Robert Kirkman Mission Statement: Fix Comic Industry

Do you agree with Robert Kirkman?

  • Yes, I agree.

    Votes: 9 50.0%
  • No, I don't think he's right.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I am Undecided.

    Votes: 3 16.7%
  • While I may agree, his method isn't something I'd go with.

    Votes: 6 33.3%

  • Total voters
    18
You don't want to know what I have to think.

You probably want to bring back the silver age books with all their exclamation marks and thought balloons. *shudder*
 
The Q: Responding to Robert Kirkman

If it accomplished nothing else, it sure has gotten people talking. The online comics community has been buzzing about the bold statements earlier this week from newly named Image Comics partner Robert Kirkman, who called upon writers and artists to join him in saving the comic book industry by only creating their own original characters and stories.

For this month's The Q, we gave creators the opportunity to respond to Kirkman by asking the question:

- As the potential for Hollywood options makes creator-owned comics more financially viable, and with Robert Kirkman calling upon his fellow creators to help "save the industry" by concentrating on self-owned material, what do you think? Are the new ideas in creator-owned comics the path to saving the industry, and where do big-publisher comics fit into it all?
 
I think Kirkman makes a lot of very good, lucid points.

I'm not a fan of his work, but I think he's right.

Unfortunately, another problem with comics is the method in which they are distributed, but when talking about genre diversity in the medium, he's covered all the points. And he's right. I loved his opening point about how no one goes into movies hoping to make PULP FICTION 2. That's very true, and very insightful.
 
I loved his opening point about how no one goes into movies hoping to make PULP FICTION 2. That's very true, and very insightful.

Oh totally.

I'm really torn on this. and i think it depends sometimes on the creators themselves. I mean I love how geoff johns can just use the whole DCU to make a massive mythos story, with morrison and rucka too. however a lot of the industry's greats do seem to get tired of working with the same characters, and do their own creator stuff. Man there's way too much here, i need to talk about it at the pub first.
 
Man there's way too much here, i need to talk about it at the pub first.


Talking about comics in a pub? What kind of pubs do you have in your city? Around here you'd get killed for that. Hell near me a guy got beat up the other day just for asking people if they had read the new harry potter book.

While funny seeing him get beat up I was thinking "dude you keep things like that out the pub. football , women , Music , Olympics , just sports in general or even movies are ok but not books like that"

It's like I'll talk about the dark knight in pub but not a batman comics or I'd likely get my head kicked in.
 
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Forgot to look at this thread again...
I never said format. I said market. The two are completely separate and I never once said, hinted, or implied that Amercan comics should be smaller.

Exactly.
I probably should have clarified that I was definitely not aiming that comment at you and it was just my own annoyance at people who think that saving comic books is just a case of fooling kids into thinking they're manga.
Cheap shot that has nothing to do with this conversation.

Beyond that I can't help but feel that your assessment that comics wouldn't get published because they're too weird is completely baseless. If we have a market that isn't so dominated by men in tights hitting each other repeatedly books with different and unique stories, characters, and art would have a much better chance of getting printed, not worse. Japan isn't printing tons of weird manga because they're tentacle rape loving freaks, they're printing lots of different stuff because their entire market didn't develop around a fetishized love of spandex and fulfilling a god complex.

The only reason you like having a comic industry that only appeals to geeks, weirdos, and smartasses is because you're at least two of those three things. With a broader market we could see books that appeal not just to us geeky smartasses, but also to everyone from little girls to old men. The industry as a whole would benefit, but you're scared they'll take away the specialness of our weird little geek culture. Why shouldn't the crazy chick that wears a Naruto headband to school or the kid whose life is devoted to playing Rock Star or any number of different people who just don't like superheroes have comics printed in America that appeal to them. Just because you wouldn't read it doesn't mean it shouldn't be made. Comics are a medium that has far too much potential to only appeal to a small niche market like ourselves. We're squandering it's potential. That's what I mean when I say it should be more like the Japanese market.
I suppose I just don't see how that model would work in America. And while I was a bit dickish with the tentacle rape comment, I do feel that there's some imperceptible difference between American culture and Japanese culture that accounts for their willingness to accept strange ideas. And I'm not exactly sure how manga having a lack of superhero comics and America having far too many correlates to the general public's acceptance or rejection of more bizarre ideas.

I just can't imagine any medium in America where financial interests wouldn't let the wild and original be crushed and wiped away by the bland and broad. It's the reason why so many movies suck, it's the reason why so much TV sucks. In the US, if you want a wide audience, your medium has to appeal to as broad and generic of an audience as possible and never alienate or confuse anyone. Comic books are dominated by superheroes, but even amongst superhero books I'd say there's a level of creativity and intelligence you don't see in other mediums because comics don't try to do that. I don't like American comics because I'm some snivelly weird little nerd who likes to pretend that he's in a secret club. :roll: I like them and want to have a career writing them because I see a higher standard of quality and creative freedom there than I do anywhere else. You can't control something like that because no one can tell companies what they can and can't decide to publish but I would hate is for comic books to lose all that stuff that makes them so different than every other medium just because of what the highest-selling demographics are into right now. Perhaps the fact that comics are relatively cheap to produce would counter that, but if the industry were to grow and become more profitable, then who knows?

