The Comical Comic Industry September 5, 2011 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns – Tags: A Pictures' Worth, comic, Comics, Mike Pascale, Superman
For at least a couple decades now, many people in the comic book industry have disliked if not despised the modifier “comic.” Sharing the same origin as “comedy”, it implies comic books are humorous. (In fact, it’s why they earned the prejudiced nickname “funny books.) In fact, time was when I would tell a non-fan I was going to a “comic convention”, he would ask if was going to meet Robin Williams or Jerry Seinfeld. (Yes, Seinfeld is actually a Superman fan, but I doubt he walks the floors of the San Diego Convention Center with Nic Cage hunting for Silver Age Curt Swan art.)
Heck, the only thing that keeps the fields of stand-up comedy and graphic storytelling separate are verbs and modifiers: if you “see” a comic, you’re going to a comedy show. Otherwise you “read”, “buy” or “collect” a comic book. You perform “stand-up” comedy or buy a comic “on the stands.” Hence the industry’s decades-long drive to be taken separately and seriously.
However, when certain things happen, as they have recently, it’s hard not to laugh. This week’s top three:
1) DC’s new “52” relaunch of their superhero titles (not to be confused with the series titled 52, of course), was a “rousing success” according to some sites, with the renumbered first issue of Justice League selling “200,000 copies”. That’s right, 200K. Granted, that’s double the amount of the usual monthly best-selling comic—err, I mean graphic story magazine. In previous months, there were some that didn’t even crack 100,000 copies. So it’s relatively huge. But consider this: in the 1960s, DC publisher Irwin Donenfeld would automatically cancel any title that sold under 300,000. That’s over 40 years ago when the US population was a hundred million less than today. That’s comical.
Then again, considering today’s titles cost about 2,400 times more than they did back then–the highest inflation of any mass-produced consumer product!–maybe that’s a good thing. Unless, of course, you’re the consumer.
Even funnier, the continuity has changed (again). I defy anyone to explain the current changes in DC character history to anyone like me who’s not been a reader for a couple decades (or has never been) and not have the person you’re talking to roll their peepers or laugh in your face. (That would be an entertaining YouTube video…The Roving Reader explains DC continuity to the Man and Woman on the Street!)
2) Comixology launches their digital platform site for retailers. I’ve written about this before but it finally launched. Retailers selling digital comics on the site have to wait a minimum of 45 days after the last day of the sale month to get a whopping 15 percent of the sale. So, for a 99-cent title coming out October 1st, you have to wait until December 15th to get your 15 cents. What’s funny about that? Not a thing.
What was comical was the Publishers Weekly article detailing the initiative with insights from Comixology CEO David Steinberger. (For the full article, see here.) In the “comments” section, the first (and for days, only) comment was “Awesome company” from someone named Bill Steinberger. Gee, any relation?
3) Finally, more costume pics have “leaked” (probably on purpose) from the new SUPERMAN film directed by Zack Snyder. Check this out:
Notice it’s apparently made of the exact same material as the new Spider-Man’s outfit. Originality, anyone?
Notice the pinstripes. Wonder if there’s a similarly-striped Supermanmobile to match?
Best of all, notice the belt buckle. Yes, belt buckle. What, exactly, is it supposed to be holding up?
This is why it’s still called the comic industry, folks.
P.S.: There’s nothing funny about getting a great commission at a great price! Unless you want a comical character, of course. And I’m happy to oblige either way. Just ask Craig here!