Friday, October 12, 2007

Wrapping things up

-I have to admit, I was really shocked that so many people (by which I mean any people at all) were so flabbergasted by the very notion of serious comics industry journalism. See here and here.* At Blogorama, Jennifer de Guzman mentions a few crucial, underreported stories, which apparently convinced the naysayers that they were wrong (or else they went off to complain about the new Captain America costume**).

I'll add one more thing: I think there's change a-coming to the Direct Market. The portents are there--the customer base is aging, and DC and Marvel are trying to extract every last drop of blood from this base through variant covers and enormous crossovers. Meanwhile, it's clear that both publishers have their eyes on the bookstore market. Marvel is publishing more books intended for that venue (the Stephen King adaptation (and there's another coming, right?), the Anita Blake-type stuff). DC is doing the same (Minx, the growing number of OGNs from Vertigo). DC is diversifying even further by trying to establish an online presence through Zuda. Marvel will probably follow suit at some point in the future. Meanwhile, Diamond is in the process of trying to implement greater professional standards on the DM as a whole (increased minimum sales requirements, barcodes, its POS initiative).

Maybe I'm wrong, but there seems to be something going on. Not in a "power players making decisions in a dark, smoky room" kind of way--major historical changes are not generally enacted by decisions of Great Men, but by a confluence of economic, social-cultural, and political factors. This is not All the President's Men. There appear to be a lot of pieces in play, but it's possible that these are all unrelated events which do not signify any impending changes. I suspect that the situation would be clearer, one way or the other, with a little information about what's going on at the top echelons of the industry. The hard part is obtaining that information.

*I'm assuming that Graeme McMillan was asking "does anyone report real news," not "is there any real news to report?".
**Which, admittedly, is pretty fucking ugly. Alex Ross' immense success is prima facie evidence of...something or another. Definitely something bad. I'm having a hard time putting it into words this morning.

-Getting back to another theme from earlier this week: Hey, you know what comic would work well on the internet? Beanworld. I guess it depends on how Larry Marder feels about merchandising. By which I mean merchandising his creations; his history at McFarlane suggests that he's okay with merchandising in the abstract. Anyway, it seems like the perfect strip for the Achewood model of webcomic entrepreneurship: a rabid fanbase, beloved characters, plenty of potential t-shirt slogans. I don't normally buy licensed merchandise, but I'd certainly do so in order to keep Beanworld going.

-I didn't manage to read the vast majority of the Ignatz nominees--in fact, there's no single category for which I read everything. But I do possess opinions (quite possibly ill-informed) about a few categories. Outstanding series has a bunch of very strong nominees. I really, really like Mourning Star, but I think Dungeon is probably the greater achievement as a series to date. I might have favored Atlas, but I haven't managed to get the latest issue. I really need to order a copy. As for the minicomics, I thought Seven More Days of Not Getting Eaten was absolutely fucking awesome. I like Matt Wiegle's work quite a bit; you can read some of it here. Outstanding online comic--much as I blather about Achewood, I'm strongly tempted to go with Nick Bertozzi's Persimmon Cup. You should totally check out Thingpart as well. A lazy man might describe it as something like Perry Bible Fellowship if that strip were ghost written by James Kochalka. Hey, a lazy man just did!

Regardless of how you feel about the concept of awards (especially in the comics industry, which certainly has several dozen too many), you have to appreciate the Ignatz' ability to convince a bumpkin like me to try some new stuff. This gets said quite a bit, but there are way, way, way more good comics available now than at any point in human history, and they're coming out in a variety of forms. Good luck to all the nominees, both this weekend and in the years to come.

...And right as I finish writing this, Heidi MacDonald stirs up a huge shitstorm. I'm not sure I've completely absorbed what she's getting at, but I'm fairly certain that all the comics I've listed above qualify as things she wants to read and considers largely absent from the world of art/literary comics. Hmm. If it weren't for SPX, I would guess that comments thread would reach epic proportions this weekend, especially once the usual dumbasses show up (see: any discussion of the Ellison-Fantagraphics lawsuit or the Nate Fisher case). I'll be keeping an eye on it, regardless.

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