- Posted by Johanna on November 16, 2006 at 11:35 am
- Category: LinkBlogging
Some good writers asking some difficult questions lately:
Diamond’s Double Standards
Christopher Butcher reviews Shirtlifter, a well-regarded story about difficult decisions in the lives of a gay couple. He also points out that Diamond refused to offer it for distribution, claiming that “The writing is not yet up to the standards of the comic book industry.”
Based on my reading a large number of comics that Diamond has deigned to carry, my response to this was “what writing standards?!? The comic industry has no writing standards.” Yes, there are some genius comic books out there these days, many of which get to bookstores long before Diamond offers or ships them, but there’s also a very large amount of crap.
Christopher makes it pretty clear that he thinks Diamond doesn’t like the realistic portrayal, including nudity and sex, of a gay couple, and he compares the situation to that of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, one of the aforementioned pieces of crap that features gazongoid boobies and copious female nudity and is featured in the regular catalog (not even the adults only porn supplement).
I hope that this will be another case where reasonable responses from those who know what they’re talking about will cause Diamond to rethink this erroneous decision.
Why Do Superheroes?
Larry Young schools a youngster.
For context, first read this Engine thread (link no longer available), where someone trying to start an Engine-like board about superheroes (because there aren’t enough of those) is chastised by a moderator for posting too many plugs. Larry quickly stepped in to ask why anyone would do superheroes:
The superhero audience is already being well-served by Marvel and DC, so that audience really isn’t going to care about your characters or situations, so that’s a non-starter, and Marvel and DC aren’t going to hire you because even if your comic is The Best Superhero Comic Ever, well, they’ve already got their comics scheduled out for a while and best of luck, etc. I’m really interested in yours (or anyone’s, really) answer to this, because once a month, no kidding, somebody pitches us a fully-formed superhero book. Now, leaving aside the fact they haven’t done their market research in general or in specific, what is it that makes a newcomer want to address the superhero over the astronaut or the detective or the nurse or the journeyman newspaper correspondent or whatever? It absolutely cannot be the fact that they think by doing a superhero pastiche in comic book form that they will get noticed by superhero comic book companies who will not give Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, Matt Hollingsworth and Clem Robins jobs because the superhero you came up with is so brilliant.
He goes on to encourage others to work hard at their own creations. The next few responses are justifications of why those particular wannabes aren’t listening. They say that superheroes are fun, readers aren’t getting what they want from Marvel/DC (oh yes they are: they want nostalgia and comfortable habit), people stick with what they know (which applies to both readers and aspiring creators), because that’s the story they want to tell, and finally, honestly, because they love superheroes.
Anyway, upon the second appearance of a plug for that superhero messageboard, Ellis thankfully shuts the thread down, which leads to Larry’s response that I linked above. It contains, among other things, this advice, which everyone should pay attention to:
You’re not entitled to an audience; you have to work for it by being entertaining… and trying to co-opt someone else’s audience that they’ve worked very hard to build and maintain is not only distasteful, but sort of rude. Sure, maybe there’s some overlap, and a healthy “If-you-like-this-you-may-like-this” probably won’t step on too many toes… but artfulness beats artifice every time. Don’t be so obvious.
Why Join ComicsPRO?
Tom Spurgeon has some retailer responses to his earlier question about the number of members the retailer industry group ComicsPRO has attracted so far. The first sums up concerns with few benefits for non-US members, issues with mentoring (because most stores don’t want to support local competition, and many comic store employees want their own stores), and website problems.
Joe Field, organization president, responds. His last point addresses the biggest problem I see:
Retailers are by nature control freaks. In our stores, we’re all chiefs and none of us is an indian. It’s tough for many control-freak retailers to trust an organization to represent their interests. I have to tell you, though, in the formative stages of ComicsPRO, the board has been all about doing selfless work for the service of fellow retailers, in the hopes we can make a difference for all specialty market comics’ retailers.