Comics Need Professionalism


Emery Calame's comment on my previous Marvel-related post merited a guest post of its own.
This is not a popular sentiment but I think what is needed is professionalism oriented around maintaining the brand and IP. A fan who feels like they know Spider-Man probably should not be writing Spider-Man because he will SQUEEEEEE instead of telling decent stories each month. The continuity will go from a support to a choking mass. Likely we will have retreads of old stories with twists or constantly find out that everything we thought was true was a lie (the Clone Conspiracy).
A cold hearted maximizer might be bad too. A corporate numbers guy who wants x titles with popular item in them will Cross-over/Special event/#1/foil-variant cover Spider-Man to death. I had a DVD of all the Fantastic Four up to about 2006 and I noticed that from 1987 -1998 you could not complete a story because EVERYTHING was continued in some other book. That is nuts. These are the guys who will create a Spider-man family, with SpiderBabby and a mini-series about Uncle Ben's ghost helping kids fight vampires. It's cross promotion hell.
Finally you can't have geniuses who are out for themselves running books. You end up with subversion and stunts and weird shit that poisons Spider-Man. You might find out that Spider-man raped someone in Vietnam while on heroin and then he gets he hand cut off and a spider-hand grows back. 
lately we've had the bubbly yet incadescently angry political hacks and their bullshit where they use Spider-Man as a sock puppet or make a fool of him to promote Spider-GRRL and SPYDERR-QUEEN as his replacements.
You need an editor/writer who understands Spider-Man but doesn't care that much who recognizes certain excesses and is mostly focused on 1. All ages content 2. having something new each month 3. having something in each issue that makes it worth buying, not people talking in a coffee shop 4. won't allow nutty madness to take over the book 5. saves people from other books for occasional teams ups or sets up a Marvel Team Up/Brave and the Bold/Marvel Two In One style book, rather than having them rent Spider-man's book as a b-plot side kick. 6. Think of Spider-Man as thing that exists in the long terms that should not have constant additive and subtractive major wood-working done on it. 7. consider making something like a house style and a comics code to keep low hanging lowest common denominator stuff out of the book. Yes the code was ridiculous but its constraints did a lot to force Marvel to be extremely creative and catchy when they could have been easy PG-13 drek. Marvel got around the prohibition of the word Zombie by calling them living dead and zuvembie. That was cool and became part of the marvel tone. When Marvel could say Zombie they did zombies and it was lame. Meh. More zombies. 
Anyway those are my thoughts. You need someone distant from Spider-man who thinks of it as bread and butter not to be messed with too much. People who want Spider-man 700 years back in time cutting off samurai heads and suffering from Amnesia should not be the focus of the Spider Man property. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. A story about someone with spider traits cutting off samurai heads and wondering where they came from with a few fractured memories of the future needs to be centered on a new character.
My comment:

Having been subjected to the Spider-Clone, or as Wizard called it, the Ugh, debacle immediately after first getting into Spider-Man, I'm inclined to fully support the program you've laid out here.

Comic books need to be market-facing again. Before bringing on prospective writers for major titles, editors should ask what a scribe's game plan for the book is.

If the answer is any of the following:

"Let's do a year-long arc where we play [kitsch 70s gimmick] straight!"

"[B List heroes] are hot now thanks to [quirky, surprise hit movie]. How about shoehorning them into our flagship standalone character's supporting cast and turning his book into a rehash of Claremont's X-Men run?"

"To be honest, I've always found this character rather pedestrian. I intend to shake up the status quo by shifting the book's focus to explore [Z list female supporting character]'s abusive history with her stepfather and resulting inability to have stable relationships. She's also a stripper."

"I've been too busy editing 'Non-binary Coprophages Destroy Science Fiction' to keep up on comics. But let's replace the iconic lead character with a genderfluid, queer, Inuit Restless Leg Syndrome suffering Socialist."

this epic makes scifi fun again.
Nethereal - Brian Niemeier


  1. Bria,
    The North American comic book owners ahould take a look at the European and Japanese counteroarts. Both areas have a professionaliam and woek ethoc that needs to be wmulated. A much tougher orocess is to change the minset that comics are for kuds. They're for everyone if you do it right.

  2. This is the problem that Bradford pointed out regarding "Work-for-Hire vs Auteur on Your IP".

    Spider Clones, 50-flavors of Emotional Power Rings, All Your Zombie-Supers Belong to Us, and similar dreck are the works of talentless, unimaginative hacks who believe themselves the incredibly talented star of the book instead of the book's title character.

    The Editors who let these dish-water blunts get away with such perfidy earned their eternity in the bottomless inkwells of Hell.

    They both allowed company IP to be destroyed and money to be lost. And most egregiously, these Editors and "creators" betrayed their customers, who were counting on Entertainment.

    1. Man of the Atom,

      Then what's the solution? Many fans while well meaning aren't professionally competent or skilled to create comics. How do we rebuild the pool of talent that's been destroyed/neglected for the past half century?

    2. Look at early Barry Windsor Smith, or Dave Sim, or just about any other creator worth his salt. They didn't start GREAT, they GOT GOOD (B. Walker's blog).

      Just make entertaining stuff; partner with an artist, writer, penciller, inker, letterer, etc. and make FUN and ENTERTAINING stuff.

      Some will fail, and some will stick and be successful. Learn and develop your talents on the way. Focus on making stuff the customer likes and wants.

      No talent along those lines? Support the ones with talent to make these stories. Buy their stuff, talk about it, buy it for a gift for people you think will appreciate it, link to it on your webpage/blog/homepage.

      Be creative in your support. Be diligent in your creation. This is simple, though maybe not easy. But the tortoise is the winner, not the hare.

  3. Just so you know, you, John Wright, and various folks at Castalia (and, to a lesser extent Baen) are spoiling Barnes and Noble for me. I used to be able to go in there and find something read that was moderately entertaining. But now that I've read stuff that is truly entertaining, the pale, twisted offerings that B&N carries are no longer even superficially filling.

    Keep it up.

    1. That is the highest praise a writer could be offered. Thank you.

  4. To my mind, the model Big 2 comics writer is someone like Roger Stern or Chuck Dixon. They're both relatively unheralded (and I suspect political opposites) but that's largely intentional because when they write, they put the characters first and they don't try to completely upend everything or deconstruct or "leave their mark" or whatever. They just do good work that is consistent with who the characters are expected to be.

  5. "A fan who feels like they know Spider-Man probably should not be writing Spider-Man because he will SQUEEEEEE instead of telling decent stories each month. The continuity will go from a support to a choking mass. Likely we will have retreads of old stories with twists or constantly find out that everything we thought was true was a lie (the Clone Conspiracy)."

    Oh a thousand times this! This encapsulates why it feels like the majority of comics, fiction writers and film makers aren't continuing long-standing properties, they're writing self-insert fanfic. They're sticking their personal head-canon into, well, just about everything. Ever since my college days on FFML and rec.arts.anime.creative, yeah, it's like the fanfic writers got what they wished for.

    1. You're not alone. More than one commenter here has called out Disney's Star Wars films in particular as studio-sanctioned fanfic.