Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Rock Star Mentality in Comics??

As I have been strolling the blogoverse for posts about sexism in comics, I have noticed at times that there has been a reference to a small percentage of creators being treated and/or having a rock star mentality. That is an interesting symptom of a much bigger problem to me.

I have witnessed first hand a creator at a small con who definitely was treated like a rock star by both the show coordinators and his handlers. He was extremely polite and professional to the fans, and that was all good and well, but he could afford to be. At his right was his right hand man making deals and shooting down fan boys a little low on cash. At his left was another business partner, who was the “controversial one”. Also, I found out that this creator stayed at a different hotel then normal, even though it was quite a bit more expensive. He also requested a rental car and his posse had to make the trip as well. The hands-down topper was that he received a different lunch then the usual “make your own sandwich”. Okay…

I understand that if your asking price is higher, and your level of fame is greater, it is within your realm to do these things. You have made yourself into a commodity rather then an individual and that is good business sense. I applaud that by all means.

I just don’t understand one thing. Each month when I look at the Wizard “Hot 10 Artists list” I get completely pissed. At least half of the people on the list can’t make a deadline to save their ass and it feels like we are rewarding them for that bad behavior. Why is that?

Also, why does the comic industry seem to always pick from the same small pool of creators over and over? Why is it so hard to break in? Why does it help so much to “know people in the industry”? Who is making those decisions?

As fans we can dictate our favorites by our pocket books. I know that I will be voting that way when The Ultimates Volume 3 comes out. In my humble opinion, Joe Madureira doesn’t deserve it. He very publicly left the industry without finishing his “Battle Chasers” project and expects to be welcomed back with open arms? Why did we go with Mad and not find some new talent? I believe it is the rock star mentality at work.

Another creator in question to me is Rob Liefeld. This guy has more lives then a cat. He is infamous for never finishing what he starts yet we keep inviting him back? What does that tell the artists of tomorrow? What kind of standard does that set?

Let’s use our dollars to dictate to the companies what direction to go. I know it sounds cliché, but it is true. If we don’t buy the book being produced, we can send a message. I understand that when a person has a run on a book, it is hard to drop it. I have over 350 issues of Uncanny X-Men in a run, and it is damn difficult for me to stop collecting, so I can empathize.

I also wonder what Editorial can do or chooses not to do in working with these creators. If you know the writer or artist can’t make a deadline and you still want to hire them, wait to solicit the book or make the book bi-monthly. Managing the deadlines and production at a comic book company is one of the most important jobs there is. Support that person, and work with them to keep things on schedule. Let there be “fill-in” artists. God knows there are plenty of good people looking for work.

One case I appreciate is that All Star Superman is being solicited on a bi-monthly basis. We like Frank Quitely’s art, but we are also aware that he can’t make a monthly book work. To be more upfront about it is very important to me. Also, DC appears to be trying hard to make Infinite Crisis and its tie-ins stay on schedule. Not only is this crucial to the schedule, but it will maintain fans in the long run. The ultimate test I see is keeping “52” on a weekly schedule. That will speak volumes to me as a fan.

To the creators out there: I appreciate what it is you do. I am not downplaying your job at all. I just want to improve things for all of us so that we can prosper and keep the industry going for years to come. When I read that you treat your job with a disciplined approach, it makes me want to support you even more. On the other hand, I don’t want to read about how the new Play station Portable kicks ass if you are behind on your book.

Fans: I think it is wonderful to be excited to meet creators at shows. I also know that it is fun to interact with them online. It is a great validation of sorts. I understand perfectly- I almost wept with joy when I met Joe Staton. We need to be careful not to put our creators on a pedestal that lets them break the rules and not give us the product we so enjoy.

The bottom line is this: creators who have worked hard should enjoy the perks, but like any other industry out there, they need to remember where they came from. As fans, it is our job to encourage them or correct them, and the best way to do that is with the almighty dollar. Without creators, we would have nothing to read, but without readers, there would be no reason to make comics in the first place.


RedheadFangirl said...

Good post. My friend/owner of the local comic store gets all incensed when we talks about how the comic companies- and the creators- don't support the stores that make them a 'name' in the first place.
Mostly though, even after waiting an hour in line, the "names" I've met have been really great, cool people. And more accessible than film or TV or even book authors.

Carl said...

Hmmmmm, welp, I've seen a lot of this, at cons all over the place. I've seen comic writers, inkers and artists kind of look at you when you blink when you can't afford a $100 print they are selling. I want to shake them and say, WE ARE AT A COMIC CONVENTION!!! NOT A LUXURY CAR OR DIAMOND SHOW!!! LOOK AT THESE PEOPLE!!! THEY ARE GOOD JOES THAT WORK SH*TTY JOBS TO BUY YOUR BOOKS!!!
But then again, there are so many guys and gals that give so much away, free sketches, items connected to the comic and so on. I was absolutely stunned one time, when Eddie Campbell did a sketch in my "From Hell" trade, gave me a "From Hell" letter-opener (looked like a scalpel) and sold me a signed poster for $5. It's those people that make you love comics. Not the "rock star" twerps. Those guys will be gone and forgotten in a few years...

Ethan said...

Hope to god I never get a rockstar mentality over being a comic book creator... I got close to the rock star mentality already and that was enough for me.

Also, I just wanted to stop in and say you've been writing a lot of thought provoking stuff lately - keep it up ;)


Heidi Meeley said...

Redlib- Thank you for the kind words. I have had 95% positive experiences as well. My worst was so horrible I have tried to block it out, but most creators I have met have been wonderful. I am glad you have had positive experiences as well! I definitely agree with you!

Carl- Nice to see you around these parts, busy guy! I read Jim your comment and we both agree whole heartedly about trying to have a sense of reality about the average pocket book commitment a fan might have. Jim and I get so frustrated when it is too expensive to get a print or comic book to get signed.

Eddie Campbell did you right- what a great guy! That goes to show that he understands his market and appreciates his fans enough to want to keep them. Too cool!

Take care!

Heidi Meeley said...

Liriel- it is wonderful to hear from you. I appreciate the comments!

I noticed you live in Seattle- are you the BadBlood artist that will be at Emerald City? If so, that is too cool! My hubby and I will be there with a booth in the exhibitors alley, talking about our blogs.

Take care and thank you!