. It’s really good, actually, part of the continuously rising wave over at Image. Graham is writing, but working closely with Roy to make the story the best it can be. Sometimes that means layouts, other times it means Roy making sure that Graham’s on point or vice versa. It’s a collaboration. And there’s going to be guests popping in. From Graham’s blog:

So I’d written on here before that Prophet would come out 6 times a year but some cool shit has happened and now it’s going to be 12 issues a year monthly.

So here’s the schedule:

Starting Jan-

#21(number 1 in our hearts) -#23 art by Simon Roy (Jan’s Atomic heart), then #24 &25 are drawn by farel dalrymple (pop gun war) I’m drawing #26 and Giannis Milonogiannis (Old city blues)is doing # 27- 32. I think we’ve come up with a cool way to make this work storywize.

The situation isn’t too dissimilar from Marvel, and I’m sure a lot of people will say it isn’t different at all. There’s a comic, and the people making it want it to come out more frequently, so more artists are joining the team. The original draw of the series was the Graham/Roy/Ballermann/Brisson team, and that’s changing. I think that there’s a difference here, but a very, very fine one. I don’t think the difference is “I like these guys,” either. I like a lot of them dudes who are coming onto books I like, too.

Instead of just slipping new dudes into the rotation to boost the schedule, editor Eric Stephenson and writer Graham have found artists to work with and crafted the story around them. My understanding is that each artist will be working on a story tailored for them, rather than simply being used to keep the ship on track. All of the artists are doing covers, too, I suppose as a type of introduction. There’s a creative reason here, and I think that has more value than the purely economical reasons Marvel has to have artists playing musical chairs.

Here’s the covers for Prophet 22-24 and 26. The covers are by Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis, and Brandon Graham, in that order.


They have absolutely distinct styles, right? Roy & Ballermann’s palette is dusty and soft, Dalrymple’s muted and night time-y, Milonogiannis’s is aged, and Graham’s is soft, but in a different way than Ballermann’s. Firmer, maybe. Roy & Ballermann’s art is rough and loose. Dalrymple is detailed and gloomy. Milonogiannis is… I don’t even know the right word for it right now. Majestic? Ominous? I get the feeling of mankind making contact with an entirely alien and apathetic intelligence, something that sees us as being beneath its notice. And Graham’s cover for 26 reminds me of nothing so much as the passage of a lot of time.

Things like this make art changes into events. It’s not just “Oh, we want to make people buy this book sixteen times a year instead of twelve.” It’s “We want this book to be the best it can be.”

I think it’ll work. I’m looking forward to finding out.

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48 comments to “The Prophet Exception: More On Artist Changes”

  1. Love the follow up article.

    Its an interesting problem to discuss.
    Daredevil is announced with team of Waid, Rivera and Martine, gets changed along the way, feels like a cynical cash grab.
    Prophet is announced with team of Graham and Roy, gets changed along the way, feels like a change that makes sense and is for the better.
    Where is the line between the two?

    It could all come down to the fact Daredevil had a heap of bloody crossovers and .1 issues to deal with doesn’t.
    Prophet is 12 issues, all in a row with 4 artists, and they’ve been completely upfront and transparent about everything.

    Daredevil had the original creative team for 7 issues, then a spider-man crossover with two completely out of nowhere artists (Kano isnt that different Martine if your seriously in a pinch), 2 more issues with Rivera, a .1 issue with a completely different artist, then its going to bring its major plot thread into a Spider-man and Punisher crossover with another artist, and then the new ‘permanent’ guy they announced is going to come on.

    Having workman creators come in temporarily to replace Martine while a suitable, long-term replacement was found would probably be more forgivable if this needlessly complicated bullshit didn’t get in the way.

    Although the theory is if your a Marvel reader this sort of interconnectivity is what you want…. so I don’t know.


  2. I didn’t know that Prophet was going to showcase different artists, but I already like what the other talent is going to bring. It looks like their respective artistic sensibilities are going to fit the book.

    T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is another good example of a book that smartly uses different art teams. So far, they’ve got the likes of Jerry Ordway and Walt Simonson illustrating flashbacks while Wes Craig kicks ass on the present day action. Ordway and Simonson are perfect for that type of guest-work, and it paid off well.


