Early Morning LinkBlogging

A big thank you to Richard Isanove, who stopped by my post on Marvel’s Stephen King project to clarify whether it’s new material by giving a history of the effort. What I find most surprising: they’ve got 31 issues planned already!

Following up on the Platinum Cowboys & Aliens brouhaha, Dirk Deppey does real journalism, talking to the principals involved and producing a balanced report. Entertainment Weekly appears to have used a website report instead of actually researching the numbers, which is why promotional giveaway copies of both this and a Marvel title were included in their top ten list. Platinum acknowledges paying off retailers but calls the money “co-op marketing dollars”. Deppey continues:

I see nothing wrong with giving away copies of your debut graphic novel to retailers as an incentive to order further books from the company, at least in the abstract. After all, rackspace is crowded in the Direct Market, and if you’re determined to make a place for yourself in North American comics shops and you have the money to throw around, removing obstacles to your potential customer base from reading your work is perfectly understandable. If Platinum had doled out free copies of Cowboys & Aliens with the express purpose of getting them into the hands of readers unfamiliar with the company’s output, I’d applaud their commercial daring and wish them all the best. This only becomes a shady deal if you’re buying copies of your own book from retailers with the explicit goal of turning around and declaring said book to be a bestseller.

Which he then demonstrates with website archive images. Dave Lewis, whose original rant brought the incident to light, responds, discussing his emotional reaction and presenting his letter to EW. Steven Grant talks more about his experience working with Platinum and emphasizes the company’s purpose: “it was never in Platinum’s original game plan to become a comics publisher”. (Scroll past the electronics conference section.) Tom Spurgeon follows up Dirk’s reporting by suggesting additional followup:

The questions that remain surround the nature of the payments made to the stores and why the marketing initiative was done this way instead of merely doing a straight-up giveaway, EW’s sudden endorsement of a single store’s sales chart in its pages right when it would benefit one publishing company the most, and whether or not statements made by Platinum officials to Dirk Deppey about motivation and policy will hold up to continued scrutiny. … What may be oddest about all this is that anyone felt it necessary to pull strings so that it would appear that a comic book sold X number of copies when simply making the claim on its behalf might have gone unchallenged.

Big City Girl explains why I don’t love Runaways (link no longer available): After praising many good qualities of the book, she notes “just because I like the Marvel universe, that doesn’t mean I want every comic I ever read to be set there. In fact, setting Runaways in this universe has caused rather more problems than I’d like.”

After she explains what she means, there’s an even bigger issue that leads into my next topic. Big City Girl has problems with the book’s approach to diversity:

This subtle, sensitive depiction of a young woman coming to terms with her sexuality was twisted and perverted in the space of one issue into a disposable running joke. Because everyone knows, lesbians can be satisfied as long as their lover looks female.

Speaking of homosexual portrayals, Loren posts the lengthy GLAAD 2006 LGBT in Comics rundown (link no longer available). It mainly focuses on DC and Marvel books because GLAAD is concerned about visibility, and that’s what they think are best known in comics. Dirk Deppey (under the Comics Culture section) then rips apart this outdated assertion very entertainingly. Here’s just a small excerpt:

Buried in the back list: Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, an “other label” (i.e. real-world major publisher Houghton-Mifflin) graphic novel that’s been named book of the year by Time Magazine, the best graphic novel of 2006 by any number of recognized national magazines, and given prominent display space in major chain bookstores. Oh, and sold a bunch of copies and was created by an actual, authentic lesbian. But that’s not as mainstream as the Justice Society of America!

I think there’s another problem as well: with headings like “NO ISSUES RELEASED YET THIS YEAR”, GLAAD’s list is focused on the serial. They seem to prefer ongoing series to graphic novels, even if the graphic novel is explicitly about gay life and the series just has a sometimes appearing gay character in the background.


12 Responses to “Early Morning LinkBlogging”

  1. Mely Says:

    They’re also wrong about “no issue appearing” this year, quite frequently: Jen Lee Quick’s Off*beat 2 did come out in fall 2006, not to mention Rivkah’s Steady Beat 2, which isn’t on their list at all; and while they appear to have scraped LGTB offerings off BLU and June, they’ve made no effort to find any of the many, many titles with such elements in the main catalogs for Tokyopop, Viz, Netcomics, and IceKunion/Danbi, just to cover the main players in manga and manhwa. Del Rey at the moment is limited to XXXholic, I think, which at the moment means significant subtext not quite tipping over to text. GoComi’s Cantarella got pretty texty in V5, though.

    In some respects, a lot of the titles to be listed aren’t any better than the DC/Marvel titles; many of them are clearly fantasies aimed at an audience that, if not quite presumed to be straight, isn’t presumed to be taking the stories as a reflection of real life, either. But if they’re going to go the list-scraping route for recommendations, they ought to actually spend the time to check out all the publishers’ lists.

    And the omission of Fun Home, as many people have already pointed out, is pretty glaring.

  2. Justin Jordan Says:

    “Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, an “other label” (i.e. real-world major publisher Houghton-Mifflin) graphic novel that’s been named book of the year by Time Magazine, the best graphic novel of 2006 by any number of recognized national magazines, and given prominent display space in major chain bookstores. Oh, and sold a bunch of copies and was created by an actual, authentic lesbian. But that’s not as mainstream as the Justice Society of America!”

    Well, there’s mainstream and comics mainstream, y’know?

    I will say that one of the big comic websites is addressing this and will be having features on Fun Home and other ‘non mainstream’ stuff.

  3. Johanna Says:

    I refuse to use the word “mainstream” in the typical comic sense because it’s just wrong. Bookstore graphic novels of general interest are mainstream; fetishized superheroes sold to an audience of young white men are not.

    Yes, I am dogmatic about this.

  4. jabolo Says:

    I agree with Johanna about the distinction between ‘mainstream’ and ‘has a large fanboy audience’. I also agree with her criticisms of Runaways, one of the two marvel (or straight superhero titles, for that matter) which i read regularly.

    Though its stupid fannish injokes and (lately) unsubtle plot resolutions haven’t quite put me off the thing.

  5. Lea Says:

    Rumble Girls was left off the 2004 lists, which was personally disappointing, and more so after the nomination process, which focused on rewarding publishers who are typically unfriendly to gays.

    Pfah.

  6. Lea Says:

    “and more so after the nomination processwas explained to me, I meant.

  7. Lisa Jonte Says:

    *sigh*

    Once again, I am disappointed by the lack of a webcomics category for a comics-oriented award.

  8. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Hopefully this is the final word on the Platinum Cowboys & Aliens buy-off/giveaway. Heidi received a note from Entertainment Weekly explaining how they created the top sales list that put Cowboys & Aliens in the top spot. [...]

  9. Lyle Says:

    Lisa, I’d like to hear which webcomics you think GLAAD. I’ll be honest, I don’t follow many webcomics, so I’d be happy to hear recommendations.

  10. Lisa Jonte Says:

    Hmmm, put my money where my mouth is, eh? Ok, I can do that. Give me a little tie to compile a list and I’ll post them on my LJ and send Johanna a link.

    But first, there must be coffee. There must always be coffee.

  11. Johanna Says:

    I look forward to seeing them! I like targeted lists like that to provide a guide into the wide world of webcomics.

  12. Bestseller List Shenanigans » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] comic bestseller list by giving away comics and paying retailers to order their book. Here’s more detail on what happened and EW’s response. The Dark Tower:The Gunslinger [...]

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