Whodunnit? I can’t call it.

April 3rd, 2012 by | Tags: ,

I’m working on another Thing, and that Thing led to me downloading Brian Bendis and David Finch’s New Avengers #1 off the iBooks store for free. (iBookstore?) It’s intended to get you to buy the full trade for $10.99. I flipped through it and had a funny thought. I thought this was a stupid little mistake and almost didn’t post this, but I thought about it and here we are. Bear with me.

This is the page where you go to download the sample:

This is the title page:

This is the inside front cover:

This is the recap:

And this is the second story page:

Here’s a random page with a blank spot thanks to two-page spreads:

And here’s the last page (tapping this page takes you to the iBookstore to buy the full comic):

Nowhere in the comic is the creative team listed, barring the front cover, which just lists Brian Bendis, David Finch, and Danny Miki. I downloaded a sample of the actual book, which is the first twelve pages, and found a similar issue.

Here’s the page with the creative team from the printed comic:

I was thinking about this, and I sorta understand what happened. Bendis and Finch are listed on the cover to the free preview (and on the covers in the sample), as well as on the iBookstore. Cutting the credits box is SOP for Marvel’s trades, since it leaves the art cleaner and they throw a credits page into the front of the book anyway. This time, it slipped through the cracks. I checked another sample, Amazing Spider-Man: Big Time, and it still has a credit box on the opening spread. It’s an accident, then, right?

But what made me pull this post from the trash and finish it is that there’s an entire page dedicated to Marvel’s execs. A new page, one that hasn’t been in any printed comic ever. I think it’s pretty messed up, whether it’s once or twice or three times, that people who had very little to do with the actual creation of a comic get better billing than the people who spent months of their life working on the stupid thing. I mean, let’s be real here–I’m sure that Marvel Senior Counsel David Althoff (to pick a name at random) is a nice guy. He’s got a splendid first name, in fact. But what did he do that gives him bigger billing than anyone else on the creative team, half of which doesn’t even get credited at all?

This is a nitpick. I’ll cop to that. But at the same time… it really isn’t. Mainstream comics has a real problem with valuing the people who actually make the comics, and I think the prioritization of corporate over creative, which is exactly what this is, is pretty screwed up. I feel like it’s important to point out when this happens, even if it’s an innocent mistake. (Also I think I got the flu while I was out of town, I’ve been doing shots of cold medicine, and everything feels like a good idea right now.) We’ve got to do a better job of prioritizing creators over characters, and especially over corporate, especially when it would be as easy to fix as this would be. Yes, Bendis & Finch’s names are on the store, but there’s nothing about their roles. At the very least, that info should be in the comic.

If you’re inserting a dedicated corporate masthead into the book, make the facing page the creative team. The creative team is the important part, anyway. I try to emphasize that whenever I can. Let’s do better.

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12 comments to “Whodunnit? I can’t call it.”

  1. […] Comics | David Brothers notes that the free digital issue of New Avengers #1 doesn’t list the full creative team anywhere, which is probably a glitch, but there is a whole page devoted to the Marvel executive team: “This is a nitpick. I’ll cop to that. But at the same time… it really isn’t. Mainstream comics has a real problem with valuing the people who actually make the comics, and I think the prioritization of corporate over creative, which is exactly what this is, is pretty screwed up.” [4thletter] […]

  2. It’s kind of funny that you didn’t realize this, but perhaps one of the reasons “corporate” is given credits, is because corporate is responsible for you being able to download this comic through the iTunes Bookstore in the first place. Artists, writers, pencilers, et al. may create the content of the book, but in the larger chain from the talent’s minds to the audience’s hands there are A LOT more people doing the production, marketing, licensing, digitizing, etc. for each book than there are on the creative team. I know its popular and easy to make corporate out to be the villains in all scenarios, particularly when they are owned by a much larger parent company, but sometimes it’s a little dishonest and possibly a little lazy.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you that all of the creative people should have gotten at least equal or better billing than the corporate folks (comics are creative works after all) and it’s entirely possible that a lot of the people in corporate who actually did the legwork in getting this stuff to print/screens haven’t been credited at all, but it’s unfair for you to ignore the fact that some corporate folks deserve credit too, if not for the words and shapes on the page, then at least for all the other work of getting the finished work to you.

  3. @eatyourchildren:

    No creators = corporate sitting around twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do.

  4. @eatyourchildren: I absolutely did realize that. I know how companies work. Joe Quesada and Axel Alonso are in the masthead, as well as lawyers and VPs. The digital production team is credited, as well. I appreciate your attempt at a counterpoint, but like alekesam says above, no creators, no comics, no matter how many channels corporate creates for comics to be pushed through. There’s a reason why we hear about the writers, directors, and stars of a movie so much more often than the Weinsteins or whoever.

  5. Corporate gets top billing because they are the talentless narcissists that have to slap each other on the back while destroying their companies and giving themselves bonuses for doing so. To them, creators are dog**** and should be scraped off their shoes, not given compensation when they have the priviledge of being Marvel’s slaves. Because, ultimately, there are thousands of people lining up, wrists out, for their chance to be chained. That’s why there is a page of corporate credits.

