§ Ever since Valerie Gallaher left MTV Geek and relaunched her own blog, her writing there has been so much more interesting and informative than those pictures of a new Transformer that Geek runs. I mean, I like MTV Geek, and it’s obviously a very successful site, but it’s telling that a mainstream “nerd culture outlet” doesn’t have a place for a sharp piece like How Working In Comics Is Like Dating:
Young and Sexy Rule
This editor told me that the big publishers are literally looking for new talent who are “young and sexy.” What it’s all about is Image (yes, and the pun is appropriate). It’s more than just publishers wanting to rebrand Comics as a hip, “youth-oriented” industry; they want to have cool dudes at the cons and industry parties representing them…not “schlubs.” (Quote: “schlubs”)
And that’s not really very shocking, when you consider that though sometimes they don’t act it, Comics are Big Entertainment—and the entertainment industry as a whole has an obsession with youth and looks. Do you think a major entertainment outlet is going to want to focus on “the old guys” from a particular publisher’s stable of talent? Hand-to-God, I can assure you they don’t; instead, wishing to focus on the “hipster” and the “heavy-metal looking guy.”
Gallaher runs through many more of the courtship rituals of finding comics talent, and it’s all so sad that it’s funny.
§ Case in point. Kevin Melrose calls out Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett and I will take the liberty of quoting it all in full because it should be read.
“The Big Two don’t like Rick’s work. It’s as simple as that. In the last ten years, he’s gone from being able to work steadily at Marvel Comics and DC Comics to not being able to get hired. They just won’t give him the time of day.
Rick is one of the most accomplished artists I’ve ever worked with. He’s known primarily for winning Eisners doing Batman & Robin Adventures where Rick himself says that he was paid to draw like Bruce Timm. So, I think for a lot of people there is a sense that he’s too cartoony, his style doesn’t fit in with what the big two want; it’s not sexy or flashy enough. He has a very distinct comic book style, he doesn’t do photo-realistic. Everything he draws, he can draw it. It’s not light-boxing here.
I know at least one editor who went to great lengths to make sure he wouldn’t work at one company and really set him up to fail and did so gleefully. Comics are like any other industry; there are wonderful people in it and there are crappy people in it.”
Burchett, just as a reminder, is the guy who draws like the above page from Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether, the webcomic he creates with Rucka.
§ And for the trifecta, Laura Sneddon looks at the capitalist legacy of superheroes:
It would be ludicrous to suggest that Downey Jr is as ill-treated as Joe Shuster, but when contrasted with the billions that Marvel and Disney are making from their image it is a stark reminder of the profit-at-any-cost approach that these superheroes have come to stand for. And if the star-studded cast is being squeezed despite the first team-up film’s phenomenal success, one wonders how the background crew and special effects team are faring.
§ Wait a QUADfecta! David Brothers writes on his time with Comics Alliance and the economics of writing work for hire:
But, and I say this with no animosity or judgment whatsoever, I do realize that the pay wasn’t great and signing over my rights wasn’t wise. I became aware of it a couple years back, and if I was writing something that was too personal or important to me, I kept it for 4thletter! instead of donating it to AOL. I didn’t hold back on my AOL work, but the things I loved beyond belief or wanted to keep control of, like my Black History posts or the various Frank Miller explorations, I kept to myself.
I think there’s no shame in getting well paid to write work for hire material in any medium..but you should be well paid for it. That’s kind of a crazy idea in 2013, but I like to think big.
§ Continuing today’s theme: Paul Jenkins has gone exclusive at BOOM! and it’s for the freedom:
I'm going to remove myself from working for the foreseeable future with Marvel or DC, and I’ll be working exclusively from now on with BOOM! Studios. I'm finally going to make myself happy again in the process. The first and most understandable question may well be, "Why make it a public affair? Why not simply go quietly and work wherever you like without feeling the need to shout it out to the whole world?" Well, the answer is that I have something to say, and I feel the subject is important enough to initiate some debate. I hope those reading this will agree the discussion will be worth their time. I feel that we are once again moving in the wrong direction, creatively. I’ve been down this road before, and it’s a road we can and should avoid. I don’t need to tell you what Greg Rucka and numerous other respected creators have already told you – that the Big Two have removed their focus away from the creators and towards the maintenance of the characters. I don’t blame Disney or Warner Brothers. After all, Avengers made a lot of money, didn’t it?
§ ON THE OTHER HAND: Comic books offer escapism for all ages
Artez Jiles spends most of his time working three jobs to support his two children. But nearly every Wednesday for the majority of his life, he’s made time for his favorite hobby: reading comic books.
§ The Wyoming News profiles indie cartoonist Noah van Sciver:
Van Sciver estimates he spent about two years publishing his comics and leaving them in the free flyer piles at coffee shops and bars around Denver before anyone started to notice. Influenced by books like “Bone” and “Ralph Snart,” Van Sciver also admits a love for Robert Crumb, whose drawings dominate underground comics to this day.
Van Sciver’s drawings hold a definite similarity to Crumb’s, from the stylized black lines and cross hatching to the figures with every blemish and sweat droplet highlighted in detail. Van Sciver said the biggest lesson he learned from that artist was that you could tell all kinds of stories with comics, not just superhero tales with bold crisp lines, but stories about everyday life with complex drawings that aren’t perfect.
§ And the Venture Brothers are coming back after a two year break!!!
§ I know I was just putting down superhero movies, but the news that Glenn Close has been cast in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY got me intrigued.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.