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ChadtheH
02-06-2007, 09:30 AM
Recently on a whim I went to meet a certain DC editor (no names here) who was at a fairly large convention scouting for talent. He was approachable and helpful on ways to get ahead in the industry, so I lined up at his table with others carrying their scripts, art portfolios and fragile dreams. Anyway, I'd just made the front of the line and was saying my hellos and fanning out my stuff on his table when suddenly an associate editor leaned in to tell him a writer published regularly in a science fiction magazine series (no names, I said!), was in line about 7 people behind me, and was it appropriate that she was queued up with all the undeserving schleps like me (he didn't say "schleps" or point at me, but the rest is gospel). At that point all further proceedings were on hold until said editor could arrange to meet said writer personally. The message was clear there were contenders, and then there were real contenders.

Anyway, I had a brainstorm right then, and thought I'd run it by you to see if I'm crazy or onto something. The reason many titles run late or move to publishing semi-monthly isn't so much writers, or artists but editors trying to build their own resumes. I get a feeling that DC/Marvel are full of people trying for a turn at being Joss Whedon's editor, or Kevin Smith's editor, or Neil Gaiman's editor, or whoever, as a kind of feather in their cap that they can parlay into getting a plush job at a real publishing house someday. Sometimes this means they deliberately hire people who have no time for them, throw deadlines out the window and screw the fans, because this self-seeking editor needs the writer more than the other way around.

Any merit to this? If so, which company, division or editor is most culpable? Is the deadline simply for suckers and chumps who actually care about fans?

Ryan Day
02-06-2007, 09:46 AM
An editor's job, above all else, is to put together books that sell. And if you can put someone like Joss Whedon on one of your books, you do it, because he'll move copies. And while you may lose a few bucks on the monthly market due to shipping fewer issues, you've got a better chance of making that up in the collected, bookstore format. If there's one thing sales numbers show, it's that big names sell books, regardless of what kind of a schedule they come out on. And even Semi-Famous Sci-fi Writer might move some books in the bookstore market.

Maybe they're overly accomodating in their attempts to lure the big-name talent; at the very least, they don't have any sense for planning. It's not exclusive to Hollywood writers, either. Publishers frequently build unrealistic schedules around full-time comics guys - you'd think someone would know how long it takes Jim Lee or Bryan Hitch to draw a comic by now, but apparently not.

Reptisaurus!
02-06-2007, 10:53 AM
The message was clear there were contenders, and then there were real contenders.



Well... YEAH. The folks who've proved they can do professional quality work that people want to read have an advantage over folks who haven't. Every article and/or/resource in how to get published and make lots of money in any field will tell you that.

I'm not sure how the fans are getting screwed here. The presence of product that fans want to read from creators who's work they already have a vested interest in don't sound like a huge problem to me. But I've never really grocked the whole fanboy entitlement mindset.

Or at least non-Beanworld related fanboy entitlement.

But, c'mon! Eleven stinking years!

MartinRedmond
02-06-2007, 11:18 AM
Joe Bennet is good and really fast, though imo 24 pages a month from him is more than enough. At 48 it starts to suffer a little. Also: Salvador Laroqua, Igor Kordey, Ashley Wood, etc...

Ryan Day
02-06-2007, 11:30 AM
Yeah, there are tons of artists and writers who have no problems with deadlines. I'd say no more than 5-10% have serious, chronic problems, and most of those are the superstar, detail-heavy artists: Lee, Hitch, McNiven, Quitely, Cassaday...

52 has been an on-time success largely because DC stayed away from the heavy artists; the guys they've relied on regularly are pretty simple. And then you've got artists like Darick Robertson, Mark Bagley, and John Romita Jr., who can probably do 15-20 issues a year.

MartinRedmond
02-06-2007, 11:50 AM
Cassaday can barely draw 1 background per page. I doubt he works 5 days a week. Comics is probably a side line for him. Seriously, show me the details...

Nitz the Bloody
02-06-2007, 12:11 PM
Cassaday can barely draw 1 background per page. I doubt he works 5 days a week. Comics is probably a side line for him. Seriously, show me the details...

Things to consider

1.) Because somebody chooses not to use backgrounds in every panel doesn't mean they can't. Cassaday is totally capable of drawing impressive backgrounds; just look at the scenes of Breakworld in the latest issue of Astonishing, for example. The fact that he doesn't clutter every panel with a dramatically detailed backdrop vista does not detract from his art, and in fact makes him a better storyteller.

2.) Cassaday's projects are all comics; Lone Ranger covers art direction, Astonishing X-Men pencils, inks, and covers, and I think he still has an issue of Planetary to go. This is his job; it's not like it's a side-gig he's half assing.

