Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Comics Spirit


I'm putting this blog on hiatus for a week (or so) in protest of the apathy, inferior product, corruption, bureaucratic nightmares, dysfunction, soul-killing, greed, bad contracts, bounced checks, lingering discrimination among selected dinosaurs (sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism), and spineless ass-kissery in certain afflicted sectors of the comic book industry. My apologies to those sectors not afflicted; I still think you're tops.

You can still check out my other blog for some light and frothy pap, or read my narrative Goodbye To Comics. I am currently being filmed for a TV news-magazine type segment, and it's my hope that perhaps this will help both get extra funding for Friends of Lulu and facilitate interest in the adaptation in some medium of my memoir.

As for my future plans for this blog, and comics blogging in general, I would like to launch something along the lines of this (and you can let me know what you think of the idea):

Comics Spirit:
Why We Read
Why We Write
Why We Draw

It would focus on the quality product that is being out out now, as well as individual creators who go above and beyond to create comics of merit. I figure there are enough press-junket coverage out there now, and they do it much better than I do and with better websites.

I've been re-reading those old Marvel Age issues recently, and they are actually (especially the very early ones) very good -- well-researched, with insightful interviews. The format of the classic comics fanzine -- such as Mark Gruenwald championed -- really appeals to me. Certainly, this is not stuff that can be dashed off four times a day. It would require a more careful preparation. But I think it would be rewarding. And maybe it could partially focus on those who work outside the system, who have challenged the system - either in the business itself or just in terms of their groundbreaking comics work.

The biggest comics and the most high-ranking people have their own mouthpieces and publicity machines. I should know, because I have both worked for one monolithic company and I've done PR for others. But, I feel that what is really going to really change this world and this medium are the unique voices. Life is change and diversity. Death is stagnation and uniformity. It's not new age mumbo-jumbo. It's biology and evolution. And, ultimately, it is also business.


  1. Why We Draw, definitely! *claps hands in delight like a little kid*

  2. I think that's a great direction to go into. I'd love to be able to support people who tell good stories and draw well without supporting those making stupid decisions for the sake of more cash.

  3. I hope the week off cleans out the mental cobwebs and revitalizes you, OS.

    I came on board to this blog about a year ago and found it to be a great forum about what is good about comics, what is wrong about comics, and what can be improved. At that point this place felt like a little community of people exchanging ideas. Sure there was disagreement, but almost always voiced in a civilized and constructive dialogue.

    Over the last couple of months I have found this site to be more of an anti-DC diatribe than that constructive look at comics as a whole. And while some of what was being ranted about is definitely true, it was said with a degree of vitriol and bombast I wasn't accustomed to seeing here. And the other companies, while guilty of many of the same sins, seemed invulnerable to criticism. Usual readers publically left. Comments needed to be moderated. It just felt different.

    I look forward to the new direction and hope it more mirrors the OS I joyfully discovered last summer. 'Why we read' is the reason behind 'what we read'. I look forward to joining the dialogue.

  4. There's been a bit more freefloating hostility in the blogosphere lately, and now might just the time for someone to focus on the positive. I had the feeling you were getting a little run down lately. I hope you find yourself recharged by the week off. Take care of yourself and I look forward to what you do next.

  5. Bravo for mixing it up and taking a new approach. I've been reading your blog for a little while now (since shortly after Goodbye to Comics, I think), and I've always enjoyed reading what you've had to write. As Anj points out, the tone of your blog has changed and evolved with time, but I never found it lacking in insights and wisdom, likely due to your own experiences in the industry. With that said, I look forward to the upcoming change you have planned, and I'll still be around to read what you have to say. Thanks!

  6. Valerie -

    Re: your proposed new direction:

    "It would focus on the quality product that is being [put] out now, as well as individual creators who go above and beyond to create comics of merit."

    It's about goddamn time. At the risk of sounding prickish, there's been an increasing tendency to whine and use this blog as a yet another fanboy/girl bitch forum. Yawn. That is happening all over the web - we all visit the same sites/forums.

