Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Comicsfans: Not every single "cute", "manga" or "fill-in-whatever" style take on DC Comics "needs to happen"

Not every damn cute picture of Supergirl and Batgirl as Manga characters would lead to a just unbelievably great comic.  Not every "ninja" Batman drawing is being robbed of achieving its full potential as anything other than that one, single, drawing.  Han Solo Superman or whatever is not "the perfect idea".

Comics have been caught in an echochamber of mashing two ideas together for the past ten years, and its old. 

I'm sorry.  Someone had to say it.

I'm going to get a cup of coffee.


Marshal said...

Maybe you are right.

But I love my Han and Chewie as Calvin and Hobbes shirt.

Anonymous said...

Ummm what?? Something brought about this rant. Link?


Simon MacDonald said...

I have to disagree this Supergirl/Batgirl by Mike Maihack does have to happen!

The League said...

I love to look at those images, too (and, NTT, that was exactly the link I was thinking of that Simon posted).

Look, I LOVE that image. But its an image. And thanks to the power of the internet, I know that I will see 2-4 of these per day. That is not an exaggeration.

Its become a sort of unintentional meme that the comics internets then begin shouting that they're not being heard because DC isn't publishing that exact image as a comic.

But here's the thing: its just an image. It doesn't really even suggest a story. I don't dislike the images. I just want to enjoy them for what they are instead of the "why isn't this happening? What is wrong with DC/ Marvel? Its so unfair!" refrain that's getting louder and louder.

I see the potential there, too, for a possibly fun or cute comic. And some of them are (take Tiny Titans, which I buy all the time). But drawing one cute picture is easy. Telling a story that anyone wants to read over four issues is hard.

Not every single one of these images "needs to happen". But a couple of them...? Just to see if the noisy comic fans would BUY them instead of DOWNLOADING them...? Or to see if there's actually a fun comic worth reading behind the kewpie doll images? That I'd like to see...

Simon MacDonald said...

Ha! I knew it was that link. Look I have to admit I was baiting you. Not every one of these mash up creators deserves to get their own book.

However, I do follow Mike Maihack's work on his web comic Cleopatra in Space and I really do think that Mike could write draw a great all ages Supergirl/Batgirl book.

Also, I'd love to see Katie Cook on an all ages DC book as well. Probably neither one of these things will ever come to pass.

The League said...

Ah, yeah. I've read some of the Cleopatra in Space work! Sure.

It doesn't seem like Johnny DC tries this stuff when it could, but then I think:

If stuff like "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade" had sold at all well, we'd probably see more stuff like this actually get to print.

Story issues aside, the "Why isn't this happening?" question drives me nuts because this same noisy audience doesn't BUY anything. It's literally not worth DC's time to print boutique Batgirl comics if they don't make money.

For the record, I bought that Supergirl comic and the Krypto comics Johnny DC put out.

No, I don't think a lot of these things have an actual story behind them (which i think sort of killed Herobear and the Kid), and simple mash-ups generally are pretty dissatisfying (anyone remember Marvel Manga?).

But the dollars have to be there, and that's something the new kids seem really, really unclear on in an age where they've grown up with their media subsidized by the older generations who were still paying for their media.

Simon MacDonald said...

Hey, you're not wrong. Just because I would enjoy an all ages book by Mike or Katie it doesn't mean it would sell. Certainly that born out to be the case see Thor the Mighty Avenger by Langridge and Samnee which was:

a) expertly written
b) illustrated beautifully
c) critically acclaimed
d) didn't sell at all

Even if a good concept and creative team are in place there are no guarantees that anyone will actually pick it up.

The League said...

Yeah, I have no idea if there's a solution. Its not like quality has ever mattered much in any media.

And I want to believe in those projects (I'll pick up the Langridge Thor as a TPB this year), but something is disconnected between the three points of

1) Quality but somewhat non-traditional work (esp. non-continuity stories) that doesn't sell
2) What actually sells - largely traditional big-screen superheroics
3) one-off illustrations that might adapt well as a "comic strip" style approach - that's basically fan-art, and a cute idea

Its just been a little frustrating watching the squeeing fanbase make so much noise over this stuff, and the entitlement factor that the Gen Y and millenials seem to have adopted in a different way of "where's my custom Green Lantern comic"? and still not really supporting books like the Thor or Supergirl examples we tossed out.

Landry Q Walker said...

"If stuff like "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade" had sold at all well, we'd probably see more stuff like this actually get to print."

I'm not disagreeing with your general assertion here (in regards to the direct market), but for the record Cosmic Adventures trade paperback initial sales were on par with the mainstream title.

And it continues to sell (both in English and the new Italian edition). Don't look just at the Diamond sales report for a gauge on what is and isn't profitable. You will be mislead if you do.

The market for kids books is vastly different than the market for adults. Trade paperbacks potentially have a longer life in secondary orders due to schools and libraries. Whereas the direct market caters primarily to adults, and the sales reflect this.

Here's an example of the selling power of kids comics. Everytime Disney Adventures would put the word comic on it's cover, the book would see a significant bump. So much so that they started coming out with an all comics issue.

Subscriptions for Disney Adventures were well over a million. The newsstand edition generally outsold anything the direct market can boast about.

So the potential market is there. It just has to be approached properly, and that's not going to happen inside most comic book stores.

The League said...

Oh my! People, if you don't know who Landry Walker is, he's the author of the aforementioned "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade".

(There's a reason I get grouchy about that book not selling, and its because it was really GOOD).