  3. And did The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven kind of fizzle out when they had to get fill-ins for the present-day stuff because David Aja had a baby and couldn’t draw the last 2 issues? Yes it did. (Obviously a tough situation, and harder to condemn editorial for than double-shipping, but it’s possible there was a better solution than a couple Clay Mann pages here, some Javier Pulido there etc. etc.)

    Right again, David.


  4. I think it depends on the title. If Marvel had done that with Captain America when Brubaker and Epting relaunched it, I think it would’ve been a mistake. Instead they found very talented artists with sensibilities similar to Steve Epting to keep the same look for the book (as an aside, I think keeping the same colorist helped as well). If they’d suddenly gotten Humberto Ramos to do a fill-in and Bru had adapted to his style, I don’t think it would have worked. I think it would’ve been jarring and they would’ve lost the espionage feel they were going for. I’m curious to see if this works here or if it disrupts the flow of the title to have such short storylines with different artists. I would also point to Ellis’ recent work on Secret Avengers as a good example of a writer writing to his artist’s strength on a title.


  5. DC handled it well with the recent ANIMAL MAN fill-in by JP Leon. JP Leon did the majority of the issue revolving around the movie Buddy Baker once starred in, and then segued back the real world drawn by Travel Foreman. It had to have taken some planning both editorially and by the writer, and also an excellent reason provided by the writer.


  6. @Dave Clarke:

    How is Marcos leaving Daredevil to do a creator book a “cynical cash grab”?

    To me it sounds terrific. Sucks for my book obviously, but somehow Marvel has managed with artists coming and going for 50 years.

    With out guests artists over the years, most of your favorite artists at DC and Marvel would have never gotten a shot.

    Now to tackle a sentence in the original story:
    “Instead of just slipping new dudes into the rotation to boost the schedule, editor Eric Stephenson and writer Graham have found artists to work with and crafted the story around them.”

    Other than the “Image-GOOD!/Marvel-BAD!” schtick you’re buying into (congrats to Image marketing for that coup!), what makes you think this isn’t the case here?

    SW


  7. @stephen wacker: I am absolutely positive nobody was referring to Martin as the one cynically grabbing for cash, but good effort on spinning it to make Dave sound like a villain.


  8. @stephen wacker: Don’t be disingenuous. You know good and well that Clarke is referring to Daredevil, not Martin’s upcoming original work.

    I’m not buying into any shtick, and I can’t believe you’d even say something as stupid as that. Especially this idiotic rivalry you’re trying to pitch–did you miss the part where I praise Immortal Iron Fist to the high heavens and point to it as an exemplar of what can be done with multiple artists? I could’ve talked about T-bolts, another Marvel book that does well with this sort of thing, or like Chris Arrant says, DC’s Animal Man. In the post itself I explain exactly what you’re asking me to explain.

    But yeah, since you want to come at me with condescension and disingenuous arguments, but sure, let’s get into it.

    Other than the “Image-GOOD!/Marvel-BAD!” schtick you’re buying into (congrats to Image marketing for that coup!), what makes you think this isn’t the case here?

    I don’t think that’s the case here because you went for the pass-agg condescension instead of explaining what Kano or Samnee bring to the book and how well they work with Waid. We all know they’re good artists, obviously, but how do they fit into the structure of DD? What do they add to the recipe? It would take you two entire sentences to do that. “Chris Samnee’s clean style brings to mind the swashbuckling Daredevil we haven’t seen in a while, and Kano has an incredible aptitude for fight scenes. Pham’s blockier style is somewhat reminiscent of JRjr’s run on Daredevil with Ann Nocenti, and I thought he’d be good for this story because it’s a big classic cape comics action story.”

    That’s why I don’t believe you. Instead of talking to me like a grown man or pointing me toward some interview on Marvel.com, you treat me like an idiot. I’m not one of those douchebags who constantly harass you online. I hate Kbox. Why do I get treated like him for saying “Yo, I don’t like this, and here are several reasons why?”


