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    • CommentAuthormorganagrom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2008 edited
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.

    Reading it, almost 8 years after it was published, is disheartening as the direct market has apparently rejected almost all of the ideas it expressed.

    There is little desire to move toward the bookform as a most optimized goal. Direct market purchasers still feel compelled to purchase serials as "habitual entertainment." Creators and publishers defend and promote serialization as desirable and necessary.

    Creators are noticed, but only are ultimately considered secondary to characters. Grant Morrison's original work sells a fraction of a Batman comic, written by him or anyone else.

    There is really nothing left to say with superheroes, but the direct market comic shops remain flooded with them. Creators sign the work for hire paycheck and give interviews and press releases celebrating how much they love the characters and the fun they're having. Aspiring independent creators still often clothe their new ideas in spandex. Fans still follow acclaimed creators from superhero book to superhero book, ignoring their new (and often creator-owned) ideas.

    The publishers who have the best resources to reach out and build new generations of readers choose to spend the majority of their resources holding on to the old ones, and the old ones just keep getting older.

    Warren Ellis is writing the New Thunderbolts and X-Men. Pardon, Thunderbolts and Astonishing X-Men.
  1.  (915.2)
    There was, of course, a sell-by date on that piece.

    The market, as I've discussed elsewhere ad nauseum, went through some serious changes within just a few years of that piece.

    Grant Morrison's very probably sold more INVISIBLES collections than copies of any one issue of his Batman work, and will have received more money for THE INVISIBLES.

    There is little desire to move toward the bookform as a most optimized goal: Tell that to Tokyopop and Viz. Or even Slave Labor, at this point, I'd imagine.

    Dogmatism is retarded.
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2008 edited
    I'd agree as a reader that some things have changed, or are trying to change

    <strong>"No-one wants the creators to appear bigger than the characters." </strong>
    A number of creators are being followed for their work, and not for their characters. Personally, I'll take an interest in anything by Warren, or Joss Whedon, or David Mack, or Darick Robertson. They don't have to be written by that artist, or drawn by that authour for me to interested. They don't have to be about Buffy, Kabuki, or bowel disruptors for that matter (though that's a disturbing combination in itself).

    Fan bases happened before, but in devoted little 'followings'. It's common-place these days to request specific authours and artists in comic shops (gee, almost like a book store?), and anyone resistant to that idea needs to reevaluate their reasoning. For instance, I wouldn't have picked up Astonishing X-men if Warren hadn't told me Joss was working on it, and that he'd be taking a stab at it next. I've been done with cape books for ages.
    <em>Edited to add, I've really enjoyed the Astonishing series- it's fun. Something different, like a good pop song.</em>

    Which brings me to:
    "Fuck superheroes, frankly. The notion that these things dominate an entire genre is absurd."</strong>
    I became so fed up with the capes and the 'goth' books that I walked away from comics for a long time. When I returned, it was to pick up the graphic novels. Now that I'm acclimated to where comics are going now- if the shops, the fans, and the industry will allow it- I'm excited to see it happen and be a small part of it. Recently, I've even been picking up the single issues again.

    I won't tread too far into waters I'm unfamiliar with, but I wanted to add that, from a reader's perspective.

    - Z
  2.  (915.4)
    Change ain't always fast. The availability of trades has expanded massively in recent years. They're kept in print all the goddamn time and they're easily available in mainstream bookstores. I worked in a major bookstore for a couple of years and I saw the attitude of the central buyers change even over that short space of time.

    'Persepolis' got made into a successful movie for fuck's sake, as did 'A History of Violence' and 'From Hell'. There's so much pretentious arty stuff coming out it's untrue and a great deal of the literate stuff is written entirely as books.

    Superheros will always be there and thank fuck for that. You only need to read The Iliad to see that those stories are as old as the hills. There's so much more than that out there and it's more easily got than there ever used to be. I can still remember seeing the first Preacher collection reviewed in a roleplaying zine and a Heavy Metal magazine (neither of which would even think about covering comics normally) simply because people at the editorial level believed it was a product with crossover appeal. That was what got me into comics.

    My local Forbidden Planet has an entire section dedicated to Neil Gaimen. Also (and spot the retail drone) both Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis have their products cross merchandised, which means that the Thunderbolts collection is marketed next to Transmetropolitan and Punisher gets marketed next to Preacher. Amazon is also more than happy to recommend stuff based on author as well as title. We used to market the same way when I worked for Satan's Own Megalithic Book Chain. We did that because it drove sales.

    Times are changing. Some elements faster than others. I'm deliriously happy to be living in a comics environment where a graphic novella history lesson about killing the French with bits of wood is a worthwhile commercial venture. I'm happy that a geeky Canadian dude can write a travelogue about Pyonyang in graphic novel format and be sold in bookshops up and down the country. I'm happy that Garth Ennis is cheerfully raping the shit out of the cape concept.

    Mostly I'm happy that there's pictures to go with the words because I'm slow and easily confused.
      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2008
    Recently I came across this info in a publisher's submission guidelines:

    OGN's don't have a tendency to sell very well if you aren't a known creator. And they cost a shitload of money to produce, and take over a year (or more) to see a profit.

    Plus as books in bookstores, they're returnable, which I guess direct market floppies aren't?

    Interesting market barrier for small publishers there. Trades are keeping the industry alive, but it's still a risk and slow payoff to go straight to trade, or to collect something that didn't sell.