Saturday, October 13, 2007

No News is Good News?

It seems every week or so that a new topic gets the buzz in comics and then is quickly forgotten about. Let’s see…one week is was about barcodes being required for all printed items going through Diamond…prior to that it was the publishing contracts of DC’s new online company and Platinum’s outline of revenue sharing and control, and so on. Sort of ties in with the more recent hub-bub dealing with “comic news”, more specifically, the lack of professional comics journalism. The complaint in some circles is that the comics medium doesn’t have a true journalistic slant from anyone. The major “news” sources are nothing more that regurgitated press releases and announcements that usually harp on new creative teams or the events that will occur in the fictional characters’ lives. Well…yeah. I mean, how many people really expect hard hitting news in this small little niche market? It just doesn’t lend itself to it. You either have creative news (writers, artists, editorial direction, etc) or business news. The business news is out there…IDW being bought, Newsarama being bought, the DC and Platinum contracts, etc. I think what people are wanting is more of the “dirty” stuff…who is screwing who (financially, that is). Exposing fraudulent and criminal behavior…now, that would be considered real journalism and hard-hitting news for many of those clamoring for real news. And comic “journalists” have done that…to some extent. But if you’re going to go into that direction, you have to make sure you go all the way. You have to do it correctly. I’ve been involved in some of these so called journalistic investigations and on only one occasion did the journalist contact both sides and get the full story from both participants. Every other time, it was based on one side only. I’ve seen lies and allegations thrown into the press…and the press doesn’t even bother to verify the facts before they print them. Now I understand when it is an interview but even then, when someone makes an outlandish claim, doesn’t it seem to be a bit of good journalism for the interviewer to check up a little on the facts? Guess because it is an interview, it doesn’t matter…but I think it does. Maybe there isn’t that much to reveal in the news aspects of comics simply because there just isn’t that much happening that would be worthy of true journalism. Got an interesting link sent to me…it was an old Todd McFarlane interview with Fantagraphics’ Gary Groth. Sorry, don’t have the link but you should be able to google it. The interview was from the early days of Image prior to Todd’s launch into the toy business. It was a good insight into what Todd was thinking and having hooked up with Todd soon after, it was pure Todd. A lot of people don’t like Todd due to many assorted reasons…but I personally never had a problem with him. The three years I spent working with him, mainly on the toy company, was a pretty exciting time as it went from nothing to the leader in design of action figures. As the company grew, it wasn’t as much fun as it became a corporation and it was amazing how inertia sets in larger companies and how many people seem to exist purely to have a job without actually doing anything. I found it ironic that in the interview, Todd discusses the bloated staffing of Marvel in creating comics and then ends up suffering from the same bloat with his own company. I didn’t agree with many of Todd’s business decisions but it was his company so he has the right to make the decisions based on what he wants to do. I’ve always enjoyed reading all the comments regarding the Miracleman and Neil Gaiman situation as I remember a lunch discussion with Todd about that very subject. Overall, I always looked back at the days of McFarlane Toys as a great and enjoyable time. I remember when it ended as Todd and I discussed at length about my role, how Caliber fit in, etc. I look back and think that if Caliber had rolled into the “big” company, it might have ended up becoming a power house as Todd’s reputation and name in Hollywood might have propelled quite a few of the properties into something. But I was sure that Caliber could do it on its own…so I took Caliber and left…not knowing the market crash that was just sitting there waiting for me. It’s rather strange that when I made that decision, how many calls and emails I got that congratulated me for getting away from Todd…as if he were an evil influence or something. What’s even funnier is how one of the loudest ended up working for Todd until he had a falling out. Saw that a researcher did a project in Argentina to evaluate the social circles that the Marvel superheroes are part of versus those of supervillains. Going through some 12,000 comics, the research came to the conclusion that the heroes were more socially connected than the villains. You think? Unbelievable what kind of money is spent on silly research but glad to see it isn’t limited to just the U.S. This is short this time as I deleted the long rambling that was to follow. It dealt with politics and religion but I figured that I could never sum it up even in a few pages of what I thought the lunacy was so why do it half-assed.


ShojinStudios said...

I think the closest comics got to real journalism was when 9/11 hit. There was a few titles that really had some depth unfortunately they got drowned out by Marvel and other mainstream companies trying to promote their properties along with the tragedy. Some that really were amazing reads that tackled issues like racism and social change were Maus, some of the Crumb books, quite a few from Kitchen Sink Press, Tales from the Heart, There's alot more that I'm forgetting. Anyways I hope more books like those can be seen by an audience that will appreciate them. Now I'm sure they won't be as marketable as Spiderman or Batman, but if some of these issues were tackled by a super hero I wonder how the audience would react to such a change. I remember a few Marvel stories I read way back when that really dealt with "adult" issues and as a 14-15 year old I thought that was so cool. I wonder if kids still awe in amazement at stories that deal with "adult" subjects with these current heroes? I've tried my best to find them but haven't ran into one yet. I hope one day instead of re writing old stories with modern twists the industry will start making good stories.Sorry I ramble, what was I saying again!?

Ray Palmer Jr said...

Hi from Italy Gary,
it's great to have found you here, I was (and still am of course!) a fun of the greatly missed Caliber Press of the nineties, I still have dozens and dozens of them!
I searched for your name again after having seen the Transfuzion listing in Previews for two months, I never heard this name before but there was something very familiar in those descriptions....!
Of course there were the Image/Desperado comics these years but it's not the same thing IMHO.
For example, the original Negative Burn was missed and absolutely great!
I have been a customer of Mile High Comics for 20 years and I have ordered your fist Tpb through them as usual, here in Italy we don't have a local Amazon and we use the main site usually for special books like the Black Dossier.
Do we have to expect a lot of output from Transfuzion next months? Can you tell us something about them?


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