Tom Spurgeon is Emperor of the Universe/Comics

October 5th, 2008 by | Tags: ,

Tom Spurgeon knows how to fix comics, and he’s got a list of 24 things to start with.

10. Institute A Gender/Race Rooney Rule At The Bigger Comics Companies

I know this would be controversial, and maybe not even desirable. Still, I can’t help but think of the National Football League’s Rooney Rule when I think of the lack of female creators and creators of color and the even bigger absence of such individuals in industry positions.

What this would mean is that for every job and for every freelance gig that opens at a participating company, a woman or a cartoonist of color would get to pitch or interview for that gig. This doesn’t mean they’re hired, or doesn’t mean that you can’t have as many folks as you want of whatever gender or racial background pitch or interview if you want. What it does is guarantees that those people that haven’t done well in the comics industry are for the length of the program getting in front of more people with power in the comics industry. They have an opportunity for the duration of the program to make an impression and gain experience at making presentations to comics industry editors and publishers. In return, the industry gets a more frequent look at a group of creators and potential industry members that it has — for whatever reason — not done a very good job of exploiting to maximum effect. If an industry like professional football can matter-of-factly look at its history of hiring and giving assignments and realize that they’re not making the best use of all the talents out there for whatever reason, the comics industry should be able to do the same on a volunteer basis.

This is actually one of the least interesting points in a 24-point essay. It’s the least interesting because all of the other points are so good, particularly numbers 6, 7, 11, and 24.

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4 comments to “Tom Spurgeon is Emperor of the Universe/Comics”

  1. 16 is where it’s fucking at.

  2. You know, at first I cringed at rule 10, but if it’s just to get more voices a fair shot, then yeah! Sounds great. My only real concern now is, what would compel someone to publish a new voice? I could be wrong, but it sounds like many comic companies are taking a more conservative edge with publishing, and really wouldn’t want to push a new product unless something very similar to it was a proven success. I would see the economics of it to be just as big of a roadblock to any boys’ club traditions.

  3. I’m a fan of 2, 3 and 5 myself. I kind of disagree with the ‘Rooney Rule’ recommendation, though. The reason that the sporting leagues have this kind of AA policy is that they are all essentially monopolies, and if a coach/GM can’t get an interview in the NFL, his/her choices are really limited. I don’t know if the comics industry is structured the same way, even with the dominance of Marvel/DC.

  4. I’ve some better ideas on how to save the comics industry

    1. Drop the prices.
    I love pretty magazines, you love the pretty magazines, everybody loves the pretty magazines. But $3.00 for 16-20 pages of story and a dozen pages of ads is ridiculous. Give me a pulp paper magazine with the same amount of story and ads for $1.00, and I’ll buy a couple dozen issues every Wednesday. Shonen Jump costs $6.00, and you receive 5-7 comics with (usually) about 10 times the amount of art and storyline. Manga became a profiteering machine due to affordability, not because of “customer identifiability” (yay kid ninjas!) or “superior storytelling” (Bo-bo bo Bobo bobo)