    It's not helping, it's not original, and worst of all it's not entertaining. It's just venting - part of the problem instead of the solution.

    You have enough insight to see this is the case, and I'm guessing that's what's behind the hiatus idea.

    You have a unique opportunity that most of the web fan community doesn't have - the combination of talent, love for the comic medium, and an ability to use the tools provided on the web to communicate with an audience in a meaningful way.

    So just resolve to use this blog as a platform to focus on what YOU like about the business. You have regular readers - we'll follow along. You have moderated forums, the "power of the pen" is yours. Benevolent dictatorship over the tone and content of your forum can help to raise the level of discussion about our shared hobby to a higher level.

    Why not take it one step further? No more dramatic proclamations, no major posts to "protest" and deride the state of things, while at the same time dragging it all down further into the mud. Leave that shit to the Newsaramas and all the rest of the fanboy wankery sites. Critical thinking is great/essential - but when it just degenerates into angry diatribes, it's time to take a step back

    This might invite some flames and I wish it wouldn't, because I think you're very talented and I'm a fan.

    When you're willing to make your voice heard, then one of three possibilities becomes evident: you're either part of the problem, part of the solution, or you don't matter at all in the equation. The latter is really too depressing (and likely) for most of us to face, so we cast ourselves as trying to fit into one of the other two. It's really just a question of which of the other two you really want this blog and your attention to it to fit into.

    I'm all in favor of the "Why we read" focus - I've been reading for many years and there's always something I don't like, hate, loathe, or just plain laugh at. Sometimes all at once. I just ignore those and vote with my wallet. Problem solved. Anything else is way too obsessive over a hobby.

  7. Sounds interesting... I'd like to see more material along those lines.

  8. I like the idea, though, I would humbly submit, Valerie, that there are already a lot of good sites dealing with these things.

    Not to discourage you. In fact, I think it could almost make it easier. What the sites/writers/artists I mention lack would be the level of viewership and community you seem to have.

    My suggestion (humbly rendered) would be for you, rather than to start something wholly new, use your semi-celebrity status to aggregate some of those existing blogs/sites that are dealing with these issues under a bigger tent so that they could share audiences.

    The beauty of the web is that it could be done in a way that they all kept their own space and contributed to yours.

    Just a thought.

    Also, fair warning... web lore suggests that if you abandon OccSupes for something new you will lose a LOT of people.

    This Too Will Pass.

  9. the only thing that give hope is Ambush bug...

  10. I'm a pretty recent reader of your blog but I've found it very interesting, if not a little scary in regards to things you mention about he comics industry which I never new. It's hard realizing the dark side of something you love.

    I hope your week off helps clear the air and I really look forward to seeing the new direction you take. It definitely sounds like an interesting idea, can't wait to see how it goes.


  11. I'm a fairly new reader to your blog but i have found it very interesting! The new direction sounds great, I wish you luck with it. I know I'll be reading.


  12. Way to go! I hope you come back to blogging feeling reinvigorated and positively charged. It's so difficult to watch something you love be so abused... frustrating.

    My own peaceful protest is that I no longer buy any of DC's monthlies, even the ones featuring characters I'd love to read about. I'd LOVE to feel comfortable buying their products, but I can't. The quality isn't there, there's no direction, it's disheartening. I don't buy food I know I won't like, why should I throw money at comics that are badly written, poorly drawn and disastrously edited?

    And not even fun.

    I don't get nearly half as pissed at Marvel for some reason. I dunno... something about the brightness of DC's properties. Maybe Marvel's been too long mired in darkness and nihilism compared to DC that I've come to expect soulless stuff from them and I just shrug.

    And it must be especially difficult once you've been on the inside of a place.

    Even 5 years later, I can still get passionately whipped up about the newspaper I used to work at where we designers were treated like garbage.

    I want you to know I haven't seen this blog AT ALL as an "anti-DC" diatribe. I've seen it as a PRO-DC/anti-crap blog.

