And focusing on Marvel and DC at the expense of the dozens of other publishers in comics, and then declaring comics a failure at San Diego Comic-Con, is incredibly myopic. It’s a mistake to think that Marvel and DC are all that mattered, that their new events or announcements dictate the future of capital-c Comics. Marvel and DC are comics, just like the other publishers, and they make some great ones when they let the creators do their own thing. But at this point? You can’t treat them like the entirety of the comics industry, or even two companies that can dictate the future of comics. They run the movies, and that’s cool, but running comics? It’s just not true any more. Image in particular outsells Marvel in the book market as far as trade paperbacks go, and that holds true in the comics market lately, too. That’s no coincidence. People enjoy Marvel and DC, but they want more than Marvel and DC.
If the announcements from the Big Two felt lackluster, but the fans still had a great time, how did comics fail? That sounds like a Marvel & DC problem. Vertical debuted Moyoco Anno’s brand new book In Clothes Called Fat at the show, a comic geared toward adult women. They sold out of Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?, a romance/cooking comic. At Image, we sold out of Greg Tocchini & Rick Remender’s Low, an aquatic sci-fi tale, and Nick Dragotta & team’s Howtoons, a comic geared toward getting kids interested in the science through practical play. Boom! burned through Lumberjanes, a comic about girls at camp. These aren’t your normal comics, and people were eating them up.
After two bad “Comic-Con was bad for comics!”/“Comic-Con was good for comics!” pieces, io9 lets iamdavidbrothers do his thing, and the result is–surprise surprise–a great piece that’s head and shoulders above the traditional (print) comic coverage on the site*.
(* I specify print because Lauren does really good webcomics stuff over there, because Lauren is great.)
Ms Marvel recently went to its sixth printing, a rare accomplishment in comics today.
But chatting with Marvel executives at San Diego Comic Con I discovered more. That it sells more in digital than print, and that includes the first issue.
Another audience member then brought up a second statistic about above the line female talent, claiming that of all the major comic book publishers today, in the last ten years female above the line talent has gone up, except at Marvel where it has gone down. The frustrated attendee went on to ask Axel what the everyday comic book reader could do to help convince Marvel to invest in more less-established female creative talent.
“Support books beyond the big selling ones,” Axel responded, “We really have to fight hard to get a book like Black Widow even approved in the system. We count on your support!”
Axel then went on the defensive and added, “As for your previous point about us not lining up with the rest of the industry, I’m not sure I agree. I don’t want to get talking about statistics or what-have-you, but we’re sort of the big leagues. We play a certain game, and that game is telling superhero comics. We have financial imperatives that drive us. We run our business a certain way.”
Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso responds to criticism over the publisher’s lack of female writers and artists during the Women in Marvel panel at Comic-Con. From here.
The line “we’re sort of the big leagues” is appalling on many levels, but the whole report is worth reading—and also massively at odds, tone-wise, from other reports from the panel. Somehow, I suspect this one may be slightly closer to the reality.
Looking at the map, you can see that the positions of the Earths aren’t random. There are 4 central spokes – Order: going from the Black Rock of Eternity to Earth 0 and below Dream; Chaos: Going from the White Rock of Eternity to Earth-33 and above Nightmare; The Pit: going from Apokolips to Earth 6; and the Pinnacle: going from New Genesis to Earth-51. These primary values act as the core axes – Earth-0 is the mainstream DC Universe, Earth-33 is our reality, Earth-6 is a world based on Stan Lee’s versions of DC characters, and Earth 51 is based on Jack Kirby’s work at DC. In effect, the graph is saying that the Multiverse revolves around DC, Reality, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
Marvel seems to be really putting forth some effort to try and promote their female characters and give them their own comic books. The problem is nobody gives a shit. The longest running series from their recent first wave of titles lasted 17 issues. Only X-Men remains out of the original five series. Currently Marvel is attempting a second push of their female characters. Hopefully things will be better this time around.