Essentially, what I worry is that if every kid in America started reading that snowboarding teen manga and it became insanely profitable, then suddenly the industry would no longer be hospitable to books that don't feature large quantities of teenage snowboard drama.

What I'm saying is that I don't want broad demographic interests to become the new force that controls what gets made and what doesn't get made, just like every single other medium in America.
Not because I'm advocating the printing of smaller tentacle rape comics.
I am.

Those things being more compact would really help me out while reading them in class.
I think Kirkman makes a lot of very good, lucid points.

I'm not a fan of his work, but I think he's right.

Unfortunately, another problem with comics is the method in which they are distributed,
This is something I was kind of trying to get at earlier.

There are tons of comics being published right now and sitting on shelves that people would probably try and enjoy if they actually had access to them.

I remember what Kevin Smith said about comic book stores, they're like the Batcave, they're dark and exclusive and only certain people know about them.

My LCS has dim, non-florescent lights, walls and windows covered in merchandise and posters, surly but not impolite clerks, and plays obscure old reggae music instead of muzak. But what teenager would think to go in there and would then know that if they just go over to the racks with all the Vertigo books, they'd probably find something that looks cool, read it, and love it. But they wouldn't think that, because comic book stores are not hospitable to anyone who isn't in to comics. I've been going to the same store for six years and I still feel mildly uncomfortable and out of place there.

That's a terrible model for distributing something.
 
My LCS has dim, non-florescent lights, walls and windows covered in merchandise and posters, surly but not impolite clerks, and plays obscure old reggae music instead of muzak. But what teenager would think to go in there and would then know that if they just go over to the racks with all the Vertigo books, they'd probably find something that looks cool, read it, and love it. But they wouldn't think that, because comic book stores are not hospitable to anyone who isn't in to comics. I've been going to the same store for six years and I still feel mildly uncomfortable and out of place there.

That's a terrible model for distributing something.

I know exactly what you mean, it can be kind of overwhelming, especially if you don't know what you want. And most of the time the clerks are either acting disinterested or they looked like they just rolled out of bed. A little more professionalism would do wonders.
 
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I agree that we need hipper comic shops.

As for Kirkman's video... eh... He's right, to a large degree, but a lot of it is stuff that's been said before. It mostly just looks to me like he's trying to rally creative talent behind Image - not that that's necessarily a bad thing.
 
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Professionalism is a HUGE problem. Alot of these guys/gals dedicate their lives to comic knowledge and could go all day about them. Then they could ridicule you the very next second. You're a noob no matter what you do or say. It could be as simple a question as, "Hey I'm into Noir and detective style stuff but I've onyl ever read Sin City." You automatically get, "PFFT! SIN CITY?! Dude broaden up!" which is the whole reason you're there in the first place...to broaden your horizons. I've ran into some ridiculous people like that. All it really takes is there extra bit of confidance you have that they don't to make them feel bad and they loosen up a little and suggest some new stuff with a snivel here or there.

You can pretty much tell alot of these guys have never worked customer service of any branch other than a comic book store. And it doesn't help that just about every store is a self started one. There's no Starbucks type comic book chain store, because if there was, I'd go for the simple fact that it would force the indy stores to change the way they do things.
 
See I think my comic shop is kind of hip, it's just not very welcoming. And the two guys who've worked there for as long as I can remember are pretty nice. The few times that I've talked to them, it's been because they're complimenting me on my choice of Grant Morrison book or something like that, but they're never very forward or smiley and super-nice. I personally like it when people are like this, but if you're new to comics and you have no idea what to get, they don't seem like they'd know how to be very helpful and probably wouldn't ask you if you need help.
 
You can pretty much tell alot of these guys have never worked customer service of any branch other than a comic book store. And it doesn't help that just about every store is a self started one. There's no Starbucks type comic book chain store, because if there was, I'd go for the simple fact that it would force the indy stores to change the way they do things.

I find two things very wrong with this. I worked at a comic shop for a year and a half and customer service was one of our top priorities. That was the first part of my training when I started the job.
The other thing is look into Newbury Comics... which is all over the place from Massachusetts (maybe further) to Maine; it is kind of the chain like store you are talking about... although now it focuses in all kinds of things, not just comics.
 
I find two things very wrong with this. I worked at a comic shop for a year and a half and customer service was one of our top priorities. That was the first part of my training when I started the job.
The other thing is look into Newbury Comics... which is all over the place from Massachusetts (maybe further) to Maine; it is kind of the chain like store you are talking about... although now it focuses in all kinds of things, not just comics.

