Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Steve Niles is the Only Horror Writer in Comics

Apparently, Steve Niles is the only guy in all of comics who writes horror.

Aside from his 30 Days of Night series, Niles also has about three new series coming out, including Savage (Image) and City of Dust (Radical), not to mention a string of graphic novels, a movie deal, a TV deal, a comics to movie to TV to comics to Webcomics deal...

Don't let me mislead you, I love Steve Niles' work and eagerly anticipate each new project, but my point here is that you can add his name to the increasingly shorter list of creators who are just everywhere. Peter David, Jeph Loeb, Ed Brubaker - great creators, all, but... um, you know?

It reminds me of Will Eisner's beef about how more and more creators are getting into the field just as a springboard to show business. And yes, film is every much sequential art as comics, but the dynamics are completely different, and the comics form shouldn't be 'the idea factory for Hollywood' (a paraphrase of one creator's quote from a recent special on the comic books/Hollywood connection).

This may very well be why today's comics lack the spirit of... good ones.

The sequential art industry has always been a small pool, but it was a pool of guys (and gals) who wanted to be there - people who loved the form, the medium, the characters. Nowadays, there are a small handful of dedicated professionals who are being stretched thinner than Nicole Richie across half the titles on the market, while simultaneously working on a movie, bringing a series to TV, as well as a webcomic back-up to bolster the other four and provide good cross-promotional access for better penetration of the Web 2.0. Bloggity-blog blog!

As Beau Smith pointed out in the latest CBG, at a whopping $3-4 an issue, people are starting to collectively shrug. I keep saying this.

Yet the solution is very simple:

Cut the schtick and get back to the basics of good comics. Quit wondering which hot properties need to be present in order to move x units and what the print run needs to be to meet expected demand; worry about what's happening with which characters that makes sense for them to be involved in which titles so that the issue is something consumers want to buy!

Obviously, the cream of the crop has risen to the top, but if we're being honest, Brubaker's "classic" run on Captain America came at the cost of his classic run on Daredevil - now, didn't it? And we're kind of fighting the clock here.

10 - even five - years from now, there simply won't be any young people who have ever held an actual, four-color comic. Most all of them will have been long-since slabbed and archived, etc. When they do see one, they'll be all like, "Wow, this sucks! The art is all, like newspapery and there's a bunch of dots." And those people won't last long in the industry because we older people will kill them.

Okay, okay - I'm going a little overboard. They will probably just be maimed or severely brain-damaged, but they won't last long. Especially since most of them will only be deigning to work in the industry because they have some hot property they just know will be greenlit, if only so-and-so can see it, and a brief stint in the comics industry is their best bet at making that happen.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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