3.) Just looking at his figures is evidence enough that Cassaday puts in enough detail to justify the time it takes for him to complete his issues. Take a look around www.johncassaday.com and see his uncolored samples to judge for yourself. :)

ChadtheH
02-06-2007, 12:58 PM
Yeah, there are tons of artists and writers who have no problems with deadlines. I'd say no more than 5-10% have serious, chronic problems, and most of those are the superstar, detail-heavy artists: Lee, Hitch, McNiven, Quitely, Cassaday...

52 has been an on-time success largely because DC stayed away from the heavy artists; the guys they've relied on regularly are pretty simple. And then you've got artists like Darick Robertson, Mark Bagley, and John Romita Jr., who can probably do 15-20 issues a year.

Sure and I imagine most editors know this, or at least they can ask another editor in the same building with them about what to expect. The real question is, what will editors let the talent get away with doing to them?

I can remember when readers liked comic books for a specific character, artwork, or storytelling, and the last thing on Earth anyone cared about were names on the credits page. I don't EVER remember this crap when Jim Shooter ran Marvel, or even when Mark Gruenwald did. It seems like a recent phenomenon. Maybe editors who used to work at comics companies because they loved comics have given way to editors who now work there as a stepping stone to working somewhere else.

But, I suppose if a writer turns in every script six weeks late and we readers reward their bad behavior by buying their book in record numbers, why should they change? We're getting the kind of respect we deserve.

Ryan Day
02-06-2007, 01:09 PM
I can remember when readers liked comic books for a specific character, artwork, or storytelling, and the last thing on Earth anyone cared about were names on the credits page.

Those things aren't computer-generated, you know. Maybe people haven't always been concious of it, but it's always been the case: People read Fantastic Four because of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. X-Men took off because of Claremont, Cockrum, and Byrne. Daredevil survives to this day because of Frank Miller.

It's all about the talent. Maybe it only became a tangible phenomenon with the Image guys, but it's always been there. And that's the way it should be, ideally; loyalty to brands doesn't produce a lot of great art.



But, I suppose if a writer turns in every script six weeks late and we readers reward their bad behavior by buying their book in record numbers, why should they change? We're getting the kind of respect we deserve.

Seriously, how many writers are chronically late? Smith, Lindelof, Whedon, Heinberg... Aside from the Hollywood writers, most delays fall at the feet of the artists.

It's interesting, actually, that you mentioned a sci-fi author as inspiration for this - as far as I'm aware, novelist-comic authors have a pretty good track record for timeliness. I can't think of any major delays from them, anyway.

Reptisaurus!
02-06-2007, 01:53 PM
I can remember when readers liked comic books for a specific character, artwork, or storytelling, and the last thing on Earth anyone cared about were names on the credits page. I don't EVER remember this crap when Jim Shooter ran Marvel, or even when Mark Gruenwald did. It seems like a recent phenomenon. Maybe editors who used to work at comics companies because they loved comics have given way to editors who now work there as a stepping stone to working somewhere else.


Well, unlike the vast majority of editors in the majority of the history of the medium, there ARE editors who are working in comics because they like comics. Which wasn't true in the sixties and earlier. Just ask Stan Lee.

In fact, if we look at the complete history of the medium, on-time monthly comics are the exception, not the rule. In the seventies and before, many comics were bi-monthly, quarterly, or eight times a year. And there were a HELL of a lotta late Marvel books in the seventies, which prompted the insertion of a reprint or an inventory story, when they couldn't meet the "Dreaded Deadline Doom."

And while Shooter's Marvel had some quality books, to be sure, there were a bunch of late books over at DC. Like Watchmen, Camelot 3000, the Dark Knight Returns..... Shooter gave us books on time. DC gave us quality works that changed the mainstream forever. I know which one *I'd* rather have.

Reptisaurus!
02-06-2007, 01:58 PM
I can remember when readers liked comic books for a specific character, artwork, or storytelling, and the last thing on Earth anyone cared about were names on the credits page. I don't EVER remember this crap when Jim Shooter ran Marvel, or even when Mark Gruenwald did. It seems like a recent phenomenon. Maybe editors who used to work at comics companies because they loved comics have given way to editors who now work there as a stepping stone to working somewhere else.

You remember 1945? At least since the pre-New Trend EC books of the fifites, there've been dedicated fans who followed specific artists. Carl Bark's duck books likewise quickly developed devoted fans who could tell the GOOD duck artist from all the other schlubs.

