comics marketing is crawling in my skin

October 24th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

I hate a lot of things about comics journalism, man. Maybe I just hate how Marvel & DC market their books. Is that weird? Ironic? Maybe I just hate how complicit the press is in enabling these companies to push worthless information out there, and I absolutely include myself in that condemnation. It’s generally Marvel and DC jockeying for position and Google rank. It sucks.

I’m not sure what I hate most. Unlettered previews are pretty bad, and I didn’t really realize how bad until I did a few myself. It’s sort of a “Hey, pimp this incomplete product for us that was chosen at random from an upcoming issue that we need to goose the numbers on” thing. I’ve never seen an unlettered preview that was chosen specifically for its artistic content. They’re always either from the first four (or so) pages or random pages throughout the book that don’t have “spoilers.”

I hate those stupid blanked out covers. Oh, you have a new team? And you can’t show it to me? Cool, hit me up when you have something to say. No, no, I understand. If you have a cover with say, six blacked out characters, then you get to have one post with the blank cover, one for each of the six characters, and then, if you’re lucky, another post for the completed cover. And that’s seven, maybe eight posts on the front page of a website that DC doesn’t have, and doesn’t that feel good? Great, go feel good over there and away from me.

You know what I heard through the grapevine about DC’s New 52? One of the edicts of the press campaign was “no story info.” You could describe the basic status quo, but nothing more than what’s in the solicits. And if you go back and look at the vast majority of those interviews from May or whatever til August, what do you see? A bunch of writers spinning their wheels, trying to describe their book in vague, unappealing high concepts, and the occasional artist dropping a cool piece about design. iFanboy had a good take on these. They got broke away from the standard rigmarole by getting creators to do goofy interviews that were informative in terms of approach and perhaps scope, but not necessarily on details. They made water into wine with that.

Oh! I hate playing the firsts game. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley created more continuous issues of any comic ever as a team, as long as you define any comic as “Fantastic Four” and team as “everyone but the inker, colorist, letterer, and editor.” Batwoman is something like “the first lesbian superhero to star in an eponymous solo title from DC Comics That Isn’t The Holly Robinson Catwoman.” There’s so many caveats that it doesn’t even matter, does it? Batwing is the first Black Batman (except for the devil-worshipping black Batman who went on to be Azrael the other year). Instead of trying to grasp cheap glory, why not just make some good stories and be like “This is the first good Cloak & Dagger comic ever!” (hasn’t happened yet) or “This story will make you like Donna Troy!” (ditto).

While I’m being negative, what else do I dislike… posting press releases with no commentary is one, I figure, but that one’s obviously stupid. Announcing comics with no creative team. If you don’t have a creative team, back down until you do. I don’t care if you’re giving Hypno Hustler a 100-issue maxiseries that forms one huge story that maps to the rise of rap worldwide. Who’s writing it? Who’s drawing it? I’m not reading no comics by scrubs, fellas. Put your best foot forward by putting your best asset forward: the creators.

Yeah, basically? I got a lot of issues with comics internet. I’m guilty of a few, and I’ve spent the last however many weeks trying to course-correct and obsessing over it. Gotta do better to be better, right?

With all of that out of the way, I really dug the marketing for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Fatale, an Image comic that drops in 2012. Check the rhime:

The interview with Kiel at CBR is pretty good, too. It’s full of information. Fatale has its roots in a Wildstorm pitch. It’s a genre mash. It’s a Brubaker/Phillips joint, which means that at worst it will be “pretty good.” It’s Brubaker attacking his relatively poor (but generally well-written, nonetheless) usage of women as undeconstructed (™ 2011, Brothers Before Others, Inc.) femmes fatales or trophies. It’s got monsters. It’s got guns. It’s twelve-issues long, but may run longer. It hits the ’30s, ’50s, and the ’70s, which are some of my favorite decades to read about. It’s gonna be sorta weird to read Brubaker/Phillips without Val Staples, but Dave Stewart is a monster. Basically, Brubaker gave an interview that made me want to read their book. It’s enormously effective.

But the truth is, it was too late. I wanted to read the book after I saw the images. They’re a movie trailer fitted to a nine-panel grid. It fits in praise for the team a couple places. It gives you a taste of the story by teasing a few scenes. There’s even a bit of narrative in the preview, thanks to the scenes that bookend it. The preview really tells you everything you need to know (how it looks, how it reads, where to find it, what it’s called) in a few short pages. Very deft work.

More like Fatale, please, and fewer blacked out X-Men or Avengers teasers. Cater to me, internet.