So if anyone is going to know about the money this book was generating, its Mr. Walker.

Thanks for the insight! We love facts and figures here at The Signal Watch. I love hearing how this works, and I greatly appreciate the insight. I stand corrected!

But: why don't we see more of this sort of work from DC if its doing as well as, say, Teen Titans?

Landry Q Walker said...

"But: why don't we see more of this sort of work from DC if its doing as well as, say, Teen Titans?"

First, a clarification: Using only Cosmic Adventures as an example, the trade sales were on par with the mainstream title. And the book continues to generate income as it has proven to have a long shelf life.

But... The sales of the monthly issues were not on par with the mainstream, hovering instead on an average of roughly 7000.

So the book has done well, but not necessarily through the direct market initial sales. I do have better insight than others as to the sales of my own book. But I'm in the dark as to whether or not those ongoing sales figures are true of all all-ages endeavors.

As to why we don't see more of this work, I can only speculate. An over-reliance on the direct market and the short term economic gain it brings in is my best guess. Long term sales are a higher gamble even if the reward is potentially richer, and DC strikes me as not comfortable with gambling for profits (and has a need to show strong short term sales figures to their parent company).

So in a way you aren't wrong. All-ages books bring in less money - through the short term direct market. But as evidenced by Disney Adventures, the audience is there and no one is catering to them. Why? I really just don't know. Imagine an 80 page all-ages anthology available in every grocery store aisle, filled with Batman and Supergirl and Teen Titans and more. Not a continuity based book and not bound by traditional comic book styles.

I think it would do well. Certainly it would be a better long term approach than catering exclusively to an aging market. It's also a direction considerably safer from piracy, as six year old's are less likely to spend their time downloading the material in question, and parents still like buying their kids that impulse all-ages magazine on the rack at the checkout.

The League said...

You guys read it here first! Comics Pro Landry Walker says "So in a way you aren't wrong"! That is so, so close to saying I'm right that I am calling that a WIN people.

But, yeah, one of the refrains on this blog when I harp on "srsly, what is up with comics sales?" is the loss of the grocery store market. Its how I bought a good chunk of comics for years in the crucial age when my bike couldn't get me to a comic shop. And I do think, especially for younger kids, it would be a draw.

I know that if my mom thought I'd read (she taught reading in elementary schools), it couldn't be all bad.

And those digest Spidey books you could get on the newstand were the first Vulture stories I ever read (and I remember it 26 years later), and DC Blue Ribbon Digests had the first Teen Titans, Legion and Outsiders I ever read, so there's something

Noah said...

Yeah, but people who have absolutely no concept of how the publishing industry works should get every single thing they suggest turned into a book.

I agree with you, an image is the usually not the tip of an iceberg of a more solid foundation of a pitch. It's usually just an ice cube floating by with nothing to supper it. I've seen plenty of TV show pilots that are great 44 minutes of entertainment, but when forced to sustain a series over the course of many episodes, can't do it. It's the same with these mashup images.

Simon MacDonald said...

During the summer we had a cottage that was about 45 minutes away from anything. It was great yet boring at the same time as there were no other kids around. Everyday on his way home from work my Dad would stop off at the corner store and pick up a comic book for me to read. Without those comics I would have been bored out of my skull and probably not the fan I am today.

Not having comics in the grocery or corner stores seems to be very much a no brainer as to why kids are not into comics these days. If my daughter is any judge kids like to read comics but they are not exposed to them like we used to be.

Recently my copy of Gronk arrived that I order from Katie Cook. There are lots of in jokes in it that my daughter doesn't get as she doesn't have the 30 years of pop culture background but it is well written and drawn so she still enjoys it. She also loved the Supergirl story written by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Amanda Conner that is in my HC of Wednesdays Comics.

To that end I have to search out Landry Walker's "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade" for us to have something to read on our plane flights next week. To end this comment where I started we are heading back to NS and staying at that same summer cottage where I learned to love comics.

The League said...

Every summer we'd go to my mom's small hometown in Upper Michigan for about two weeks. Every few days I'd be handed a few bucks by a grandparent or parent and we could walk "downtown" to a newstand where we would buy comics. I still remember buying Spectacular Spider-Man and the Batman v. KGBeast comics off the shelf there, probably in middle school. It was all very mid-20th Century and wholesome, now that I look back on it. But it was also those same trips where Id pick up Blue Ribbon Digest and other anthologies so I could read more comics for my dollar.

My grandparents also had a cabin they used occasionally when I came along, but my mom had grown up using, so there were a lot of Richie Rich, Hot Stuff and other Harvey comics in a bin in the corner. I imagine those comics just got chucked when they tore the cabin down a few years ago.

Simon MacDonald said...

Not to resurrect this old thread but Mike Maihack just posted a 6 panel Batgirl/Supergirl comic. I know it is not a full 22 page story but I think it could be good.

The League said...

I don't think it has to be a 22 page comics. I think most of these are mostly newspaper strip like ideas, anyway. Tiny Titans has a great format of "the story is as long as the gag". Its pretty great.

If you can be an Art Baltazar a Franco, then cool. And this is actually less to do with the creators, by the way, than the attitude of the online community pouting.

That said, from how many covers in the New 52 feature blood all over the place, I'm starting to think DC would have been smarter to go all cute'n'cuddly.

Simon MacDonald said...

If my daughter is anything like other little girls she loves these short one pager comics like the Supergirl one in Wednesday Comics and Tiny Titans.