And, of course, the Marvel books of the sixties made Lee, Kirby, and Ditko a selling point, plastering their names on the credit page in big letter with cutesy, catchy nicknames. Just because you didn't care about creators when you were a kid didn't mean that everyone who was reading comics at the same time didn't care.

Lorendiac
02-06-2007, 02:33 PM
Recently on a whim I went to meet a certain DC editor (no names here) who was at a fairly large convention scouting for talent. He was approachable and helpful on ways to get ahead in the industry, so I lined up at his table with others carrying their scripts, art portfolios and fragile dreams. Anyway, I'd just made the front of the line and was saying my hellos and fanning out my stuff on his table when suddenly an associate editor leaned in to tell him a writer published regularly in a science fiction magazine series (no names, I said!), was in line about 7 people behind me, and was it appropriate that she was queued up with all the undeserving schleps like me (he didn't say "schleps" or point at me, but the rest is gospel). At that point all further proceedings were on hold until said editor could arrange to meet said writer personally. The message was clear – there were contenders, and then there were real contenders.

To go off on a tangent, here's a little story that might interest you.

The way I remember it from a book of military history: Back in World War II, the bigger ships of the U.S. Navy (battleships and carriers) had ice cream bars which they called "gedunk bars." If you were a sailor off-duty, you could go stand in line to get any kind of elaborate ice cream sundae you wanted when the gedunk bar was open. The problem was that the lines got very, very long. Waiting a couple of hours was common.

One day a couple of junior commissioned officers -- Ensigns, or Lieutenants Junior Grade, or something like that -- tried to cut to the head of the line, walking past dozens of enlisted men. This attempt to "pull rank" was met with some hostility, but they thought they were going to get away with it -- until they heard a commanding voice say, "Get back where you belong!"

When they looked around and identified the source, it was Admiral "Bull" Halsey, one of the highest-ranking U.S. Navy officers in the Pacific at the time, who had been scrupulously standing in line with the other sailors, even if it would take a couple of hours. Apparently his understanding of "courtesy" and "leadership" made him set the example by waiting in line for his "fair turn" at a special luxury, just like everybody else had to do!

I like to think that if I were A) a professionally published storyteller already, and B) in the exact same position as the unnamed SF writer you mention, then I would C) follow Admiral Halsey's noble example and insist that since I was already standing in line, I was going to "wait my turn," plain and simple, instead of expecting to benefit from a "double standard" in how people waiting in line were processed.

MartinRedmond
02-06-2007, 02:54 PM
Also Stuart Immonen and Leinil Yu can do monthlies, Jackson Guice, David Yardin, Roy Al Martinez, etc... Tons of great artists.

ChadtheH
02-06-2007, 02:54 PM
Marvel books of the sixties made Lee, Kirby, and Ditko a selling point, plastering their names on the credit page in big letter with cutesy, catchy nicknames. Just because you didn't care about creators when you were a kid didn't mean that everyone who was reading comics at the same time didn't care.

I get that. But you can't honestly think that the reverence fans gave Gerry Conway or Roy Thomas in 1977 is anything like what happens for Whedon or Gaiman today. This is a whole different league.

And career goals were different then. An editor on the payroll a generation ago probably got into comics for love of the craft, and wanted to work with Gerry Conway or Roy Thomas because he'd have a chance to make a really great comic book. Today, I think, an editor on the Marvel payroll picked up everything he knows about comics on the job and wants to work with Joss Whedon or Straczynski or whoever so that he doesn't have to work on comic books anymore. He can work that into an editing gig at Random House or in Hollywood studio or a corporate communications firm because now he knows people.

For creators, it used to be that a Conway or Miller started in comics and was so good it led him to gigs in other media. Now, you have to succeed in the other media first. There's a different mentality in place, a corporate culture that doesn't really care about comics. If they could they would stop printing the books altogether -- except that then the movie deals and merchandising agreements where they make all their real money would start to dry up. And these editors today know which way the wind blows.

Anyway, that's my theory based on a 30-second observation in one convention line.

And for the record I do have some professional publishing credits, in newspapers AND comics. But I didn't even got those references out before this name-game started playing out in front of me.

MartinRedmond
02-06-2007, 02:55 PM
which prompted the insertion of a reprint or an inventory story, when they couldn't meet the "Dreaded Deadline Doom."

Since inventory stories are done in advance, there's no need to rush them. You can always keep a good one in store to give the regulars a break at some undetermined point.

Shellhead
02-06-2007, 03:19 PM
Select two of three: fast, good, cheap.

stealthwise
02-06-2007, 03:33 PM
Select two of three: fast, good, cheap.

