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.