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Revamping the medium


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  • 2 months later...

Was a good article Jumbie, bit short for such topics tho. I found this one recently, its an interestin one - especially now that Marvel's having a presidental change-of-gaurd - about Marvel gettin its ass kicked by Tokyopop (large manga retailler) at Borders & such bookstores, and the marketing strategies theyve been pushing to get into that crowd. Its a tad jaded, as the source, The Comics Journal, hates Marvel, but its pretty dead on at parts, too.

Far too long for many to read, ill try to come back later & highlight the important bits.


The Trouble with Marvel

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  • 9 months later...

I've read this before on the site, and it was brilliant then as it is now. Warren Ellis may be a bit cranky, but he's dead on wheen it comes to the industry. For now Ellis fans, now is a good time to give him a try. He's working on several Ultimate books, so you don't need to dwell into the perverse worlds of Authority or Transmetropolitan (though you reall should). Ellis is a comics fan, and a true writer who wants to expand the medium. Any artist that wants to push his or her medium is on the right path. Check out Ellis' Bad Signal newsletter and diepunyhumans.com also. good stuff. He's been one of the more constant internet savy creators, and is always communicating with fans. I've rambled a bit here but the point is read and listen to Warren Ellis a bit. After you're done laughing you'll see you learned a thing ot four.

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  • 1 year later...

I was pleasantly surprised on my last trip to the US in August that Barnes and Noble and Walden books carried tons of trade paperbacks.


IC tells me this is cuz of marvel's president, Jemas.


I'm delighted. I've always said that the problems in the comics industry had to do with it not marketing mainstream and the comics readership actually revelling in its outsider status.


Has anyone noticed an increase in readership due to the new strategy though?

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Yeah, shame they got rid of Jemas....i agree with you & Ellis here, way of the future and all. Depending on the book, yeah, theyve seen greater sales with this current strategy, though the new guy Buckley has made weird moves undoing much of what i liked about Jemas' time at Marvel: there's tons of x-titles, massive crossovers, liefeld, etc.

Again, even while sales are up (100,000's still a huge deal, to my understanding), bookstore markets still leave you comparing that to manga, with some titles clearing over millions sold.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 month later...

Well, Brian Doherty of reason Magazine has a response of sorts to Ellis, at least so far as the Superheroes in comics angle goes. WHich is amazing since Doherty's article was written in 2001 :-).

Well actually it was written in response to Scott McCloud claiming that comics needs to break out from Superheroes.


I just found the article and I'm going to post some snippets and then a link to the full article.


The superhero and his fans are routinely figured as hopelessly puerile and possibly dangerous. But though those who would upgrade comics to Art or Literature may hate him, it could be that the superhero has given the form the energy to survive at all in a crowded and changing pop entertainment market.


From the very beginning of the comics trade, artists and writers labored under "work for hire" contracts... One effect of that longstanding arrangement was that comics were thought of as essentially creatorless, the brainchildren not of artists with something meaningful to say but of cash-conscious companies trying to squeeze one more dime out of a child’s sweaty palm. Hence, critics, when they deigned to notice comics at all, dismissed them as junk, an unlikely place for anything approaching serious artistic effort.


But first, comics creators and fans must dethrone the superhero comic, "a genre tailor-made for adolescent boys," says McCloud.

But in discussing the possibilities of a glorious, cornucopian future for comics, McCloud must address the obvious question: If comics have such unlimited potential as a serious art form, why are so damned many of them dominated by heavily muscled men in tights engaging in fisticuffs?


After those hearings, the comics industry adopted the Comics Code, an act of "self-regulation" designed to stave off actual government censorship. But the price, goes the standard history, was a high one: Comics were doomed to perpetual childishness.

In fact, mass-market comics were not, by any real evidence, on a path toward Shakespearean grandeur before the banal Code stopped such progress. See, for examples, William W. Savage Jr.’s entertaining Commies, Cowboys and Jungle Queens, which reprints representative examples of pre-Code comics and analyzes what they reveal of the post-war American psyche. The war, spy, and jungle stories he reprints don’t seem like an art form on the verge of greatness. If anything, they’re just fershluggener pop silliness that proves non-superhero comics can be as inane as men in tights at their dumbest.