I'll take good and fast. Seriously, when's the last time you read a cheap comic, outside of FELL, which has abandoned any pretense of a schedule?

Reptisaurus!
02-06-2007, 03:34 PM
I get that. But you can't honestly think that the reverence fans gave Gerry Conway or Roy Thomas in 1977 is anything like what happens for Whedon or Gaiman today. This is a whole different league.


Mebbe that's true of writers.

But when Jack Kirby jumped from DC to Marvel there were these Big 'Ol ads in DC books "KIRBY IS COMING."

No product. No characters. Just an artist.

I haven't seen anything like that promoting John Cassaday or even Jim Lee in modern comics.



And career goals were different then. An editor on the payroll a generation ago probably got into comics for love of the craft, and wanted to work with Gerry Conway or Roy Thomas because he'd have a chance to make a really great comic book.


Gonna need examples here. Sure, once you're in the seventies you've got the "Fans turned pro" who really LIKED the medium and wanted to make good comics. Paul Levitz wrote a comics Zine in high school. Roy Thomas was a huge fan. But there's also people like Karen Berger who started with DC in the seventies and had never dealt with comics before.

But in the sixties and earlier? Comics were just a job, and great comics tended to be made despite editorial rather than because of 'em.


Today, I think, an editor on the Marvel payroll picked up everything he knows about comics on the job


Like Karen Berger? Or Jeanette Kahn? Like Stan Lee or Will Eisner or Julie Schwartz?

Not convinced this is such a bad thing.



and wants to work with Joss Whedon or Straczynski or whoever so that he doesn't have to work on comic books anymore. He can work that into an editing gig at Random House or in Hollywood studio or a corporate communications firm because now he knows people.


Well, if that's their plan it ain't workin' fer shit. Some quick bopping around the net tells us:

(A) Mike Marts who edited Astonishing X-men DID leave the X-books... For a job at DC.

(B) Renae Geerlings, senior editor for Top Cow and Rising Stars is still at Top Cow after JMS' departure, as of August '06.

(C) Axel Alonso, who edited the first few J.M.S Spider-man stories is still at Marvel, and edited the Spider-Ham one-shot that was released a few weeks ago.

(D) Bob Schreck, who edited Kevin Smith's Green Arrow is still at DC as of last year.

(E) Karen Berger, who edited Neil Gaiman's Sandman, is editing the Minx line for DC.

These are the first (and only) five people I googled, and they're all still in comics.


For creators, it used to be that a Conway or Miller started in comics and was so good it led him to gigs in other media. Now, you have to succeed in the other media first.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The reason that editors are hiring people who have been successful outside of comics NOW is that they CAN. It's the after-Maus effect... Comics are seen as a worthwhile gig now, when before they were publically percieved as kiddy trash. I'm sure if, say, Murray Bennet or Issac Asimov wanted to write for DC comics, Julie Schwartz would've snapped them up. Hell, in the golden age there were quite a few science fiction writers who DID write for DC, under pseudonyms. They needed the bread but they didn't want their association with comics to smear their serious work.



There's a different mentality in place, a corporate culture that doesn't really care about comics.


Always was, dude. Martin Goodman who owned Marvel through the seventies, could give a shit about comics as anything but a way to turn a profit. In fact, with the notable exception of Gaine's at EC, I get the feeling that NOBODY gave much a shit about comics, ever. Hell, Charlton comics was created because it was cheaper to print comics than turn off the presses, and they were ALWAYS quantity over quality.

I've heard that, even today, Marvel and DC make most of their money off licensing, and that comics are an afterthought. (Dunno if it's true, but certeainly believable.)



If they could they would stop printing the books altogether -- except that then the movie deals and merchandising agreements where they make all their real money would start to dry up. And these editors today know which way the wind blows.


Sad truth. But what you gotta realize is that they ALWAYS HAVE. When Jim Shooter was EIC, Mike Hobson was publisher, and the guy who actually had the final say. And he was a Harvard graduate who ended up working at Marvel after working for Publishers Weekly and Scholastic. (Note how he's parlaying his success in other fields into comics....)

And, well, Google "Kirby" and "artwork" to see how much HE cared about comics.



And for the record I do have some professional publishing credits, in newspapers AND comics. But I didn't even got those references out before this name-game started playing out in front of me.

Well, lookit it this way. The next convention you'll be hustled in front of, say, me.

MartinRedmond
02-07-2007, 07:24 AM
Select two of three: fast, good, cheap.
There's no artist taking their sweet time that's worth the wait.

Nitz the Bloody
02-07-2007, 01:23 PM
There's no artist taking their sweet time that's worth the wait.

