November 19th, 2013
J. Caleb Mozzocco notices a common and annoying problem with DC Comics collections:
What they ultimately decided on was collecting it as Justice League Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (collecting Justice League #13-17 and Aquaman #15-16) and as Aquaman Vol 3: Throne of Atlantis (collecting Justice League #15-17 and Aquaman #0 and #14-#16). The “Throne” storyline thus appears in both books, the colletctions having about 100 pages of identical material in them. Given that they are about 140-pages of story content apiece, that’s a pretty significant story overlap, and given the price of these hardcover editions $24.99, that’s gotta be maddening if you read both books in trade (And, again, these are both by Geoff Johns and both feature Aquaman; chances are, a lot of folks who read one in trade also read the other in trade).
I’m not sure why DC does this (I suspect this is also what happens with some of the Green Lantern books and will happen once the three-book Justice Leagues crossover “Trinity War” starts showing up in collections). It may be to encourage purchase of the monthlies in the future, by punishing trade-waiters, but that seems rather unlikely. It may simply be that the folks in charge of the comics and the crossovers don’t really worry about how they’re collecting, and then a different set of folks has to try and make sense of some way to collect them while still having generally complete-ish stories in each collection.
Or they do it, because, you know, publishing two twentyfive buck collections of the largely the same material makes them more money than one and who cares if that means you end up buying the same material twice. It’s just an advanced form of the variant cover edition game. (May also help in bringing down costs if you can just slap in a chunk of ready made material in a second or third trade like this…)
Now DC could make sure that their trade collections don’t overlap this way, or create one or two collections per crossover, rather than slot them into each of the series involved, but as long as people keep buying them, why would they bother?
November 18th, 2013
I have my doubts about Fantagraphics doing a kickstarter to finance their 2014 lineup, but Brian Hibbs response to it misses the point entirely. First:
But my twinge came from the place of pragmatism. This is at least the third, and maybe the fourth, time that FBI has come to the market, hat-in-hand, needing a cash infusion to continue publishing. This is a bad habit, and one that I very much want FBI (and almost all of their contemporaries) to avoid going forward.
No. Instead of avoiding Kickstarter, it would actually make a hell of a lot of sense for Fantagraphics to continue using it as a funding mechanism. For a successfull Kickstarter you need to have a potential audience that’s familiar with and interested in what you’re offering, which has both the faith that you will deliver that and the disposable income to back you; all of which Fantagraphics has in spades, therefore they’re uniquely suited to take advantage of Kickstarter’s funding possibilities. Whether or not this funding model is good for comics as a whole, for Fantagraphics it could be a good way to remove a lot of the risk in publishing, or at least shift it towards their fans. The morality of this is another story, but it makes a lot of business sense and you see this model being used in a lot of geek hobby fields.
But as said, Hibbs rejects this in favour of a much different, much older publishing model, serialisation:
From this point of view, even a serialization even loses a small amount of money is worth pursuing — if it costs $4000 to produce a work in the first place, and $500 to make the same work ready for collection, even if you only make $3000 from the serialization, you’re still in a better place for the collection than you would be if you had gone straight to OGN — you only have to make another $1500 to start making a profit on the book, not the full $4000 you’d need to recoup without it.
Which is of course the model Fantagraphics (and all other comics publishers) have historically followed, up until about a decade ago (curiously enough the last time Fantagraphics got into financial trouble). These days however almost all art comix publishers like Fanta, D&Q, Top Shelf etc have largely abandoned this format in favour of the comics album or “original graphic novel”. Is that because they’re all idiots and like leaving money on the table, as Hibbs suggests here?
That seems unlikely. Isn’t it more likely that while the serialisation, then trade paperback model does make sense for “mainstream” projects, it has long since ceased to make sense for art comix? Even fifteen, twenty years ago publishers like Fantagraphics struggle to get their comics noticed in the direct market, depending on a handful of stores for most of their sales; heck, Fanta had to resort to publishing porno comics to keep themselves afloat at one time. It wasn’t a fad that made these publishers start publishing for bookstores rather than comics shops, but pure necessity.
Now, you could argue that in the current climate, it does make sense to go back to an older model of publishing comics (and as Tom Spurgeon says, it’s hard to argue with a hypothetical), but the track record for serialisation of the sort of comics Fanta publishes isn’t great. Hibbs’ suggestions sounds a lot like that of well intentioned fans twenty years ago who were convinced comics could become a mass medium again, if only they’d get back on the newsstands and out of the direct market.
November 12th, 2013
So Frank Santoro and Sean T. Collin discuss comics criticism, mentioning in passing the lack of women in this, prompting Heidi MacDonald to write a piece arguing that actually, they and the Comics Journal were part of the problem, in turn inspiring Annie Murphy to talk about what bothers her about the Journal’s culture:
So I’m saying, all this relates to the environment of comics at large, the confidence of women artists, and the inclusion of people besides just straight white men. Groth’s comment about what is ‘good’ or not is the rule, not the exception. I cannot tell you how many women, queers, people of color have told me that they used to draw but stopped completely after someone told them their drawing was not ‘good’, because it did not look like what the straight white men were drawing. I’ve heard this from dozens and dozens and dozens.