  9. @Chris Eads: Of course. Don’t be silly. Again, I’m curious how Marcos going to do a creator owned book is a “cynical cash grab” by Marvel.

    here’s the quote I was responding to:
    “Daredevil is announced with team of Waid, Rivera and Martine, gets changed along the way, feels like a cynical cash grab.”

    SW


  10. @david brothers: You are very angry. I can see why what with it being a discussion of comics and entertainment.

    I don’t believe i’m at your beck and call to explain my creative choices at your bidding, but I do interviews regularly, so my advice would be to look there and or ask our PR people for an interview. (though given your needlessly hostile tone, I’m not sure that’d be such a great way to spend my time.)

    Essentially though anyone on DD or any books I oversee is there because I like them (except for Paolo who’s here because he’s dating Waid).

    Who’s KBox? Is he an enemy of some sort? I don’t think you’re an enemy for what it’s worth. I don’t even know you. You’re just wrong about some stuff as are some of your posters here.

    SW


  11. I can’t believe I just got u madded :negativeman:


  12. Ah, such civil discourse between editors and fans. Makes me proud to be in the middle and the one who suffers if people decide to drop books because of double-shipping or creative team changes. Which actually happens, just like people drop books because of price, crossovers, disliking a story, creative direction, piracy, or a myriad of other reasons. Fans have every right to be upset if a book isn’t what they were led to believe it was, just like retailers can be upset when people stop buying a book because a proper transitional artist couldn’t be found. Uncanny X-Force and Uncanny X-Men are dead in the water ever since Greg Land and Greg Tocchini switched on.

    With all of that said, sales on Daredevil are fantastic and the only Marvel book actually increasing in sales at the shop without crossovers or anniversary blips. I’m not sure that Daredevil needs to worry about the artist changes, but the crossovers might be a detriment to the title. Let’s hope not.
    :smile:


  13. Wacker is the Killa Cam to Brothers’ O’Reilly. Oh my!


  14. And Wacker’s definitely the one getting aggy here, not the other way around, though I wouldn’t really put that on either side regardless. I think SW’s just used to typical “REVERSE OMD NOW DICK” types than actual articulated statements, so it gets hard to not slip out of “fuck you, geek” mode on the internet.


  15. And to wrap this up and continue the Big Boi LP analogy, Marvel’s books need more Too $horts and less Yelawolves.


  16. @stephen wacker: Well I’m sure glad you were here to tell everyone how wrong they are.


  17. i dont think Image marketing is what has most Serious Comic Dorks like myself thinking that they are on the upswing. its the excitment around having the majority of their line be new comics that are fresh and interesting


  18. @David Fairbanks: Some people are factually wrong. I think it’s okay to point that out, but i understand you may not like that.

    Would you rather someone actually working on the books not be involved in the conversation? If so, my bad, I’ll go away if it’s bugging people that much, but the sensitivity is sure selective.

    SW


  19. @stephen wacker:
    You’re coming off really poorly in all this, man, and you seem to be making an active effort to entirely miss what Brothers is saying and misrepresent him as “angry” when he calls you out on being condescending and passive aggressive in your personal attacks. Not a good look.


  20. @Kedd: Ah well. What can ya do? I’ll manage.

    SW


  21. @stephen wacker:
    What you can do is be professional and actually respond to the topic without being insulting and make an effort to not be purposefully obtuse or condescending to people.


  22. @stephen wacker: You completely ignore points made that actually attempt to steer the dialog into the realm of adult conversation and instead start busting out the ad hominems and responding with passive aggressive comments.

    I’m going to go ahead an tell you how Prophet is different than Daredevil, though, since you asked why we would think it was unplanned. There was a time when Graham said it would be 6 issues a year for Prophet. Before the first issue dropped, the cast of artists was announced along with it being a monthly book. Could that change? Sure. But we already know to expect a team of artists that Graham is happy to be working with on the book.

    What did we know about the art team on Daredevil at the start? Or the rotating team of artists that have turned UXF into a mess? Do you know how hard it is to sell someone on sticking with UXF for the story after the art drops in quality so hard?

    Did you see the quotes David tossed at you as to how you could’ve addressed how the new artists fit on the Daredevil? What you did instead was to go off about how Tan wasn’t on Daredevil, betraying that you replied with criticism to something you hadn’t even fully read.