A hamburger takes much less time to make than a steak, true, but most people will agree that filet mignon is better than a Whopper. It's just a matter of whether your emphasis is on meat quality or meat quantity/readiness.

And that metaphor made me hungry.

Reptisaurus!
02-07-2007, 01:35 PM
On the other hand I AM sorry you got booted out of line. That sucks.

Alan2099
02-07-2007, 02:25 PM
A hamburger takes much less time to make than a steak, true, but most people will agree that filet mignon is better than a Whopper. It's just a matter of whether your emphasis is on meat quality or meat quantity/readiness.

And that metaphor made me hungry.

Now, if you want to go that route, people expect steaks to take longer to cook. McDonald's doesn't fix steaks for the drive thoughs. People know that they take longer to cook and are ready fro them.

Now you can take a long time to make a burger and it's likely to be really god when your done, but most people would rather have their burger done on time.

Now if they want a special meal and go for a steak they expect it to take longer.

Nothing wrong with cooking steaks, they just shouldn't be promised in the same amount of time that they promise people burgers will be ready.

For some reason, the comic pros can't seem to understand that some artists and nwriters take a long time, yet they shoehorn them into projects they can't hope to finish on schedule, instead of saving their work for specials, graphic novels, or waiting until the work is completley to solicite it.

StrikeForce Albert
02-07-2007, 02:31 PM
These food analogies are awful :D

Alan2099
02-07-2007, 02:54 PM
... I know. :(

;)

Omar Karindu
02-07-2007, 07:08 PM
In many cases, I don't get that upset any more about missed deadlines.

But waht's becoming a really disturbing trend these days is the number of writers and artists who let a project sit so they can work on something more lucrative. In that case, the delay isn't because a reative problem or turn is taking extra-long to work out; you will not get more quality for that delay. No, the delay is because the writer wasn't treating the story as a priority in the first place, and that will always make me suspicious of how much effort and thought is really being expended upon it.

The TV and movie industry writers are the easy targets here, but we've seen it happen thanks to crossover mania as well: Grant Morrison and J.H. Williams III putting off Seven Soldiers #1 because of the post-Infinite Crisis work they'd lined up, which had to launch on time for the OYL Event, for instance, or guys like Bendis who snag the Event sotry or the new book they want to do and let their current titles sit and gather dust in the process.

I don't begrudge them their opportunities, but is it so much to ask the guys who get to cherry-pick assignments that they remain committed to things in the chronological order that they...well, committed to them?

Michael P
02-07-2007, 08:04 PM
Like Karen Berger? Or Jeanette Kahn? Like Stan Lee or Will Eisner or Julie Schwartz?

Not convinced this is such a bad thing.

In my experience, all editors pick up most of what they know about their medium on the job. Or at least most of what they know that's worth knowing.

Kid Kyoto
02-07-2007, 08:53 PM
Since few artists in the US do their own inks and coloring, why don't go a bit further and use assistants for backgrounds?

Japan has used a similar studio system for decades and they get their books out on time, and sell in the millions.

StrikeForce Albert
02-08-2007, 04:55 AM
Since few artists in the US do their own inks and coloring, why don't go a bit further and use assistants for backgrounds?

Japan has used a similar studio system for decades and they get their books out on time, and sell in the millions.

Look at the last word you typed

They are able to use multiple assistants because they pull in enough money for it.

suedenim
02-08-2007, 09:37 AM
Isn't it, in fact, a relatively common (though not prevalent) practice in American comics to have assistants (or even friends/relatives) do backgrounds at times? Though it seems most common when the artist is unusually overworked, etc, as opposed to a standard work pattern.

MartinRedmond
02-08-2007, 10:26 AM
Isn't it, in fact, a relatively common (though not prevalent) practice in American comics to have assistants (or even friends/relatives) do backgrounds at times? Though it seems most common when the artist is unusually overworked, etc, as opposed to a standard work pattern.

Image credited their assistants. Jim Lee had like 20 assistants on WildCATS when it was shipping really late. That's why I dropped their books, though they didn't really need anyone buying them at this point anyway.

This is a rumor, but McFarlane had an assistant back at Marvel. And yes, some guys have assitants for backgrounds. I think the real reason for delays is artists and writers not working full time on the projects. Though there's nothing wrong with that, it's annoying in a serialised product.

ChadtheH
02-09-2007, 09:51 AM
But waht's becoming a really disturbing trend these days is the number of writers and artists who let a project sit so they can work on something more lucrative. In that case, the delay isn't because a reative problem or turn is taking extra-long to work out; you will not get more quality for that delay. No, the delay is because the writer wasn't treating the story as a priority in the first place, and that will always make me suspicious of how much effort and thought is really being expended upon it.

