Does Who’s Working on Branded Properties Even Matter? Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender Comics

You likely saw Dark Horse’s announcement last week that they would be publishing Avatar: The Last Airbender comics, starting with a Free Comic Book Day flipbook. (Last year, Avatar comics were put out by Del Rey Manga, to tie into the movie.) Here’s the meat of the press release:

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures

The first installment of this new series will be released on Free Comic Book Day, May 7, with two introductory short stories — the unpublished tale “Relics” and the iconic “Dirty Is Only Skin Deep…” … The Lost Adventures will be released on July 13. This all-new 240-page comic book contains over 70 pages of never-before-seen material in addition to long-out-of-print comics previously published in Nickelodeon magazine. With 26 stories set in Airbender continuity and created by a host of top-notch talent, many of whom worked on the original animated series, this is an essential addition to any fan’s bookshelf. Additionally, Dark Horse will create all-new Airbender stories that will be published as digest-style original graphic novels –conveniently sized paperback collections — in early 2012.

(Does anyone else wonder how you have an “all-new 240-page comic” that contains approximately 170 pages of reprint?)

I wasn’t surprised to see the press release posted to a number of locations, from blogs to news sites. I was surprised, though, that no one seemed to notice that no creators were listed in the announcement.

Since I’m tired of the perception that the brand is more important than the people who actually create the stories and art that carry the logo, I asked who the creators would be, and Dark Horse was quick to answer and happy to provide this information:

Here are the writers on Lost Adventures… Aaron Ehasz, Josh Hamilton, Tim Hedrick, Johane Matte, Dave Roman, J. Torres, and others. Here are the artists… Joaquim Dos Santos, Elsa Garagarza, Gurihiru, Corey Lewis, Johane Matte, Ethan Spaulding, and others, with Bryan Konietzko as cover artist.

I just wonder why no one else bothered to ask for those names? Is the idea that Airbender followers will have something else to buy all that matters as news? Fans seem eager to see more stories in the universe, ignoring the flop film, and perhaps it doesn’t matter to them who creates them, so long as they’re satisfying.

9 Responses to “Does Who’s Working on Branded Properties Even Matter? Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender Comics”

  1. Kris Says:

    No specific creators may have been listed in the announcement, but they did say “created by a host of top-notch talent, many of whom worked on the original animated series” and the list you just posted is exactly what we expected based on that comment: show staff and the creators who worked on the Nickelodeon Magazine stuff.

  2. SpiderHyphenMan Says:

    First off, Aaron Ehasz was the head writer and co-producer for the majority of the series, and wrote some of the greatest episodes of the series, as you can see here:

    Second, you missed the second part of the announcement, which showed up on multiple news sites:
    “Additionally, Dark Horse will create all-new Airbender stories that will be published as digest-style original graphic novels—conveniently sized paperback collections—in early 2012. Picking up where the season three finale left off, this new series will follow the further adventures of Aang and his friends, as they help to rebuild a world torn apart by 100 years of war.

    “We had a great experience collaborating with Dark Horse on Avatar: The Last
    Airbender — The Art of the Animated Series,” series co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino said. “We are excited to work closely with them once again to bring the further adventures of Avatar Aang and his friends to the comic world.””

    So yeah, everything you just said has NO BEARING ON TRUTH AT ALL.

  3. puck Says:

    I’m thinking no one else asked who the creators were because a lot of fans were already very familiar with the material. The press release states it was work from Nick Mag, and if you’ve followed any of the creatives that worked on those, you’ll know that some of those comics did not get released state-side when Nick Mag went under. Hence the “never before seen” bit. Some of those same creatives have been talking hopefully about Avatar getting a similar treatment to the SpongeBob Nick Mag comics that got a GN.

    So yeah, we didn’t ask because we LOVE the Avatar brand and don’t care who created it. For example, I did not and will not see the “film” but I’ve been dying to see the unreleased Johane Matte comics since last year or so when she first mentioned there were some! Hell, I’ve been dying to have a GN of those comics to replace the Nick Mags I bought specifically for those comics!

    I really wonder where you get this impression of Avatar fans. I’ve not seen it. When the movie tie-in comics came out there was a whole lot of speculation on whether they’d be good or not, even though they were written/drawn by people who knew and loved the series. I’ve only ever seen fans very loyal to the creators and their canon. Lucky for me, I guess.

  4. Johanna Says:

    I think you’ve misread me if you think I’m criticizing fans. I’m not. I’m criticizing sites that put up press releases without additional thought or work. Comics don’t make themselves, and even with branded material, quality depends on who puts the comics together. So it should be second nature, when one sees a branded comic announcement, to ask “but who’s writing and drawing them?”

  5. Brigid Says:

    I’m one of the guilty parties, and in response to the question in your headline, it used to not matter at all. It’s a licensed property, so the scope for individual creators to show off their chops is pretty limited. That’s less true than it used to be, though, as creators get more credit and more freedomâ��Dan Hipp and Peter David doing a Ben 10 graphic novel comes to mind.

    The other reason, though, is that knowing these comics had run in Nick magazine, I figured anyone who was interested would already know. I noticed later that J. Torres had mentioned it on his blog, and I wished that I had taken a look at the list of creators.

  6. Dave Roman Says:

    I think Avatar is similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some fans of the show were happy with the first series of Dark Horse comics written by awesome comics people like Andi Watson (who I love). But what really got them excited was when they officially became “canon” and Joss Whedon got more directly involved (the Season 8 series).

    Luckily the Nick Mag Avatar comics were always incorporated people from the show. But I was equally excited by having alt cartoonists like Brian Ralph draw a Momo story. :)

  7. Johanna Says:

    Good point, Dave. Whether the story “matters” is as important to some as who’s telling it. It all depends on what someone is getting out of the reading.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Brigid. It’s certainly the case that a number of readers of the news know a lot more about the series and its past comic versions than I did!

  8. Katherine Dacey Says:

    I just wonder why no one else bothered to ask for those names?

    As someone whose blog focuses primarily on manga, my interest in this story was different than yours. For me, the interesting angle was that Dark Horse is the third manga publisher to license this franchise for a comic-book treatment. And if you look at what I posted, you’ll see that’s what I emphasized. That wasn’t a slight to the creators, or laziness on my part; I was commenting on what I believe my readership would think was newsworthy.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for explaining your different focus. That is an interesting observation about the property.




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