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Cowboys & Aliens comic cover

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 (link no longer available), 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:

Cowboys & Aliens comic cover

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. 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 (link no longer available) 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.


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