And lateness means lost money there's just a plethora of sales figures and factual data to support that. So why, then, don't the big corporations care more about what these writers are doing to their revenue? Three reasons, I suspect (under my current working theory, anyway):

A) The editor doesn't care because he's not a big comics fan himself, AND he really saves money on his yearly budget if a creator is late (budget for 12 books in a fiscal year, but your deadbeat talent only gets nine scripts done due to chronic tardiness boom, you're under budget). Lost revenue is offset by cost savings.

B) If you publish a book that sells 50,000 copies monthly, between your ad revenue and distribution sales, minus costs for your creative team and print run, your profit is what? Less than six figures for sure. Still a lot of money if you're Image, maybe. But if you're a teeny-tiny division of Time Warner, who notices if you miss a month? The money's in owning the characters, anyway.

C) Due to these measly profit margins, some publishers or departments simply cannot pay writers or even artists enough to devote themselves full-time to comics. So I'm sure they all live with the understanding that these people will work you into their schedules when they can.

I don't think this is an epidemic problem, although I do think it's a little more widespread than the mere four writers somebody mentioned here earlier. But it's just a theory -- and Reptisaurus makes some compelling points.

stealthwise
02-09-2007, 10:16 AM
I'm more surprised that advertisers aren't pissed off that their ads aren't being run on the specific dates that they're supposed to. If you have ads for contests, promotions, or other time-specific things, and the book ships six months late, then the whole ad is a waste of money.

We're seeing more ads in certain comics (Marvel) and I'm wondering if the advertisers just aren't read the books or making sure that they're coming out on time.

MartinRedmond
02-09-2007, 12:04 PM
Rumor warning, this is earsay!!!

They don't pay for ads in specific comics, it's sold on the total publications for that month or something. That's why companies like CrossGen never managed to sell adspace. Marvel and DC sell adspace based on the number of all the books sold for every title they publish as a whole.

Alan2099
02-09-2007, 12:24 PM
That would make sense. If the number of books that are late is increasing, And it is) then thre number of adds per book would have to increase (and it has.)

MartinRedmond
02-09-2007, 12:39 PM
I never understood why Dark Horse and Image never went for ad space like DC and Marvel.

Johnny Triangles
02-10-2007, 05:42 PM
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The reason that editors are hiring people who have been successful outside of comics NOW is that they CAN. It's the after-Maus effect... Comics are seen as a worthwhile gig now, when before they were publically percieved as kiddy trash. I'm sure if, say, Murray Bennet or Issac Asimov wanted to write for DC comics, Julie Schwartz would've snapped them up. Hell, in the golden age there were quite a few science fiction writers who DID write for DC, under pseudonyms. They needed the bread but they didn't want their association with comics to smear their serious work.


I agreed with all you said except for this. I wouldn't say pros wanting to do comics has anything to do with MAUS giving the medium respectability for adults. I'd say the medium gaining respectability for adults through the 60s and 70s is what paved the way for MAUS.

I can't imagine Loeb, Lindehof, Whedon and Meltzer deciding to do comics mainly because of MAUS. I think it's because they grew up as superhero fans and had longtime comics habits. They'd have done it regardless of whether or not MAUS was ever printed. If MAUS was what was motivating them to get into comics, I'd imagine they'd be doing some poignant indie stuff rather than X-Men and Spider-Man comics.

stealthwise
02-10-2007, 11:09 PM
I agreed with all you said except for this. I wouldn't say pros wanting to do comics has anything to do with MAUS giving the medium respectability for adults. I'd say the medium gaining respectability for adults through the 60s and 70s is what paved the way for MAUS.

I can't imagine Loeb, Lindehof, Whedon and Meltzer deciding to do comics mainly because of MAUS. I think it's because they grew up as superhero fans and had longtime comics habits. They'd have done it regardless of whether or not MAUS was ever printed. If MAUS was what was motivating them to get into comics, I'd imagine they'd be doing some poignant indie stuff rather than X-Men and Spider-Man comics.

Except that you're ignoring the fact that the medium had very little respectability in the public sphere in the 60s and 70s, and in fact was in the middle of a huge decline overall in terms of sales and overall popularity.

And if those aforementioned writers were actually capable of doing indie stuff that would SELL, then you bet your ass they would be doing it right now.

Johnny Triangles
02-11-2007, 08:44 AM
Except that you're ignoring the fact that the medium had very little respectability in the public sphere in the 60s and 70s, and in fact was in the middle of a huge decline overall in terms of sales and overall popularity.

