Sunday, August 24, 2008

Response to Robert Kirikman's Editorial

I’m sure everyone’s seen the video by now, the one where Kirkman calls out Marvel and DC for taking down the comics industry and pleading to creators to stop working for the big 2 and do more creator owned work. He goes on a bit of a high horse, saying that in doing so is the only way to keep comics alive in the long run.

Robert Kirkman's Editorial

Well I was tempted to sit back, say nothing really, but I have an opinion damnit and I’m getting it out there.

First of all, Kirkman mentions comics not being new reader friendly. This I agree with…to an extent. He makes it sounds like younger readers can never get into the big books like Iron Man and Batman, all these top seller classic comics. I disagree with that. Hell, I read Spider-man, Batman and all kinds of comics from the late 80’s and mid 90’s that where more mature reader oriented (not in the way that sounds) and I was just fine, even when reading these stories as a child.

Characters died, bad stuff happened, and I was fine with it. I knew it was just a story, nothing to take too seriously. My father knew I wouldn’t be afraid after reading an issue of Ghost Rider. Though maybe that is just me, maybe children nowadays are more impressionable then when I was young.

I agree that books like Marvel Adventures and Batman Strikes are dumb comics to give to kids. Because in the end, as they mature, they will only see comics as that immature dumb medium that entertained them when they where like…5 and 6. When I was 6 I was reading stories where Venom ripped someone’s head off, and Ghost Rider was taking down rapists. I learned that comics aren’t just for kids at an early age; I think that was important to my maturing and the comics I read as I got older.

But let us move away from that one subject, and onto the meat of Kirkman’s outcry, creator owned work. As I’ve said before, I one day hope to get into the comic’s business. I have tons of comic ideas, all of them ones I want to publish through Image Comics, if possible. Though I’m still young, still learning things like script composition, how to describe things well to an artist so that what I want to see happens, and all that jazz that I’m sure you don’t wanna hear about.

Anyway, my point is this. When I get into comics, I want to start with creator owned work, like Kirkman did. I have this one comic…I’ve got at least 300 issues worth of stories and development in my head, and I haven’t even finished the script for issue #1. I wanted that to be the first comic I publish, but then I realized…what if it didn’t work? My dream comic could be shot down fairly fast.

So I decided that when I do get into comics (and I will, and I’ll post all about it here for sure) that I will open with this one mini-series I have. It’s nothing too special, but I like it and it would be a good opener for me into the world of comics, try and get my name out there. After a while, if I can get work with one of the big 2, I want to start trying to get my name on big books after a while, see if I can build up a fanbase, then, after a while, release my dream book and give it a better shot.

Now I said all that to make a point, if you caught it. The point is that the big 2 are great places for up and coming creators to get their names out there. I’d never have heard of Matt Fraction if not for his Marvel work or Geoff Johns for his DC work. Hell, the only way I knew about Bendis was from Hellspawn and Sam and Twitch. See Marvel and DC help get these guys names out there, and if they want to keep working for the people that helped give them fame, that’s fine. While I’d like to see Bendis do more stuff like Powers, I don’t mind that he’s a Marvel guy now.

I would however like to see if there could be a better balance in the creator owned market.
Honestly, most creator owned work is from new guys, or people who refused to work for the big 2 so I’ve hardly ever heard of them for that. It would be great to see some big names like Morrison back into Indy comics more often, as most writers almost always excel in comics they’ve created.

At the same time, I want to see Brubaker still on Captain America, Bendis on Avengers and Zeb Wells in Spider-man. It’s great to see certain writers and artists on your favorite characters, like Dan Slott on Spider-man. These writers and artists obviously grew up with these characters, they understand them, and it would be unfair to tell them they shouldn’t work on the characters they love to work on.

Kirkman definitely seems to be burning his bridges with this statement. I can’t say I’m not disappointed in him for this, as I felt he was good at Marvel and he fit in well, it’s too bad he seems rather stubborn on this argument. Lots of creators seem to disagree with him, and I honestly can’t blame them.

I think the one writer who has done a perfect blend of creator owned work is Alan Moore, he’s always had such a voice in both mediums of Super Heroes and his own stories, and it’s been great. I think he is living proof you can have a safe balance of the two worlds, and that either shouldn’t be taken for granted or underestimated.

As I said in my Scarlet Veronica post, I’m always looking for interesting new Indy books to check out, but I tend to gravitate to older books like Spawn and Invincible, mainly because I know the writers behind them, I know I can usually expect a fairly enjoyable read with these comics. And that comes with a history with these comics, not because their Indy comics, or even simply because their Image, but because of history.
So no matter what Kirkman’s argument leads to, history is a heavy aspect to it. Even with Indy comics, so while I may be apprehensive at issue 1 of…say…Super-Duper-Boy 5000, you can bet I’ll gladly check out the latest Invincible. So Kirkman’s argument doesn’t completely work, history will always dictate comics for most people, and will be a heavy aspect to most, if possibly all, comic fans.
As much as I respect and admire Robert Kirkman, both as a writer, and a creator, I’m still disappointed with his rather stubborn and borderline ignorant editorial. He comes dangerously close to sounding as if he’s never even read a Marvel or DC comics, and blames them for the entire comic’s industries problems.
I don’t care much for exclusive contracts, mainly because I don’t feel it’s fair to tell someone they can only do work for you for so long as they choose. But if someone wants to sign that contract and does that work, that’s fine, that’s their choice and in some situations (like the recent Frank Cho and Mark Millar signings) I am happy to know that person will only be doing work for that specific company.

One thing I think Kirkman overlooked is money. Everyone needs it to live, and creator owned work doesn’t pay as heavy as working for either of the big 2. With creator owned work, there is always a small level of doubt if that money is always going to be there, if that book is always going to be selling hot, and what could happen should sales drop. With Marvel or DC, steady work with them is fairly safe as long as you keep everyone happy with what you’re doing.
Maybe I’m wrong on all of this, maybe Kirkman will prove me wrong come 2039 when Marvel and DC are both crashed and companies like Image dominate the market. But until then, I’ll gladly sip a Mountain Dew at my desk and enjoy the comics I’m reading, regardless if they are creator owned or not.


Keith Gammage said...

When I got back into reading comics around the end of House of M, I knew very little about the current state of the Marvel Universe, or even who half of the characters were. I enjoyed the stories I was reading (X-Factor and New X-Men) anyway.

It's taken me a lot of looking up stuff and talking to the guys who seel me my comics to get to the point where I know who most people are and what they've been doing (and even then I get thrown when someone like Arcade suddenly pops up) but I really have enjoyed the 'research'.

Off topic: Matt Fraction said at Fan Expo that "Scott has a hotel in his head where he keeps memories of every woman he's ever been attracted to." Is that where Emma's going?

Andrenn said...

I found Wikipedia to be useful for any problems, that and, like you put it, it was fun to read up on what had happened to these characters since I last read about them. I must have spent an hour reading over the Spawn Wikipedia before picking up #158

No worries about off topic posting, and that sounds...odd. I like that Fraction is a creative guy, but that just sound strange. I mean seriously, an entire hotel? Is it only in one room? Last time I checked his only lover has been Jean Grey and her clone. If this where Wolverine that would make sense, but with Cyclops...that's a bit of a stretch.

Keith Gammage said...

It says 'attracted to' not lover. So I assume that the hotel would include every girl he's walked past and thought 'she's hot', even if he never saw them ever again.

Andrenn said...

Oh, all right then, that makes much more sense. Well that should be interesting then.

Marta said...

Thanks for writing this.