and Dead Tree Comics

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Thad
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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Tue Jul 13, 2021 7:35 pm

Meanwhile: Hibbs has a good piece up where he talks about how he's closing one of his two stores and a big part of that is that he's losing confidence in the periodical comics market.

A lot of this is stuff we've heard before (often from Hibbs himself), about the publishers chasing the collector's market and trying to increase the number of comics they sell per customer instead of the number of customers, but there have also been big changes in distribution that aren't good for retailers. DC and Marvel both pulled out of Diamond, and while I'm not crazy about Diamond as a monopoly, the problem is that instead of a competitive market now what we're getting is multiple monopolies -- one distributor for DC, another for Marvel, and Diamond (for now) pretty much still being the sole distributor for every other periodical comics publisher.

DC moving to Discount Comic Book Service – the #1 competitor for each and every brick and mortar retailer in America – to be their sole distributor under the name “Lunar” was… disheartening. I’ve no interest in enriching my competition! Further, it did absolutely nothing other than increase costs, even if the “work” remains the same of ordering comics, because you have to do it through two different sources (one of which who wasn’t compatible with almost anyone’s computer systems, so new systems and workarounds have to be devised). And just this month DCBS have announced their new discount terms and because we buy our DC graphic novels from Penguin Random House, we’re about to lose 2% on periodical comics as a result (but switching to DCBS for GNs would cost us way more than that because they charge freight, and PRH doesn’t, and when your main location is majority books and books are much much much heavier than periodicals… well, you do the math).

[...]

And PRH, who will be Marvel’s new distributor, doesn’t offer volume-based pricing in the first place. We’re going to be about 2% lower on our Marvel discount when the change happens in October, in addition to adding the expense of a third place from which we will have to order periodicals. All having a second store now does is increase costs, with no tangible benefits.

[...]

Well, the new financial terms we’re going to be living under from DCBS and PRH look to me like the sale of the actual content, as opposed to some sense of collectible “value” tied to and wrapped around it, means it just isn’t going to be economically viable for me to continue having a second store that is so tied up in the periodical. I don’t believe that “collectible value” is something true and real, and I have watched literally thousands of stores go out of business chasing that particular illusion (and/or manipulation).

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Wed Jul 14, 2021 12:09 pm

Thad wrote:Static Season 1 #1 has the balls to charge you a $5 cover price and then spend most of its page count describing the cool shit that happened in some other comic.

That other comic, Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0, is pretty good! And while I don't love its $5 cover price, it manages to feel like I got $5 worth of comic in a way that Static #1 didn't.

I like the new Big Bang origin story: cops gas BLM protesters with an experimental chemical compound that ends up giving them superpowers. This also ties into Hardware's origin; he invented the chemical and warned his bosses that it needed more testing, but they ignored him and sold it to the police as a weapon and then set him up to take the fall when things went horribly wrong.

I think it's a good, solid reboot to the Dakotaverse. It does feel a little disjointed; it's structured with a few pages of Static story, a few pages of Hardware, a few pages of Icon and Rocket, and so on, and each section is drawn by the art team from its respective series. The transitions don't feel quite as effective as they might, but overall I still like it a lot.

There's a backup story, too, which I don't like quite as much; it evokes everybody's favorite scene from Batman vee Superman, the bit where Batman hacks into Luthor's computers and then watches movie trailers that introduce the rest of the future Justice League. The backup story is pretty much that, with Icon and Rocket spying on Static and various other characters.

I don't know if I'll follow the other Dakotaverse series that are part of the first wave (Hardware, Icon and Rocket); Static left me cold and that $5 cover price is a big ask. But there's a lot to like here. And hey, what's this I hear about the old Milestone comics being reprinted as Milestone Compendium in September? I missed the original Milestone series when they first came out and have only gone back and read a little bit of them; I'd like to pick them up and catch up on the original run. I know there were some extremely talented creators involved, including Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, and Mark Bright, and I was just talking about how much I enjoyed John Paul Leon's work in the '90s.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Büge » Wed Jul 14, 2021 2:50 pm

In other news, I got shown this page from Thor and Loki: Double Trouble #4.

