Saturday, October 09, 2004

More Meanwhile...

Excerpts from Bob Greenberger written Meanwhile... in "Legion of Super Heroes #27" dated 1986:

One of the promises of the direct-only side of the comic business was the variety we would be given. Since those early days when "different" titles like CEREBUS, ELFQUEST and FIRST KINGDOM were embraced by fans and shop owners alike, we have watched the field expand and contract.

Fans have kept the business thriving by wandering into their local shops every week and buying up the latest from the "Big Two" and whatever else attracts their fancy. Rather than encourage the expansion of the direct-only business by displaying an interested in the different types of genres possible, the fans, you the reader,have latched onto the super-heroes and little else.

He then goes on to discuss how fans also seem to only want cohesive universes. He talks briefly about how they got complaints from readers who were upset that a miniseries they did called DC CHALLENGE used characters in a non-continuity story.

I found the continuity thing interesting, but feel it is a trap they set themselves up for. With things like Crisis On Infinite Earths, DC made their shared universe a big deal in their series. So I don't really see how you could get upset only two years after the fact when fans want more of that.

I do think it quite surprising to see something from a publisher, pretty much taking fans to task for only buying what interested them.

While I agree with the basic point, as I too wish more fans would buy a more varied selection of comics. I have to wonder how a lot of readers at the time felt about being taken to task for not supporting diversity.

One of the things I've always found is that some fans who only read super-heroes, seem very defensive when you dare suggest they should try something else. This coming from someone inside the industry had to be especially eye opening to them, and I wonder what kind of feedback it received in return.

Though it is kind of scary to see that 18 years later, we still have the same problems going on.

Excerpts from "Meanwhile..." written by Dick Giordano in "Legion of Super Heroes #3" dated 1984:

If I were asked to sum up DC's publishing philosophy in two words (and incidentally, no one has actually asked me to do so). I would have to respond: diversity and commitment. (Er...the similarity between those words's initials and our company's name is purely coincidental.)

Diversity in genre, diversity in format, diversity in style. We strive to present a variety of styles rather than a standardized (but easier to attain)"house look."We know we could milk the success of TEEN TITANS and LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES by endlessly cloning or spinning off new titles from those(and other) titles. The advantages are obvious. The advantages are also short term.

Paging today's Marvel and DC editors, where every book seems to be a spinoff of a franchise book.

Instead we choose to build for the future with diverse formats, genres and styles like CAMELOT 3000, NATHANIEL DUSK, RONIN, THRILLER... yes, even OMEGA MEN, BLUE DEVIL, and VIGILANTE, which even though they fall broadly into the "favored genre" of super-heroes, try to appeal to different segments of the audience by using a different approach.

What? You mean someone actually realized at one point that not all superhero fans like to read the same thing. So that it was good to have options even inside it? Shocking!!:)

Something I bet a lot of would be comic creators would love to hear today:

We need to be very active in the solicitation of new ideas We have to read and examine 15 or 20 presentations for every one we select.

Seriously though, when looking at this article I was quite impressed by how much energy the ones running DC seemed to have. Their committment to diversity, and not just shoving anything that doesn't quite fit their core books off to the "weird" other lines. Was impressive and showed a bit of forward thinking, and a forward sight that I wish more people had today.

I especially liked that they realized the importance of bringing in new ideas and series, rather than just living off the franchise books as most of the big comic companies do today. No other medium relies on the exact same concepts, approaches and styles, with an almost hostile eye to anything different. Yet for comics it has become a way of life.

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