No kibbles ‘n’ bits today — it’s all hard thinking.
§ Steven Grant attempts to write a brief history of a certain school of comics writing that flourished from c. 1997 until FINAL CRISIS, a school — led by Grant Morrison — which he calls “mad ideas.” We’re not 100 percent down with the piece, but it’s a good start:
The idea of density of content is basically a good idea, especially as a counterbalance to the “decompression” trend. (Warren Ellis, in THE AUTHORITY, demonstrated how to successfully accomplish both simultaneously.) Environment is a key concept that ties “mad ideas” in with density of content; the presentation of the unusual or apparently crazy, in multiple shapes and variations, as the context for dramatic action, can result in very appealing and ambitious comics. There are many good examples of “mad ideas” comics: Ellis’ TRANSMETROPOLITAN, PLANETARY and GLOBAL FREQUENCY; Moore’s PROMETHEA and his later MIRACLEMAN run, and the Neil Gaiman variation that follows; Morrison’s DOOM PATROL and THE INVISIBLES. Not surprisingly, such series tend to steer away from traditional superheroics, often away from traditional superhero or adventure story concerns entirely, so that they almost seem to be a separate genre. (I once described the superhero branch of the “mad ideas” school as “post-superhero,” though the latter is less a subset of the former than an intersecting set.)
§ Later in the same piece he quotes an anonymous observer who has a variant view on NYCC09:
Despite the sold-out (pre-ordered tickets) attendance and Saturday’s turnaway crowds, there was a muted air about the whole con. No big buzz about anything. No big movie announcements, no big TV announcements. No comic or project generated any real buzz. Dave Gibbons presenting the first 18 minutes of WATCHMEN is, after all, a known quantity for a movie that doesn’t need anymore buzz than it already has. In spite of Heidi Macdonald’s rah-rah commentary, there was a depressed air because indie booths barely saw people buying their books despite a lot of look-sees. The only real buzz was for the video game demos and they had an even bigger presence than ever. The only comics that sold were collections of PVP and PENNY ARCADE, and those were tied to the gamer demographics and already had big followings.
Since I’m being called out for being “rah rah” — a fair assessment — I do want to make it clear that it’s entirely possible that where I spent most of my time, there was a more “rah rah” type atmosphere than where other people sat. As I said in my piece yesterday, I think it will be a while until we unpack just what’s going on.
§ Fantagraphics marketing guru Eric Reynolds is less than thrilled with the new New York City -centric focus of the BEA:
…I’ll spell it out more clearly: Chicago or Vegas (to give two examples) are actually way better level playing fields if the goal is to keep costs down for the industry as a whole, and not just Reed Business and those “major publishers” Reed seems so concerned about.
The BEA in NYC is often insufferable when it opens on a weekday, when every “major publisher” staffer and intern and freelancer who would otherwise never in a million years get sent to BEA in any official capacity is in attendance, either as an excuse to get out of the office or to simply acquire Free Shit. This is not a means to an efficient end.
If Reed wants to attract the widest possible base of all arms of the publishing and bookselling world, it should continue to move around. There are publishers you see at a Los Angeles BEA that you would never see at a NYC BEA, and vice-versa. I presume the BEA has always moved around because this was seen as a good thing, being as inclusive as possible.
§ But then see this almost self-parody piece from the NY Observer which asks, “Is There Any Glamour Left In Publishing”?
ICM agent Binky Urban does not believe it would be possible to write much of a novel about modern book publishing. “What is there to say?” she said by phone Monday. “It’s such an internal, sort of cerebral job. ‘And then I edited …’? I don’t quite get how that would work, to tell the truth.”
¶ Finally, DC is finally putting out some Batwoman comics, and the result is a lot of headlines like this: Batwoman ~ the red-haired lesbian unleashed at last