Friday, November 21, 2008

Rant! Dead ahead Captain!

So every now and then while talking to customers, the subject of creative dream teams tends to pop up. I've noticed it a lot lately due to titles being late or certain projects just having creative teams that seemed mismatched or rushed. And there are numerous industry factors that need to be taken into account. Creative schedules come into conflict, people are sick or injured, and so on. But with the amount of books that have these problems, it's natural for people to start to think about what creative alternatives there might be.

While there are a plethora of great teams working in the market today, it just feels like there is a lack of truly innovative and well grouped collaborative projects. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would disagree, because c'mon, we have such teams like Miller/Lee, Bendis/Yu, Millar/Hitch(CURSE YOU), Millar/McNiven(YOU HEARD ME THE FIRST TIME DAMMIT), and blah blah blah yakkity smakkity. You get the gist. I'm sure many people think we are at a fantastic point in the history of comics.

I get this feeling of stagnation though, not just as a retailer who is forced to look at the Previews catalog every month but also from talking to my customers week after week. People are trying to save money these days, and the numbers ain't what they used to be. Amazing Spider-man used to sell over 100+ copies in the store, and for the past 6 months I haven't been able to move 50 copies an issue. This is probably the most brutal example, considering that essentially Amazing Spider-Man is 3 titles in one seeing how it ships 3 times a month and Friendly Neighborhood & Sensational Spider-Man no longer exist. If we were to merge the numbers of all three titles from a few years back we were easily selling 200+ a month on Spidey titles. Well over a 40% drop =/

People just seem to be looking for something with a bit more substance and a bit less gimmick and flash. I guess this could be said most of the time, but it just feels a little bit more relevant to me right now as I look at our shelves. For our store Amazing Spider-Man has suffered a horrible loss of sales. Fantastic Four by Millar/Hitch has lost about 20% of it's sales from the previous creative team. Trinity looses an average of 5 readers a week. In contrast, the Incredible Hercules is holding strong at 50+ copies. Hercules is beating Spider-Man for us on a monthly basis. HERCULES. And hey, I love that title. Fred Van Lente is awesome beyond awesome. People are actually taking notice of a book with a good writer who is consistent, on time, and offers new and interesting stories with strong characterization.

Now when people think of potential dream teams, they usually stick to the big sale guns. Miller, Millar, Bendis, Straczynki, Lee, Morrison, Loeb, McFarlane, Liefeld and pretty much whomever else Wizard tells you. This is essentially the marketing reasoning behind the All Star, Marvel Knights, and Ultimate titles. It's also the logic that brings in writers from Hollywood and novels. And I can't argue with all of it. We've also gotten Ennis/Dillon Punisher, Morrison/Quitely Superman, Jenkins/Lee Sentry, Bendis/Bagley Spider-Man, Christopher Priest Black Panther, and many more.

One of the fun things to do though with customers is to try and actually think of new potential teams to put on mainstream titles that may not be entirely obvious. They're purely pipe dreams, and maybe a little depressing in the long run. And I know some people would interpret it as fanboys being fanboys and thinking we can make better decisions than editorial or marketing. But hey, we're all geeks and it's just good fun to get the ideas out there. Here's a list of some of my dream projects, with a few mixed in from talks with customers:

-Fantastic Four written by Jeff Parker with art by Ladronn

Now if you haven't read the Agents of Atlas or the Marvel Adventures Avengers, you need to do yourself a favor and go grab them. For a perfect mixture of humor, big adventure, great character and plot, and the crazy science fun you expect from an FF story Parker is the man. I really can't think of many people in the industry who can deliver all of this in such a complete package as he can. And the great thing is, you don't even really notice it. You're just so busy having fun, that it all subtly creeps in.

And maybe a gorilla with a gun isn't exactly the best example of subtle....

But HOT DAMN is that good comics.

And seriously. If you saw a painted Ladronn cover and opened the book to find actual Ladronn interiors, would you actually say no? Because then you surely do not know the meaning of joy. Hell, his straight up pencils back from the days of the Joe Casey run of Cable are more than enough for me. Not a coincidence that was perhaps the best Cable arc to date.

-All Star Wonder Woman by Michael Avon Oeming & Frank Cho
So here's the deal with this choice. I know we have an All Star WW to look forward to that will be written & drawn by Adam Hughes, which I consider to be a huge amount of fan service. Don't get me wrong, I think his art is beautiful actually. But I figure why not get someone who is obviously passionate about mythology and let them really sink their teeth into a character whose history is rich with it? The key example for Oeming isn't necessarily his work on Hammer of the Gods (which I did enjoy), but the much more obvious Thor.

A perfect melding of the traditional mythology and the storied comic mythology with epic action to boot? Yup, Oeming. As for Cho? Yes, it's still fan service. But hell, why not get the guy who bases the majority of his women off of Lynda Carter anyway? Seems kinda like the obvious marketing choice. Seriously, the first major promotional pic released to any mainstream exposure with Cho going all out with a slightly Carter WW? It will generate interest and sales. Perhaps we could even be treated to some of Cho's finer line work. And it's an All Star title, so late schedules are to be expected.

-Dr. Strange written by Neil Gaiman with art by Jae Lee or Guy Davis as back up
I actually don't even think I really have to explain this one. Gaiman's Eternals was an odd project because even though he obviously had a passion for the source material, his established fan base did not. Very few Sandman readers wanted to bother with that book. So, why not offer him something a little bit more up his stylistic alley? And Jae Lee was born to draw the character. His work throughout the Sentry just had this dark foreboding dream state to it. With the progress he's made artistically since then and the colorist complementing his work on Dark Tower, this would be a masterpiece. Could you imagine him attempting a Ditko tribute? Davis is just a solid fall back for nice detailed supernatural work. His work on BPRD has been astounding and disturbing at the same time.So that's a start, there certainly are more projects that have come up. And maybe I'll get to posting them down the road. But I was actually hoping for some comments on what people would like to see themselves.

1 comment:

chrishaley said...

Enjoyed this a lot.
Enjoyed it just as much as I enjoy trying to make up my own lists of this sort.
Can't wait to hear some more of your picks.