Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Kirkman/Kochalka/Bianchi

Good evening chums, much to discuss. What about that Robert Kirkman eh? Blimey! Jacks in Marvel, gets a seat at Image's top table and suddenly he's telling anyone taking their shilling off the big two to pack it in and concentrate on creator owned projects.

He also wants DC and Marvel to cut out the disembowelment, evisceration, swearing and sex and concentrate on making comics for kids! Woah, radical stuff. If you haven't heard what he's got to say, then you should. IT'S HERE

I know it's not the main thrust of his argument, but Kirkman is effectively telling us all (creators and fans alike) to grow up, that we shouldn't be obsessing over Spidey and Batman, that we should leave the icons to the kids and concentrate on expanding our horizons. Fair enough, but you know, even if the big two do make comics for kids will the kids be able to afford them? It's all very well turning out child friendly comic books, but if you're knocking them out at extortionate prices that only financially comfortable adults can pay, then you aren't going to sell them to kids anyway. For Kirkman's plan to work, Marvel and DC would have to change their direction AND drop their prices. That's quite an ask, especially when I'm not even sure the kids want to read Marvel and DC comics anyway.

Seriously, aren't they more into manga? When I go into Forbidden Planet I see the occasional teenager looking at the American comics, but the bulk of them cluster around the Japanese stuff. Suck it up Yankees, the kids don't want your comics! Guess what, all the dumbing down in the world isn't going to make them either. If you really want to sell American comics to kids, then you need to ditch the superheroes altogether and Mangaise (I just invented a word!) your books.

Yup, you might as well face it Kirkman, the audience for American comics are emotionally retarded 20 to 40 something men like me. Sorry, but them's the facts! Marvel know it, DC know it, and there's no way on earth you're going to get them to alienate us in favour of a market that in all probability isn't there.

Having said that, I'm all for creators coming out with their own stuff. In the highly unlikely chance that someone held a gun to my head and told me I could only stuff my nerd sack with comics from one publisher, I'd pick Image. Yet don't most of the guys publishing their creator owned stuff through Image also need to take Marvel and DC's dosh to make ends meet?

Forget the writers anyway, what about the artists? Their job is far more labour intensive. The slower ones find it difficult enough knocking out one book a month, they aren't going to take the risk of putting all that work into something that might not make them any money. Of course I'm sure plenty of them would jump at the chance to work on a Kirkman book, but how many are going to turn down a guaranteed pay cheque from Marvel or DC to work on a book by a lesser light?

So yeah, all very admirable from Robert, and I agree that creators should be putting out more original stuff, but I can't see Marvel and DC laying off all their superstars in favour of untried new talent any more than I can see the superstars handing over the big toys to a bunch of unknowns while they slave away on books that aren't guaranteed to sell enough copies to put food on their table.

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Talking of top creators, what about that James Kochalka? There's a man who's followed his own path, produced his own stuff and carved out a very nice niche for himself in independent comics.

Still wants to draw mainstream superheroes though. And if Hulk vs the Rain wasn't enough to convince you that he'd be fucking AWESOME if Marvel would only give him a comic to play with, then his redraw of a page from Stan and Jack's original run on the Fantastic Four should do the trick.

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Anyone reading Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi's Astonishing X-Men? It's good, but I'm having trouble getting on with Bianchi's art. It's not that he's a bad artist, the total reverse in fact, he's an AMAZING artist. I'm just not convinced that he's a great comic book artist. At least not as far as interiors go. I liked his covers for Detective comics well enough, but when it comes to the panel by panel bread and butter of a superhero team book, I'm just not seeing it.

The big problem for me is that all his figures look like beautiful statues. The best comic book artists pack their fight scenes with movement, but unless he uses a trick like this...


...all Bianchi's figures appear frozen.

He does superb spaceships - all very Moebius! But he's a Fine artist (with a capital F) not a comic book artist. Or, you know, maybe he is a comic book artist but I don't think he's necessarily the right artist for an X-Men book because, as beautiful as some of his pages are, I can't help feeling that they'd look better on the wall of an art gallery than they do in a small comic book.

1 comment:

James H. said...

Regarding Kirkman, I can't help thinking it's a bit much for a man who reached the top by building profile at Marvel - even going so far as to cross over his OWN character into a Marvel Team-Up issue - to then turn around and tell other creators that they shouldn't be doing the same thing when it's clearly worked so well for him!

As good as some Spider-Man stories are, the sad truth is that they're not all good enough to stand alone - would readers enjoy some of them as much if they WEREN'T Spider-Man stories? It's not simply a case of creators propping up the character - in some cases, it's quite the opposite! Again, Kirkman can tell people to stand on their own all he likes, but it's simply too late for him to lead by example.