  23. @stephen wacker: “what can you do, I’ll manage?”

    Damn near everyone here has said “please engage us in an adult conversation” and practically all you’ve done is throw an internet temper tantrum because people are being critical of a part of a book they love.

    We provide a counter, which you then ignore to tell us all how factually wrong we are. You don’t care, though, because obviously this isn’t something you can do anything about. :rolleyes:


  24. @David Fairbanks: Oy. There was a guy early in this thread complaining about Tan on Daredevil. While David made mention of X-Force in his piece, I couldn’t tell if David knew that Billy wasn’t ALSO on Daredevil since he brought Billy’s name up in a bit about Daredevil.

    So you are better and mind reading David than i am, that’s for sure.

    Billy Tan’s art is pretty cool though, so there’s that.

    As to the rest of your diatribe, I can’t help but laugh. Marcos left after DD was underway….at which point I guess, we should have not put another artists on the book since they weren’t announced at the launch?

    You forget what you’re angry about, I think. The new artist WAS announced in the solicitations which–remember– is Marvel’s big crime in the first place.

    End of the day, You’re upset about not getting an announcement you got.

    Again I’m under no orders to deliver whatever information you or David might command at a given moment. The books speak for themselves.

    Hope you like ’em. If not, we’ll make more! That’s a threat!

    SW


  25. @stephen wacker: You’ve had your fun, and now you’re done. Thanks for playing.

    Also, this is probably futile, but everyone else, let’s hopefully move past this and talk about… anything but Stephen Wacker, really. Let’s talk Adam Warren’s Empowered, maybe? I like how he draws ninjas way more than I like watching this guy chase me out of comics I like reading.


  26. @stephen wacker: “You forget what you’re angry about

    End of the day, You’re upset about not getting an announcement you got.”

    What you constantly keep missing is that nobody here is angry or upset at all.


  27. You know what was awesome: Grant’s New X-Men. Every issue I grabbed quick, consumed, and loved. I can have a fanboy fantasy (fanboytasizing?) about Frank Quitely drawing every issue… but that’s not how it went down. It’s not what that book is. But to me: New X-Men IS the best of all the (very many) X-Men stories out there. Might it have been better with FQ on all the issues? …maybe… but we’ll never know. Comics are too rock ‘n’ roll to get worried about the preciousness of unbroken runs. And that’s something to be embraced in a publishing model that’s still periodical, chock full of freelancers, and highly volatile.

    And that great unbroken run of Grant & FQ comics happened a few times. I was the assistant editor on All Star Superman. It took 3 years for 12 issues—not saying that’s good or bad (although everyone wished it came out quicker) …it’s just what THAT book was. The million behind-the-scenes realities that readers and commentators don’t always see allowed DC, Grant, & FQ to wait that one out. New X-Men and All Star Superman—you can pick your favorite… but I’m still re-reading both and still loving them. Mister X had a million people contribute PLUS very strong design minds in Dean Motter and Paul Rivoche. There was zero consistency and I think it’s fair to say that the book never had a long term plan. But, damn, I’m never distracted when I pull Mister X off the shelf—on the contrary, I’m always quickly and totally immersed. There’s a forgotten gem 3-part Batman story in Detective drawn by Mike McKone, Dick Sprang did the covers, and Flint Henry did a comic-within-the-comic—put it all together, it’s brilliant and tight. And speaking of Flint Henry, the unrelated Henry Flint drew only 3-pages in the Fear Itself: Fearsome Four miniseries that I got to write last year. I tried to make those (and all the other pages) awesome because I think Henry is the most underrated guy in all of comics. That mini was designed to have four artists. As it rolled out, we wound up using seven. Again: that’s just what that book was, when all was said and done. The bottom line REALLY IS whether the readers like it—but getting to a finished comic in the monthly superhero biz, there’s going to be a lots of ways to skin that cat.


  28. The next time you’re wondering why mainstream comics are so overwhelmingly shitty, refer back to this thread, and think about who’s making them.

    What a fucking embarassment.


  29. @Brandon Montclare: “You know what was awesome: Grant’s New X-Men. Every issue I grabbed quick, consumed, and loved.”

