“We are the only industry that so loves its Colonel Parkers and so distrusts its Elvis Presleys.”

–The Comics Reporter

1 COMMENT

  1. not a bad quote, i read Tom’s post earlier and noticed that. still, i think Elvis was a pretty big rip off / hack to begin with, so does this comparison even hold up?

    as for a quote of the day, i’m partial to this line from the Time Warner article in the NYT that you blogged about a little bit earlier:

    “…popular culture has devolved into narrow niches and user-generated fare like video clips of bulldogs riding skateboards.”

    it’s a little bit out of context the way i quoted it but still hilarious nonetheless.

  2. “still, i think Elvis was a pretty big rip off / hack to begin with, so does this comparison even hold up?”

    Having seen Siegel and Shuster’s output during the Golden Age, I’d say, “absolutely.”

  3. I love it when a quote perfectly puts into words a vague thought I’ve had many times.

    For all that this is a “talent-driven” industry, the fans (online, at least) are always ready to jump to the defense of the employers over the employees. (And just as a reminder: the employees are the ones actually creating the comics!)

  4. How about its Brian Epsteins over its Beatles?
    Or its Malcolm McClarens over its Sex Pistols?
    No, it works fine as is. Elvis’ overrated talent is beside the point.
    The point is that Col. Parker had ZERO talent, except for manipulation.

  5. I’ve Been reading these letters… just amazing.

    My favorite line so far is in the last paragraph of Exhibit E, when he tells Jerry to ” Get behind you work with zest and ambition to improve and forget about book rights, movie rights and all other dreams.”

  6. The analogy is perfect. It’s the casual disregard of Elvis that’s the problem. Siegel and Shuster combined a lot of elements that had been floating around pop culture for years but never gathered in one place before and made something new out of them. Fast forward 16 years and Elvis does much the same thing.

  7. The analogy is perfect. It’s the casual dismissal of Elvis that’s the problem. Siegel and Shuster combined a lot of elements that had been floating around pop culture for years but never gathered in one place before and made something new out of them. Fast forward 16 years and Elvis does much the same thing.

    Suggested reading:
    Mystery Train, by Greil Marcus
    Last Train To Memphis by Peter Guralnick

    Suggested listening:
    Elvis Presley, Sunrise

  8. It’s a funny quote…until you read the article and see its biggest load of histrionic pseudo-intellectual socialistic prattle ever.

    And Elvis is awesome, especially Storm Trooper Elvis.

  9. And remember, Brenticles, some damn socialist hippie writer and artist sat down and created the stories you are enjoying today.

  10. Typical — comics fans get into a battle of semantics over whether the creative force is a hack, and take their eyes off the ball of the real battle. All this prattle over whether Elvis sucks just proves the quote.

    Besides the real unassailable comparison is Berry Gordy versus Stevie Wonder.

  11. What the hell is that quote supposed to mean?

    “We love Quesada, but hate Bendis, Millar,…”

    or

    “We love DiDio, but hate Busiek, Johns,…”

    And Elvis is dead. Has been for decades. Please let his corpse Rot In Peace.

  12. What the hell, Brenticles? Valuing creative people over exploitative managers who make millions from them while contributing nothing to their work is socialism now? What dictionary did you get that from?

    Tom is, of course, correct, depressing as the thought may be.

  13. Note to Brenticles: it takes more that mentioning “class” to be a socialist article. I guess once you read that word you made up your mind about the subject? I see no socialism in there, unless you feel that the rights of a creator to see profit from his invention is inherently Socialist. I sure don’t. That’s Capitalism where I come from.

  14. Quibble as some might over the exact metaphor, the fact remains that there is a tendency in comics fandom (and in the industry, since so many pros are simply fans living the dream) to favor the caretakers of the characters, rather than the creators. And to not look too closely at how the caretakers came to have custody.

    PDS

  15. Franklin, I never said that those folks not the creators contribute nothing. At least I didn’t intend to: I’ve been an editor myself on any number of creative projects and may write someone else’s characters this Fall.

    There are always significant numbers of people involved with any sort of successful project that can and should be rewarded. I’m just questioning in comics the frequency and the degree to which this reward system — financial and otherwise — includes the creator, or, if you prefer, questioning comics’ collective lack of questioning it, and wondering after the culture that focuses on one place over the other.

    I know this next wasn’t from Franklin, but I don’t really get the socialist thing, either. It would certainly be ironic, given my background.

  16. Franklin — you can create delivery systems, marketing platforms and business models galore…without a quality product to sell you will still be second class.

    I would never denigrate the hard work and importance of publishers — or to a lesser extent movie studios and television networks. But when you see the shit that the money men have heaped on the creators in every field over the years, you realize that a fine balance between art and commerce is called for.

    Or as Geoff Johns once quoted of a meeting with a movie studio over Green Lantern, “does he HAVE to have a ring?”

