Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Hasn't this always kinda happened – the "circle of life" of the industry, as it were? Flood, boom, bust, repeat?
I don't care if you're a major publisher or not, the real key is striking a chord with the modern zeitgeist. Two buddies with a Xerox machine can do that. But it takes 1) A real sense of what is important to people nowadays and 2) a pair of balls.
You can't create that sort of magic in a boardroom. By its very nature, such projects find themselves in conflict with the ultimate needs of the corporate machine, which rarely wants to take a chance. That sort of magic largely happens by accident, with projects that have managed to slip by management unnoticed and, by some miracle, make it to the stands. Then they get hailed as a "genius" – and then, realizing they have a great hit on their hands, the publisher milks it for all its worth with dozens of sequels and spinoffs and similar projects. That's the comic book Circle of Life. And that's largely the entertainment industry's Circle of Life.
Personally, I don't want to spend money reading about some old superhero that the writer idolized when he was 11. I've read that story in everything from "Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy On Earth" to "JSA." Give me something new. I don't want to read another Kirby riff, though Kirby was of course awesome. I don't want to read another riff off of a teenage superhero who gets special powers and learns that with great power comes great responsibility. "Remember those great Sunday Comics?" Yeah, I remember them from when I was a kid, and I've been trying to get out of the burden of childhood memory & nostalgia for years. Give me something else. Give me something new.
So to me, all other business strategies take a back seat to actually publishing that book or series that seizes that zeitgeist and sets the world on fire. That's the only way the industry actually grows and develops:
Accidental Awesomeness --> Sequels and Spinoffs --> Glut
Glut --> Bust --> Accidental Awesomeness (allowed because management isn't really paying too close attention, they're busy licking their wounds)