Yet in many ways, McCloud has already gotten what he wants. There are, and have been for at least 15 or 20 years, many non-superhero comics around, mostly from smaller independent presses. The problem is, hardly anyone wants to buy them.


The father/superhero figure may well be part of the superhero’s enduring appeal, especially among adolescent boys -- an image of a heroic father figure who is not only able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but someone to pal around with between adventures. Such a fantasy may seem unbearably childish; it is, in fact, merely human and underwrites any number of universally acclaimed novels. Literature mavens may groan, but doubtless more people worldwide have been moved by Bruce Wayne’s relationship with the orphaned Dick Grayson than have been touched by Holden Caulfield’s search for a responsive father figure.


But however sophisticated an adventure story Watchmen was, in terms of audience expansion it was a dead-end. "Sophisticated" superhero comics remain insular works whose resonance relies greatly on a previous understanding and interest in the comic book medium.


Anyone who even aspires to being a comics artist in an American context will by necessity have been steeped in the superhero motif.


Far from choking off the vitality of the comic book, superheroes may be precisely that which has kept the form alive, albeit on a smaller scale than decades ago. Look at the fate of another form of pop entertainment that, along with comics, had a huge following in the 1940s: radio drama. There was no one unique thing that it provided better than any other art form, and it died.


Though McCloud tries to deny it, the serialized superhero comic provides something unique, something that other art forms can’t quite match, even when they try to... They are attractive and inspire passion because they provide a structurally different kind of aesthetic/storytelling experience than other, more respected storytelling forms.

The sort of non-superhero comics for which McCloud cheerleads do exist, and can be found in most comic shops (and even in many megabookstores). The market has made room for them. It’s just that no one seems to want them on the same scale they want Spider-Man or Superman.


The superhero comic can be incandescently great and grimily idiotic, but even at its worst, it playfully evokes a wonder-inducing sense of fantastic human invention, of a fertile reworking of eternally appealing myths of beings with powers far beyond those of mortal men.


It will probably turn out, to the consternation of McCloud, that comics, even if they are freed from the shackles of superherodom, will remain a niche market, a weird little sub-eddy in the ocean of popular entertainment... There may be no explosive renaissance ahead for comics; they are unlikely to dominate cultural production the way the novel did in the 19th century or film did in the 20th. But artists like Ware and Clowes will continue to do fascinating work, and their audiences will find it, even if it doesn’t conquer all. And the caped shadow of the superhero will doubtless, in various ways, continue hanging over comics for a long time to come.



Full article here: http://www.reason.com/news/show/28010.html

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  • 1 year later...
That is some heavy stuff right there. I agree with a lot of what he says. I am admittedly a relative newcomer to the comic world, 2000AD being my introduction followed by Preacher, and so I sort of remember what I thought before discovering comics.


The main problem being that from an outsiders point of view, comics = superheroes. Myself I'm not a fan of X-Men, Manga, etc, never have been, but since discovering a different direction that comics can take, Ghost World being the best example, I've been engrossed in this new medium.


Transmetropolitan was the next step for me and I'm always on the look out for new stuff of a similar vein (always wanted to try out Sin City but don't know where to start?). Until comics get more exposure in the media (WE LOVE YOU THE GUARDIAN! ), it is not going to change and the publics view of all comic-readers will continue to be smelly, unsocial men.


Also glad to see KoS and Junk mention Ghost World and Eightball in their posts. I'd like to think I had a small part in helping them discover the world of Daniel Clowes.


Thats pretty much the exact same route I took into comics. 2000ad, Preacher, Transmet and then the rest.


I know im going back 7 years but Item 5 on the Old Bastard Manifesto is pretty apt I think. The only thing that kept me from getting into comics proper for so long was the fact I couldnt get my head around superheroes. Just couldnt take em seriously as a narrative concept. It took Skeet a few weeks of badgering before I would pick up a superhero book. I didnt look back after I read The Ultimates 1 & 2.


Point is someone who doesnt have someone on their back telling them how awesome something is will likely never even think about picking up a superhero book but you put something like Preacher or Transmet or DMZ in front of them that isnt about superheroes but still relatively out there they might take an interest.

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