Thursday, June 14, 2007

Call me Monstah Lobstah (as I whimper in pain while applying aloe to my arms)

-That Newsarama comments section I mentioned yesterday has since turned into a David Brothers showcase. Again, I think he's absolutely correct: company cheerleading has no part in this argument. Lisa Fortuner did clarify her position: it's not an issue of editorial direction so much as fan response. I guess I can get behind that--Marvel certainly has a tradition of trying to convince its readers that they're fellow conspirators or fraternity brothers or something. I think it's a legacy of Marvel's history as a crappy little publisher that struck gold with Lee/Kirby/Ditko, whereas DC was the man in the gray flannel suit. Marvel kept this identity long after it surpassed DC as the industry leader--long after it was in any way justified--and I think this bumptiousness has rubbed off on its fans. Or to use a sports analogy: Marvel zombies are the Cowboys fans of the comics world.* If DC had published a comic featuring a seductively posed zombie Lois Lane, its hardcore partisans would just want to know which Earth it was taking place on.

By the way, anyone want to hazard a guess what percentage of all comics readers are militant DC or Marvel partisans? I would guess well over half of regular Direct Market customers favor one over the other, and maybe 10% will only buy from one of the two. Of that latter group, I'm guessing at least a quarter used to favor the other side, but joined the opposition after a favorite creator/character (probably the latter) was mistreated.

Hey, I think I'll spend this weekend hanging out at the refrigerator case of my local convenience store, telling anyone within earshot that Pepsi induces diabetes at a slower rate than Coke. Coke's just a fundamentally mismanaged company, you see.

*You should have seen all the people trying to spin the Wade Phillips hire as a positive. Most fans of other NFL teams would have greeted this news with pronouncements of the end of days; Eagles fans would have started plotting Phillips' assassination. If fans of other NFL teams are Star Trek geeks, Eagles followers are more like the type who really, really like Jodie Foster. And yes, I'm a longtime Eagles fan.

-Related: You've probably seen Brothers' panegyric to Joe Quesada already, but if not, here it is. I don't really agree with the central theme that Quesada's watch has been a grand experiment in unconventional storytelling--Marvel's been running away from Morrison's X-Men run from the moment he left the company, after all. Even putting that aside, it's hardly been a permanent revolution--in the end, I think he's replaced the old status quo (assuming chaotic shitpiles can have a "status quo") with a new, equally conservative status quo. I mean, I'd take him over Didio any day of the week, but I'd hesitate to call him a unique visionary or anything like that. I'm reminded, though, of a post I made a couple months back suggesting that Didio would be primarily remembered for botched sales initiatives and the terrible portrayal of women in DC's comics.* The latter is true of Quesada as well, but I think he's been successful enough that it won't loom so large in his obituary. Or maybe he'll be remembered as the guy who made Marvel interesting when Bill Jemas was around, and boring when he wasn't.

*In retrospect, I would probably change these categories to (a) a failure to capitalize on successful "event" comics, and (b) an overall darkening of tone, making DC a much more dreary, monotonous company.

-Also related: Ed Brubaker shows up on the post that started it all, and he's not amused. I'm conflicted on this one. I trust Brubaker enough that I give him the benefit of the doubt with both the flaming Falcon thing and whatever is going to happen to Daredevil's wife. But this is kind of like reverse profiling--Brubaker's one of the good mainstream writers, thus he's exempt from criticism (or at least gets criticism deferred until his books actually comes out). On the other hand, I'm no cop, so maybe it's okay to treat Brubaker differently. Tell you what, I'll give Meltzer and Turner the same courtesy once they produce something that doesn't make me feel like an asshole for bothering to read it.

-ADD has another piece on comics stores up. One of the central themes of this essay is that one shouldn't be able to guess the store owner/manager's preferences by the layout of the store. I think this is maybe a bit naive. I'll use my LCS as an example again. Most of his business comes from the DC/Marvel types, so those comics get the most display space. The owner doesn't read most of these books, but it's entirely logical that they would be displayed in such a way to make them accessible to his customers. And again, this is a store where one could buy Prince Valiant, The End, Carl Barks' Donald Duck, and Essential Iron Fist on the same trip.

I also might add that retailers are starting to struggle with the issue of Where Am I Going to Put All This Shit? I mean, Marvel and DC look like they're going to publish these Essential/Showcase volumes until the end of time (or until they go all digital!), and those suckers are big. Hmm--wasn't that their strategy in the 70s? To publish so many titles that there wasn't rack space for any competitors?

-Okay, I've seen it twice now. What is up with that ice cream cone? Do I need to read The Three Paradoxes to understand? (BTW, how late was that book? I swear my brother's been talking about it for the better part of this decade.)


Anonymous said...

Panegyric is a new word to me, but I like it.

I don't think that Quesada's forward motion is going to be extremely permanent, but nor do I think it'll be a flash in the pan, either. I think it's just a good start and hopefully something that will continue under the next guy (Brevoort?).

Thanks for the hat tip, though.

Chris Mautner said...

I read The Three Paradoxes last week and I have no idea what the deal is with the ice cream cone. Perhaps it's to make him look mournful.

You're an Eagles fan? Where do you live?

One of my local LCS stores is already going through a problem with "too much stuff." It's got just about everything, but good luck finding any of it.

Dick Hyacinth's Ghost said...

I learned the word panegyric when I wrote a paper on Procopius' The Secret History (which is actually a polemic) about nine years ago. It's a fun word.

Chris, I've never lived anywhere near Philadelphia. I grew up in South Carolina, where the closest team during my adolescence was the Falcons. Nobody likes the Falcons. The other popular teams in my vicinity were the Redskins and (ugh) the Cowboys. I liked the Eagles because I liked the classic Buddy Ryan-era defense: Joyner, Simmons, Brown, Allen, and White. Strangely, I've always pulled for NY teams in all other sports (except hockey, which is unnatural for native South Carolinians to follow or understand).

Greg said...

The Secret History is such a fun book. People who say history is boring obviously haven't read any of it.