Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bats, Babes, and Brouhahas

Proving that I haven't read a DC monthly in awhile, the talented Ian Brill and a guy who's really in to Thangar have both talked about a Frank Miller quote promoting the upcoming All-Star Batman that's running in the back pages of last month's comics.

How does Miller, the definitive Batman creator of the last 20 years, promote his upcoming collaboration with Jim Lee, who drew the best selling run version of the character in recent memory? By confirming that, indeed, "This one's going to have a lot of babes in it!"

In case you doubted, that is.

Thangar lovin' Scipo is embarassed that DC decided to use this quote to promote the book, coming to this conclusion about the perception of comics in general:

You wonder why the general public doesn't respect comic books? Maybe because the people who make comic books don't respect them, either.

I do have to wonder if anybody who has a real strong reaction to this has ever read the way DC describes their comics in Previews, but I can see where Scipo is coming from here. I don't think this quote, in the back of comics not likely to be read by anyone but people already nursing a new comics day jones, is that relevant to the way the comics industry represent itself to the general public, but still, it's a good point.

Ian points out that Miller has shown fondness for scantily clad women in his work on Sin City, both in comics and the movie. His most interesting point, however, deals with the importance of reaching out to that aforementioned general public with the All-Star comics:

If DC have a book that is written by the creator and one of the directors of a major motion picture and stars the subject of another major motion picture, a character that everybody tuned into pop culture knows at least a little about, and they fail to make sure that it doesn't get at least the same amount of press as Identity Crisis then they are hurting. I know DiDio has said that he wants to create superhero books for a general audience and I think that's great. I also know that they can make any book they want have a very high profile. I'm just hoping they can combine that one hope with that one ability into big sales for this comic. Being a big seller in the Direct Market is not how the overall success of this book will be judged. It has to be bigger than that. I hope DC can do it, but when it comes to these behemoths of comic book publishers you'll forgive me when I appear a slight pessimistic.

He's right about all of this. This comic, and the forthcoming All-Star Superman, should be judged by how well they do beyond the friendly confines of the direct market. Given DC's ability to promote Identity Crisis they should be able to get some attention for both comics in mainstream media outlets, especially with movies for both characters to hype them in conjunction with.

I share Ian's pessimism, too, and not just because of DC and Marvel's track record in reaching beyond the fanboy set.

I have my doubts that there's a demand for superhero comics outside of the existing fandom. I also think that the format that the All-Stars books hit the book stores in when they're collected is important. I don't doubt that they'll be well told, accessible stories, but if the only way you can get them outside the comic shop is in a $24-$30 hardcover for six issues, I don't think it's going to help.

That said, here's hoping that I'm wrong and they create some new comic readers.

And that they don't lead with the babes when it comes to promoting it.

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Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

In the original intro to Badlands, when it was published by Dark Horse, Miller went on at great length about how it was easy to do whatever he wanted in comics because no one expects anything from comics. No one cares.

He meant this in the context of no one interfering with Steve Grant and Vince Giarrano's work, that no one told them what to do, no one made them "rewrite", etc. They had complete and total creative freedom. But there was something insidious about Miller's implication.

That doesn't take away from the fact that Badlands is a great graphic novel, ten times better than most of Miller's output.

But..."Screw respect. Freedom's better."

Better than quality? Better than extinction?

6/01/2005 10:55:00 PM  
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