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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's it All About?

Finally, summer is rearing its sweltering head. It actually feels good as this was a long…very long winter. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older but the winters sure seem to linger longer than they used to. Please don’t insert the usual “global warming” joke here because one of the probable effects of global warming is freezing of the earth. It’s a bit odd how the global warming crisis has faded due to the economic downturn, but that’s how things work…it’s always about the money.

Went to the Motor City Con. I wasn’t planning on going but Joe Pruett, publisher of Desperado, decided he was going to attend at the last minute and so he stayed at my house (along with two of his six kids) and I ended up attending but just at his table. How was the con? Typical Motor City. They had good attendance but most people come for the media guests rather than the comic people. It just doesn’t seem like that much of a comic con but from what I gather, that’s pretty much the norm for many of the cons. I fully understand that they got to go where the money is.

There were quite a few comic people there and I got a chance to talk with some of my professional friends…Guy Davis, Tim Bradstreet, Dave Dorman, and a few others. I met with a lot of people who I knew from my retailing days and I was surprised how many of my old customers…well, got old(er). I’m sure they felt the same with me.

I don’t have any plans for any upcoming cons at this time. I just have way too much to do and cons can really suck up your time. I had hoped to go to my first Heroes Con but it just didn’t fit in. Maybe next year. I am actually thinking of attending a few different conventions next year.

I just read this blurb on Amazon about a book and here is the brief description. “The City of Detroit is gripped by violence, drugs, racial tensions and a local media bent on fueling the fire. One of its worst neighborhoods, Brightmoor, is on the brink of a riot. A fictional account of a Police Officer's struggle to save his family from a neighborhood turned upside down by blight, poverty and drug dealers. A very compelling story of a community so down trodden President George W. Bush asked "Can anything good come out of Brightmoor?"

Have to say that I was a bit offended by that as I came out of Brightmoor. Yeah, it was a shoddy neighborhood with cheaply built houses and full of crime before it became fashionable in Detroit, but it was my neighborhood. I spent much of my earlier years in the Smith Projects which was on the border of Brightmoor and for us to move out of the projects into our own house, even in Brightmoor, seemed a step up. Of course, six of us had to share a bedroom but at least we had a backyard.

I can see where Bush was coming from as I went back to my old neighborhood a couple years ago. The house I grew up has been torn down after serving years as a vacant drug house. When my parents moved out, they couldn’t even sell the house, they ended up giving it to the neighbor. The block had about 4-5 houses that were being lived in. There were about 8-10 houses that were abandoned and the rest were either burned down or destroyed officially by the city. The houses can be purchased in that area for as low as $500. You know what, it still isn’t worth it. I still find it amazing that 40% of all the land in Detroit is now vacant…and growing. But at least we got the Red Wings in Detroit…and though I no longer live in Detroit, I still consider myself a Detroiter as I lived there for 24 years so I figure I’m entitled (if that’s the right choice of words in this case…)

I don’t read too much news and/or blogs about comics anymore. I haven’t followed Marvel or DC titles in so many years that I can’t even recognize the characters. And that’s about all the news focuses on except whatever obscure licensed character that can be signed up. I’m not knocking the licensed titles as I actually think most of them are a good idea and with today’s sensibilities, I think many of those ideas work out better now. But what I’ve found curious is that in all my discussions with creators, virtually none of them read comics…at all. They have various reasons but mostly it’s because they don’t have the time and there really isn’t any interest in what’s going on. I’m sure Marvel creators read the various Marvel books and same with DC, but it seems to be out of necessity to know what’s going on rather than for simple enjoyment. If the people in the business aren’t reading comics, then who are? Is it the same group of fans over the years albeit with a few converts who may stroll in because of the attraction from the films?

Another thing I’ve found curious is the trend for a lot of comic stores to bag their comics that are on display. I understand that it’s to protect them and with comics hovering around the $4 price range, it’s much more of an investment than it used to be…but how is a fan…or potential fan…supposed to discover new books? I know of a couple in the Detroit and Ann Arbor area and when I went out to San Diego a week or so ago, I went to a couple of shops and one of the shops had all the new releases bagged. I had no way of seeing what the books were about even if I could possibly find something in the Marvel-DC-nothing else selection.

It’s kind of funny but most of the noise being made in comics is sort of the same old-same old…which hero will die and which will be resurrected a year or so later. But there is a lot of activity going on that most of the “press” (is there any actual comic press?) seems to have no inkling of what’s happening on the periphery of comics. I think that will change in the next few years as it will be “discovered” that some people are doing quite well in non-traditional avenues. Comics is increasingly becoming segmented into various fragments (the DC-Marvel folks); the manga; the more esoteric titles; the small press; the very small press; and whatever other groups are designated by someone. It’s amazing though when you talk to people who are creating their own books and ignore everything going on with Marvel and DC, it still comes down to their ultimate dream is to eventually work on one of the big characters. I don’t know if it’s just a sign of “making” it or if it actual desire.

I know when I was running Caliber, we had a number of creators who protested against anything Marvel and DC did and slammed them and the creators who worked for them every change they had. Yet when the Big Two came calling, they went running and now are firmly entrenched in the world they found so disgusting previously. And that leads to the end of this missive as it ties perfectly into the first part…it’s always about the money.


Anonymous said...

working class hero.

I know you think that a documentary about calibers early days and 80's indy comics wouldn't perk a lot of ears...but your involvement is the stuff of legend.

Good to see you finally getting yours on the deadworld tip.

that always a bridesmaid, never a bride shit was getting old.

Detroit Rock City!!!

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