Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Darn Horse Just Ain't Drinking

Awhile back, I did a bit on Paul Grist's awesome title, Jack Staff. The main gist of the piece (for those of you who do not like to click on links) is amazement that Jack Staff, a book that seemingly qualifies as almost the perfect book for people who complain about bad comics, was selling a thousand copies less than REORDERS of a Superman comic (and not even the Jim Lee Superman storyline!). The basic question posed there is...why don't people read good comics that they say they want to read?

Well, in his recent Joe Fridays, Joe Quesada made a similar point, and I figured it would be nice to give him credit (as, let's be frank, he rarely says good things in that column - ususally, it's either A. Silly hype or B. Answers to stupid questions like "WHERE THE HELL IS SHATTERSTAR?!?" In fact, I think (as seen by his inability to react to the casual remarks about the MAX line and Rawhide Kid, I don't think that he even EXPECTS people to take the column seriously) for making what I believe to be an excellent indictment upon reader apathy.

In fact, rather than paraphrasing it, here is the quote itself (in response to a question about why Marvel does not do any marketing for Spider-Girl, where Quesada first explains a bit about how Marvel's marketing plans, and then):
But now, let me ask for a show of hands, how many people on this board right now haven’t heard of Spider-Girl? How many people on this board haven’t heard about how a good book it is? Haven’t heard about the troubles it’s having?

By the way, I’ve asked this same question at convention panels and everyone raises their hands. I’ve asked this at comic shops and everyone is aware of the book, how beloved it is and of course its impending cancellation. Everyone knows about it, everyone knows about its plight, yet it isn’t getting more people to buy it. If everyone knows this, what the heck is an ad going to do for the book? It’s not an awareness problem, I guarantee you that.

True some books go unnoticed and below the radar, Spider-Girl is not one of those books. So, looking at it from my point of view, if everyone I encounter knows this about Spider-Girl, then why would I spend any more money on it at this point, it’s a losing proposition. And yes, at this point with so much awareness about the book, it does fall on the hands of the fans. If more people were reading it we wouldn’t be canceling it.
On this point, I think Quesada is right on. It is fine to complain about Marvel and DC and Image cancelling good books, but at the same time, I think there IS a certain amount of responsibility on the fans to SUPPORT the good books (note that I am not saying that Spider-Girl IS one). After awhile, if you keep leading the horse to the water, if they don't drink, it's the horse's fault.

Now you horses better go support Runaways.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

Part of the problem is that there is a lot of good stuff out there. I know we're supposed to believe that 90% is crap, but I haven't done any sort of statistical analysis of that, and for me, it's not true. I buy A LOT of comics, and I know there are probably good ones out there that I'm not buying, but that's the way it is. The best I can is tell the world (or the readers of this blog) about the things I think are good, and they can make up their minds.

There's also the heightened expectations about selling comic books, especially from DC and Marvel. Fallen Angel sold poorly at DC, but apparently if it sells exactly the same at IDW it will be their biggest hit. Sometimes I think Joey Q and those guys are still living during the age when X-Men could get cancelled if it fell below 2 million readers (which is what happened). I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

And I just don't like Grist's art. Yes, I suck.

3/04/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Nah, not liking Jack Staff is cool, Greg.

It's those that DO like it, but don't buy it for whatever reason (mostly because it is not from DC or Marvel).

3/04/2006 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Iagorune said...

Brian

I for one think that Jack Staff is one of the best superhero comics being published these days.

Witty, well-written with great art.

I can't recommend it enough.

- rick

3/04/2006 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Agreed, Rick.

And yet it sells less than 3,000 copies an issue.

Stunning.

3/04/2006 08:55:00 PM  
Anonymous FunkyGreenJerusalem said...

I don't pick up a lot of things I hear are good or great from other comic fans as I seem to have a much higher standard of what constitues good, let alone great, than they do.

Good words about somthing I was thinking of getting can help me try somthing - that's how I got Invincible.

But great words about somthing I wasn't - say Jack Staff/fallen angel might get me to flick through the book, but no promises.

I think both fans and publishers are to blame for this.
Marvel and DC have hyped so much crap saying it was the best work ever etc. when it really, really wasn't, that I automatically distrust anything they say now.
And fans can be blamed for having such low standards that they believe the companies and rave about how good Astonishing X-men is (I choose as one example).

Too much crap gets too much praise, so when there is somthing deserving out there, no one's listening as they are either being blinded by the hype, or burnt out from it.

-Ben.

3/04/2006 11:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Waaza said...

What was the deal with JQ saying today that he and Jemas talked to a forty-year-old who was pretending to be his toddler daughter? Who would believe such a thing?

3/04/2006 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Nimbus said...

I never really liked Jack Staff. Which, considering I'm an old British comic book fan is, I guess, unexpected. The idea of bringing back the Spider (and other classic characters) appealed but, sadly, the book did not.

In part the art was to blame - it's not my cup of tea. I also don't like the way it's structured. I prefer a more linear story with a beginning, middle, then end not the complex, out of sequence stuff that appeared in Jack Staff (or at least in the first tpb).

But that's just my opinion.

As to JoeQ's comment, I think in part he's right. Having said that, I think he's considering a limited audience. He's talking about the fans on the internet and who go to cons. Is that all the people that buy Marvel's books? What about the folk that don't read about the good stuff on blogs like this? How are they supposed to know about a good comic unless someone sticks an ad or something out there?

I suspect there just wasn't as much appeal for a Spider Girl comic as Marvel wanted. Whether that's the fans' fault (for not really wanting the book) or Marvel's (for having high expectations) is debateable.

3/06/2006 05:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anun says:

FWIW, I find Spider-Girl the best Spider title from Marvel these days. It manages to capture everything great about Spider-Man without repeating the same "ole Parker luck" cycles that the titles so often find themselves in, or doing stuff like "Sins Past".

Admittedly, Ron Frenz's art is just an eyesore, especially after Pat Oliffe''s launch of the book, but the rest of it is so fun and satisfying that I can cope just fine.

'Tis a sad sad thing that this time, the cancellation threat is real, but what Greg points out about sales being huge for smaller press companies not equaling a credible audience at the larger ones is certainly true. In the case of stuff like Spider-Girl or Hard Time at DC , it's not for lack of awareness that people aren't picking up the titles, it's for a lack of interest despite the hype. And that's where the responsibility stops being on the companies and starts being on the fans, I think.

Then again, I'm probably just bitter because I like both of those titles, and fear for one of them and have started to mourn for the other.

3/06/2006 11:31:00 AM  
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