"Like a glutton loves his lunch." - Some Random Thoughts on Corporate Funnybook Parasites
Chris Roberson was joined this week by Roger Langridge(of whom I've been a fan since ART D'ECCO) in renouncing further work with the Big Two. Good on him. Although it seems kind of hollow as the Avengers approaches $1 billion and DC offers us Watchmen Toast. But it would be good to see more high-profile, talented creators refuse to work with these people any longer. If you just want to put out a comic these days, you don't need them.
And ones who have a name to trade on need them not at all. Even the work by the best creators at the big two is nothing compared to their creator-owned. One page of CASANOVA, for instance, is worth all of IRON MAN. And yes, I realize CASANOVA is now published by a subsidiary of Marvel, but Fraction & Ba still own it. There's more passion in it. I'd have no problem with the big two if they didn't treat dealing equitably with creators as a special prize.
There can't be such a thing as ghosts or curses or else DC and Marvel would be nothing but craters now. The only reason Hollywood came sniffing around comics is the huge pool of IP with no creators to negotiate with. The next stage.
If DC and Marvel can't get talented creators you'd assume they will have to change or die. But no, they won't. They have enough characters to exploit for decades in other media now, and can afford to keep the comics going as trademark anchors forever. Dumb twenty-year-old artists(and apparently they only need five writers at any given time nowadays) don't run out, which is why the big two only changed when forced. But now they don't have to even look like they're trying.
One might say, but won't these characters be tired out after a while? Ah, but DC and Marvel are experts at reinforcing addictions to nostalgia and infantile regression. Which in the stage our culture is entering at the moment they are becoming media-dominant, are useful skills.
Something too to consider: As our nation has become more brutal within and without, all forms of fantasy have become more and more popular. And here's Marvel, poised to normalize that for good.That will look similar to future historians to the popularity of musicals in the eastern bloc during the Cold War.
Superheroes have already been pre-built for people living in basements, why not bubbles?
And fans who loved the Avengers and are looking forward to BEFORE WATCHMEN: it's worth it just for something new to eat your Cheetos with?
UPDATE: The legendary Steve Bissette (thanks for that Steve) reminds us that the present "one throat" situation, where Hollywood only has to deal with one corporation rather than a bunch of creators, began with the success of creator-owned work in Hollywood:
"Don't forget the Hollywood/comics lovefest (a) goes back to the silent era, shortly after films began (with an unlicensed live-action HAPPY HOOLIGAN); (b) the new "wave" started with licensed adaptations of indy properties that DID benefit their creators (if only with option $$), like TMNT, THE CROW, etc.; (c) the current boom kicked off with Tim Burton's BATMAN, with Frank Miller and Lynn Varley properly earning solid book sale royalties from the resulting DARK KNIGHT RETURNS heavy reboot/sales, and (d) the major turn in Marvel's fortunes, leading directly to THE AVENGERS, actually started with a low-profile Malibu-purchase acquisition, MEN IN BLACK. Never. Forget."
And yes, seriously, do not forget that. One could think of it kind of like the way the stages of gentrification work. But the present success of the big two is based on taking over roads cut by creators in every way. And creators no longer really need them. What stopped us in the old days were the economies of scale, the risk in printing. But today there is digital, there is POD, there is Kickstarter.
Publishers are nice and can be very helpful(I like working with Fantagraphics when I get the chance, for instance, they're great people and VERY unlike most publishers; likewise the people at the Graphic Canon) but one has alternatives now. One definitely, if one takes the long view, doesn't need the big two. They need YOU. "Like a glutton loves his lunch."
"Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all of his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me & this pencil." --E. Blackadder, 1789 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson