Friday, May 20, 2005

Pikachu! I Blame You!

Christ, that's a dated reference already, isn't it?

Anyway, Ye Beat has an interesting piece on last month's comics sales charts, particularly the low end of the scale. But that's not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is a comment made after the article by, well, you can see his name right there on the link.

"The majority of which* are licensed properties with an existing fanbase, while the others are boosted by fan favorite creators. It's next to impossible to move more than 10k copies of a title not supported by one or the other. I lay most of the blame for that at the retailers feet."

*"which" meaning "books that sold above the lowest-selling Identity Crisis reprint issue (DC did "final printings" for all 7 issues in April)"

So, Guy here blames the retailers for the shitty numbers on non-lisenced, non-DC/Marvel, non-fan-favorite comics. The retailers, if Brian Hibbs is to be believed, blame the publishers for loading their weeks with too many Bat-, Super-, Spider-, and X-books to leave room for anything else. The publishers, well, Marvel and DC don't really have a problem with that, but smaller publishers blame the bigger publishers for that, and also the fans for being too addicted to more-of-the-same superheroics to try something new. The fans blame the retailers for not ordering anything different, the big publishers for cancelling low-selling titles that are off the beaten path, or creators and small publishers for putting out boring books they don't want to read. And Frank Miller blames Wizard. In short, the buck stops everywhere and nowhere.

This pattern's been going on since the first signs of the market collapse back in the mid-'90s (remember that? when comics really were on the verge of death, but there was no Newsarama for people to proclaim so at the drop of a hat?). It hasn't, to date, produced any notable results. Everyone bitches about the system while being sure to disclaim that they, personally, are not the part of the system that needs fixing. It was at least entertaining when Warren Ellis did it, but now it's turned into a clusterfuck of would-be prophets screaming at each other so loud that no one can hear, or cares, what they're saying. And comics, while having climbed out of the worst of the slump, haven't gotten closer to fixing any of the problems, anywhere.

The blame needs to stop. The snark needs to stop. The grudges, the attacks, the manifestos, the flamewars, the recriminations, the one-upmanship, the pissant third-grade schoolyard namecalling: It all needs to stop. Now. Today. This second. And if no one else is willing to take the first step, then I will.

I'm to blame. It's my fault. Through action, inaction, or both, I contributed to the current state of comics as less than what they can be. Furthermore, every minute I spend not acknowledging this, not trying to modify my behavior, and not reaching out to my comics bretheren everywhere to find a solution, to give the superheroes of my youth, who made me fall in love with this vast and wonderful medium, more than just lip service by emulating them and finding a better way; every minute I set myself above or against someone and say, "There's nothing wrong with me, *you* change," I continue the cycle. I apologize. I pledge to do better. I pledge to stop seeing enemies everywhere I look. I pledge to work with the fans, retailers, publishers, creators, critics, and everyone else, all together, to build a better and more vibrant comics industry. So that, on some far-off day when I'm in the Old Fanboy's Home, I can hand my grandchildren a four-color wonderland of the imagination, and see their eyes grow big as dinner plates and the smiles stretch across their faces until it seems their lips will break. And so that, after they've gone home, clutching their prizes in their chubby fingers, I can put on my coat and hat, walk no further than a thousand feet to the nearest comics shop, and walk inside to see what awaits me. Because it's Wednesday, and I have someplace to be. I always want to have someplace to be on Wednesday, and this is how I will prove it.

Who's with me?

1 comment:

Joe Rice said...

What's your plan?