CBR links to a rant from Bomb Queen creator, Jimmie Robinson, over on I guess, their blog... HERE
In the post, Jimmie rants about doing more for comics than just reading them, in an attempt to stir things up, and get folks thinking (if they haven't already), about doing more for comics yourself. Spreading the word for the benefit of all. It's an interesting topic, and thre are some really great thoughts in the comments. Most of the replies take things too personally, and miss the point, but still make valid points of their own.
Look, I'm not saying these posters are wrong in there comments, or feelings, or that the article in question was brilliantly conceived, but to openly wail against it seems counterproductive, and perhaps misses the point. Admittedly though, any discusion is a good thing.
Comics, though recently more successful than they were, are still a niche market, and even though things are going great in terms of exposure and acceptance, or even recognition, in the outside market, they're still not reaching new audiences in any big number.
Jimmie's saying, do your part, if you truly care, do something besides just buying what you like. Think about what you buy, offer books to friends, talk about comics outside the comics community. Be an activist, be outspoken, etc.
Sure, it's not the only way comics can reach more people, perhaps it's not even the right way, but at least it's doing something. Anything.
Besides, ya know, reading Civil War, or Mouse Guard, and tucking it away in your closet, and repeating...
and I'm part of the problem.
In the beginning, before I launched Super Real, I was filled with the desire to creatively offer my book, via new channels, and methods, to seek out the widest audience, and help bring a new golden age to comics.
As time moves on, and as I've gotten the book set up in the main (and virtually only) distribution system, Diamond, my focus has moved away from breaking the system, to beating it, or more so, playing along with it.
I tried my hand at some things outside the direct market, to no affect. And sure, maybe those failures, limited in scope as they were, were failures of the book, or my own, but the bottom line is, a couple years into this thing, and I'm only focusing on the direct market, and making Diamond a success. I've become so consumed with just that, I've taken my focus away from other outlets almost completely. Which is a failure on my part, but the reality is I'm only one man, and have x amount of time and energy to spend (to say nothing of finances).
In the back of my mind however, it's been that, I can go back to trying innovation, and finding new markets, once I have a substantial offering, a trade collection. Because, realistically, a monthly format comic is not much to offer outside the direct market, and lord knows my schedule is anything but monthly.
I guess the other reason my passion, and focus, for moving the medium forward, and out of the direct market tar pit it's in (ya know, besides the fact that it is a viable market of it's own if you can crack it), is I've grown to see a light at the end of the tunnel. A change in format. To digital, cheap, accessible content, and books (or new format periodicals). The pamphlet will die, it's inevitable. Once digital media can be viewed more readily, beyond the current generation of formats it is today (monitors, PSP's, Ipod's, eReader's) there will be nothing holding us to print. Coupling the advancements in technology with the utter and complete reduction of costs insures this will happen (to say nothing of the potential for market outreach digital can provide). It's not a question of if, but when. Comics can once again become the cheap entertainment alternative that built the medium, industry, and genres. Because let's face it, they have something to offer, that no other medium can, but concurrently, they have limitations that other medias do not. To get people to read static images, as opposed to viewing live ones with sound, or hey, interactive ones, you have to position yourself as cheaper, or you'll forever be a niche (and well, you'll still be a niche, but potentially a much larger one).
A good example, or parallel, might be radio. Radio was king, in terms of entertainment, until the creation of television. Then it was relegated to a source for music, until TV took that mantle as well, relegating it to only being something chosen in a captive environment, mostly cars. But now, with growing internet prevalence and technology, you're seeing the renaissance of radio, the podcast. That is until the internet can more readily provide video content.
So, similar to radio, comics have a new chance via the digital world/marketplace (but also an advantage over radio in that they offer more).
Until we reach these crossroads however, comics are positioned well enough in the mindset of the mainstream, that we should be able to make some inroads outside the direct market, or that is, take bigger steps in growth. Sure, it's not just the fans or readers who have to bear this out, it's everyone. Creators, publishers, distributors, and retailers as well. I sure as hell wish the industry leaders were blazing the path here...
To Jimmie's point, and countless others before him, or any genuinely caring comics fan who takes the time to truly assess the industry, it is up to us all to do something, anything to help the industry. Because if you love and care for the medium, and you do nothing to help it, you've no one to blame but yourself if it collapses.
Many of the responses seem to suggest that they are doing these things, and believe many more do as well, but whether this is true or not, the numbers don't bear it out. The industry is maintaining, not growing by any large amount.
Let me clarify again, I can see why many have taken offense to his rant, it's offensive in nature, by design, and it's bound to receive knee jerk reactions (especially on the web). Many have brought up his resume, or called into question his current book, and quite a few take offense to a creator suggesting fans do more in support of their books. Irregardless of his work, or his views, the core message is do something for the industry if you really care. If you've already done something, great, the message isn't for you. If you take offense at his work, that's beside the point, at least in terms of the big picture that the core of the piece speaks to. And if you as a reader, and fan of comics, question a creator calling for more help spreading the word of a book, have you yourself published a comic book in today's market? Do you yourself understand what it's like to try and get attention for something new, outside the mainstream, in today's market? Well, then you probably don't know where he's coming from in that regard...
Let me just tell you, as someone who is publishing a new book in today's market, it's not easy, and you can use all the help you can get. It's easy to dismiss that viewpoint, claiming enough isn't spent on marketing, or that the material in question isn't good to begin with are a couple points that easily come to mind, but really understanding it takes a more intimate knowledge. For instance, one could easily spend vast amounts of money to get a book some attention in the market, but they would only see the smallest fraction returned in sales if successful. There are no easy answers. The best I've found is, create the best work you can, and try to inspire those who enjoy it, to help spread the word.
That's all Jimmie's really doing here. To be hypercritical of it is to miss the point, I think. And I plan to keep devoting time and energy to doing what I can to help. If you don't want to, that's fine, but perhaps just talking about it will inspire some, and there's nothing wrong with that.
What do you think?