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Create, Consume, Recycle 06/06/11

June 6th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

stuff i made

A reprint of an old post about The ‘Nam

A preview of the Static Shock Special, which I had previously discussed in March. I wasn’t really going to pick up the special until I saw the preview. I’m still a little grossed out, to be honest, but it’s clearly a good faith effort on the part of the creators involved. Comics will make you feel weird about things you like, man.

I wrote up Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Criminal: Last of the Innocent. It’s good. Buy it.

Digital ComicsAlliance: this week, I tackle the DC digital pricing scheme with veiled drug references, overt drug references, and references to going on a blackout bender with friends.

something i like

From Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, two non-consecutive pages that I liked a lot:

I read and reviewed this book while sitting in a room I haven’t slept in for four years. I took a trip back home for a week, and it’s been sorta weird. The first thing that happened when I got back into town, like right after I got off the airport shuttle, was that the lady at the desk recognized my last name, asked if I was related to a couple people, and told me about my aunt holding back on a recipe. The rest of the trip has been a whirlwind of sideways nostalgia, where everything is too small or out of place or weird or different from how it was four years ago/when I was a kid. (though small is almost definitely a metaphorical thing, now that I’m looking around my room and mentally comparing it to my apartment)

This latest Criminal is about a man coming home after five years away and being completely seduced by nostalgia for the way things were. The gap between then and now shakes him up early on, but later, when he’s conversating with old friends and having a good time, he starts thinking about how great then feels and how broken and corrupt now is.

This sort of stuff is basic, I think, the sort of universal emotions we all experience at some point. I just happened to read the book at the best/worst possible time to do so. Brubaker and Phillips came through with the execution, and the basic nature of the story (“Life was better then,” whether “better” is true or not) gives it a little extra punch. Widest possible area of effect, right? Even famous people feel that. (“Ain’t kill myself yet, and I already want my life back.”)

This is a good first issue for what will hopefully be the best Criminal yet. It feels very resonant; it’s easy to relate to. Well worth a look.

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Fourcast! 57: Sidekick Shodown

August 9th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Ouch, this weekend was a b-word.
-So this p-word is going up with minimal shownotes.
-Sidekick Shodown!
-Esther’s rolling with the Robins.
-David has Captain America’s henchboy turned cyborg assassin turned shield slinger.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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Fourcast! 40: The Sinner with the Getaway Face

April 12th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Two books!
-Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Criminal: The Sinners.
-Darwyn Cooke’s The Man With the Getaway Face.
(-The Sinners hits comic shops in trade form this week, make sure you pick it up. Phillips killed on art.)
-We talk about the difference between Parker and other crime heroes.
-We talk about the sociopolitical aspects of crime fiction, vis a vis feminism and racism, filtered through the lens of Parker’s ’50s-era setting and the city without pity of Criminal.
-In other words, we discuss how to deal with overt or covert sexism or racism in crime comics.
-In other other words, is it better to be treated equally and shot by Parker, or treated unequally and condescended to by Tracy Lawless?
-Also, how much noir drama is too much? Just ask Daredevil how running Gitmo: New York City is going.
-We’re gonna spoil one or both of the books for you, but c’mon. The Man With the Getaway Face is based on a forty-year old story and you should already be reading Criminal. No excuses.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-You’ll never catch us alive, copper!

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Eisner Nominations are out!

April 8th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

A lot of quality books got nods this year. Naoki Urasawa got five nominations, and Darwyn Cooke, Ed Brubaker, and Mark Waid got three a-piece. I’m very pleased to see more and more manga represented in non-manga categories, because ghettoizing it is dumb. It’s just comics, baby. If you don’t know Urasawa, click here and get to scrolling. I’ve got something cooking on Pluto 8, but that’s a few days away at the earliest. For Darwyn Cooke’s Parker: The Hunter, click here.

There’s a lot of cool stuff in here, including several books I have not read, but will be reading asap. I also want to point out the Eisner nomination for Laura Hudson’s Comics Alliance, a site I freelance for, making me 1/15th Eisner nominated! Congrats, Laura. You deserved the nom, and you definitely deserve the Eisner.

It’s so nice that nothing like Justice League of America #11, the Brad Meltzer/Rags Morales story that got an Eisner a few years back got nominated. You know the story, it had Arsenal and Vixen trapped in a building that was underwater, but they were too dumb to realize they were upside down? Yeah, that was kind of a lame win for DC. This year, though, there’s nothing like tha

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)

  • Brave & the Bold #28: “Blackhawk and the Flash: Firing Line,” by J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz (DC)


Click here to check out the official list of Eisners, or just hit the jump, where I got my copy/paste on.
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Getcher Cheap Omnibuses Here!

