And, for once, it doesn’t have anything to do with the usual suspects like Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Dan Didio, Marvel or DC Comics, $3.99 floppies or Diamond Distribution.
It’s the entire industry.
Can’t you feel it? It’s sick. It’s broken. And it’s not getting any better. And it WON’T unless WE do something about it. ALL of us. From the publishers, the editors, the writers, the artists to the shop owners to, yes– even US… The men and women who ACTUALLY PAY for all this four-color madness and GIVE these people these platforms and their livelihoods.
It has taken me a long time to write this piece. The approach is tricky and I am still not certain I’ve gotten it right. The tone is too easy to turn preachy. So I am going to do my best to do NO preaching at all. Just hit the basics and then jump out.
You know why Jose and I do this, right? Because, like you, we love comics. So much so, that– also like you– we both devote MANY, MANY hours each day to discuss and promote them. And yes, we DO promote a shitload of stuff here at Inveterate Media Junkies.
We promote quality: Quality publishers. Quality writers. Quality artists. Quality comics. Quality Films. Quality TV. Quality Music. Quality Novels. And if you can’t see that– if all you see is negativity or capricious fools attempting to be hip by disdaining the very things they profess to love… Then my friend– it is time for YOU to move on.
With all sincerity, we truly appreciate having each one of you here (and we are about to announce a phenomenal STAT in the coming weeks) but if you’re here because you think we share your dim view of the industry… Well, we DON’T.
That written, there is something very foul eating at the foundation of the comic book business– and something needs to be done NOW if the medium we love and enjoy so very much is going to survive. If we want this business to be here– even in TEN YEARS– you, me, every fan you know has to STOP BUYING SHIT™.
Yes, I know that seems simplistic (and it has been on the IMJ Sidebar almost since Day One) but it truly is one of those things that is a LOT easier said, than actually implemented. It is one thing to think, “I should stop buying Amazing Spider-man.” than ACTUALLY STOPPING yourself from buying Amazing Spider-man. You know it and I know it. (And yes, the Spider-man reference was just a title/character picked out of thin-air. There are a LOT of comics worse than Spidey clogging the stands that also deserve to languish unpurchased. Not a ton– but still, you get what I mean… It was a RANDOM choice.)
My main point is, a lot LESS people buy comics today than they did just 1o years ago.
If the TENS OF THOUSANDS of people who read Inveterate Media Junkies every week stopped buying certain books they have long since stopped enjoying and/or respecting (either out of habit, a need to keep their “run” complete or misplaced loyalty), just our numbers alone could cause a SEISMIC SHIFT in the market. If just 10,000 people said, “I’m going to pick up the next Thunderbolts– just because Jose has been talking it up for so long”… Then YOU– each one of YOU– would send a sharp and extremely loud signal to some very important people in this business.
And so I know that I am being clear here: If you stop buying a couple of books– the only way this idea works is if you put that money back into some NEW TITLES… Possibly stuff you’ve heard about here or something else you haven’t ever considered buying. If you give other titles a chance, I promise that you WILL find something you like more than the habitual shit you’ve long since stopped admiring… And you WILL be GLAD you did. At the same time, you will also be sending a strong message to the Powers That Be that their complacent fostering of the shit being produced by their SHIT TALENT will no longer be tolerated… Or, at the very least, purchased by YOU anymore.
If we are actually able to accomplish this, heads could most definitely roll. Shitty titles could be canceled. And yes, untalented people could finally lose their jobs… But all that would be a good thing.
Quality will win out. Quality creators will shine through and more such talented people will be hired. Quality books will survive. And if the quality people we currently favor wake one day full of themselves, taking on too much work and their work starts to suffer because of it… We will move on AGAIN… Stop buying their shit and discover someone new that is deserving of our hard-earned money.
And if you decide to join the IMJ Nation™ in this experiment, do you know what YOU will be doing in 1o Years? You’ll be flipping though your collection and you’ll be EXCITED to see your OLD FRIENDS again. You won’t be sitting there shaking your head and asking yourself, “Why did I buy this? What was wrong with me? How IMMATURE could I have been?”
Instead, you’ll be PROUD. You’ll look at a book and think, “This was the year I developed a critical voice. This was the year that I started to realize that, while I was still only one person, I could be part of something MUCH BIGGER… And together our voices helped make a difference in a medium that I love.”
Some of you are already laughing at me. I can tell. That’s not PARANOIA talking. It’s the truth. You’ve heard it ALL before. You’ve seen this kind of thing fail– and sometimes fail miserably. This idea could fail now too. But “scoffers”, I can only respectfully type that I think you are WRONG this time. In fact, I’m not certain you could be MORE wrong.