    People need to understand you can both love a thing and still be dismayed by the direction it's taken. And when you love a thing and know they can do better- especially in DC's case where doing better would actually be quite easily accomplished because it's not like anyone's asking for much at all- it's frustrating to see the same old bad decisions going down.

    Pretending sales aren't falling and that mammoth mistakes haven't been made isn't doing DC any favors. It isn't being a "good fan," it's just being a... I don't know what it's being. The Kremlin comparison comes to mind, definitely.

    And the thing about losing readers. If you write what you feel, readers will find you. Some will dig it, some will hate it. Both viewpoints are valid.

    Tailoring stuff or writing things you don't really believe specifically to garner yes-people just isn't the way to go. Don't sweat alienating a few here or there. Others, even those who frequently disagree with you, will hang out and more will come to replace the losses. People publicly leaving or threatening to leave... that's something that should just be ignored.

    Hey, I don't always agree with you or even understand what's going on. But it's your blog, your thoughts. Not theirs, not mine.

    That said, yeah I'm looking forward to some more positive stuff here too. I got tired of my own invective and just quit dealing with modern stuff to get back to basics. Retreating into nostalgia maybe, but I'm a lot happier these days.

    Looking forward to the upcoming stuff!

  13. It does surprise me, though, that people will take discussing and analyzing the same recent continuity and editorial gaffes plus creator shakeups that practically everyone else is talking about as "anti-DC."

  14. we write cause we have a bubbling fountain of creativity. If I don't write I go crazy.

    You should try trolling the blogs for stupid and interesting writers there are some really good ones out there.

    There are also some really bad ones.

    Not sure where I fit in.

  15. First the housing crisis, then the financial industry crunch, typhoons in Asia, floodings in the Midwest, fires in the West Coasts, and now OS shutdown?

  16. I hope the break does the trick for you, and "Why We Write" definitely intrigues me. Look forward to seeing what you have in the works for this blog. I too came on board as a reader about a year ago, and I've enjoyed your insights into the comics business.

    All the best to you!

    Bill, the Wildcat

  17. I'm a late comer to your blog, but I've enjoyed it. I think you have a good perspective on comics, and truth to tell, I've not been impressed by some of the comic commentary, particularly reviews, at some of the comic sites.

    Your idea is vague but with appealing potential. Sometimes we are fans to a fault, and I think it's past time we expect more from comics, more than so-called adult themes. I have a daughter who loves comics but has a hard time finding comics that love her, that give her the stories of women and girls she wants.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading wherever you write.

  18. It wouldn't hurt the fans to change, too. Funny Book Babylon wasn't wrong when it identified the trend among the fanbase is to be the first to mock everything.

  19. "Comics Spirit" sounds like a good direction. At HeroesCon's Indie Island i was looking at all these fresh, vibrant comics by people who are excited about the medium, and it suddenly seemed very silly to have gotten all stressed out about DC earlier in the week. There is so much good stuff out there that doesn't have all the "mainstream" drama bogging it down.

  20. Enjoy your sabbatical.

  21. I would suggest that you continue posting what you have, while adding your suggestions and general tone.

    I find this blog to be somewhat balanced, and I enjoy it for what it is.

    As for DC, they offer many titles I would buy. While not a regular consumer of the monthly issues, there are issues I read and enjoy (like the Super Friends).

    So, Valerie, try to look on the bright side, accentuate the positive, but please vent when you must, and try to be constructive with your criticism.

    As for me, my favorite part of Marvel Age is Mark's Remarks.

  22. I should echo something Torsten said -- while I'd like to see "Comics Spirit" type posts, I *really do* like what you do on this blog. I like your perspective on the comics I'm already reading, and the high-visibility comics I'm passing up. The blogosphere could certainly use more positivity, and indie books should get much more press than they do -- but I have to say that I think the people who dismiss your POV as a "DC hater" just aren't getting you.