March 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I dunno if it’s a mistake or not, but Amazon has 48 pages of 15 dollar Marvel hardcovers, ranging from Premiere (aight), OSHC (nice), and omnibus (holy crap!) format.

I ordered six. A couple preorders, Tomb of Dracula v1, The Death of Captain America, and then the last two Ultimate Spider-Man joints. Cheap hardcovers make me stupid, apparently. But whatever, I’m getting cheap comics. Also we get a small cut if you buy through that link, so you know, there’s that.

Shill over! I’ve got a to-read stack to demolish before all these books get here.

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Fourcast! 30: Last Week In Comics

January 25th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Chad Nevett on the intro
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music
-Review show! We haven’t done one of these in a while.
-Joe Casey and Ardian Syaf’s Superman/Batman #68
-Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross’s Captain America #602 & Sean McKeever and David Baldeon’s Nomad backup
-Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner’s Power Girl #8
-Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy’s Joe the Barbarian #1
-Sholly Fisch, Robert Pope, and Scott McRae’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13
-Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans #24
-And out!

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Tony and the Captain Can Make it Happen

December 17th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

I love Ed Brubaker and I love his work with Captain America. Believe me, I really do. But am I the only one who feels kind of disinterested in Captain America Reborn? Brubaker’s run with the character has shown that mysteries with obvious answers aren’t so bad when the storytelling is excellent.

It looked like they were bringing Bucky back and, lo and behold, they did. It looked like they were going to turn Bucky into Captain America and, low and behold, they did. The stories were obvious based on the hints and how natural they felt, but Marvel still acted like they were mysteries.

It’s not working this time, honestly. We knew from issue one that Cap would be coming back. The first issue was a basic explanation as to how he would be coming back. Everything else has felt like filler. Even worse, we’ve been given some scenes of Steve Rogers alive and well after this, so there’s no real drama to look at.

New Avengers Annual #3 shows Steve surprising everyone by showing up on the last page in his chainmail tights. The latest issue of Iron Man has both Caps there to share their shield. Before either of those is Dark Avengers Annual, ending with Steve in a more SHIELD-like outfit hanging out with Bucky Cap on their hunt for allies against Osborn.

Aha! The plot thickens. Since it was official that Steve was coming back, there had been lots of speculation that he was going to be taking over the Fury/Hill/Stark/Osborn spot as king of the superhero/government relations mountain. This would allow Bucky to remain as Captain America for at least a little while longer. This will probably be covered in part next week as Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? is released. This isn’t to be confused with Captain America: All Those Who Chose to Oppose his Shield Must Yield.

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“You Might Win Some…”

June 15th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Remember Marvel’s plan to release Captain America #600 on a Monday due to mainstream press coverage? Here’s a reminder:

“REBORN #1, by Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch, will be receiving nationwide press on 6/15, possibly on par with the media coverage we received during Civil War.

However, this means that the solicit and covers for Reborn #1 cannot be shown before the FOC of 6/11. Marvel will do everything possible to ensure an overprint is on hand to counter huge anticipated demand, but the incentives below and qualifying for free variants will only be available for orders placed before FOC”

In essence, Marvel asked retailers to take a gamble. Open on Mondays, pay extra for shipping, and we will drive customers to your store by way of a big newspaper article. The NY Daily News ended up with the scoop. However, when I say scoop… I’m being sarcastic.

I’m going to put this behind a cut, because I’m sure someone, somewhere, is going to be upset that I’m about to spoil the least surprising reveal since Dick Grayson became Batman. Read the rest of this entry �

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Cooke x Spurgeon

May 10th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Today’s Sunday interview is Tom Spurgeon versus Darwyn Cooke, with tag team assists from Scott Dunbier and Ed Brubaker. This is an interview that’s essentially custom built for me, as Brubaker and Cooke have, together and separately, created some of my favorite comics. Selina’s Big Score and their work on Catwoman are some of the best crime comics via superheroes ever, hands down.

It’s a conversation about Cooke’s Parker books, at least to begin with. However, it soon spirals off into a discussion of Donald Westlake’s body of work, what makes a good crime tale, and other must-read topics.

COOKE: It wasn’t news, but he wrote me the one time that the whole point of the series was an exercise at the beginning to see if he could write a character who’s completely internal. Where all the emotional content is internalized to the point where the only indication you get of how they might be feeling is how they act physically. I guess the book 361, which has the Westlake name on it, not the Stark name, is the first book where he first experimented with that approach. And then he rolled right into The Hunter. I’d say by the time you get to The Outfit, the third book in the series, he’s caught lightning in a bottle.

It’s another long and excellent read, like the rest of Spurgeon’s interviews.

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