Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lee Newman from Broken Frontier on Why He Buys Certain Comic Books

Today, I will be continuing my five part series of guest posts asking the question, "Why do you buy certain comic books?".

It's not as cut try a question as one might think. Do you buy a comic based on the writer, artist or publisher? Is it the genre, such as crime fiction or cosmic super-heroes? Do reviews or friends influence your purchases or do you buy certain books out of obligation, such as to "not break up a run"?

I asked these questions and more to a handful of other comic book bloggers over the past week and they've been kind enough to share their thoughts with me. I will be spotlighting each of the five bloggers every day this week (you can read the first part by clicking here) and today's answer comes by way of Lee Newman, staff writer at Broken Frontier!

Today, Lee Newman, manager of Ultimate Comics and staff writer at Broken Frontier, answers my question on why he buys certain comics.

Why Do I Buy Certain Comic Books?
by Lee Newman

There are some books, like Amazing Spider-Man and Justice League of America, that I buy regardless of anything. I just collect them.  
There are a myriad of reasons. There are some books, like Amazing Spider-Man and Justice League of America, that I buy regardless of anything. I just collect them. Batman and Spider-Man are the mainstays of my hobby. When I was about ten years old and read my first comic, it is was a dusty old copy of Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man. Several years later I discovered Batman in Detective Comics. When I went away from comics - I pretty much didn’t read any from 1992 through 2002 - those were the two characters who made my very first pull list.

The majority of the books I buy are because of the writer. If it says Vaughan, Willingham, Gaiman, or Ellis on the cover, it gets added to the pull. If it says Guggenheim, Dini, Fraction, or Johns on the cover, I will give it a shot. There are very few books written by guys like that that I will drop. I’m a writer, so the story is the draw to me.
If it says Vaughan, Willingham, Gaiman, or Ellis on the cover, it gets added to the pull.
Characters and art are nice, but I need a compelling story to keep me interested. I’ll take an issue of Y: The Last Man over any incarnation of Wolverine or The Incredible Hulk any day. Funny thing about that is they all are on my pull list.

Though, I do like art, as well, it has never been that big of a deal for me. Sure there are the lovely pencils by folks like Jim Lee. However, I can only think of four artists who are currently working that I will buy anything they do, regardless of story. They are Tim Sale, Ashley Wood, Ben Templesmith and Darwyn Cooke.

Everyone else, even the guys I praise, like Josh Howard, Ryan Kelly, Becky Cloonan and the ilk, are going to have to deliver a story as well. Fortunately, they have thus far.

If an artist wants me to take notice… they need to be unique.  
Ashley Wood is the most obvious example to me. When he did the Tank Girl book last year, I was elated. This was one of those characters that I just dug and here was my favorite artist on the book. Two issues in and I hated the writing, but the comic stayed on my pull - because Ashley Wood was drawing it. I just like looking at art by those guys and they transcend that typical comic art and try to do something unique. If an artist wants me to take notice… they need to be unique.

I flip through almost every new number one issue I see and probably buy about 80% of them.  
I also like to try out new things, I flip through almost every new number one issue I see and probably buy about 80% of them. Sure, you end up reading some crap, but for every Sanctuary I read, I discover a Pax Romana, a Sparks, or an Elephantmen.

Hit me with high concept and I’m sold. It is the reason books like Doc Frankenstien, The End League and House of Mystery get my seal of approval before they even hit the stands.

I also don’t hold grudges. I am not a Silver Surfer or Punisher fan, but with every new title or creative team, I give them a shot. Some things, like Captain America, are just waiting for the right people to handle it and tell that story which finally pulls me into that world.

There are also publishers who are gold… take Red 5 Comics, Arachaia Studio Press, Radical Comics or Viper. Even when they put out something I don’t like, like say Red 5’s Afterburn, it is still so much more creative then most of what Marvel or DC comics puts out.

It is a lot easier to make another Batman title than it is to come up with a new group of characters and a compelling story.
It is a lot easier to make another Batman title than it is to come up with a new group of characters and a compelling story.  
The revitalization of Image Comics over the last two or three years has been a joy to watch. If a publisher wants me to rave about their product, it’s really kind of easy - just take chances. Sure, you might put out a book that just perplexes me, like Charltan’s Ball, but you could also breathe new life into the medium by publishing something like The Sword.

