Thursday, May 26, 2005

INDUSTRY RANT: DC, and comics, get macro

Sure DC comics have always been the most corporate of the comics companies, being owned by Time/Warner for some time, and having long had their properties licensed in various media. Superman and Batman have been household names as far back as what the 50’s, or at least 60’s. Well DC have been making a lot of industry press lately with sweeping corporate changes, and it’s really no surprise to anyone that they’d been kind of lacking in that department. Coupled with Marvel’s increasingly more corporate positioning, through their movie production deal, and changes to their print business model and structure, comics are becoming more corporate than ever before, or at least than they’ve been in quite some time. This, is not a good thing.

Let me clarify. Corporate comics most certainly mean less creative comics. You simply can not take the risks strong creatively driven content demands in an increasingly corporate structure, this can only lead to a more homogenized product. For example, comics had been on a creative upswing since the late 80’s. Opening doors in creative areas they’d never considered before, and if you look at what drove that, what made comics more creatively aggressive, it was the weakened corporate presence. The books stopped being distributed to the mass market, by and large, and became specialty items, very un-corporate. Where the big publishers used to produce mass quantities of product to the mass market, they had become quite the opposite. Marvel even went bankrupt. Now the mass market for the publishers, is licensed properties in other media, and it’s up to the print divisions to fall in line in support of those goals.

That is not to say there aren’t potentially good things about more corporate comics. It should certainly bring a higher presence to the industry. With corporate initiatives chasing larger dollars, you’d certainly expect to see some serious inroads to establishing comics outside the niche market they currently exist in. Something the industry desperately needs.

So you have a trade off. You may loose some quality, but you gain some much needed strength of market. Hopefully there will still be room for vibrant, creative-driven books, and a market to support them. You can certainly expect to see less of that from Marvel and DC.

For Newsarama's insightful look at the "new DC" go HERE


E. Burns said...

For the record, Superman became a household name by 1940. They were selling millions upon millions of copies of Action Comics and Superman Magazine almost from the beginning -- and in the first few years, more adults than children bought it.

Jason Martin said...

e. burns,

Thanks for taking the time to post your comments, I appreciate that. Hope to hear more from you in the future.

I'm not sure whether to take your comments as pro, con, or indifferent to mine, so I'll just say that I only hope, whatever the direction may be (corporate or otherwise), that it leads to comics being a more thriving medium here in the states, like you mention in your example. Because as long as the industry’s financially sound, we'll have a place for any kind of creation.