Friday, February 16, 2007

Is Hollywood Harmful for Comics?

Marvel and DC both, and a few others in fact, are using some more "well-known" names and "hollywood" types to help pen comic books. They think that this will help bring comics into the main stream and get some respect and/or interest from those folks who still haven't figured out how cool comic books are. The problem with this is that these "hollywod" types main jobs are doing theyr regular tv or movie stuff - that's what pays their bills. Writing a comic book is just something fun they've decided to take on in their free time, like a hobby. And much like I am with my hobby of scrapbooking, I tend to put it asside and only do it when I'm in the mood and have nothing else more pressing to do. So, I don't get to do my scrapbooking all that much now that I own my own comic book store. These "hollywood" types seem to approach their comic book writing committments in similar fashion. This is why Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk will probably never see another issue. And, aparently it is why Wonder Woman and Action Comics havn't been coming out.

We received two separate notices from DC this week--see below. One about "changes" to the Wonder Woman solicitation for issue #5, and this is the second or maybe even third email about changes to Action Comics "Last Son" 3-D issue. While it is good to see that DC Comics is willing to make creator changes in order to keep these comics coming out, it just seems insane to split up these story arcs like this. How will the do the trade for Wonder Woman, for example. Not do one until Jodi Picoult's arc is done, call that volume 2, and then have another arc by someone else, call that volume 3, and then when Alan Heinberg finally gets around to it, they'll finish the FIRST arc and call that volume 1??? Or not solicit any trades until Heinberg finally finishes? Or have the volume 1 trade be the first 4 issues and this new 5th issue and then throw the end of the arc into a different trade?

One thing I know for sure is that there are good comic book writers out there. Publishers do not have to ask these "hollywood" types to write comics. And these "hollywood" types are only good for comics and the sale of comics when there are actually comics to sell.

WONDER WOMAN #5 GETS NEW CONTENTS WONDER WOMAN #5 (JAN070319), which was previously slated to feature the final chapter of the 5-part story "Who Is Wonder Woman," will feature a new story when it arrives in stores on March 14. This new story is by Will Pfeifer (CATWOMAN, AMAZONS ATTACK), with art by Jean Diaz, Geraldo Borges and Wellington Diaz and a cover by Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson. In it, Wonder Woman learns that a new women's movement has begun, inspired by her killing of Max Lord - and leaving Diana torn between the good intentions of the movement and the validation it gives her violent act. Worse yet, she's ordered to investigate a possible connection between Wonder Woman and this movement by Sarge Steel and the department of Metahuman Affairs! Chapter five of "Who Is Wonder Woman" will be rescheduled at a future date. Retailers may adjust orders on WONDER WOMAN #5 (JAN070319) now through its final order cutoff date of Thursday, February 22. Also, orders for the WONDER WOMAN: WHO IS WONDER WOMAN? HC (FEB070299) have been cancelled. This title will be resolicited at a future date.

DC COMICS ANNOUNCES NEW CONTENTS FOR ACTION COMICS #848, PLUS A DOUBLE-SHIP IN MAY ACTION COMICS #848, previously scheduled to feature part 4 of the story "Last Son" in 3-D, will have new contents when it arrives in stores in March. ACTION COMICS #848 (JAN070267) now will feature part 1 of the 2-part story "Redemption," written by Fabian Nicieza with art by Allan Goldman & Ron Randall and a cover by Brad Walker & Robin Riggs. In this issue, Superman must travel the world from the wilds of Colorado to the plains of Africa to battle an uncontrollable power with an unbelievable source! Orders for ACTION COMICS #848 (JAN070267) may be adjusted through its Final Order Cutoff date of April 5, and is scheduled to arrive in stores on April 25. "Redemption" concludes in ACTION COMICS #849 (MAR070181), written by Nicieza with art by Goldman & Randall and a cover by Walker & Riggs, solicited in the March Previews (Volume XVII #3) and scheduled to arrive in stores in May. In this issue, mankind's savior is about to become mankind's doom! The real control behind the power has been revealed, and Superman will need help from an unexpected place in order to stop a being who only gets stronger and more violent! Also in May, ACTION COMICS #850 (MAR070182) will be a special 48-page issue written by Kurt Busiek, Geoff Johns and Fabian Nicieza and illustrated by Renato Guedes. Supergirl's looking for a way back from the future - and the real reason Superman doesn't want her to wear the "S" shield. But both Superman and Supergirl are in for a big surprise when they see what the past has in store! This issue also includes time-viewing sneak peaks at the upcoming year's events in both ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN Part 4 of "Last Son" has been rescheduled to appear in ACTION COMICS #851, coming in June. Please note that the ACTION COMICS #848 3-D EDITION (JAN070268) has been cancelled.


RAB said...

Marvel and DC are more to blame than the individual writers. The star-struck companies brought this on themselves through the way they chose to assign these writers to ongoing monthlies. The publishers could have invited these screenwriters and novelists to script graphic novels or standalone mini-series that wouldn't be solicited or published until the entire thing was written and submitted. In fact, that would have a big benefit for drawing in the hoped-for "crossover" audience of fans of these writers from other media. Or they could give the outside writer more of a support mechanism in the form of an established comics pro with whom to collaborate: John Rogers had this with Keith Giffen, Richard Donner had this with Geoff Johns, and in both cases it seems to have worked out really well. And on the Buffy comic, Joss Whedon seems to have recreated something more like the working environment of weekly television scripting, where he supervises a team of writers working on individual "episodes."

One thing that Whedon keeps mentioning in articles I've seen online is just how lousy comics scripting money is compared to his Hollywood work. He has to balance comics with the other work he needs to do to support himself. Obviously comics can't match Hollywood pay...but the comics industry would do itself a big favor if it acknowledged that writers who come in from other media are going to have to divide their time, and can't meet deadlines with the same ruthless efficiency they get from their full-timers.

Lisa said...

Well put, Rab. Very well put.

collectededitions said...

I'm curious about your perspective as a comics shop owner--do you think these delays, especially the delay of the Wonder Woman issues, will ultimately drive up sales of the resulting Wonder Woman trade in your store? That is, do you think your customers will get sick of waiting for the individual Wonder Woman issues, and just wait for the trade?

Scott King said...

I was interested in checking out Alan Heinberg's run on WW. Then it was announced it was only going to be 5 issues. Then there were delays. Now this. To me it feels like any storyline they put together in a graphic novel isn't going to be co-hesive or really make sense.... But that's why I don't really read DC books. 'Cause 90% of the time I don't know what the heck is going on.

Generally speaking I don't care about delays. To me its about good story telling. I also wait for trades so I still get to read full-storylines at once, even if the single issues had long delays between them.

Lisa said...

Collected - good question. I know that before the issue of WW that led into Infinite Crisis we only sold about 5 copies of Wonder Woman. Now we've quadrupled that - but with every late issue the number of people who buy it drops.

Will they pick up the trade? I hope so. I do think that long delays on books does lead to people switching to trades on those series. It's one reason why I read Walking Dead in TPB format.

But, many super hero comic readers read trades or comics. So, if they picked up WW in single issue form for the first few, I doubt they'll get the trade. Instead they'll just drop the title alltogether and pick up single issues of something else that's coming out more regularly.

Lisa said...

Scott- I hope you're not right on it not being cohesive. It's great that DC is going to do what they can to keep comics coming out, but when it disrupts story lines it can be confusing. How they'll handle this when it comes to TPB's I don't know. But at least they're staying true to the format and seem to be focusing on getting floppies out, rather than worying about trades. Marvel tolerates late books because they make more money in book store sales than in comic sales so they put the importance of a nice TPB before getting floppies out.