2018/07/31

We Are the Industry

Cyberfrog 500k

The gatekeepers of legacy print and comic book publishing have a habit of referring to themselves as "the Industry". Claiming that exclusive label may have been justified when the only alternatives were underground comics Xeroxed at the library or vanity presses. That claim started to sound disingenuous with the explosion of web comics and the launch of the Kindle. Even if indies only had a small share of the market, it was by definition more than nothing, which made them part of the industry.

Now that indie authors outnumber their tradpub counterparts, sell most of the eBooks, and earn most of the royalties, Tradpub calling itself "the Industry" to the exclusion of indie sounds about as sane as claiming to be Abraham Lincoln. Corresponding to reality isn't the point, though. The Marie Antoinette  act is about reassuring their fellow travelers that the Big Two and the Big Five are still in control.

To the SJW artists and editors in New York, everything is a power play. They can look down their noses at indies who out-earn them because from the gatekeepers' point of view, money is just one metric of social capital. They care more about wielding the power to influence what your kids think. Because they're cargo cultists, folks like Mark Waid and Teresa Nielsen Hayden believe that telling each other they're prestigious really gives them prestige.

What blue bloods generations removed from the grunt work of making a profit forget is the old truism that money talks. If your business is selling to readers, declining sales mean fewer people are listening to you. In a relatively free market, money corresponds directly to mindshare.

Consider the recently concluded crowd funding campaign former DC Comics artist Ethan Van Sciver held for his indie comic Cyberfrog. EVS is a Trump supporter who was harangued into leaving DC by SJW fanatics who crowed that he'd never work in the Industry again. He went out and raised over $500,000 from folks the Big Two had cast out as unclean. Thanks to those disaffected readers, a formerly obscure title from the 90s is playing at the same level as flagship books like Batman and X-Men.

What a coup like this should tell the smarter DC and Marvel aristocrats is that they rule over a shrinking gated fiefdom that's daily surrounded by more and more ex-customers who are seeking entertainment elsewhere. The comics SJWs aren't having conniptions over lost revenues. They're beside themselves with fear over lost influence.

Take the recent cannibal feeding frenzy among the SF SJWs at World Con. People with confidence in their control over an industry don't fall apart at the seams when someone publishers an author bio using correct English pronouns. The hard data show that guys like Jason Anspach and Nick Cole are gaining market and mind share at John Scalzi's expense. Nobody's heard of this year's Hugo nominees. Meanwhile, indie authors are winning Dragon Awards voted on by twice as many readers.

The comics and SFF publishing gatekeepers have been disintermediated, and the industries democratized. Amazon and Indiegogo are doing what the old guard haven't been able to do in a dog's age: take a new talent from the proverbial slush pile to the A list. The cultural implications are staggering. SJWs converged comics and SFF publishing. Now, for the first time, we've taken their ill-gotten spoils back from them.

Comics and science fiction are back where they belong: in the customers' hands.

Help up-and-coming creators put more fun stories in your hands. Support The Star Knight Saga: Reavers of the Void by author Bradford Walker today!

5 comments:

  1. Brian,

    Excellent post. Cultral creation has regressed. Back to the hands of the people and direct patronage is once again respectable.

    In many ways the gatekeeper aristocrats read their Gramsci wrongly about the Catholic church: it never suppressed popular piety nor did the hierarchy sneer at popular culture but inculturated it.

    But who cares? We're taking back our heritage from the servant who buried the talent and given it to the one with the 5 talents.

    xavier

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  2. What do you say to statements like those of Vox Day, about how the Right is mostly focusing on building individual careers, while most of the crazies on the Left are focusing on building (in the less crazy cases) or taking over institutions (in the more virulent cases? Does the Right focus overly much on indivdual efforts, to the detriment of the shared institutions we could be building? I'm not a fan of Day, but it does ring somewhat true to me, and I was wondering what your opinion on the matter was.

    I bring it up, because I think there still is some truth to the Left's claim to be "the industry" in popular culture still, even in a publishing field where indies outdo the tradpub authors and houses. A lot of the indies, after all, still believe in the lies of the Left in general and the tradpubs in particular, or so it seems to me at least from my small little space on the Web...

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    Replies
    1. Matthew,

      I think there's a sea change in attitude. I see more and more the Preservationalists/Restorers finally getting it and acting in accordance.

      Just look at the utterly phenomenal response to Cyberfrog and Jawbreakers (nearly 1 million$) as well as Red Rooster and Flying sparks.

      Bradford's crowdsourcing for his Christian Gundam novel is doing quite well.

      Retaking the cultures from these cretins will take time with lots of setbacks and failure but overall I see us as banding together and working for a common purpose as noted above.

      The traditional cultural creation industries are about to supernova but the need to be entertained is always there.
      So customers and creators have met and literally contracted with each other to fulfil those desires.

      xavier

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    2. @Matthew: Building institutions is what the Right does. The Left is incapable of building anything. That's why they only ever parasitize existing institutions. Most of the individualists and free market fanatics espousing the "Every man for himself" attitude are in fact Conservatives, whose ideological roots can be traced directly back to the Left.

      What's gone unsaid in the current discussion is that an institution isn't necessarily a big building downtown with the company name in shiny letters over the door. The family is an institution. Christmas is an institution. Your D&D game that's been running weekly for ten years is an institution.

      Institutions exist to serve people. If enough people believe a particular institution is of benefit to them, they'll give their time, treasure, and talent for it. Marvel, DC, and tradpub failed as institutions because they stopped providing value and thereby stopped justifying their existence.

      Now, I just gave people with blind faith in the free market a hard time. But there's a difference between worshiping the market like an Aztec god and recognizing market forces as phenomena that emerge from the daily operations of human nature. Pursuing individual success in comics or SFF publishing and building something lasting aren't mutually exclusive. Marvel and DC were founded by entrepreneurs whose products attracted enough customers to make an enduring cultural impact.

      Creating a lasting institution is a black swan event. Only God knows how to do it on purpose, and anyone else who tries finds himself in a situation akin to meticulously planning a party to recreate the fun and camaraderie of a bash that happened spontaneously the week before. You can't catch lightning in a bottle. You can only try to create favorable conditions and hope for the best.

      That said, a quick look around the cultural landscape shows that new institutions are, in fact, emerging. #GamerGate looks to have the necessary staying power as it keeps dying and rising again. The Dragon Awards have already overtaken the Hugos. Galaxy's Edge is bringing on new writers to continue the story. The guys in #ComicsGate are seriously discussing forming their own publisher. God's mill grinds slow but fine.

      As for people still believing the Left's propaganda, that problem is busily sorting itself out. Tradpub isn't in the storytelling business. They're in the lumber business. Their business model relies on their paper distribution monopoly, of which Barnes & Noble is the last vestige. B&N has had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel since they fired most of their receiving managers. When B&N dies, it will take most of tradpub with it, and no one's beliefs to the contrary will matter.

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  3. We are the new Penny Dreadful, the Dime Novels, the Pulp Magazine. Tis a brave New era of literature, the gatekeepers can't stop us now.

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