As for this week, I'm talking about what effect Ultimate Avengers could have on events, photo referencing, musings about the future of comics and other subjects. Hit the jump to find out more.
People like to talk about how Marvel and DC have entered some sort of Never Ending Event, which is something of an exaggeration. Sure, Marvel and DC are always putting out something that is event-like, but there are generally breaks in between, such as Initiative and Dark Reign, and they are not always line-wide, such as the cosmic stories or X-titles.
However, that may change at some point. Ultimate Avengers will be Mark Millar's return to the Ultimate Universe, renamed Ultimate Comics, and, as he describes it, Ultimate Avengers will be an "ongoing event book". He has planned four six issue arcs, each of which is an event-driven story involving characters from across the Ultimate Universe. How much one arc connects to the next is not known yet, but it wouldn't be hard to write them in way that they build off the previous one.
Depending on how successful Ultimate Avengers is, I could easily see Marvel doing a year long event sometime in 2011. It could take the form of a couple of minis, such as three four issue minis, or New Avengers could function as the Ultimate Avengers for the Marvel Universe or they could venture into weekly territory alla 52. As for tie-ins, I wouldn't have a book tie-in all year long, as that would be hard to justify and coordinate without it being "required", and would definitely have less than the normal amount of tie-ins, if any. Of course, I'm sane and don't have giant dollar signs in my eyes blinding me.
Use Models as Character References
I know some people have a problem with photo referencing (note: not talking Greg Land-like tracing; just obvious photo references like Norman "Tommy Lee" Osborn), but I think it needs to be done. One huge problem with comics is that there are few ways to tell characters apart outside of their costumes. Yes, some characters do have distinctive features out of costume, but most don't. What separates one character from another is not always obvious outside of some dialogue. For example, how would you tell apart Mockingbird and Ms. Marvel in New Avengers outside of their costumes?
Having model references for all of Marvel and DC's big name characters, either earlier versions of the characters or actual people, would be a great way to impose some visual uniformity for characters appearing in multiple books. I would shy away from using celebrity models, but I would not have a problem with it in certain cases, such as movie mimicking like Robert Downy Jr. as Tony Stark. It would also be helpful since faces are something a lot of artists seem to have problems with.
I'm Such A Nerd
As I mentioned in my Northlanders review, I have a Bachelor's Degree in History and, as such, I have a love/hate relationship with historical fiction. So, when I am watching or reading something dealing with history or specific time periods, I am busy going over what they got right, what they got wrong, etc., etc., etc.
For example, after I watched 300 for the first time, my first thoughts about the movie were how great it looked and the amount of stuff they actually got right, which is a lot. Obviously it wasn't all right, but moreso than most would think. Maybe I'll annoy you guys with the details one day.
Anyway, about Northlanders. There were some things that stuck out to me and I was originally going to include them in my review but 1) I felt I was being way too nit picky and 2) I'm probably the only one who cared.
So, what did I have a problem with? First, Sven refers to Gorm as a dictator, which is the wrong word. A "dictator", in the Roman tradition, which Sven should be aware of since he is from Byzantium, is an elected official with unlimited power. The word he is looking for is "tyrant", which is of Greek origin, which, again, Sven should be aware of, and is someone who rules without constitutional authority. Well, actually, Gorm probably isn't either of those since Sven probably renounced his claim to rule when he ran away from home.
Also, Sven refers to Gorm's rule as a military occupation, which wasn't really an idea back then. There was your land and then the land that you had not yet conquered. Those were the two big things. He also used the word "girlfriend", but I have no idea if that was a word back then. There were also a couple of other little things as well, but I've gotten over them.
Shorter Online Comics vs. Extended Edition Trades
Pondering the future of comics has become something I do a lot lately. Mostly because something is going to give at some point and I don't have too much faith in the direct market surviving in the long term. Other periodical publications (newspapers and magazines) are going through a downturn and some serious problems and I don't foresee comics being any different. As such, I've been thinking about what kind of forms comics might take in the future.
