Something I've noticed is that a lot of good comic book writers are either bald or have a beard. Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Brian Bendis, Matt Fraction (used to have a beard), Ed Brubaker and Warren Ellis are just a few examples.
Another interesting coincidence is the use of three names or initials for popular writers. Brian Michael Bendis? Brian K. Vaughan (BKV), J. Micahel Straczynski (JMS), and so on.
Taking these unique characteristics into account, what would happen if Alan Moore went bald or Morrison grew a beard or each started using their middle initials? Would their writing become so awesome that the universe would implode? If you're an aspiring creator, should you just shave your head, grow a beard and start signing all your work with three names?
House of M is better than Secret Invasion
House of M is a bunch of people talking while Secret Invasion is a bunch of people fighting. Bendis is a better talking head writer than an action/fighting writer. Also, people were not shouting, "Who do you Trust?!", every five minutes in HoM.
Digital Comics Pricing
While Marvel has their Digital Comics Unlimited initiative, which seems to be named only to piss all over any attempt DC might make with the acronym Marvel chose, it's not what I'd call a "real" digital distribution model. When a real digital distribution model does happen, I think Marvel, DC, etc should adopt an iTunes-like system where you pay per issue with prices ranging from $.99 to $1.99 depending on the size.
They would be downloadable for a year after which they would only be available to view through an archive feature and you could no longer purchase them. The archives would have a $5 monthly viewing fee (so Marvel can keep their DCU dealy going) and there would occasionally be a "back issue" sale where selected older issues would be available again to purchase for a limited time, similar to Disney's putting movies in the vault and only having them in print for a limited time before putting them away again.
Starting with Grant Morrison's New X-Men run, Marvel has been releasing "Ultimate" collections of certain comics. So far, all the chosen titles for these collections have received critical acclaim or have been labelled "fan favorites". The next round of titles set for this format include Alias, Exiles and JMS's Amazing Spider-Man.
I love the idea and here is a list of runs I'd like to see collected. I would not necessarily buy or even like all of these runs, but I think they do deserve the treatment none the less.
- Daredevil by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev
- Powers by Brian Bendis and Michael Oeming
- Black Panther by Christopher Priest
- Punisher MAX by Garth Ennis
- Avengers by Kurt Busiek
- Fantastic Four by Mark Waid
- X-Force/X-Statix by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred
An Odd Character/Writer Combo I'd Like to See.
Grant Morrison writing The Hulk. Why? Quite honestly, just to see what the hell he would do with it. I assume it would be incredibly bizarre and trippy given the nature of the Hulk and how personality, the idea of "self," related ideas and occasionally memory are part of the core concept of the character.
Warren Ellis Apologizes In Advance
What "Fan Favorite" Really Means...
Marvel and DC like to throw around the term "fan favorite" when promoting lower tier books. Like most marketing gimmicks, the term gets misused a lot. The fan base of whatever "fan favorite" book or writer that get labeled as such are generally pretty small. In fact, that character/team are rarely able to support an ongoing over a long period of time. When talking about "fan favorite" creators, as people do on occasion, they generally have a solid fan base, but they rarely give a book a substantial sales bump, if any at all. They also do not sell comics in significant quantities either.
Actual "fan favorites" are characters like Spider-Man, Batman, and Wolverine,or creators like Jeph Loeb, Brian Bendis and Grant Morrison. Tossing it on books such as Spider-Girl, Captain Britain and MI13, Secret Six, Manhunter and so on is all well and good, but typically only a marketting term. High selling titles are just as much "fan favourites" as these low selling books.
Harbinger of the 90's Return
People like to talk about how DC is trying to bring back the Silver Age or make exaggerated claims, like saying all of their writers are Silver Age fanboys, and what have you - you know the drill and have read the nonsense on forums.
What they fail to realize is that, five to ten years down the road, the people who grew up reading comics in the 1990s are going to start writing and guiding the future of comics for both Marvel and DC. In fact, some are already there. Skottie Young credits Image Comics in the 90's for turning him onto comics.
It's kind of of hard to know exactly what this 90's reader driven mentality will look like, but I think a prime example of this, for better or for worse, would be Robert Kirkman's work on Invincible. It's bloody, over the top and full of "hardcore" Marvel and DC analogues and embodies the spirit of the 90's while combining the 00's decompressed storytelling in my eyes. Another good example is the resurgence of books like X-Force, which are filled with 90's continuity and is a relaunch of a 90's comic in all it's bloody, popular anti-hero filled glory.
The final sign that the 90's generation is starting to come to power is the return of variants and other gimmicks, like constant relaunches and renumberings, that are beginning to show up every other month now.
Comic Book Numbering
Speaking of renumbering gimmicks, recently, with all of Marvel's "original" renumbering, there has a been some online discussion about comic book numbering/renumbering. To me, it honestly doesn't matter and never did. The numbers are for collectors or promotion purposes. Number ones and anniversary numbers simply sell more, both of which I could care less about. The number's are basically meaningless and are generally inflated to be something important when they are not and I think the whole debate is a non-issue that people are blowing out of proportion.
New comic book companies are rarely a big deal nowadays, for a variety of reasons, but I though I would point one out - Outlaw Comics.
The reason why I'm pointing them out? They are only making graphic novels (ie will not publish any monthly single issues). Their books will be 112 pages for $8, which is a better deal than most single issues can offer.
An article on Newsarama will give you the basics about the company and they seem like they know what they are doing from what little I've seen so far. The people in charge of their publishing division, Tony Hobdy and Rick A. Villa, have a lot of experience in the marketing and branding side of things, so it looks like they won't have the problem of people not knowing about their books, as is so often a problem with non-Marvel and DC companies. Adaptations into other media are also part of their plans, but it doesn't look like the books are created specifically to be adapted into stuff like movies, like with Radical Comics.
Their first titles are set to be released in June and there will be three of them: Praetorian, Hat Trick and Imaginary Friends. There is info on the books in both the Newsarama article and their website (found here, but it's still in beta). There is also a fourth book listed on their website, Jenna Blue, but no info about the title is given.
Reader Challenge - Write About Comics
One of the interesting things that I found out through blogging about comics is that it made me a better comic book reader or, more specifically, better at choosing which comics to read. Writing what I liked and disliked about each comic I read allowed me to better understand what I wanted from them and what I eventually got out of them.
When you start objectively looking at what you are reading, it's a lot harder to keep justifying the purchase of a comic you continuously find yourself writing negatively about or finding numerous flaws in whenever you write about it. It becomes much easier to drop a comic due to quality and to resist the urge to keep buying to 'complete a run' or whatever other excuse many people use to convince themselves to keep buying a book they dislike.
I'm not saying you should start up a blog or write 1000 word essays every week, but, at the very least, try to write down what you liked and disliked about the comics you read in any given week or participate and express yourself in comments on your favourite blogs or messageboards. Try to talk about the writing, the art, the story, the characters, etc. and what you loved or hated about a given issue, even if it's only to give a general score or one or two line 'loved it/hated it' type of response.
The simple act of objectively looking at what you just read can do wonders for adding enjoyment to what you just read or help you understand why you liked or disliked the book and, in part, lead you to dropping a comic due to acknowledging the bad parts of it or picking up a new one by recognizing the things you like in other books in the writing, themes or even creators attached to another book that you never considered before.