Leave it to the pesky Canadians to make us question everything we have ever believed in! Comics Book Bin points out that the Emperor is a nudist:
The debate about independent news reporting on the comic book industry has been raging for years. Yet, instead of improving, it seems that larger vendors are exerting more control over supposedly independent news sources. Other vendors without similar clout may suffer comparative unfair advantages.
Well yeah, no duh! I work for a legitimate news outlet — Publishers Weekly Comics Week — but when attempting to write my own “report” on certain news stories I’ve actually been told the only statement anyone would make was up on Newsarama, which already has a sweetheart deal set up with the big players at DC and Marvel to put up weekly press releases on thoroughly vetted subjects.
Of course, if I were a real journalist, I would do an end around and get some of those people who, “would not be named because of the sensitive nature of the discussion,” or even find someone who would speak ON the record and write an actual story. But I’m lazy, and to be honest the cost-to-benefit ratio of such an enterprise would not be worth it right now.
That’s why I can’t get mad at Matt Brady, or Jonah Weiland, or anyone, really. They all have the exact same cost-to-benefit ratio I face. But without Michael Dean, who stopped running his interminable-but-well-researched news investigations for The Comics Journal in order to take over as editor, we’re pretty much sunk. There’s no one out there to investigate DC’s recent sales collapse, or what Marvel’s new film studio really means for their publishing arm, or why Dark Horse has such a hard time getting its book in print in time for movie releases, or the future of Image Comics, or what’s up at IDW, or what the hell is wrong with Travis Charest, or how certain companies that seem to have no real reason for staying in business actually stay in business, and so on and so forth. I mean people TRY to address some of these stories and get canned PR answers most of the time, but no one seems to have the resources to put it together the way a Kim Masters, or Ken Auletta does for the rest of showbiz.
Ironically this content-dearth comes at a time when more and more mainstream journalists, who are supposedly trained to get ANSWERS, dammit! are covering comics. Since so many of these journos are themselves deep-cover fangirls/boys, their coverage tends to be just as eager and unquestioning. Of course, once in a while, an actual piece of somewhat objective coverage slips by, like Geoff Boucher’s profile of Frank Miller in the LA Times. A sad track record for an industry whose two most iconic superheroes both work for newspapers.
Why is there no Masters or Auletta for comics? That’s because there’s no money in it, of course. Yet. Maybe that will change.
This sense of malaise over the state of comics journalism seems to be going around, perhaps fueled by the Comic Foundry affair. Over at the Engine, Warren Ellis longs for good criticism again:
I avoid reading reviews of my own work, as a rule, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read reviews of other peoples’ work and just thought, “it’s not that I disagree with your opinion, but that your opinion is based on you just plain not understanding what you read.” Or, worse, the chill of realising the reviewer just doesn’t know anything about how comics are put together; the equivalent of a music reviewer hearing guitars and thinking they’re clarinets. Which is not something you see often in music writing. And I get this from some of the best-known comics reviewers; I recall one well-regarded guy stating that a book was sloppy because it was cutting its scenes in the middle of the page instead of at the end. Which I imagine came as news to, say, Jaime Hernandez.
Speaking of Comic Froundry, Dick Hyacinth has some useful insights on the bit of the proposed CF Mag shown at TCR and Tim’s description of it as a “lifestyle magazine,”
So if that’s it, then, uh, I’m probably not interested at all. Which is no big deal, cause I’m just one person, and kind of a tightwad at that. But I’m really unsold on the mass appeal of this periodical. When I think “lifestyle magazine,” I think either “magazine intended to help get you laid” or “magazine intended to make your home nicer, including the meals you eat in your home.” From the look of the sample page, I’m guessing this veers closer to the former. Leong apparently is looking more toward Wired, a magazine I’ve never bought because (a) I don’t think it’s geared towards people like me, and (b) Thomas Frank eviscerated it too thoroughly in the pages of The Baffler for me to actually take it seriously (these two points are probably related). I can understand how Wired manages to exist as a lifestyle magazine which isn’t about finding new sexual partners or what to do with your life after you’ve settled on a single sexual partner. Extreme technophilia clearly is a lifestyle, and I guess the people who live that kind of life read Wired.
Which is probably fairly accurate. CF is not the magazine either Warren or I am looking for, although it is the kind of commercial venture that could fund a budding Michael Dean, although advertiser support for such a venture would be nil.
Anyway, just some musings on a Monday morning. Tom also has some thoughts on all the above.