NOW is the time for all good women and men to take a stand for something they love.
Remember I wrote that a lot fewer people are buying comic books nowadays? While it’s true that the top monthly sellers can still break 100,000 copies sold– even that relatively paltry level is becoming harder and harder to obtain. Most titles today are considered to be super successful at the 50K or 60K per month mark and tons of books are still be published (even by the Big Two) when they barely surpass 10K.
Given these anemic sales figures, you can see how 10K ADDED to a quality title’s print run or 10K SUBTRACTED from a shitty book’s bottom line, would cause quite a stir. But why be satisfied to stop there? As the Inveterate Media Junkies audience continues to grow, hopefully the simple idea to support ONLY quality works will continue to expand as well.
Still, I feel the need to clarify this too: Let’s say you are just a superhero fan. Just can’t get into anything that doesn’t wear a cape or revolves around something that isn’t super-related.
I get it… WE get it. What you need to know is, there are LOTS of QUALITY BOOKS being written about SUPERHEROES right now. Some of them just aren’t being published by companies you’re used to buying from… Or maybe have ever even noticed before.
And know this: This is NOT a call to stop buying comics… Or to “Wait for the Trade”. Far from it. If anything, it is me pleading with you to BUY MORE BOOKS… Because if you really EXAMINE the comic book business TODAY– you will discover something quite PHENOMENAL. The industry, as a whole, is producing the BEST MATERIAL it has produced in decades, possibly in TWENTY– or even THIRTY– years.
In fact, as we sadly watch what may be the comic book business’ dying throes, we might also be ironically witnessing a brand new GOLDEN AGE that, in many ways, may be more imaginative than almost anything produced by this industry back in the 1930s or 1940s.
That’s why, for all my complaining, criticizing and downright despising some (a lot?) of the material out there– I can’t shake the feeling how I LOVE so much of it too. Maybe I don’t love as much as I dislike… But hey, even GREAT Editors, Writers or Artists can have off days… Right?
And if we’re lucky? If enough of us QUIT sucking at the “Mainstream Only Teat” and start reading and supporting books based on QUALITY only– and not the LOGO in the top left corner of the front cover… If we’re really lucky, a by-product of this will be that we’ll have run some of the NO TALENT, DOWNRIGHT ABUSIVE ASSHOLES OUT OF THIS BUSINESS and we’ll have raised TALENTED CREATORS to a stature they deserve.
And if we’re really, REALLY lucky? We’ll still have a Comic Book Business to call “home” in Ten Years. Books will still be released monthly and printed on PAPER, in floppy formats– and not just on DIGITAL PLATFORMS.
Don’t think it can be done? Think I am fucking pie-in-the-sky crazy? Then let me throw this last fact at you: Anybody that tells you that they “always knew” IMAGE COMICS would one day stop aping the Big Two’s Superhero Machine and turn into the PREMIERE PUBLISHER of quality Independent Titles… Well, to put it mildly, they are LYING to you. No one foresaw this, least of all the Founders of Image Comics.
A lot can change in TEN YEARS. A decade is a very long time. You’ve seen big shifts in World Politics. In TV. Radio. Music. Film. Brick and mortar Bookstores and Music shops– once commonly seen on almost every corner– are virtually dinosaurs now. And despite what you may think: You CAN make a difference. RIGHT here. RIGHT now.
Want to join Jose and I– and STOP BUYING SHIT™? Want to stop supporting SHIT EDITORS, WRITERS, ARTISTS– and companies so complacent and cocksure in their position in this dying industry that they have ZERO PROBLEMS shoving their calculated pablum down our throats on a monthly basis?
If you DO think NOW is the time to stand up and finally try something different– I can only tell you that I KNOW you will be HAPPIER. You will discover stories and characters of such wonderment that your love for the medium will IMMEDIATELY be RE-ENERGIZED. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll ALL still be here in 10 Years– still bitching and still attempting to steer people, young and old, toward the good stuff.
Wouldn’t that be extremely cool?
With its’ feet planted firmly and unapologetically in the past, Atomic Robo is publisher Red Five Comics’ biggest, most deserved success. Thankfully, the co-creators of Robo– Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener– have reacted to their budding recognition with the same breezy, unaffected manner that they continue to treat their loveable metal hero with… And it is an attitude that serves them all well.
In short, you get the distinct feeling that these two guys would be creating Atomic Robo comics even if no one were reading them. Their passion shows through that much. Combine that with MASSIVE TALENT and you have big mojo.
