It’s been a furious few weeks of action here at Stately Beat Manor and around the comics intertubes as everyone scrambles to cover the DC Relaunch and What It Means. I’ve been as obsessed as anyone, although some of the fruits of my labor have yet to be posted. And of course, San Diego Comic-Con is just around the corner (less than four weeks) so things are about to get even busier and even crazier is such a thing is possible.
And it is.
I will admit to feeling some guilt about the amount of coverage being given to the DC Relaunch. I know it has been diverting my attention from far more enjoyable and lasting comics news — small press, indie cartoonists and delightful ephemera. And that is part of the problem — personally speaking, the new DC books are not aimed at me as a reader — I know I will check them out, in some capacity, but it’s not where my main reading interests lie. But you can’t deny it’s a Big Story.
Part of the reason for the relaunch is for DC to gain the #1 publisher spot, and there no doubt that they’ll do that in September. It’s possible that all the media attention the Relaunch is getting will adhere to the “rising tide lifts all boats” principle that has marked much of the history of the direct market. But, perhaps more likely, it will suck all the air out of the room and leave smaller publishers struggling even more for the retailer dollar. DC’s aim is to bring back lapsed readers and gain new readers, not just claim every dollar in the marketplace, but whether that can even happen is the question that everyone is debating nonstop.
My own interest is a little more dramatic. The DC relaunch is in many ways the other shoe that people have been waiting to hear plunk down ever since Marvel and DC both announced their massive changes two years ago. There is no “business as usual.” This could be either comics Ragnarok or the dawn of the new business model. That a new business model will arise is obvious. Whether it can be developed by will alone, remains to be seen.
In the meantime, I’ll try not to get too carried away in my coverage. The ephemera is still the best part of the day. To that end, I’m trying to switch over more quick hit things to my Tumblr, which also links up to my Twitter and so on. That, like the direct market, is sort of evolving as we go.
BTW for all you haters out there, I’m taking questions on my Tumblr, so give it your best shot!
Today’s cover image is from SMASH COMICS #1, and I don’t know if James Kochalka had seen this when he wrote MONKEY Vs. ROBOT, but it proves that this eternal struggle has raged for eons with no clear winner. This first issue came out in 1939 and the covers features Bozo the Iron Man by an artist named George Brenner about whom little information is available on the internet. SMASH was published by Quality Comics, the outfit which employed the Iger-Eisner studio, and produced such characters as Blackhawk, Torchy and Doll Man.
If a cover like this were to appear today you’d expect it to be on a book from Pigeon Press or PictureBox, presented as some deconstructed pastiche of corny commercial comics – whoever he was, Brenner was hardly a draughtsman., but his work presents the directness that you only find in indies these days. And yet although Bozo is hardly a household name among comics folks, of course, Grant Morrison had a plan to resurrect Bozo, and other versions of this Golden Age character have appeared in recent James Robinson comics and so on.
What do you all think? Is Bozo the Iron Man ripe for a relaunch, perhaps in the DCnÜ?
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.