    The art on Morrison’s NEW X-MEN, early on, was a series of horrible accidents and errors of judgment that literally wrecked Igor Kordey’s reputation in U.S. comics and had Ethan Van Sciver receive one of the scummiest treatments by an editorial office that I’m aware of in the 21st century.

    So, rather than to romanticize and glorify such cases as “rock’n’roll” and accept them as the way things are, I think it would behoove us to acknowledge that they’re not ideal, and to try and figure out how to avoid them in the future, because in the end, nobody got as much out of that NEW X-MEN run as they could have.


  30. @Marc-Oliver Frisch: “nobody got as much out of that NEW X-MEN run as they could have.”

    Can’t say I agree. Because saying what “could have been” is at best speculation. I know you might say that’s too easy an out–or that I’m “romantacizing” it–but in my opinion: you have to accept a piece of art for what it is, not what it might have been.

    I truly don’t know the details of what went down behind-the-scenes on New X-Men. But I might risk a quarrel to say that I know what I don’t know; moreover, that it’s hard to look at these things with any degree of certainty from the outside because we’re blind to a lot of the nuance. Obviously a big part of Grant’s falling out with Marvel was over New X-Men; at least Ethan’s doing all right these days and Kordey did get a lot of Marvel work after X-Men. But that being said: I certainly don’t want to celebrate the book for the fact that Grant, Ethan, and Kordey maybe had negative experiences–it sucks when you work on a book and it disappoints. But I will happily celebrate that it’s the best X-Men story out there. And I do that by re-reading it and enjoying it–including the parts by Ethan and Kordey. And are you saying that New X-Men isn’t rock ‘n’ roll? that it’s not a good book?

    Would I change any part of New X-Men as an artifact? Probably not…but I couldn’t change it even if I wanted, savvy?

    I agree that it’s important to aim for the ideal. It’s not new wisdom to try to learn from your mistakes. But you can never change the past. And when you’re planning for the future, you have to accept that you’re going to have to deal with some things on the fly.

    Production schedules and multiple art teams–of course they’re challenges. There are bigger challenges: sales, the size of our audience, creator rights, minority representation, distribution, creative vision, publisher vision, &c. Challenges often are an obstacle… but comics is better served in trying to see these challenges as potential energy for positive change (aesthetic, production, financial, moral, whatever). Sweeping them under the rug is the worst–but looking at them as absolute negatives means you’re missing some opportunities.


  31. “Instead of just slipping new dudes into the rotation to boost the schedule, editor Eric Stephenson and writer Graham have found artists to work with and crafted the story around them. My understanding is that each artist will be working on a story tailored for them, rather than simply being used to keep the ship on track. All of the artists are doing covers, too, I suppose as a type of introduction. There’s a creative reason here, and I think that has more value than the purely economical reasons Marvel has to have artists playing musical chairs.”

    I think there is no way you can prove the statement the artist changes on Marvel books are being solely done for economical reasons. While the increased shipping rate is very likely being done to increase sales and monthly revenue (The fact that is Image doing 12 issues instead of 6 probably has an economical component to it as well), it’s not like the writing teams and editorial are not doing their jobs. Maybe the particular issue or arc calls for the skills for Tochinni or someone like Tan are more proficient. They all have distinct styles and maybe Greg fits in with a story taking place on Otherworld like the four artists supposedly do on their issues .

    There maybe very valid reasons other, than the obvious financial ones, for artists to be switched around. If a consumer hates that they are well within their rights to drop it.


  32. “Maybe the particular issue or arc calls for the skills for Tochinni or someone like Tan are more proficient.”

    There’s only one kind of story where either of those dudes would make more sense than Opena. An awful one.


  33. @ Pat

    Art is highly subjective. So no, I don’t think the stuff they do is awful. Opena is my preferred choice over both of them though.

    Of course all the work on UXF has been extremely good because of Dean White as well.


  34. Dean White is one of the best dudes working right now.


  35. I’m not really sure how I feel about this. I love Paolo Rivera’s work. I love Khoi Pham’s work. I love Chris Samnee’s work. It’ll be a bit jarring, but I’ll soldier on.

