Inspired by discussion at

It's like DC can't see the reader's perspective, except for a tiny minority of people who despise the same past continuity they do, and in fact the idea of continuity itself.

They don't want to continue the character arcs, but they want to keep the trademarks. So somehow stuff like the new Titans run gets greenlit, where there's no credible thread from the old stuff, but casual readers might not know that. And the old diehard fans say, "Wow, this is a good jumping-off point, let's leave!"

They probably could have done a midstream distillation of each book, clearing off cruft as they went, but instead of letting that flow organically, they decided to completely derail most of their titles at once as a stunt.

And they'd alienated so many of their talented writers that they're hiring Scott Lobdell to write multiple books. (Grant Morrison's still around, yes. I don't know if he stays in order to feed an expensive drug habit, or because DC is more respectful of him at this point. Maybe both.)

DC may catastrophically self-destruct before they figure this out.
Let the books be themselves; Blue Beetle is not "even more Batman," Wonder Woman is not Deadface (though that's perhaps preferable to "even more Batman"), Mr Terrific is not "backstory for Superman or somebody."
Don't try to rewrite everything from the top.
It's OK to publish stuff you aren't the target audience for, in order to reach a broader audience.
And let writers write their own stories.
I must be getting old. There's a Windows 8 already? I've had my Windows 7 laptop less than a year, but I was no early adopter. Of course, XP hung on a long time by Windows standards, so that skews expectations.

Windows 8 apparently is a transition to a new underground-train-themed OS called "Metro." (If they'd waited until Windows 12, they could have called it "L." I can see the slogan! "Elevate your Windows experience!")
e_e Yes, this will clearly end well. Comparisons to the Edsel are wholly unwarranted, I'm sure.

I'm already annoyed that my Windows 7 laptop seems to want to be a television a little more than it wants to be a computer. Sometimes Windows Explorer can't move a file because it's "open" in some program--when all I did was select it, in Windows Explorer. I can't find a way to set commands to open multiple files in Photoshop, say. I feel like Microsoft adds functionality and then takes away or hides other functionality out of some madness.

Is it sick that I miss my old Windows ME computer that I had to disk-check constantly? At least when it wasn't totally malfunctioning, it did what I told it to do; and it could manage things on the hard drive in a timely fashion. Or is that the haze of memory making it seem better than it was?

In any case, abandoning the idea that we as PC users do work--accounting work, creative work, evs--on computers, is madness. They will throw their market share in the toilet--or it will go as soon as someone advertises an alternative.


Jun. 8th, 2011 07:20 am
Late in the run of the 1940's Green Lantern series, Green Lantern (Alan Scott) had a dog named Streak. Sometimes the dog got the cover. After the Green Lantern series died a natural death (GL still appeared in DC's anthology series), the creators retooled the concept of the dog into the Rex the Wonder Dog series.

Now, that kind of thing is clever. Sort of like how Wolverine, at one time an animalistic character added to X-Men, ended up becoming a major character at Marvel. You gotta find those opportunities.
philippos42: Miss Tyra funny face (funny face)
Here, the argument is advanced that DC's line-wide numbering reboot is the perfect "jumping-off" point. I disagree. The perfect jumping-off point was whenever we were told there'd be another 100-issue crossover.

What this is, more, is an attempt to renumber for a new format, thus bringing new readers in while keeping old ones. And an expansion of titles married to a new distribution system. In a way, an attempt to do Marvel's early-1990's "glut the market" approach right.

And yet I worry they're still screwing it up.
1) Instead of launching 52 titles at once & then coasting, they should be rolling out new stuff every few months in perpetuity, so there's always a new jumping on point.
2) If this is 52 superhero titles in the DC style, they may find there isn't enough market even if they escape the comic-shop ghetto. In general, they need to understand that not all customers want the same things, & the publishing line must be thematically diverse.
3) Are they even managing to advertise to new non-comic-shop customers effectively? I don't know. If I see ads outside the comix press, I'll give them props, but I ain't holding my breath.
4) If they even think about trying to do a 52-title crossover, they deserve to have it blow up in their faces and all get fired.

Oh, well, I'm calling it now. Superman, Wonder Woman, & Batman will still be around whatever comes, due to the corporate culture. Other stuff, like Mr. Terrific, will get lost in the crowd, and be gone in (let's see, 52 titles?) 12-18 months.
philippos42: (despair)
"...the myth that Wonder Woman works as a leading super-hero."
"Oh, how is that? I'm curious to know why a character like her cannot carry a story of her own...."