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"Team Rocket Energy", I believe they called it.
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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Tue Jul 20, 2021 3:55 pm

Nice to see mainstream outlets like Hollywood Reporter cover creators' rights: Marvel and DC’s “Shut-Up Money”: Comic Creators Go Public Over Pay

Leah Moore has some comments of her own, which pointedly address how people have been treating her father like he's a lunatic for the past 30 years because he was angry about this.

(And yes there are perfectly valid reasons to believe Alan Moore is a lunatic, but I've been around the block enough times to know that most of the time, when people make fun of him for being a snake-worshipper or whatever, it's pretext, and what they're really belittling him for is speaking up about the Watchmen rights.)

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Wed Jul 21, 2021 12:57 am

Though I will add that this graf

Credit can be so important that it can even lead to surprising behavior. THR learned of an instance in which the co-creator of an A-list DC character secretly maneuvered behind-the-scenes to have themselves listed as the sole creator on paper, with regard to merchandise or adaptations, cutting their partner out of payments. According to a knowledgeable source, the other co-creator only learned of this maneuvering years later when a Warner Bros. theatrical employee noticed the discrepancy ahead of the release of a movie featuring the character. (The wronged co-creator now receives payments, but is said to not be on friendly terms with their former collaborator.)


is some bullshit. Unsourced, gossipy, vague nonsense that's set people to speculating and...look, all those details can't possibly be true. List characters who (1) are published by DC, (2) have been in movies, (3) can credibly be described as "A-list", and (4) were created after the 1960s (5) by multiple creators (6) who are still alive and you get, what, the New Teen Titans, John Constantine, Bane, and Harley Quinn? And there's never been any dispute about who created them.

It's a good article overall, but that bit just feels sloppy. At best it feels like telephone-game shit where the writer repeated an anecdote and got some of the details wrong.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby KingRoyal » Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:00 am

It sounds like someone doing a telephone about the history of Batman

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Wed Jul 21, 2021 12:09 pm

It could be a telephone-game version of any number of comics, from Black Lightning to The Walking Dead. (Batman's the prototypical example, of course, but the article describes that history in detail earlier on.) In the broad strokes, it's sadly an extremely common story; I can think of a lot of examples that bear an at-least-passing resemblance to this one. But in terms of all the specifics, I can't think of anything that fits. You have to start ignoring criteria like "DC", "A-list", or "movie" in order to find a match.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:50 pm

But yeah that kind of vagueposting is irresponsible, and anybody who knows anything about comics fandom (or most fandoms) would have known that it would encourage people to wildly speculate about who he was talking about. And it's particularly galling to see people point the finger at Paul Levitz because somebody fucked up the creator credit for Huntress* in an episode of Batman: TB&TB. Levitz is, unquestionably, one of the heroes in this story; he and Jenette Kahn are the reason that half the article is about how much better DC is about compensating creators than Marvel.

And TBF the article does mention Kahn, and quotes Levitz extensively; I don't think the writer meant to sandbag Levitz, he just didn't consider the consequences of throwing a paragraph like that out there without naming names. Or considered them and then did it anyway.

* who, LBR, does not meet the "A-list" criterion

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Mon Jul 26, 2021 5:36 pm

Thad wrote:And I know Kurt hates it when people take things he says out of context and speculate wildly about them, so I'll try not to do that, but I will say that I pricked up my ears at his comment that one of the nice things about creator-ownership is that if his publisher can't keep Astro City in print, he can take it to another publisher that can. Now, it's entirely possible he just means that hypothetically, and Astro City may very well be staying at DC. But I wouldn't rule out seeing it move to another publisher either.

Image to release Kurt Busiek backlist catalog of bestsellers digitally this August

A bevy of bestselling backlist titles from the legendary, award winning writer Kurt Busiek will be made available digitally from Image Comics this August. The titles will include Astro City with art by Brent Anderson and others, Arrowsmith with art by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino, The Wizard’s Tale with art by David Thorn Wenzel, Shockrocketswith art by Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger, and Superstar: As Seen on TV with art by Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger.