What Annie Murphy talks about here struck me as not too dissimilar from what we’ve seen in science fiction fandom, gaming or the skeptics community in the past couple of years, which is not too surprising as these all share the same DNA, the same makeup. These are or were all male dominated spaces, where women (and everybody not white and male) have always been treated with a certain hostility, tolerated if they fit in and pretended to be one of the boys. Some of this is done consciously, by the more meatheaded parts of comics fandom, but much of it is systemic and built into how the industry and the critical community are established and operate.
There’s a lot of unexamined privilege, a lot of systemic racism and sexism at work in the comics industry and not just at the big, commercial publishers; people who point that out are not always welcomed with open arms. In science fiction fandom similar problems are slowly being addressed, but I feel that comics fandom and the comics industry are years behind at this point
To get back to the Journal specifically, it’s culture has always been aggressive, from the Blood & Thunder lettercolumn to the famous Groth editorials. It’s an environment that punishes mistakes harshly and where people take pride in their toughness, again not dissimilar to e.g. programming culture, where it’s long know that this contributes to the lack of diversity within programming.
Categories: Comix, Feminism
November 10th, 2013
Wait a minute. Is that? Is that really who I think it is? Is that meant to be Laurie Penny and has Kieron Gillen really remade her into a superhero/villain?
Well, sort of. I’m so incredibly jealous right now.
Categories: British left, Comix
November 9th, 2013
Stop me if this sounds familiar. Take an old Rob Liefeld superhero title, which never had been any good but had sold on hype back in the nineties, put some young up and coming creators on it, then make sure that whatever they do is nothing like what anybody expected when they first heard about the revamp, but is critically well received. This time it’s Glory, not Prophet we’re talking about. Sadly Glory didn’t quite have the same success as Prophet has had and it’s already been cancelled, but don’t let that stop you from trying it: there are only two trade paperbacks to pick up, for a total of twentyfive bucks, telling a complete if perhaps slightly rushed story.
Originally Glory was nothing more than a Wonder Woman clone with bigger tits and no personality. I’d forgotten that Jo Duffy handled the writing on her original series, but anything interesting she did was let down by the subpar artwork, by Mike Deodato and later on Ed Benes, two artists I’m continually surprised are still getting work. There also was an aborted relaunch around 2000, when Alan Moore was briefly working with Liefeld and proposed a new backstory for Glory, which only lasted two issues or so.
I didn’t know Joe Keatinge or Ross Campbell’s work before I picked up the first Glory trade, but Ross Campbell’s artwork looked interesting while people had said good things about Keatinge’s writing. Campbell’s Glory is huge, sticking head and shoulders above the other characters, massive,muscled arms and legs. Meanwhile the reader’s viewpoint character, Riley, is tiny, supposedly a young adult woman, but looking more like a child than anything else even amongst the human characters. As I said before, there’s a lot of gore, but Campbell is also good at drawing quieter scenes; I like his facial expressions, especially when people are laughing. His artwork is manga influenced, but not in the usual way
Riley has been haunted by dreams of Glory since she was a child, now she’s looking for Glory, whom nobody has seen in years or decades. She ends up in Mont St Michel, where she meets Gloria West (a nod to the Alan Moore series) who used to be Glory, but not anymore. The real Glory we first see in bed, injured, “broken”. She’s a victim of the war between her mother, ruler of a warrior clan once considered gods and her father, king of a people so savage they were once called demons. There’s more to this war than is at first revealed and Riley may have been drawn to Glory as to stop as to help her; Glory becomes a literal monster if pushed too far, while Riley’s dreams of Glory have reached the future and it’s not nice.
But it’s not all doom and gloom; there are flashbacks of Glory running around 1920ties Paris with the Lost Generation fighting Fantomas. There’s Henry, the demon-medic with a fondness for ancient photo cameras. There are the allusions to her past adventures, some very lighthearted and silver agey. There are also Glory’s younger sisters, who are both awesome. But what impressed me the most was the casual, matter of fact lesbian relationship between Glory and Emilie, her sidekick/the Etta Candy standin, as well as later with Riley. In all, it’s a shame the series had to end so quickly, but at least we got a complete story.
November 4th, 2013
Damn. Comics Beat just reported Nick Cardy had passed away; at age 93 or 94 not quite surprising but still upsetting. Twentyfive years or so agao when I started out collecting comics, it was his Aquaman covers that drew me to collect the Dutch reprints of that series, even before I knew who drew them. Just look at the one shown above. That’s a great image but also a brilliant hook, something that makes you want to read the story that it suggests. Almost all his Aquaman covers, especially the later ones, are like that.
What I also like about him were his women, like Aquagirl here, pretty, but like his men with bodies that looked tough and capable of doing all the stunts a superhero life requires. His women had actual muscles.