And if those aforementioned writers were actually capable of doing indie stuff that would SELL, then you bet your ass they would be doing it right now.

They are writing in accordance to their taste and what they grew up with. You can tell that they grew up with primarily superhero stuff, not indie stuff. Kevin Smith is not name-dropping Maus in Mallrats, he's name-dropping Marvel comics and Stan Lee. Whedon references Superman comics in Buffy. Meltzer is obviously a big superhero fiend. The reason they grow up to be big-time writers that are willing to superheroes has little to do with MAUS but rather has to do with the evolution of fandom in general, and not just comic book fandom. Every hobby that was once for kids, be it video games, comics or animation, has an older fanbase than it used to, usually hovering around age 29. Even fantasy baseball is a more grown up way to trade baseball cards. The cause is delayed adolescense in our culture, and our culture's acceptance of it.

MAUS only gave respectability to comics like MAUS. Anyone who only started respecting comics because of MAUS I'm willing to bet still frowns upon superhero comics. The comics that gave adult respectability to comics were first the early Marvel books by Lee, Ditko and Kirby, which penetrated the college market and were a staple at universities across the country in the 60s, then the Shooter era where his style of mature Marvel book got lots of media attention and kept fans hook well into their 20s (and DC's attempts to imitate that style like Teen Titans, Dark Knight Returns and Man of Steel, all of which I lump under Shooter Marvel style because they are more like Marvel books than true DC books).

These auteurs who want to try comics now are part of this latter group of fan. A comic fan turned professional movie, TV or book writer in the 60s probably stopped reading comics by late adolescence, they weren't that big a part of his life. Same for the 70s and 80s. The comic fan turned media writer of today grew up in the Jim Shooter Marvel direct market era and is a much different beast of superhero comic aficionado, he probably only quit comics around late high school at the earliest or maybe never quit them at all. And he's come up in an era where reading comics in your 20s or older is not a big deal at all. And the level of craft in comics has risen to the point where there are lots of great ideas to rip off for your movies and TV shows (look at the great visuals in Matrix and some of the fight scenes in Buffy for examples).

I'd credit Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Jim Shooter, Byrne, Miller, Simonson, McFarlane, Lee, Liefeld and the other Image guys with this interest from media pros more than I would MAUS. MAUS I'd credit with the NY Times Book Review's and the New Yorker's interest in indie comics.

Reptisaurus!
02-11-2007, 01:15 PM
I agreed with all you said except for this. I wouldn't say pros wanting to do comics has anything to do with MAUS giving the medium respectability for adults. I'd say the medium gaining respectability for adults through the 60s and 70s is what paved the way for MAUS.


Yeah, yer right. I didn't phrase that very well. It wasn't JUST Maus, certainly. It was organized fandom, and more adult material in European and Japanese comics. (Maus wouldn't have happened without the Manga Barefoot Gen, published in the early seventies.) And it was Kurtzman, and Wood, and Lee and Kirby and Stack and Crumb and Shelton and Los. Bros. and Moore and Gibbons and Miller working at about the same time, and all that caused a decent-sized shift in the public perception of comics about the same time that Maus dropped. There was a big shift in th' public perception of comics circa. '86 in America, and Maus was a big part of this. And I think you CAN make a direct link between that and writers from other more *ahem* serious media not wanting to hide behind pseusonyms and let their geek flag fly.

Not sayin' that Whedon or Loeb were influenced by Maus. (Although Bendis was.) But they reaped the benefits of the changing public perception that Maus influenced.

Like you said, the adolescent-ization of our culture probably has an effect here, too. Working with children's characters is now sorta cool or trendy.

ChadtheH
02-12-2007, 02:42 PM
And if those aforementioned writers were actually capable of doing indie stuff that would SELL, then you bet your ass they would be doing it right now.

I think maybe you assume that either indies can't sell or these people lack the ingenuity to create good indies. Neither is true. Sometimes the problem is lack of a level playing field.