  6. Looking at my trade paperback copy, you’re absolutely right – the credits are on a two-page spread before the recap page, rather than in the art. That looks to be standard procedure for both Marvel and DC unless the credits were in the book in a way that taking them out would be too labour-intensive (I’m looking at my Final Crisis HC, and the issue credits are at the end in a block with the title of each issue. Taking them out would have involved… not a lot of work, but more work than turning off the text layers in Photoshop.)

    If I were Marvel, I’d shrink the text in that “editorial” box down a point size or two, shift everything down, and use the space above to fill in the creative team for whatever it is you’re downloading. But, you know, that might make too much sense.

  7. from memory, Dark Horse’s TPB of The Tale Of One Bad Rat, back in 1995, included a full page of credits for execs and accountants (!), but no credit anywhere in or on the book for letterer Ellie DeVille, one of a grand total of two humans to have actually created the content on the following pages. This annoyed me enough at the time to eschew buying the book.

    Marvel’s magazine-size reprint of Roger Langridge’s first Muppet Show miniseries (originally on Boom!) has a page of credits for Italian editors and production managers and, I dunno, shoe polishers – none of whom worked on the comic in any capacity whatsoever – but doesn’t think it worth printing Langridge’s name on the cover. (Then again, they didn’t think it worth using his art on the cover, paying him any money for printing 100pp of his writing and cartooning, or even informing him that they were reprinting his work, AFAIK.)

  8. @Michael: Also, what I always find interesting in regards to the Big Two is that unlike real publishers (publishers that publish every type of book, not just comics), they put themselves before the talent whereas typically the publishing world makes their money off the talent and as such, showcases and embraces that name as much as possible to maximize profits and generally, makes for a healthier reletionship overall. Any company info in a novel, etc is generally almost footnote size and at the end of the book.

  9. @david brothers: I agree with you, if “corporate” folks are listed at all it should only be after (and preferably smaller ) than the creative teams. It’s just important to tell both sides of the argument because most fans really don’t think corporate employees contribute at all, like they just sit in offices, make bad decisions, and prevent their fan-favorite series from being brought back.

    It’s great that you know differently from your experience in the industry, but assuming the majority of your readership has that same knowledge even though they’ve never worked for a comic book company is expecting a little much. Proof positive: one commenter to this post lumped editors in with shoe polishers in importance and worthiness of receiving a credit, which is absurd. By painting everyone who is not an artist, writer or letterer as a faceless mass that has nothing to do with “making” comics you reinforce these incorrect assumptions.

  10. @alekesam: the “no creators = no comics” argument is an oversimplification at best and a straight up falsehood at worst. Creators and corporate are a symbiotic relationship, creators work for the corporate paycheck, corporate provides those paychecks so they have a product to sell. If you don’t think that’s the case, picture what would happen if the big 2-5 publishers just closed up shop one day, just stopped cutting checks and printing comics altogether. Sure, some creators would go off an do their own thing, publishing on their own for a smaller audience or online, but Comics (that’s a big “C”) as the industry we know involving niche shops and printed product would shrivel and die.

    Don’t believe me, ask any talent working on a mid-range DC or Marvel title what they would do tomorrow if the top 5 comic publishers (let’s say Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and umm, Boom I guess) just left the industry, quit comics altogether. Assuming the talent even keeps making comics instead of shifting to video games, movies or television, they would likely try to publish on their own (possibly online) and some would eventually pool together into groups. Some would become creator run houses like Image, but one or two would eventually become (or be bought or hired by) the new Marvel or DC (or whatever the digital/online version of that is).

    This is the way creative industries work. I agree that it does not afford the creative process and teams the credit and rewards they are due for their contribution to our lives and culture, but to deny that this is how it works just because we don’t like it is burying your head in the sand.

  11. Seems that at least one creator’s a bit upset with Comixology’s crediting practices:

  12. @eatyourchildren:

    Actually, burying our head in the sand is what gave corporate such a stranglehold on our country in the first place. And yes, it is a symbolic reletionship…one that still starts with the creator because the creator doesn’t HAVE to go through the Big Two to be published, it’s just easier to do. And let me ask you a return question. Imagine if Kirby, Shuster/Seigel and the dozens of others had kept their creations and self published, where would Marvel and DC be?

    Second, your comment implies that the only Comics (with a capital C) that are made are by the Big Two, which is a bigger falsehood than what you’ve already written. They’re no longer making Comics, they’re making comics/ IPs, and increasingly bland ones at that.

    Lastly, that’s the way the comics industry works in America but in virtually any place outside our borders, comics are not a niche, but a valid artform with literary merit to boot. That’s why I laugh at the notion of comics needing the Big Two because if folks would’ve been more alert to the game being played sooner than people have finally started to, they’d have enjoyed the benefits of a healthy publisher/creator relationship like writers do and should and Marvel/DC would’ve started the slide into their current malaise/drek a lot sooner than the last few years.