    Publishers, studios and networks come and go, but the stuff that lasts is from the pens of the creators. The publishers, studio execs etc. who DO live on are the ones who had a vision to hire the most talented people and let them create — a William Paley, Michael Korda or Irving Thalberg.

    I guarantee you that the names of Charles Dickens, J.D Salinger or J.K. Rowling will last a lot longer than the names of their publishers.

  17. nothing like a bunch of comic intellectuals professing that their industry is “different” than everyone else’s. when exactly was the enlightened era when capitalists did not profit from the labor of artisans? why is the plight of, say, recording artists in the 50’s not EXACTLY like comics or any other industry you can name? who are the col. parker’s that are so much more revered than the creators today?

    this is 5th grade emotionalism passing as intellectual rigor.

  18. The best that a creator can hope for or insist on would be the Factory records model. The artist OWNS all of his/her music and rights and Factory splits the profits 50/50.
    Seems fair to me.

  19. Wait, who’s Elvis again? :)

    “Yep, they make for good entertainment, but lousy government. ”

    Because the Republicans didn’t do a bang-up job running our country into the ground the decade prior to the Democrats taking it back less than a year ago? Sheesh.

  20. “Quibble as some might over the exact metaphor, the fact remains that there is a tendency in comics fandom (and in the industry, since so many pros are simply fans living the dream) to favor the caretakers of the characters, rather than the creators. And to not look too closely at how the caretakers came to have custody.”

    Well, comics fandom (which in the US means superhero fandom) didn’t emerge as a cult of personality or individual creative expression, but as a cult of characters, concepts and fictional worlds, so none of this seems particularly surprising to me.

    I’m not saying I don’t share Tom’s sentiment, mind you, but it’s hardly news.

    And, Heidi: Does it HAVE to be a ring, really?

  21. Hey Stan, how about taking stock of your own intellectual sloppiness? I don’t think either Tom or Heidi are suggesting that this kind of exploitation doesn’t go on elsewhere. What’s being pointed out is how consumers of this particular medium seem to be (at least in the vocal blogosphere) so pro-business. When fans of the Beatles, for example, read about the stupid deals Brian Epstein made on their behalf, for example, they are usually horrified. When some comics fans read about a similar situation with Siegel and Schuster, there tends to always be a certain element that will stridently jump in to say, “Well, they signed the contract.” That’s the point that’s being made here, not one that the industry itself is unique in this regard, just that its fans are. (Although I would add that I think sports fans share similar traits; rich athletes are bad for the sport; even richer owners are just business men doing business.)

  22. Thank you, Miles, that is the point. Stan, I work in other art industries; I know full well that exploitation isn’t unique to comics.

    Snoid, the baseline modern strip syndication business arrangement is 50/50 split, full ownership to the creator.

  23. “Snoid, the baseline modern strip syndication business arrangement is 50/50 split, full ownership to the creator.”

    I didn’t know that Tom, Thanks for the info.

  24. I remember a meaningless, argumentative “discussion” about copyrights on a message board devoted to pulp fiction. One astute person was incensed that creators were dickering over ownership of their work.

    “Writers and artists shouldn’t be concerned about money,” he proclaimed. “They should just worry about doing their best work.”

    Apparently, writers and illustrators don’t have to worry about rent and groceries. I suspect that the author of said post is the kind of guy who believes that comic artists should be willing to do free sketches for him at conventions — in gratitude of his being a fan.

  25. As I love to say every time there is one of those discussions: In Europe the Big Comic Publishers work on a creator-owned model. Hergé died a millionaire, Goscinny died a millionaire, Uderzo is a millionaire. And yet Media Participations, the main french publisher (owns Dargaud, Lombard, Dupuis and others), is richer than Marvel.

    It IS possible, you know?

    Best,
    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  26. Not that anybody cares, but to me the big problem with comics in the US, is that both creatively and commercially it works like a greyhound race, with most dogs chasing the same fake hare… It’s a sad show at best :P

  27. Jonathan Says:
    08/11/08 at 9:34 pm

    I prefer Colonel Sanders to Colonel Parker.

    —————————————

    Me too. I think Tom should edit the quote to say “We are the only industry that so loves its Colonel Sanders and so distrusts its Elvis Presleys.” Think about the cultural ramifications of that. THINK ABOUT IT!!! Elvis = killed by his physical overindulgence after the public’s indulgence of his own behavior began to wane in his final decade. A modern day comparison would be like loving MTV and hating Michael Jackson… no, wait that’s too dated and it’s not the same… ummm, like loving Nike and hating P Diddy? No wait, that doesn’t even make sense. Okay, in comics it’s like loving extreme sports but hating Rob Liefeld. No, wait, that’s even worse than the Nike / P Diddy one… Fine. Whatever. The Sanders line still works somehow. THINK ABOUT IT!!!