It’s been a crazy, drama filled weekend in the wide world of comics. Marvel writers have doubled down on attacking reviewers/commentators, some like Nick Spencer going off on how vitriolic rhetoric is — forgetting about the incredibly charged and hateful political rhetoric not just most, but all of the Marvel writers have engaged in that started all this. We’re just a couple of months from art appearing in an X-Men comic with anti-semetic and anti-Christian messaging in the background, and just months from people like Mr. Spencer calling everyone who thinks differently than him nazis, and let’s not forget in his work, he’s the fellow who made Captain America a nazi-esque symbol as a hyper-charged political commentary. Talk about offensive rhetoric.
It’s prompted many long time comic readers to ask: “is there anything that can be done to save the comic industry?” A great question.
The comic industry is very different than sci-fi books, which have been saved from the likes of the big corporate writers by independent publishing, going around the gatekeepers who want only poorly done message fiction that represents extreme SJW politics. Unlike the corporate publishing, comics have had two houses Marvel/DC completely dominate the industry for decades, publishing only popular characters of creations from the 1930s-1960s on repeat. They’ve taken other’s works and the entire industry had been honed into monthly fan fiction.
It’s been a problem with comics for decades, because everyone has gotten in the habit of going and getting their Spider-Man comic, regardless of who writes, regardless of who draws. It’d be as if Tor, several years ago, decided to only monthly publish Wheel Of Time by several of their authors, and only have Wheel of Time books produced instead of new content.
As a result, people don’t follow writers as much — comic writers rarely are able to transition out of these careers into books or vice versa, creators who have their own indie works sell in very low amounts even if they come from this world. The best indie sellers get put into the Marvel/DC machine over time because they get bought up into contracts that have them exclusive, and they produce lackluster, uninspired content to churn out from that point forward.
There are smaller companies and indies, but your sales are going to be extremely low there. Even the hits don’t come close to even getting seen by the dude in the shop buying Batman month after month after month. It’s absurd, and it’s been designed that way ever since comics went to the specialty shop decades ago, and since Marvel/DC decided to make a monopoly out of one distributor — Diamond, in order to better cut out other companies. Between that and their not taking risks on new properties (never committing beyond a couple years), the comic industry has been devoid of much creativity outside of the indies which few see, for decades. It’s really sad.
But it’s not undoable. It’s going to take a lot of time. Manga and webcomics have already shifted the paradigm some. The market for the traditional American comic has gotten really small, and it’s sad to watch. But for a true shift, it’s going to take readers giving up the habit that they formed because marketing has told them to their entire lives. They can’t just keep the adventures of these characters — who are poor imitations and mockeries of Stan Lee’s originals, for their month after month.
It’s starting. These reviewers who are pointing out the very real flaws in the industry are causing a ripple, making people not read. That’s why all these writers in unison are coming out condemning them, blocking them. It’s fear on their side, and it’s being coordinated from above. This group that has been pushing politics through the medium won’t last forever. Even though the companies have been extremely insular about it so far, eventually their failures will be noted.
Likewise these properties are on a decline. There’s no way to maintain real continuity at this point. There’s no way to develop characters for real. It’s almost impossible for someone to read these comics looking at it as a real story because the reset button is just around the corner for any development. How can you stand reading that?
It’ll take a lot of years for an overhaul of comics to happen. Perhaps the digital revolution will do something there, but it’s not going to be as easy or as clean/bloodless as the indie sci-fi revolution. There’s no way with the fanfiction habits of the readers right now.
The readers have to break the habit first. Go out and try new stuff. These big reviewers need to present alternatives, or there will never be any viable ones. It won’t get you as many clicks as your Marvel videos, but it needs to be done for the industry. I personally recommend Valiant Comics and Alterna Comics for good, fun entertainment.