    2. Tiers are a “good” thing.
    Spider-Man beat the Juggernaut and Firelord. Ask any “more than casual” fan about Spidey’s strongest opponents, and they’ll probably mention those names. They won’t remember that Firelord took Spidey’s onslaught and got up unharmed, or that Spidey’s _one_ encounter with Juggernaut ended in failure. They remembered the fact that Spidey didn’t die. And they grew up and became the writers for Green Lantern (teh coolest hero ever who can totally beat the shit out of anyone!!!), Iron Man (teh coolest hero ever who has dozens of suits of armor so that he could beat up on anyone!!!) and our favorite hero, “teh Bat-God”. Characters have power levels for a reason. Batman beating Superman with a Kryptonite ring=cool. Batman beating up Martian Manhunter underwater using flares=WTF? Most characters have established strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Arbitrarily changing these attributes to fit a storyline, _without_ mentioning reasons for the changes, then throwing away the changes as soon as another writer is put on the book is confusing. It leads to annoying fan-wank for the die-hards and confused, “I’ll put this back.” logic for newbies. Aquaman shouldn’t be able to go toe to toe with Wonder woman in issue 457 of “Who gives a shit?” comics, then get knocked out by a falling brick in issue 75 of his own series.
    2a. Stop hiring fanboys. Geoff Johns is H.E.A.T Member No.1, or I’ll eat my pisscutter. And don’t even get me started on this whole “Iron Man was always spy material.”, bullshit. He was Batman with powers, a love for booze and a better supply of pussy, or Green Arrow with powers (choose your own analogy).
    If an ability to maintain a secret identity is the major basis for considering a superhero to be “Just like James Bond”, then someone needs to send an Aston Martin and a shaker of martinis to Frog Man’s house. And, considering that 007 was using the government’s money and not his own, I’d say that comparison is even more apt.
    3. Taper down the sex, please.
    Children are the future of comics, like it or not. And if I wanted my children to spend their free time learning about rape, child abuse, illegitimacy, promiscuity and the like, I could turn on Desperate Housewives. At least Daddy gets to check out Eva Longoria. I don’t want my little ones exposed to a quarter of what passes for all ages entertainment in the Big Two. Radioactive Spider-semen? Really, radioactive Spider-semen? Really?
    Doctor Light the rapist? Wasn’t he bad enough, with the attempted child murder and the gay undertones? Did he _have_ to become a rapist as well? And he didn’t even have a reason! The Key, a villain with a built-in “entering inpenetrable/escaping from inescapeable rooms” gimmick _and_ a history of antagonism with Sue Dibny, freely available for use, and you turn _Dr. Light_ into a deviant? She-Hulk’s fucked Juggernaut, Man-Wolf, Blizzard, Iron Man and many more in less than a year’s worth of continuity. And I’m not even going to bother to name any of the male heroes (Hawkeye, Iron Man) who’ve managed to rack up some impressive numbers of their own. It’s one thing to establish one of your characters as a player. It’s another thing to establish your character as a person who spends his or her entire life in the pursuit of Truth, Justice, and New Pussy/Cock.

    4. The Internet is not your enemy.
    Work it out, companies! _Everything_ gets pirated on the Internet. Instead of worrying about the thousands of people who’ll get access to your issues for free, cater to the _millions_ of people who _aren’t_ hackers and post your comics online. Here’s a good idea. DC.Com PLUS: $5.00-$20.00 a month. For $5.00-$20.00, readers get access to a functional message board, weekly Creator Chat (Yeah, I want this so bad. Milestone is coming back, and I want to know who’s writing the issues.), and a TOP 10/20/whatever. Top 10/20/whatever what? Downloadable comics. Each subscriber picks his or her 10/20/whatever amount of comics that DC is willing to send to their subscriber’s logon profile. This idea kills multiple birds with one stone: it eliminates the need for massive shipping costs to “remote” locations (Indonesia isnt that far away, unless you’re shipping comics), it allows you to give a “confident” tally of issues sold (“Yeah, 500,000 people ordered “The Fastest Man Alive”, starring Bart Allen. We may want to hold off on having him savagely beatento death in the next issue.”), and it allows the writers to get a first-hand view of the fans’ interests in “the bold new direction” (I remember Penance {Generation X}. If that situation had been handled any more ham-fistedly, her origin would have involved Cable, Deadpool and a visit to a Thai hospital for “separation surgery gone terribly wrong”. R.A.C.M.X, rest in peace.).

    Worried about one person ordering a comic, then messaging it to as many people as possible? Watermark that bitch! Half of the pictures that I’ve copied from the Internet have visible watermarks! This is checkers, not chess. A dozen Comp Sci majors at $20.00 an hour on their off time should remove all but the most dedicated hackers, and be able to create “your very own, kids!”, DC comic pages for instant perusal and analysis.

