Okay pop over to CBR.com to read Erik Larsen's latest ONE FAN'S OPINION, and the pop back here for my thoughts...
And here's a big ol' endorsement on that take from me (if you didn't read the column yet, Larsen goes on about the lack of any actual change EVER happening in corporate comics.)
As he outlines, and as anyone with a noodle of a brain can figure out, corporate owned characters can't actually change, cause the companies who own them (not creators) must maintain their properties for future, never ending revenue streams. That's the way it is, which is diametrically opposed to telling good stories. If your characters can never actually grow, the stories you can tell with them become very limited, because everything must eventually return to status-quo, and you can only string a reader along for so long. Which ya know would be okay, if the big companies actually had a way of bringing in new readers, but they don't. So we wind up where we're at now, with a dwindling fan base.
Here's the thing. It doesn't have to be that way. These big companies can have their cake, and eat it too. For a time I thought they realized it. They've got the system in place already, and it works, but they're pissing it away. You see, several years ago when Marvel successfully launched the Ultimate line, to the surprise of nearly everyone, the foundation was laid. You simply reboot, and contemporize, and low and behold, it generates interest and sales. They got that part down, the other part, the part I thought was coming, but now clearly isn't, is finishing the original stories. If you already know your rebooted books sell better, what do you have to lose? Simply take all of your titles (characters/licenses/properties) to their natural end. Tell their complete stories. Affect lasting change. Show us the full arc of their story, then put them away, and start it over again. Then you'll sell the shitload out of them across the board, because we know we're getting a complete story. We want to see where that takes us, we'll genuinely care about what happens next, it won't just be some stunt that we get pissed off about and eventually leave. We may even want to see how you handle it the next time. How you tweak it, improve on it, or how you play with our expectations.
If you're really scared about pissing off the fans who've read the current incarnations of your characters for 30 plus years, and that can have a genuine impact on your bottom line, what does that tell you about your business? You're not doing it right if that's the corner you've painted yourself into. I don't think that's where we're at, comics are too vibrant a medium to be toppled by one faction of uptight fanboys. Get some stones and take some chances. For, I think, the benefit of all.