    I’m not ashamed to admit it- well, actually I am, but the day I heard Waid was taking over Daredevil I dropped to my knees and screamed “NOOOOOOOOO!”

    Really. I did that. I just didn’t see what the guy who currently inflicts Irredeemable on the world would have to say with a character that I consider one of my favorites, albeit one that’s been in a creative tailspin for years.

    Well, I was proven wrong. Dead wrong. Paolo Rivera’s doing the work of his career on the book. And Waid is turning out scripts I didn’t think he was capable of anymore.

    I think David Brothers, a man who I vehemently disagree with sometimes, is dead on here, the market forces needing to require so many artists on a book is going to result in diminishing returns.

    As for Steve… again, I keep hearing how you’re a nice guy, and you care deeply about what you do, but publicly, you show such angry contempt for what, to me, comes off as a reasonable argument that I feel like I should take my money elsewhere, even though I don’t want to.

    What I’m basically saying is, Steve: are you happy with the audience you have? Or would you prefer someone else? Because if you want me to go, dude, I’ll go.


  36. @stephen wacker: “So you are better and mind reading David than i am, that’s for sure.” Ha! It’s David B’s fault I got the facts wrong in a comment to his post, and then David F’s fault that… what? He perceives time as a linear progression?

    “Someone told David that Billy Tan was on Daredevil, in a reply to a blog in which David ALSO typed the words “Billy Tan”, so what else can I do but assume David is as misinformed as his commenter?” That’s just silly, Stephen Wacker.


  37. @Brandon Montclare: “I agree that it’s important to aim for the ideal.”

    I would have an easier time believing you if you hadn’t just spent five paragraphs rationalizing why it can’t be done.

    You see, it’s very simple for me. If Marvel and DC prove incapable of making good comics 90% of the time, due to the way those companies choose to operate, then maybe it’s time for them to choose to change the way they operate, if they want to keep selling comics to me. Because, as readers, we certainly don’t need Marvel or DC to find good comics. And looking at the sales figures, it seems like this fact keeps dawning on more people every month.

    There are tons of good U.S. mainstream comics out there that are not produced under assembly-line conditions to meet made-up “challenges” imposed by short-sighted people to serve a dying business model.

    Imagine that.


  38. @Marc-Oliver Frisch: “You see, it’s very simple for me. If Marvel and DC prove incapable of making good comics 90% of the time, due to the way those companies choose to operate, then maybe it’s time for them to choose to change the way they operate, if they want to keep selling comics to me.”

    Or you could just buy the 10% that are good.

    90% of everything sucks. That’s not a DC/ Marvel thing – it’s just a thing.

    I really do love the comics fan community, but sometimes I think we get do focused on the “inside baseball” aspect of the industry that it negatively impacts our collective outlook, to the extent such a thing exists.


  39. @Steve K.: “Or you could just buy the 10% that are good.”

    I try to buy the 1% of good comics out of the 10% of Marvel and DC comics that don’t exclude the possibility of being good comics by design, yes.


  40. Hmm.. YMMV of course but I think both Marvel and DC are publishing more than 1% good comics.

    Image is knocking my socks off right now too. Prophet isn’t really my thing, but I could read a new issue of Chew every day and never get tired of it.


  41. @Steve K.: My point is that “good comics” is an accident under the publishing model that DC and Marvel favor. Those comics exist, but more often than not, they exist DESPITE the publishing model that spawns them, rather than as a logical result of it.

    In other words, to stick with the examples here, I have no desire whatsoever to reward Marvel for making it a priority to have DAREDEVIL come out 15 times a year, or for producing Grant Morrison comics that literally have to be drawn over night. That, to me, suggests that this particular system is broken in a major way, so I’d rather not support it.


  42. If Daredevil is good 15 times a year, I’m not that interested in debating the relative merits of the publishing model. I don’t look at my purchases as rewards for publishers. They’re in the business of producing entertainment. If they do a good job of it (as perceived by me), they get my $. If not, they don’t.