Well, she can. She's just not as commercial as people seem to expect, and it's not just because she's a woman.

A self-consciously feminist character created by a bigamist (Wm. Marston) & a confirmed bachelor (H. Peter) to cash in on the 1940's super-hero craze? I suppose that such a concept could have had legs despite its origins.

But the creators had so little faith in the idea of a strong woman that they made her come from some male-free fantasy land where the women are amazingly powerful, but can only even have power due to men's absence. This is practically misogynist and misandrist at the same time.

And then they threw several different concepts into the book to try to grab as much audience as possible: She's a superscience hero (like an over-the-top Iron Man/Mr Fantastic), a mythology hero (like Thor), hangs around a college (like Spider-Man), an ersatz Captain America, albeit vaguely foreign, and a card-carrying feminist (like...Tigra?). Also she runs around in a stupid costume which just fails to be an athlete's togs due to the high boots and the evening-gown top (oh, yeah, like Harvey's Black Cat).

Imagine how much better they could have done with a magical-girl line. More titles means more alternatives for the audience if they don't like a given writer or artist. But no, they had to suck as much energy up into one title as possible.

Wondy has done well where elements get stripped out. Unfortunately, those elements don't seem to get attached to new series.

The Holliday Girls disappeared from Wonder Woman in the 1950's, never to return. Want to see college kids whimsically fighting a variety of menaces? You won't get it from DC.

The U.S. military connections have been dropped a few times. Twice they came back. But why not create a new character who has them?

The stupid boyfriend (No, really, he was stupid. I mean he was a stupid person in the text.) was killed off twice, then finally retconned into the husband of a friend of hers to stop the insanity. Fans of superheroines with stupid boyfriends have been whining ever since--but never mind Wondy, rarely do modern superheroines get boyfriends at all.

So many missed opportunities.

And Wondy is left with some mythology stuff, the bizarre gender politics of Paradise Island, some fantastic tech, and sometimes her JLA membership, while the fans of "powerful girl with stupid boyfriend," "superhero with a military day job," & "unapologetic patriotic USA superheroine," are left disappointed. And they'll badmouth the present version & hurt sales. As for the various concepts that have been attached over the years, sometimes by a single writer, such as, "superheroine with a gaggle of sorority girls following her around," "mythology-rooted character with job in a museum of antiquities," "martial artist / boutique owner with a variety of adventures," "superheroine who hangs around mythical monsters &/or nymphs," "superheroine with day job at a government agency dealing with metahuman stuff," or "whimsical superheroine who hangs out with a child version of herself," (Marston/Peter, Byrne, Sekowsky, Luke &/or Moeller, Heinberg, Kanigher, respectively)--those aren't being used elsewhere at DC either.

If you have an idea for a Wondy revamp (especially a new status quo), it might be better served as a new character.

And the Wonder Woman trademark might be more commercial if you rejected much of the cluttered original premise, but which parts do you keep? Maybe it's time to let it go, or at least acknowledge that Wondy as such is just not going to have amazing sales.

Other female characters can.
We have discontinued the CMX line with no plans to reprint the titles (except Megatokyo which has moved to the DC Comics imprint). Beyond that I do not know the future of the titles.

Currently there are CMX titles that are still listed as in stock at our distributor, Random House. Please contact them for more information:

Random House


Thank you,

ERIKA RUSSO | Administrator, Book Trade Sales
DC Comics | A Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
dc just mentioned (not for the first time) that their kids comics are "loss leaders" that never turn a profit. since i doubt very much that every single one of those comics is bad, i think dc might be overlooking the importance of factors like, say, NO KID BUYS PERIODICAL COMICS, AND NOT IN A DIRECT MARKET COMICS SHOP. just, you know, throwing that out there.

Too right.

Anyway, yet another ww manga pitch. I have a suspicion that the very mention of the word "manga" in connexion with one the DC trademarks is triggering in the halls of DC Comics. That manga is the enemy, & mangafication is surrender.


This pitch, at which I have just glanced, looks further from classic Wondy than Tintin Pantoja's.

My advice? FILE OFF THE SERIAL NUMBERS. Cut Bats, reinvent the Wondy into your own character, & sell it to Yen Press or somebody.
From DC's announcement that they were shutting down CMX:
Over the course of the last six years, CMX has brought a diverse list of titles to America and we value the books and creators that we helped introduce to a new audience. Given the challenges that manga is facing in the American marketplace, we have decided that CMX will cease publishing new titles as of July 1, 2010.

