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*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.



Once in a while, I delve into the subject of comics. This is one of those times.

Mark Millar, a damned fine writer of the funnybooks, recently opined openly on the cyclical nature of the comics market. Specifically, he had an idea (that had been had before) about what would cause the next bust to the comics market and that it may well be the tactical strike that would nuke it into the day after tomorrow.

That editorial is here. "Booms and Busts"

To quote Tommy Lee (and that's a first) "That's sauteed in wrong sauce." It is so completely wrong, it makes you think that Leonard Nimoy should have won a Grammy for "If I Had A Hammer." That Goatse should hang in the Louvre. That Rumsfeld isn't a fascist. Okay, I got a little carried away with hyperbole, but it was fun.

The gist of it is that Hollywood will steal all the talent from comics. Just that. That all the hot names that write and draw our funnybooks will be lured away to big bucks and glory in Hollywood to the point where they cannot afford to make comics anymore. Fine. Maybe that could happen, but for there to be an impact, you'd have to snag them all at once. Would it kill comics? Not in the fucking least. It might cycle down some, but hardly a deathblow.

Let's not forget that there is a massive pile of comic geeks in Hollywood beating down the doors of Marvel and DC to get in and play with some corporate icons and what-not. And to hear the likes of Quesada, Alonso, Didio, and any number of other editors tell it, they turn a lot of them away, supposedly for not quite getting it right. I'm sorry, but comics fans taste, though discriminating, aren't that discriminating and with a little editorial assist, they'd do just fine. And you get instant name power. Probably more so with some than the "outsider writers" that enter into comics now having built up considerable name power in novels or television but don't have so much that they're selling on the basis of that name. Nobody's reading Meltzer because he's a NYT bestselling novelist. They're reading him because he writes fun comics (arserapes not withstanding). If anything, comics are driving people to his pictureless books, not vice versa.

Let's also not forget the scores of comics wannabes. Look at the lines for portfolio reviews at a con. For each one of them, there are probably three (minimum) writers. Comics is the hardest industry to get into on the professional level (for a writer, anyway). And sometimes, the ones we think are professionals are still working a day job. In TV and film a writer can beat down the doors of agents, submit to prodco's, get attention from competitions, etc. In comics, a writer is frequently told that if they want to get read by an editor, they have to go out, recruit an artist, letterer, maybe a colorist and sink some cash into publishing their own comic first (or be successful in some other field like film, TV, books). I have been told this and I have friends that have been told this by names mentioned in this post and others that are not. There are ways around it (and I have friends that have found those ways), but they are few and far between.

Millar's scenario does not take into account that there is talent out there and if need be, floodgates can be opened and all the comics publishers need to do is hire a few temp editorial assistants to act as life preservers...or as the film industry calls them, readers. I'm sure they'll hire some to save the industry, though they don't have such a beast currently.

Nor does he take into account that Hollywood may not want all the talent. They'll buy their concepts and stuff, but they've got plenty of writers already. Just as the editors say that some outside writers don't understand how to write for comics, there are surely some comics writers that don't understand the nuances of the screenplay.

Comics fans want to read comics. They have their favorite characters and they will read Wolverine no matter who is writing him. As long as Batman doesn't suck out loud, he'll sell. They'll get used to the new people writing these characters and follow them to other books. We like it when we find a new guy and we evangelize on their behalf, like I did when a little known writer took over The Authority with #13.

So bring it on. Let Hollywood grab everyone. Nature and comics abhor a vacuum.

I, for one, would love to see a movie written by Mark Millar. That would seriously kick some ass in a manner as such that one would look to the heavens and say "What is that pair of buttocks doing in orbit?"
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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