Let's suppose you and I create Booger Puppy, and get a distributor pickup from Diamond and an agreement with Image or some publisher like that. With a little good marketing and media play, before long we've got a steady sales base of 5,000 or 6,000 copies. After paying off our pale, underappreciated artist and our print run, we can still make maybe $1,000 over our costs each month and Booger Puppy is a modest commercial success. We'd like to go bigger, and the market could probably support that, but we just don't have the resources for the marketing push to make it happen (think "Bone" or "The Tick"). But DC or Marvel or Dark Horse or someone has noticed us and wants to buy us out, character rights and all, to incorporate Booger Puppy into their universe and marketing machine (think "Wildstorm," etc). But with a big company backing comes big expectations of return. Try as they might, with team-ups, tie-ins and a Crisis of Infinite Boogers, the best they can get BP to sell is about 15,000 copies a month. Those would be great numbers for you and me, but for them it's chump change and not worth overhead costs. So our beloved property goes on the scrap heap, ironically because its own success made it a failure. The fans lose, the creators lose, but for the corporation it's win-win either they grow by acquiring a new lucrative property (if it succeeds) or they've killed a competitor (if it fails). This does NOT mean indies have no market.

Citizen V
02-12-2007, 07:04 PM
I dont think anyone respects the deadline anymore..i dont think new readers even know that a comic has a deadline.These days fans just sit and wait for the comics to come out,they dont bother to complain.

Reptisaurus!
02-12-2007, 07:17 PM
I dont think anyone respects the deadline anymore..i dont think new readers even know that a comic has a deadline.These days fans just sit and wait for the comics to come out,they dont bother to complain.

The data I've gathered from these boards has led me to the opposite conclusion.
:)

Although the above is pretty much my attitude in a nutshell. As long as I get an issue every couple years, I'm happy. (P.S. Eightball? You're on my shitlist as of now.)

Admittedly, though, that's cause I'm scary comics nerd and there are thousands of comics I wanna buy. If the Ultimates doesn't come out, that's three bucks that'll go to a back-issue of Sugar and Spike or somethin'. If I ONLY bought the Ultimates and All Star Batman and Robin, yeah, I'd probably be pissed too.

Johnny Triangles
02-16-2007, 04:17 AM
I dont think anyone respects the deadline anymore..i dont think new readers even know that a comic has a deadline.These days fans just sit and wait for the comics to come out,they dont bother to complain.


No, fans complain all the time. Everywhere they can, from message boards to creator websites to snail mail letters, they complain. The problem is, once the book finally gets released, they go out and but it anyway despite all the bitching. It's not that they can't complain, it's that they can't stick to their guns and the comic companies have caught on.

Kid Kyoto
02-16-2007, 04:45 AM
No, fans complain all the time. Everywhere they can, from message boards to creator websites to snail mail letters, they complain. The problem is, once the book finally gets released, they go out and but it anyway despite all the bitching. It's not that they can't complain, it's that they can't stick to their guns and the comic companies have caught on.

It's one of those things we really can't test. Yeah Ultimates and All Star Batman sell well but what would sales be if they kept up their momentum?

Johnny Triangles
02-16-2007, 11:33 AM
It's one of those things we really can't test. Yeah Ultimates and All Star Batman sell well but what would sales be if they kept up their momentum?

They can make educated guesses. For example, there's a standard dropoff between issues that companies expect. 3rd issue usually sells less than 2nd issue which usually sells less than 1st. But some dropoffs between issues are so outside the norm that they are alarming and cause the company to do a drastic change. For example Chuck Austen was once the "it" boy of the industry, but he must have had huge atypical dropoffs between issues because suddenly he was gone (I could be wrong though).

With all the delayed books from Ultimates to All Star Bats to New X-Men, the companies have an expected dropoff that they still consider to be successful, and if the late books consistently exceeded those dropoffs I guarantee you there'd be an end to them because they'd lose their jobs if they allowed them to continue. The fact that there are more late books than ever shows that the dropoffs must be within what is perfectly acceptable and that the books still sell well. Ultimates consistently places high within the top 20.

So yeah, it can be tested. A late book sells half the issues of the previous issue? Heads would roll.

Tony Bang
02-16-2007, 11:43 AM
They can make educated guesses. For example, there's a standard dropoff between issues that companies expect. 3rd issue usually sells less than 2nd issue which usually sells less than 1st. But some dropoffs between issues are so outside the norm that they are alarming and cause the company to do a drastic change. For example Chuck Austen was once the "it" boy of the industry, but he must have had huge atypical dropoffs between issues because suddenly he was gone (I could be wrong though).

With all the delayed books from Ultimates to All Star Bats to New X-Men, the companies have an expected dropoff that they still consider to be successful, and if the late books consistently exceeded those dropoffs I guarantee you there'd be an end to them because they'd lose their jobs if they allowed them to continue. The fact that there are more late books than ever shows that the dropoffs must be within what is perfectly acceptable and that the books still sell well. Ultimates consistently places high within the top 20.

So yeah, it can be tested. A late book sells half the issues of the previous issue? Heads would roll.

Chuck Austen was the "it" boy? I'm glad I missed out on that.