    I made peace long ago with the fact that DC and Marvel will behave like businesses, and that sometimes business considerations will trump creative ones. To the extent that those considerations lead to a bad product, it’s easy enough to vote with my dollar (as it appears you are doing). My decision to do so doesn’t delegitimize those business considerations, though – there are some very good reasons why Morrison’s X-Men needed to come out on schedule come hell or high water. Those things aren’t *my* concern, except to the extent the end product is affected – but that doesn’t mean that the people who *are* concerned about those things are wrong to be.


  43. @Marc-Oliver Frisch: “I would have an easier time believing you if you hadn’t just spent five paragraphs rationalizing why it can’t be done.”

    I don’t see a contradiction. When contributing to “comics,” a person should aim for the best. But as a person experienced in the business, one understands that there are market forces, entrenched cultures, plurality of personalities, unexpected curevballs, &c. which you need to take into account if you want to be acting responsibly (and effectively). In an earlier comment you accused me of ‘romantacizing’ the realities of comics production…well, I’m rubber and you’re glue: I can’t think of a more romantacized notion than saying the problems in the biz are “simple”. That kind of idealized reduction has zero chance of changing the world of comics beyond your personal bookshelf.

    But I STILL agree with you. There’s a million things wrong with comics. And most of these problems are trivial. And no question that we are our own worst enemy. I think current sales and their trajectory are dispositive proof that we need to change attitudes. I reevaluate comics on a daily basis. I’m all for change (creative, institutional, moral). Make me the King of Comics, and on day-one I’ll have ideas to make your head spin. The difference (I assume, I don’t want to speak for you) is you see the whole of comics as a lamentable tragedy and I see it as full of opportunity.

    It’s not that I disagree with the 90/10 stuff. But another difference is that I don’t think the 90% crap is 100% bad, savvy? There’s very few books that I read that have NO noteworthy moments–even if the overall book fails. Because of that, I’m not too often disappointed; moreover, I love comics and know them well enough to get value out of most reading experiences. But here’s where 90/10 get’s tricky: I’ve worked on a bunch of books…and 90% of MY stuff isn’t crap… so who are all the people putting out total garbage? I recognize completely that this thought process is flawed; most people don’t think their shit stinks. I truly don’t know the answer. If anyone wants to affect my ego, here’s a list of books I’ve worked on: http://brandonmontclare.com/brandon-montclare-bibliography . If there’s 5 that you like, I guess I truly am beating the 90/10.


  44. @James W: Someday I’ll merge with the supercontext and perceive time as part of the multidimensional mess that it is.

    Someday.


  45. @Brandon Montclare: “If anyone wants to affect my ego, here’s a list of books I’ve worked on:”

    Bob Schreck has the right idea when it comes to superhero comics.


  46. @Brandon Montclare & @Marc-Oliver Frisch: I actually come down on Brandon’s side here, I think. It’s not binary of course, but you guys know what I mean, I think. There’s a lot of rotten garbage in comics, and a lot of it is being perpetrated to this day. I hate it, and it’s really been bumming me out lately, but I do believe that a lot of people are doing really good work on tights and fights comics, and that’s worth celebrating. Sometimes people spin gold out of the crappiest conditions. But, I would like it if the industry in general could get together and agree to be less of a dick to each other and fix some of the glaring, stupid issues plaguing comics right now.

    Interesting conversation between you two regardless.


  47. @david brothers: “… I do believe that a lot of people are doing really good work on tights and fights comics, and that’s worth celebrating.”

    Oh, absolutely, I agree on that.

    I think the books Brandon worked on with Bob Schreck at DC are a particularly good example of the kind of material and approach to managing company-owned characters that I think should be encouraged, and that makes the best possible use of whatever it is that Marvel or DC have to bring to the table.

    Also, I should probably say that my comments here only refer to U.S. mainstream comics, not comics as a whole. I grew up reading ASTERIX and LUCKY LUKE; the U.S. stuff is an acquired taste for me.


  48. @Marc-Oliver Frisch: “Bob Schreck has the right idea when it comes to superhero comics.”

    Bob has the right idea about a lot of things. Hugely flattered he chose me to assist him when DC transitioned from the Editorial Groups to two-person (senior/junior) teams–he had a lot of other choices. I had a few other offers myself–but I jumped to work with Bob…I’m no dummy!