I have recommended this book from the beginning. I love the no-nonsense stories, the straight-forward art… The estimable ability to take their character where many have gone before and still, unequivocally, make everything seem brand new.
I have yet to have one reader/friend/acquaintance come back even mildly disappointed after my recommendation. In fact, I am so certain that you will like Atomic Robo that I am going to do something unprecedented– a first for IMJ as it were– I am going to put my money where Brian & Scott’s talents are… Just in hopes I can get some of you off your fences and try this great book!
Buy any Atomic Robo trade. If you aren’t completely satisfied that I have turned you onto a really cool comic, write me a legitimate critique and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can tell me you didn’t like it…. But you also MUST tell me WHY you didn’t like it to be eligible for the following offer (see the “Fine Print” details below). Be as thoughtful (and lengthy) as you like. Keep your sales receipt and email it to me and I will soothe your non-superhero hives by sending you a NEAR-MINT, UNREAD copy of the VERY HARD-TO-FIND FIRST PRINT of J. Michael Straczynski’s SUPERMAN EARTH ONE Hardcover.
Keep in mind, these Superman books are NOT promos… NOT given to me by someone at DC Comics or Warner Bros. I purchased them with my hard-earned money too.
And if I actually do receive some less than flattering critiques (anything is possible I guess), I will do my best to write a follow-up column about them next month.
And finally, you should be aware that neither Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Red Five Comics or anyone or any entity that has anything to do with Atomic Robo knows that IMJ is making this offer. We have NOT been paid or given any type of consideration to run this promotion or publish this review or even mention Atomic Robo at all. As the sidebar resolutely states, “We Don’t Pay for Play™”.
This offer is open to the FIRST FIVE members of the IMJ Nation™ who send legit negative critiques to email@example.com. Qualified emails will be counted in the order they are received. You MUST be able to prove that you bought your Atomic Robo Trade on– or after– the day this column is first published on IMJ, 8.1.11. You have until 11:59.59 PM PDT on 8.31.11 to make your purchase and send in your critique and a scan of your receipt to be eligible for this promotion. You must also consent to have all– or any part– of your communications concerning Atomic Robo used in an upcoming follow-up column for the Inveterate Media Junkies website. This includes your name. If you don’t want us using your name, we will be happy to oblige– but you have to at least let use a hybrid like Neil A. or Tom B. for example. That’s it.
Alan Moore Storyteller HC
Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine Premiere HC
Atomic Robo Volume 5 Deadly Art of Science - HOT PICK OF THE WEEK!
Avengers Academy Vol 1 Permanent Record – I own the HARDCOVER too!
Avengers By Brian Michael Bendis Vol 1 – Umpteenth iteration of a bore-fest
Batman Streets of Gotham Vol 3 House of Hush HC
Black Widow Kiss or Kill
Blackest Night Rise Of The Black Lanterns – Own the Hardcover
Blackest Night Tales Of The Corps – Own the Hardcover
Bombyce Network – More HUMANOIDS goodness!
Danger Girl Campbell Sketchbook HC
Dave Stevens Complete Sketchbook Collection HC
Days Missing Kestus Vol 2 HC
Essential Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man Vol 5
Krazy Kat & Art of George Herriman HC
Metal Hurlant Collection Vol 2 HC
MMW X-Men Vol 3
Monster Hunters Survival Guide
Nancy Drew New Case Files Vol 3
Red Sonja Vol 8 Blood Dynasty
Rip Kirby Vol 4 HC
Setting the Standard: Comics By Alex Toth
Spider-Man Fantastic Four – Own the Hardcover
Stand No Man’s Land HC
Supergods: What Sun Gods Can Teach Us (Prose) - RUNNER UP HOT PICK!
Time Lincoln Vol 1 Fate of the Union
Transformers Ongoing Vol 3
Transformers Prime Vol 2
Transformers: The Complete All Hail Megatron HC
Treasury 20th Century Murder Vol 4 Sacco & Vanzetti HC
World Of Smurfs HC
Wormwood Vol 3 Deviant Edition
Wright Brothers Campfire
X-Men Legacy Aftermath HC
Negima Vol 30
Twin Spica Vol 8
Valkyria Chronicles Design Archive Vol 1
I’m going to take a cue from the publishers and note the author’s name in big white letters: That’s about all I need to make this book the FIRST PROSE NOVEL recommended in any edition of Insideman’s Pull List™.
I was going to mention Red Sonja Vol 8: Blood Dynasty… But I have kicked this broken-down horse more than once and I don’t see the point of doing it again. (Other than doing what I just did, again, of course.)