I’m Thacher E. Cleveland, one of the Super-Fly Comics podcast hosts and until the end of November I was one of the two owners of Super-Fly Comics & Games. After a lot of soul-searching I decided it was time to hang up my Comic Guy license and move on to new adventures. Not only do I have a new job in a new city but I’ll be buying comics again for first time in almost 7 years instead of just reading whatever I want, whenever I want. With the comic industry at a turning point with price wars, “event fatigue” and digital distribution, I’ve picked a hell of a time to get…Back in the Game.
This past weekend was the San Diego Comic-Con, the Mecca and Nirvana for fans of comic book and genre culture. I’ve never been, despite loving the idea of being part of the biggest nerd gathering in the world. There’s just that pesky bit about it being the biggest nerd gathering in the world and the standing in lines for hours trying to get into panels and events that may already be full. Getting the low-down on new stuff is one of my favorite things about going to shows, and the idea of having to navigate a crushing throng of nerds to experience that doesn’t exactly fill me with joy. That’s why we made the internet, so let’s take a look at some of the news and announcements from San Diego that, in the words of the immortal bard, made me go “hmmmmmm.”
- I make no secret of my affection for the Cullen Bunn written, Brian Hurtt drawn supernatural western “The Sixth Gun,” so I was a bit amazed when it was announced that it was going to be picked up as a six part miniseries on the SyFy Channel. I mentioned this to a friend at work today and he said “Don’t they just make crappy movies from Canada?” While that may be true, they’ve had a pretty decent track record when it comes to television, and when the source material is this good it’s kind of hard to mess things up (unless your name is “Wonder Woman”). Then again, hearing how good the un-picked up Locke & Key pilot (shown at SDCC) was, I have to wonder if quality is even enough sometimes.
- Andrew Garfield’s speech at the Amazing Spider-Man movie panel about his love and respect for the character kind of hits home for all of us that were fans of Spider-Man growing up. I’m hoping more of the joy and energy he showed in San Diego comes out in the movie itself, as the first trailer for it looks incredibly dour. I’m going to assume Rhys Ifans (Dr. Curt Connors in the film) was still in character when he got into a scuffle (or perhaps a brouhaha) with a security guard when he was trying to get on the panel. Y’know, like how Woody Harrelson punched a paparazzo upon returning from filming Zombieland, thinking that the cameraman was a zombie. Method acting, it’s a hell of a drug…
- Brian K. Vaughn is returning to comics with “Saga,” an ongoing written by him, drawn by Fiona Staples and published by Image. Many have longed for the return of Mr. Vaughn to comics since his last creator owned series, Ex Machina, ended at Wildstorm last August. This series, he told CBR, will be “an epic drama chronicling the life and times of one young family fighting to survive a never-ending war. 100 percent creator-owned. Ongoing. Monthly. Fiona and I are banking issues now.” The series won’t debut until 2012, so there’s plenty of time to bank. Vaughn is part of that elite class of comic writers that came up in the early 2000’s and helped make comics as writer-driven as they are today, so it should be no surprise that he’s returned with a creator owned series, and I can’t wait to see it.
- Speaking of creators, let’s talk about DC. I’d made no bones about how I felt that DC was going to be in for a rough time at San Diego, but as it turns out they didn’t have too hard a time of it. The protest against the relaunch was underwhelming to say the least, and when they were asked about female characters and creators in the relaunch, the panelists tended to respond defensively or with humor that wasn’t warranted for the situation. The questions from the woman dressed as Batgirl have been touched on in a couple places already, but I have to say that DC should really examine how they respond to questions or situations like this in the future. Publishers love their flippant answers to questions, but even though part of a panel’s job is to entertain the other part is to inform and respond to their customers concerns. While I do agree with DiDio that DC has a much better line up of female characters in lead roles than Marvel, it’s not out of line to point out how sensationalized and sexualized those characters have been depicted in a many of the images from the New 52 released thus far.
When it comes to the female creators issue that’s where things get even dicier. If you look at the numbers, the creative forces for DC comics went from 12.5% female to 1.9%. That’s a pretty drastic change and one that should be addressed in a more realistic way than “We want to hire the best people.” Of course DC wants to hire the best people. That’s as obvious as every publisher that isn’t Marvel going “We want to be the #1 publisher.” No one likes to be in a situation where they feel like they’re being called out on any kind of -ism and when it happens the first reaction tends to be that of defensiveness. That’s never useful, and responding defensively will never help you make your case. Even a simple “We’ve heard that and we’re looking into it” works better than that. Grant Morrison’s response of “Send your work in” is also a bit of a non-answer as well, especially since you can’t actually do that. Sure, you can contact editors and you can tell them that you have work that you’d like them to review for when they look for talent to put on books, but you can’t just send in artwork or pitches to their offices. In fact, the main point of almost any breaking into comics panel comes down to “Make your own comics and if you’re good we’ll find you.” While there aren’t a huge number of female indie comic creators at Image or Vertigo or what have you, the depth of field in the Womanthology project and the success and enthusiasm around it shows that they aren’t exactly hiding either. Asking “Who should we have hired?” isn’t really an answer that fills people who are making comics in the hopes of getting noticed and invited to pitch something with a lot of hope.
- Speaking of talent, the aforementioned Cullen Bunn also announced his exclusivity with Marvel. That’s great news for Marvel, as Bunn is a hell of a writer, but it’s another exclusivity announcement that has Marvel snatching up a talented indie guy that had also done some work for DC. If DC really was interested in hiring the best people they’d start snatching them up before Marvel does. Hickman, Aaron, Spencer and now Bunn. If there’s a talent arms race in the comics industry, Marvel is stockpiling so much the UN may have to start imposing sanctions.
- Marvel made some of their post-Fear Itself plans known and it looks like we’re getting another banner (“Battle Scars!”) on the top of most of our Marvel books later this year. They are also adding a bi-weekly tour of the Marvel Universe and the new hammers it just got in “The Fearless,” written by Matt Fraction, Cullen Bunn and Christopher Yost. with art by Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier. While those are some really talented guys, I’m surprised that Marvel is following their very Blackest Night-esque event with a Brightest Day-like follow-up. Cable is also coming back thanks to Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, Matt Fraction is also launching a new Defenders book with art by Terry Dodson and the Incredible Hulk comes back with a new #1 by Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri. Just when I think I’m out, Marvel manages to pull me back in with those last two titles, both of which sound amazing and perfectly suited to the talents working on them.
I wish there had been more actual news from DC, but it did seem like this was the convention where they worked really hard on selling people those 52 #1s, which makes sense given how vitally important they are to the companies future. I’m hoping that come the New York Comic-Con (which I plan on attending) DC has a new wave of news and titles to talk about. Even though I’ve found myself a little disappointed by a lot of new stuff I’ve tried recently, news of new comic endeavors always makes me hopeful that I’ll find the next great series that I can look forward too for years and years.
Filed Under: Back in the Game