“I’m thrilled to be consolidating my creator-owned books at Image,” said Busiek. “Readers have been asking us to make these stories available again, so we’re glad to have them all together at last, and in great company with the rest of the Image line. This is just the beginning, too—there’ll be new material coming as well, but that’ll be another announcement for another day.”


Welp.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:12 pm

An Authority comic featuring Manchester Black is meta even for Grant Morrison.

About the only way it could be more meta would be if he signed Mark Millar's name to it.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Sat Jul 31, 2021 1:14 pm



I forget who it was, but I remember a fan asked a writer or an artist, at a convention, "Who is Thor's greatest villain?" and they responded "Vince Colletta."

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Büge » Sat Jul 31, 2021 5:16 pm

ComicTropes did a whole video on the guy.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 09, 2021 5:30 pm

Skybound has been running Skybound X, a weekly anthology series that's supposed to be new reader-friendly but seems to be written by people who don't understand what "new reader-friendly" means and don't bother with niceties like telling you what the fuck the characters' names are. (And look, I get that shoehorning characters' names into a script can make it feel unnatural, but for God's sake telling the readers who the characters are is really basic stuff.) The (alleged) main draw is Rick Grimes 2000, a miniseries that asks the question, "What if The Walking Dead turned into a '90s superhero comic right after issue #75?", a joke which you might expect would be funny for maybe about 8 pages or so, and you would be correct.

And then there's just basic distracting continuity stuff. Details can really make or break a story -- I've mentioned before that my favorite sequence in X-Men: Grand Design (by Ed Piskor) has Xavier and Magneto playing chess, and I stared at that page for ten minutes until I realized that the way the game progresses, Magneto is one move away from checkmate but then Xavier forces him into a stalemate, and it's just this brilliant, subtle sequence that the vast majority of readers will never even notice.

The Science Dog story in Skybound X has a chess sequence, too. Science Dog is playing chess with a character who I will call Beard Man, because I do not know his name, because nobody bothers to say it at any point during the story. It's meant to show the passing of time and that Science Dog is a genius; in each panel, Beard Man says something, and then Science Dog says "Checkmate."

Not only does not a fucking one of the panels depict a checkmate, but they don't even show the fucking board set up correctly. It's got a black square in the bottom right corner. I'm sort of at a loss for what the fuck even happened here; is Cory Walker intentionally trolling us, or does he just not know how to play chess and hit up GIS for reference and picked some shots that look suitably late-gamey because they don't have very many pieces on the board?

(My headcanon is that Beard Man does not know how to play chess and Science Dog is fucking with him and has just made up a bunch of shit and told him that's what chess is.)

And then in the latest issue, there's a Redneck story. There is a character -- I assume his name is Bowman, because the introductory page tells us that the Bowmans are the main characters in this story, though that is never stated in the story itself an he is never given a first name -- who is explaining on the first page that he's looking through his old journals and records but can't find anything from the late '70s through the '80s.

There is a book right next to him that says "1980 book". It has a bright red cover and is near the center of the page; it's the very first thing that draws the reader's eye. For a minute I thought "maybe they're going for an Eisner thing and it's the title of the story?" but aside from it not parsing as a title visually at all, the title of the story is on the previous page. (And is not "1980 book", which is good, because that's a terrible title.)

It's just fucking baffling. How does that even happen? How does a page get finalized with a character saying he can't find anything from the '70s through the '80s and the most prominent visual on the page is a book that is right next to him and says "1980 book"? This story has a writer, an artist, a letterer, a colorist, and an editor, at least three of whom should have seen the finalized page before it was published.

Now, Skybound X isn't a total loss. It's got some good stuff in there. I found out that Mairghread Scott has a creator-owned comic coming (Sea Serpent's Heir, with artist Pablo Tunica) and I'll have to remember to check it out.