I honestly don't know what to tell you other than this is me speaking from personal experience. That's great for you and all but I am apparently not that fortunate.

Newbury is only in five states though. I was describing starbucks. Not that great a comparison.
 
As for Kirkman's video... eh... He's right, to a large degree, but a lot of it is stuff that's been said before. It mostly just looks to me like he's trying to rally creative talent behind Image - not that that's necessarily a bad thing.

Well he is a partner there now, so there's definitely publicity involved. I wonder how much he talked with Marvel and DC bods before releasing this.

I'm also wondering who's gonna join in this Rallying? Geoff Johns will damn well stay at DC, and I imagine bendis will stay at marvel.

Brubaker went to marvel cuz they keep offering him great books, and while he's still there i think fraction will be too.

I don't really see what the problem is with DC and Marvel now that we've got pretty well established imprints - Vertigo and Icon to do what kirkman wants.
 
From X-Poistion: First Class:




As the writers of Marvel's "kid-friendly" First Class books, what did you think of Robert Kirkman's video mission statement at CBR?


Jeff Parker: I think "Walking Dead" talks down to Zombies. Seriously, I don't think he's read any of the Marvel Adventures books, he's just assuming. A lot of people do that, many still think it's the previous incarnation, Marvel Age, which was nothing like the Adventures line. All we do different, really, is make the stories done-in-one and lean harder on the humor aspect. We never think, "I must spoon feed this story so an eight-year-old will understand."

He's right though that everyone needs to be doing more original material in addition to licensed work. Is anyone against that?




Fred Van Lente: Well, I'm very disappointed in Robert's characterization of the Marvel Adventures line -- that we "talk down to kids." Someone as passionate and knowledgeable about comics as he is should know better than to make such a blanket dismissal. Jeff and I have been associated -- and proudly -- with the Marvel Adventures line for many years and we work just as hard on them as any of our other works, creator- or corporate-owned, to make them the best comics they can be. I would have to say anyone who says that the Marvel Adventures or "First Class" books talk down to their readership -- of any age -- hasn't actually read many of them. Since Robert made his statement in such an off-the-cuff fashion, I'd assume that's the case with him too.


Anyway, that was a pretty minor part of his editorial. Yes, I agree that comic creators should never stop creating their own work. For one thing, there is the very practical consideration that we are freelancers, not employees. We don't have a retirement plan. If we fall out of favor with the Powers-That-Be at Marvel or DC -- or just choose to move on -- there are very few of us who can make a living off of the future royalties of our past work-for-hire books.

We need to create our own properties to try and ensure some kind of financial stake in our own future and to generate revenue for ourselves and our families beyond whatever editorial directions Marvel or DC go to, which may not have us as a part of them.

I know that's kind of harsh, but this is showbiz, kids -- it ain't beanbag.
 
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Marvel Adventures anything = better than UXM.

Eh. As far as I'm concerned, Kirkman's stuff altogether is nothing to write home about. It's pretty typical, classic genre stories for the most part. But then again, the classic icon comic book characters weren't really born out of particularly meaningful high concepts either. They were the result of steady, consistent stories told by writers who were competent craftsmen but not necessarily exceptional authors.

I'm curious about what it will take for a new comic book character to resonate like Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man. Does it require a basic and emblematic idea like the guys mentioned above, or does the evolution of the business necessitate that any character who's going to reach that sort of status will need to be more nuanced and resonant from the go?

Ninja4Peace said:
I'm also wondering who's gonna join in this Rallying? Geoff Johns will damn well stay at DC, and I imagine bendis will stay at marvel.

The more established and prolific writers are already working outside of DC and Marvel (sometimes splitting their work with one of the companies) or easily could if they decided to. If you really look at the landscape, the real vanguard of the industry has already entrenched their private intellectual properties. Look at what's being done by Avatar Press or Virgin Comics. An then, as always, there's a stable of writers who aren't looking to be revolutionary, and just want to churn out mainstream superheroes stories, and that's fine too.

Ninja4Peace said:
Brubaker went to marvel cuz they keep offering him great books, and while he's still there i think fraction will be too.

Fraction's also writing Casanova, one of the most distinct and iconic characters in recent comics history.

Ninja4Peace said:
I don't really see what the problem is with DC and Marvel now that we've got pretty well established imprints - Vertigo and Icon to do what kirkman wants.

While still under the editorial direction of Marvel or DC. I think we need to see more directed, smart small publishers around because they have visions that can't work for Marvel or DC and they're willing to take risks the big companies can't.
 
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I don't really see what the problem is with DC and Marvel now that we've got pretty well established imprints - Vertigo and Icon to do what kirkman wants.
The thing with Icon, which Joe Q. has publicly stated many times, it is only for well established writers/artists like JMS, Bendis, JRJR, Mark Millar, etc.
 
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And as I said before, Vertigo doesn't publish nearly enough books every month.
 
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