Uh, compared to the challenges selling any of your over-colored over-priced domestic crap?

If sales were the chief determiner, wouldn't you have canceled Teen Titans by now?

Was one of the challenges, "Being distributed by twits who resent how much better the imported stuff is than their own pathetic fanfic scribbles"?

OK, enough snark. Let's google!
... Johanna Draper Carlson ran this much down at the time.

Oh, CMX wasn't selling as well as Tokyopop. It was even being outsold in bookstores by a few of DC's house-produced gorefests (when they had movie tie-ins). It was selling very small-press numbers, the kind Antarctic Press would be happy with, & DC was probably content with considering it was all repackaged content.

But DC wasn't trying too hard to sell it. I was only vaguely aware of CMX for a long time, even after I encountered Land of the Blindfolded. And I started seriously getting into their stuff not long before they shut down.

Check this out:
I've checked out 3 of these titles, & I would be glad to help encourage more sales on them, if they weren't permanently out of stock. This year my local library was buying trades of LotB (which are a few years old), on my recommendation, & then was told, "permanently out of stock"--right about the time of the shutdown.

Maybe DC was just the wrong company for the mix of real bookselling & not-just-doing-more-fanfic-of-the-same-few-characters that CMX needed.
philippos42: Sarigar (action)
I'm not creating much or writing much. I think I'm reading too much or something. (The manga don't take that long, but I'm reading lots of message board crap; that's a problem.) Hard to do even the little reviews, my head is clogged.

I'm in King of Thorn vol. 3 now.

Why am I reviewing King of Thorn favorably? Isn't it what I say Yank comix shouldn't be doing? Long-form story, no apparent definition of length, don't know when it ends....

Ah! But it's mostly in black and white, so it's produced in an affordable form. And being creator-driven makes a huge difference: No sprawling overcross, persistence of the authorial vision thing, consistency. I'm actually sometimes cool with long-form American indie stuff. Carla Speed McNeil's first Finder arc was what, 14 issues? And she wrote & drew it herself.

By way of example, contrast King of Thorn (or even that notorious shaggy dog Saiyuki) with Rucka's Wonder Woman run:

1) One difference is in the Yank work having substitute artists. It's not that Wondy artist Drew Johnson was so great, but certainly the Japanese series have a certain consistency of visual voice. That said, I don't think this is really a huge drawback for the Yank work. Actually, I find Johnson's Wondy art so dull the substitutes, while a bit sketchy, added some interest.
- A wash.

2) King of Thorn & Saiyuki are serials & know it. The packaging reflects this: The trades are numbered. Rucka tried to write to the trade, Japanese style, but DC packaged the trades with different titles: It's less clear what order "Bitter Rivals," "Down to Earth," "The Hiketeia," & "Sacrifice" go in, or how many others are around & between them. And there isn't a clear distinction that these are one serial, with none of the Rucka trades telling a complete story in themselves; nor that they are actually a different series from "Ends of the Earth" & "Amazons Attack." Sloppy marketing, makes it hard to follow.
- Huge packaging failure, US side.

3) The Japanese stuff tends to create new characters, concepts & settings for its big giant thick picto-novels. Indie Yank stuff does as well. "Mainstream" Marvel & DC keep trying to use these to sell characters created generations ago for a different format.
- Really the problem is less the long-form-ness than the stupid preconception that they have to sell Wonder Woman or the Hulk or whomever, & the blindness to developing new concepts. One Piece would have never been given a chance by DC or Marvel post-1990. King of Thorn, whether through "Epic," "Vertigo," or a small(er) press, would be hidden from potential readers in a comic shop ghetto, with next to no marketing. Saiyuki probably would have involved leftover Marvel characters from the 1970's, & then the fans would whinge about how the White Tiger got revamped & such. >D

4) Editorial/publisher meddling probably exists in some form in Japan, but when you're dealing with problem #3, it explodes. The writer can get tossed off the book mid-arc.
- Yanks are stupid.


And finally, I think the action in King of Thorn is really well done. This isn't John Byrne / Jim Lee 3-panel pages; nor Katsuhiro Otomo long establishing shots; but complex action scenes. It's cinematic, but it's dense. Short periods of time described in intricate density.