There was a time when I pretty much bought anything that came in the shop. Being a manager of a comic shop has it’s privelages after all, but these days, I realize that I can’t read all of them. I have about 5000 books at home that I bought but have yet to read. They are organized by priority but inevitably there are books I will never get to. It’s not that I don’t want to - given enough time, I would probably get them all - but there isn’t that much time.

In the end, I am one of the most open minded readers I know. I give almost everything a shot. Heck, how do you think the big guys got so big, because there were people out there like me willing to give them a shot. And maybe one day, who knows, someone will write that Silver Surfer story that will make me understand what all the fuss is about.

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Andrenn said...

I agree with that final quote! DC would never so much as dare make new characters nowadays. And if they do, their little pricks *cough cough Damian cough cough*

Tyler said...

I agree with the bit about red 5 being more creative than anything Marvel or DC puts out. love that company!

Oracle_Batgirl said...

Ok I'm about to say something people might boggle at, but I miss CrossGen comics. I mean seriously, wtf happened to them? I know it was financial but all those comic properties were what, so much trash when they tanked? C'mon I loved Land's pretty pretty work on Soujourn. Meridian was a great tween-ish comic I actually enjoyed and read (also pretty pretty) and Butch Guise on Muse was making a decent run at a detective/fantasy comic. Was I the only one who cared when they went tits up?

Ted said...

Silver Surfer: Requiem

Dave said...

I'm a Batman fan; but I haven't picked up a mainstream title in a very long time. A few months ago I picked up a trade of Paul Dini's Detective Comics stories. They were excellent.

I used to read Amazing Spider-Man as a kid in the '70's. Now, Ultimate Spider-Man is a must read.

Same with Green Lantern.

I've read Fantastic Four and Ultimate Fantastic Four. Right now I'm hooked on the Marvel Adventures version.

I am so glad that Brave and the Bold is back. Mark Waid kinda wobbled a little bit, but it is the only team-up book around, so I'm sticking with it.

Kirk Warren said...

@andrenn - While the quote only mentions Batman, both Marvel and DC are terrible when it comes to new ideas. This is evidenced by the fact both companies literally pay creators, like Ellis, Morrison, etc, to mine their archives for old characters and reinvent them so each company.

I assume this is for easy money, updated trademarked properties and no need to pay creators for the creation of new products or royalties.

Very corporate and stifling practices.

@tyler - Red 5 is definitely a publisher to keep an eye on. Lovinga lot of the new properties coming out of it.

@oracle_batgirl - I don't think anyone, at least anyone that's read them, will boggle over the mention of missing CrossGen.

I loved what they were doing with comics and they lead the "new age" of comics post-Marvel bankruptcy with many of today and yesterday's brightest stars. Many of CG's artists are super stars today.

As you said, Land was great back then and didn't resort to tracings and porn faces and that made Sojourn one of my favourite non-super hero books. Great sword and sorcery stuff.

Meridian was another fantastic property that I miss. Crux, Negation, The Path, Brath, Ruse and several other comics were all unique non-super hero books with some great appeal for new and old readers alike from dozens of talented creators.

Why did it go tits up? Well, I'm going to blame Marvel and DC. Both companies tanked the industry and nearly ended comics in North America with their practices.

CG came in at the tailend of this era with new ideas, fresh faces and, most importantly, non-super hero work that people weren't ready for and unable to even try thanks to needing to buy 13 variant covers and that limited edition gold foil one-shot and the 32 crossover books for Book X.

No one really had the money to check out Crossgen or were too busy keeping up with line wide events crossing over in 15 books to bother with indy stuff. Indy stuf, in general, was just not on the radar at that point either (outside of stuff like Sandman, which didn't tear up sales charts either).

If CG had waited 5 years before launching, I could see them still kicking right now and carving out a small niche. Maybe not the size of Image, but big enough for people to at least take notice of.

Wicked Juan said...

This series is off to a great start, Kirk. Can't wait to read more.

Hopefully it'll help me answer why I still continue to buy Mighty Avengers and New Avengers each month. :)

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