Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Critical Look at the Critics, Part 3 of 3 

The final chapter.

Q: What's your hope for the comic book industry? For comic book journalism?

Me: I would wear out my keyboard before I could list all the problems with the comic book industry. The biggest and most glaring problem, to me, seems to be the distribution system. What we have right now is akin to transferring a watermelon through the eye of a needle. That eye of the needle is called “Diamond.” I understand Diamond is a business that must turn a profit to continue operating. I understand they are largely benign. I understand that the biggest publishers, in their infinite shortsighted wisdom, benefit from the current system’s calcification. Everyone thinks all comics needs is some new breakthrough title, but this is of course old thinking that has time and again proven to do nothing on its own. As my buddy Matt Maxwell puts it, comics doesn’t need a new killer app. It needs a new platform.

But comics as we know them are inbred. I won’t go dramatic and say they’re “dying”; so long as someone is willing to pay for a book with pictures and words in them, the medium will always exist. But comics is a reductive field, increasingly more insular, increasingly less interested in doing anything it hasn’t already done for the past 10-20-30 years.

Worse, the general attitude is that this is okay, and suggesting changes is akin to blasphemy or lunacy. Unfortunately, the people who are completely content with their tiny, anemic empires are the ones in charge of them.

It’s too bad. Everything about comics distribution is stark insanity, and no other medium in the world would tolerate using that system.

Comics journalism needs more Dirk Deppeys. Comics journalism needs more Tom Spurgeons. Comics journalism needs more Heidi MacDonalds. Comics journalism needs more Matt Bradys. It needs more publishers who think the comics media, such as it is, deserves some respect and interaction. Publishers like Larry Young.

Basically, we need to grow the **** up. Press release factories like Silver Bullet Comics and Comic Book Resources (good for the columns and nothing else) are a good example of what we DON’T need. We don’t need more magazines who put speculatory cast lists for comics movies on their COVER. We don’t need more sites that serve as little more than ego gratification for writers who feel like “insiders” because their domain name grants them fluff junket interviews.

We can do better.

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