    And, for those of you who think that the profits wouldn’t equal interest, think Soccer/Football/Tae Kwon Do/etc. Moms and Weekend/Work a Day/Comic Book Nerd Dads. Christmas subscriptions for a child or household would probably pull in enough money to keep the website afloat for at least a year. 300 million people in America, extrapolate to 75-100 million parents who would be interested in a website that isn’t smut related, but will hold their childrens’ interest. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, plus a bunch more people from those movies that little Jaden and Abigail enjoyed during Thanksgiving Break? For $120 a _year_? They’d probably break even if 1 million American parents were willing to part with $20 a month. Add onto that amount the millions of UK, Australian, Irish, West Indian and Canadian parents who’d gladly shell out money for the same service. Then add on a few more million non-English speaking parents who’d be willing to use the service to help their children learn how to speak English. If I could disrupt the planning of a gangbang (1) by bringing a dozen copies of DC and Marvel comics to the owner (2) of a local teen hangout in the redneckiest part of Germany, I’m sure that they could pick up 100,000+ subscriptions in that contry alone. 50,000 from Italy, 35,000 from Spain, 20,000 from the Phillippines, 3,000,000 from Japan, another 1,000,000 from China, 200,000 from Brazil, 500,000 from India, and at $5.00-$20.00 a pop we’re talking about some real money here. So don’t start with the “I don’t believe that an online business could withstand the advent of Internet piracy”, bullshit. Scans Daily is already raping the current business model, and you’re ignoring the millions of people who would love to read more about the adventures of Iron Man but don’t have ready access to the printed material. Setting up the comics in readily downloadable form, then sending them to a personal E-Mail address {UltimateBatFan#24570@dc.com.au} could earn DC a fortune. And you know that Marvel would have to step their game up if they see DC pulling in 8 figures in profit from sending digital copies of their comics to peoples’ direct addresses.
    Porn gets pirated constantly, yet the websites keep on churning out new material. And, despite the stigma attached to porn, they pull in most of their revenue through credit card billing. Any working comic book company could re-create the environment of the ’60s, as far as total sales are concerned, by making theirproduct as accessible as possible. If ’60s kids sharing 10 cent comic books led to the comics boom of the ’80s, then ’00s and ’10s kids downloading “Nova, the Last Centurion” comics from a slightly scrambled .jpg stolen from MarvelExcelsior!.com -The website 4 Marvel Zombies Worldwide!- can lead to a resurgence of comic book culture in the ’40s. I don’t have a college degree, I’m mentally unstable and I live with the threat of pounding sand in Kazakhstan for 4-12 months, yet I [think] that I set up a workable framework for a Internet comic book delivery system in less than 2 hours with cigarette breaks. I’m sure that the degree-having, latte-sipping businessmen at the Big Two could set up a Alpha site with limited (1,000,000 member access) before the end of 2009.

    (1)(Yes, a _literal_ “Lick my pussy and my ass”, “Pull my hair as you fuck me!”, “Don’t come on my face, come in my mouth” “You like this, don’t you, you dirty cock-whore!!?”, gangbang. If I’d grown up in that part of Germany, I’d be dead right now. Smiling, and with empty balls, but dead as a doornail.)
    (2)(The owner, a big Green Lantern fan, asked me to bring back some comics from a specialty shop in Cologne. When I pulled them out of my bag, they milled around the comics like they were made of solid gold and some of them actually asked the owner to translate the issues into German. Their faces were so awestruck, I could almost forget that I once caught one of the girls and two of the guys engaging in a very enthusiastic spitroast in my backyard. Did I mention that these kids were raised on the Internet? Don’t do porn, do DC! Save the freaky shit for college, like I di… Moving on…) (*)
    (*) I put these two footnotes in here for 1 major reason: Comic books in English were able to distract hormone-crazed teenagers from _performing_ acts that I could only _read_ about on Internet porn story sites during my teen years. If that isn’t a wake up call for the average jaded Internet user, then ignore everything else that I’ve typed and call me crazy.)