But a lot of this stuff just feels slapdash. Some of it's lazy jokes by people I know can do better (RG2K) and some of it's a bad first impression by people I've never seen before. A lot of it's by people who don't seem to have any idea how to tell a self-contained story in 8 pages, or give enough of a fuck to look up what a chess game looks like or proofread the first fucking page of their story.

There was a time, back in the '90s, when I thought of Image as a place for artists more interested in drawing scowly dudes posing than visual or narrative coherence, who had Big Plans but lacked the commitment to finish a job and the attention span to write a second draft. That's not how I see Image at all anymore -- but it might be if I hadn't read an Image comic in the past 20 years and picked Skybound X as my jumping-on point.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Thu Aug 19, 2021 11:24 am

I'm reading The Mask for the first time, and damned if "hyperviolent independent comic about toxic masculinity gets turned into a PG-13 Jim Carrey vehicle marketed toward children and then spun off into a Saturday morning cartoon" isn't the most '90s thing ever. Bill Clinton playing in a grunge band while wearing Reebok Pumps, drinking a Crystal Pepsi, and handing out free AOL floppies would be less '90s.

The first arc definitely has a bit of a Johnny the Homicidal Maniac vibe, in that it's about a misanthropic man meting out horrible, cartoonishly-violent retribution against everyone he has a petty grievance against, but what it really reminds me of is Falling Down. The comic version of Stanley doesn't resemble Jim Carrey nearly as much as he resembles Michael Douglas's character in that movie, both in his appearance and in his demeanor. He's a toxic asshole who feels like he's a bullied loser, and the second he gets a little bit of power, he turns into a monster.

And then he dies on page 48.

So yeah it's pretty different from the movie. So far the only scene that really overlaps is the one where he murders the auto mechanics who were overcharging him for repairs.

Anyway! It's interesting. And I like the art.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Thu Aug 19, 2021 1:52 pm

Thad wrote:So far the only scene that really overlaps is the one where he murders the auto mechanics who were overcharging him for repairs.

Okay I started the second arc and now I'm up to two scenes that made it into the movie.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Tue Aug 24, 2021 1:21 pm

Now that Beta Ray Bill's ended, my favorite Marvel book being published is The Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Yildiray Cinar. Title aside, it doesn't really have anything to do with Marvels or the upcoming Captain Marvel sequel of the same name; the elevator pitch on this one is pretty much "open the toy box and let Kurt play with whatever he wants." Anyone, anywhere, anytime. A lot of the story takes place in the present day (give or take) with characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Black Cat, the Punisher, and, because this is written by Kurt Busiek, a guy named Kevin who makes a living doing superhero tours in a fixed-up old Fantasticar. Some of the story takes place in a sliding-timescale version of the Vietnam War, with a pre-Fantastic Four Reed Richards and Ben Grimm investigating '50s Marvel monsters and the original Dr. Strange in Sin-Cong.

It's good stuff. Busiek having fun with the Marvel Universe and some of the weirder bits of its history.

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Thad » Sat Aug 28, 2021 1:58 pm

I wonder what it is in the zeitgeist that's got Supergirl and Grimlock each currently appearing in a miniseries with the same premise (hero gets stranded on another planet outside their usual genre and embarks on a swords-and-sandals-influenced journey joined by a plucky teenage girl).

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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Brentai » Sat Aug 28, 2021 3:11 pm

Avatar.
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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Büge » Sat Aug 28, 2021 4:14 pm

...the Nickelodeon cartoon, or the James Cameron cartoon?
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Re: and Dead Tree Comics

Postby Niku » Sun Aug 29, 2021 1:47 pm

Thad wrote:I wonder what it is in the zeitgeist that's got Supergirl and Grimlock each currently appearing in a miniseries with the same premise (hero gets stranded on another planet outside their usual genre and embarks on a swords-and-sandals-influenced journey joined by a plucky teenage girl).


And Marvel has one going called Amazing Fantasy that's a three-for of "what if Cap, Spidey, and Widow all died and woke up in a fantasyland". And there are (non-blue) cat people and cliff-diving dragon tamings, so yeah, the James Cameron cartoon.
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