Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tired! Putting the Brushes Away for Tonight

You want to know the truth? I'm halfway through my initial commitment to TIMEBOMB, and the truth is, I'm tired and nothings working tonight. i'd love to show you some of the new inks over Gulacy, but I can't, so I'll save the scans til after the book is released and then you can check it out without color.

I'm just a little beat.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Out of Print: Out of Sight, Out of the Bookstores

One circular topic of discussion about superhero comics concerns the jumping on point: In the now common long story arcs, it seemed that things were so convoluted that it was necessary to figure out how the make the story accessable to an average reader. Do you only do short contained stories? Do you have a precis page to recap the prior issues?

Jum Shooter's oft repeated adage has been, "Every issue is someone's first issue." True, but where do you subvert the story to the format? After all, the entire comics industry was built on disposability. You never had access to any of the prior issues if the newsstands had their way with returnability.

So we move to the graphic novel, obstensibly because it is easier to keep on the bookshelf, will last much longer in print and can continue to gain readers as time goes by. Great idea.

Except when you have a two part graphic novel and the publisher is letting part one go out of print before part two comes out. Why you, as a publisher, would want to have this happen unless you were basically bankrupt, is beyond me. No wait, its not. Its the typical short sighted thinking that has ruined more than a few books along the way in this industry.

I have just finished reading my youngest daughter Amulet, a long continued story that has only, to date, two volumes out. you can tell by reading it that this could be a 7 or 8 volume story, and given the thickness of the books, plus the lavish full color artwork, that this is going to be a long project. That's ok. My kids were mesmerized from the first chapter. They'll continue to read the books when they come out. And, like Bone, Scholastic is likely going to have a long running serial that future generations can come to and fall in love with. Just so long as they keep it in print.

After all, what good is Two Towers without Return of the King? Or Two Towers without the Fellowship? Or, in manga terms, Nana pt 12 without part 11?

Kudos to Kean Soo for a solid piece of work and my hopes for better publishing days ahead. And to Disney/Hyperion? Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggg.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Miracleman Copyright Case pt. 17

Its been a bit since I blogged about the Miracleman/ Marvelman fiasco and certainly been a while since I pissed Dez Skinn off enough to post a comment, but things just keep popping up and adding fuel to the fire. And because its a legal issue, instead of every getting simpler, it just keeps getting more and more complex.


Rich over at Bleeding Cool has brought up two graphics, a reprint of a 1958 story that has a copyright affixed to it, and the original version, which does not. Shown here is the original panel, lacking the attribution. And all this because Pádraig Ó Méalóid keeps digging around to get to the bottom of the controversy.

Now we have to wonder if the copyright notice on the reprint has any claim, see what English law from the time that the original publisher went out of business says about rights becoming either public domain or reverting to the original artist, and see when Dez Skinn put in his claim of use on the property if they were public domain.

And I may owe Dez an apology.

But we'll see. The problem here is that the real world is messy and complicated and Pádraig Ó Méalóid will likely keep unearthing new material that will just certify how messy it all is. Certainly when Len Miller & Co, the original publisher, went out of business no one in the world would have considered that they property would have become so valuable so many years later. Moral high ground still goes to Mick, however, and his 1978 claim shows that he wanted ownership to something that he had put his time and love and hard work into.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Whither the Fun?

Got hit by this one twice in the last couple days, the Comics Journal's quote of the day with Pat Boyette missing fun comics, and Jennifer De Guzman talking about a comic that perhaps should have been another Scott Pilgrim: Street Angel.

And I don't think, from her column, that Jennifer is having a lot of fun right now either.
...SLG began publishing the comic book series Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, about a homeless twelve-year-old with extraordinary martial-arts skills that she uses to fight ninjas, pirates, rednecks—anyone that needs a butt-kicking.
Now, that sounds like a fun comic. You pull off the right balance on that story and you have a comic that can be enjoyed by a huge audience, male or female, young or old. Good ol' fashioned silliness.

I don't remember ever seeing it, but then, there are so many damn comics that it is easy for stuff to fall under the radar no matter how much it gets the press. If I have a hard time going and picking the thing up off the rack, and I do have a hard time with that since the LCS is somewhat small, then its just too damn easy to forget. I'm still missing a Rocketo trade and i LOVED that series. I'll try to get this one at WonderCon.

So that takes care of the fun comic, but more importantly are the questions that Jennifer is rhetorically asking herself about Street Angel these first days of 2010:

Why didn't hype translate into more orders and sales? Was it the quarterly schedule? A need for even more outreach to retailers? A need for outreach to a different audience? The book itself? Do retailers even look at advance hype from third sources when they place their orders? ... A project can give every indication of being wildly successful or a niche-audience sleeper and turn out to be just the opposite.

And those are great questions. Look, I feel for the publisher and retailer here: there are only so many square feet in a shop to display things, there are only so many dollars to put out there for product, and if you happen to have a few dollars left over for non-X-men/Batman product, how the hell do you decide which to order? And if you primary customer is the X-men/Batman person, do they care about Street Angel? probably not. So how do you get that customer?

I wouldn't want to have to go through the dreaded Previews catalog to decide what to order. There's just too much there. The reality is that there are a lot of good comics these days. If you were to only wander the aisles of the small press area of San diego, skipping Marvel and DC, you could walk home with an armful of fun, interesting, occassionally great little books. So I do wonder if the average comics retailers looks at 3rd party recommendations. They should, although I have to wonder. Travelling to San Diego last year I was seated directly behind an artist, and across from a retailer who said that this was likely to be her first time just walking the aisles in years. In reality, that should be a necessary function for just about all retailers to keep theirs eyes open for the next big thing, and yet the reality of manhours are that they're not likely to have that time.

I'll be looking for Street Angel. I could use some fun in my life.

And i'm working on a new project for Radical Comics. More later when I can say something....