Actually, years ago it was Otomo that got me complaining about excessively long-form work. I have a distaste for Yanks trying to emulate him, because I find his work unnecessarily slow. I suppose a Western artist that could draw as well as Takumi Nagayasu could justify it. I really am inclined to love The Legend of Mother Sarah, I just got frustrated with it.

In this vein, smaller pages help too! Less paper stock can cut costs. I wonder what Legend of Mother Sarah would look like in the digest size.
To everyone freaking out that they're redesigning movie Spidey again, consider this: This is the model of modern supertights comix. The creative staff is changed out every few years, & the look is reconceived through a new filter. This way the product keeps coming out, & no natural person can claim ownership of the trademark. They're just applying this to the new medium.

Don't like it? Stick with Japanese stuff, I guess. :shrugs:
philippos42: Miss Tyra funny face (funny face)
Quoth the "Bomb Queen" artist:
I give a little slack to the villains (disclaimer: I do a villain book). Villains are often extremist / extroverts — it helps with the ego. It also sets them apart from the *heroes* on moral and ethical grounds with the reader / audience.

Wait, in what way is Power Girl not an extrovert? It seems perfectly obvious that that's what she is.

This is not the first time I've heard a preference for wacky sexy costume elements on vilains. And I find it troubling, in that "sexy=evil" way. If it's not taken as slut-shaming, it's taken as making villainy exciting & desirable.

From a writing standpoint, I oppose excessive stereotypes. There should be introverted good guys & bad guys as well as extroverted good guys & bad guys. (Not that the costumed types are going to be especially shy by nature.) Neither side of the coin should be devoid of characters with modesty, immodesty. sexiness, sexlessness, pride, humility, idiosyncratic scruple, recklessness, consideredness, or other things that don't have directly to do with the issue (of law, ethics, or allegiance) that makes one a hero, villain, or "in-between."

I love Power Girl. I like the Authority's Apollo for similar reasons. I'd probably like him more if he were straignt & at least half naked--then he'd really tap into my idea of Apollo. Big, bold, blond(e), exponent of an ideal form of your sex, crossed with superhuman strength. Angelic, almost. I dig that.

Similarly, old-school Hawkman is teh sex. Or Nightcrawler when you get him out of the flat black of the costume & have him in his shorts (thank you Alan Davis for you Excalibur run).

This is not me being gay. This is me appreciating the ideal of a fit man. I absolutely had a boy-crush on Van Damage when I was younger. I didn't want to have sex with him so much as I--what, wanted to be like him? No, even more, I just admired his physicality. (Being able to do the splits with that much muscle takes dedication I was in awe of but never quite had.) Straight men in this country would do well to let themselves appreciate male beauty instead of getting all homophobic about themselves. They might get in better shape.

But I digress. Being sexy is not a crime. It's not a sin. It's not a character flaw. It's a good thing. A desirable thing. There should be heroes, male & female, who embrace their sexiness. And there should those who downplay their sexuality, think they're ugly, or whatever, as well.

None of this justifies drawing all women as the same skinny abstraction of femininity like Jim Lee. We need to get back to drawing characters in comics, rather than just the same two figures (burly guy & small-boned lady) in different war paint & calling it different characters.

As for Power Girl: After the shiny yellow & white bodysuit she wore in Justice League Europe, the first attempts to put her back in the white leotard (or even minidress, wasn't it for a while?) looked kind of sad to me, like she was dressing up a slip (if minidress) or a cheap non-custom leotard (if leotard) with a ragged cape. Even the busy white/blue/red number with the kite cutout she wore post-Giffen was at least not bland. But Amanda Conner has made the classic color scheme work. It looks like it's actually the sort of material that would stand up in a fight, & it could perhaps even stay opaque when wet.

All that said, I would totally love writing a character who runs around in a t-shirt & panties because she's just that tough & fast, & she genuinely doesn't care what people think--for an arc, anyway.

Or a heroic character with a tiny bit of Bomb Queen in her. Or even Evil & Malice's mom (who was a hero, if I remember right).

And then there's this guy:
The logical endpoint is doing R- or X-rated stories so that there can be nudity, but then the characters are no longer heroines. They are merely sex fantasy objects.

Merely? Oh good lord. Hey, it's good to know that Kirika & Chloe stopped being characters when they took their clothes off late in Noir. Oh, wait, they didn't.

I am going to just have to write my own Apollonian superhero, huh? Shiny, flies naked, possibly gold....



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