One idea I had was, given that digital distribution is going to play a larger and larger part as time goes on, why not entice people who switch to digital comics only to eventually buy the trade collection as well, even if they've already read the digital versions? How would you do that given the fact that they have already read the story?
Simple, "extended editions" of the stories in the trade, similar to Director's Cut DVDs. Basically, the web versions of the stories would contain the minimal, but essential details of the story while the collections would have extra scenes, sub-plots and longer fight scenes. So, if you just wanted to read the cheaper, digital stories you would get all of the necessary details and a fuller story but the collected stories would give you more for your money.
Do Marvel and DC Want to "Fix" The Direct Market?
As mentioned above, I've been doing some thinking about the future of comics and a thought occurred to me. If Marvel and DC actually wanted to fix the problems with the direct market, they probably could. Sure, they have made some bad decisions in the past, but when your business has the prospect of failing, you generally do something about it.
Now, the reason why I think DC probably doesn't take steps to do that is because they are owned by Warner Brothers, which means that 1) they may not have the ability to take the initiative to do so and 2) they are basically subsidized by WB so they don't need to.
As for Marvel, I can't say exactly why, but I do have a theory. Back around 2000 and the few years afterwards, Marvel was recovering from bankruptcy and just starting to turn things around. Grant Morrison was on New X-Men, JMS on Amazing Spider-Man, Bendis on Daredevil and the Ultimate and MAX imprints were putting out critically acclaimed work. It would be a good start that not only revitalizied their line, which it did, but also expanded their sales to something closer to what they had during the boom years of the 90s.
So, why didn't they attempt to fix the direct market? Movies. At the same time Marvel was in the process of turning their books around, their early movies, like X-Men (2000), Spider-Man (2002), Daredevil (2003), Hulk (2003) and Blade II (2002), were coming out. Now, while some were critically panned, they all generally did well and did significantly better than the comics. I'm betting after seeing the kind of profits the movies made, Marvel decided to invest in them, leading to the creation of their own movie studio, instead of investing in fixing comics.
Where Are All The "Fans" Before Their Favourite Character Dies?
Every time a random character, say Anima, Bill Foster or even Hawkeye (he got better), dies, out of nowhere, a legion of angry fans and fanboys shrilly cry out in some sort of impotent fanboy rage over their "favourite" character dying.
My question is, where were these supposed "fans" before their favorite character died? Seriously, not joking. I hate it. If you like a character, support the damn character! That includes when the character is not around or appearing in any books! You can't just cry "Not fair!" whenever the character is killed off or maimed and expect people to take you seriously after barely making appearances in comics for years and not being able to support an ongoing series. The reason why characters like these can be killed off without repercussions is because their fans don't actually support the character. Simple as that.
Plus, fans of Spider-Girl and Manhunter managed to keep their favorite characters in their own series well past what was probably their natural shelf life. So, if fans do care about their favorite characters, they can influence Marvel and DC.
Do People Actually Buy Books They Hate?
Back when I was active on comic book message boards, emphasis on "was," a lot of popular books, like Final Crisis and Jeph Loeb's Hulk, got plenty of hate and, generally, the haters assumed they were in the majority or near majority and that people were buying the books because they were "important".
I agree with the assertion that "important" books do sell better, but I think that, by and large, people enjoy the books they buy. There is the argument that you have to buy certain books to stay current about the DCU or MU, but not really since you can find spoilers and see key panels (like in our reviews and moments of the week posts) or even read them for free online (at least for some of Marvel's offerings they have up for free at their digital store).
As Final Crisis and Hulk are top 10 selling books, I think people are actually enjoying them, despite the number of complaints and critical panning of the books. I am also basing this off of personal experience as I have never bought a comic book I was expecting to hate. Just seems like a stupid waste of money. Have you ever bought a comic book that you knew you would hate or continued to buy a book that you were not liking? If so, why?