Thursday, September 30, 2010
There's more out there besides Marvel & DC.
Something has been bothering me for quite some time. I have been reading comic books for over 20 years and have been a serious collector for over 17, I have read comics from basically every major comic book publisher who has ever printed a comic and I have read comics from publishers that you would not even know about unless someone told you about them, the thing that has been bothering me for so long is that small press publishers can‘t seem to break into the mainstream because comic book fans won‘t let them. Yes, you read that right, comic book fans won’t let small press publishers get a foot into the door and grow to become a big-time publisher. You’re probably wondering what the hell I am talking about, you’re probably thinking I am crazy, but the reason why small press publishers cannot break through and are closing up shop left and right is because today’s comic book fans are too wrapped up in the mediocre and substandard comics being put out by comic book giants Marvel and DC and refuse to accept the fact that their comics have become flat and don’t want to give small press a chance.
Today’s comic buyer would rather plunk down hundreds of dollars on some company wide crossover event that ties into every major book in the publishers line and spawns countless mini-series based on whatever huge event Marvel or DC has come up with next only to find out that the ending was not nearly as earth shattering as it had promised to be or that some characters history has been re-written and the past 30 years of his/her existence has been eliminated in favor of changing the norm. I’m flippin’ sick of it. I’m sorry, but today’s “big two” make sure that you have to go out and purchase titles that you never had any interest in just to be able to see the big picture of whatever kind of a story they are trying to tell, they come up with a huge event and they make sure to weave it into every title on the shelf in order to try to boost their sales and drag readers into a book that they have never needed to read before but they have no choice now if they want to know what happens in the story, it's not fair and I refuse to take part in it.
Now, I want to make it clear with my readers that I do still read comics from Marvel and DC but I stick to the core characters and I don’t let a storyline trick me into buying something I don’t want or need, by doing this I find myself with extra cash in my pocket which allows me to check out other publishers who may be putting out quality books that are trying to find an audience. I’ll give you an example, I read The Avengers, New Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man, I don’t read any of the other six Avengers titles on the shelves and I don’t purchase any of the other 8 different Spider-Man books and mini-series that litter the new release racks week in and week out, most of that stuff falls by the wayside and ends up being irrelevant while the core books are the ones that stick to actual Marvel continuity anyway, so I don’t waste the time or money into something that won’t effect the core “616” anyhow unless it’s by a great creator and is said to have a fantastic story by those who have read them. Now, with a billion comics put out monthly by Marvel and DC there are sure to be some gems in the bunch (and there are) but I’ve seen first hand fan boys who will purchase anything with a Marvel or DC logo slapped on the cover because they think that that’s what comics books are and it has to be good if it’s put out by the “big two”, meanwhile good comics are sitting on the racks and are being ignored because comic book fans are ignorant (and too stupid) to give them a try.
Now, I know that as of this writing things are still messed up in the United States, unemployment is still very high and jobs aren’t paying a whole lot these days so I can’t fully blame someone for not trying something new when it comes to the economy rearing it’s ugly head, but when they see one of their books tapering off and becoming stale then they should use that opportunity to possibly try out something new, especially if a specific title goes a few months within a lackluster state. I think I’ll take this time to point out a few key companies and a few amazing titles that are currently sitting on store shelves that are well worth putting a few dollars into, some of which may excite you and others may not but at least there is something else out there for today's comic book fan who has waken up and smelled the coffee only to notice that what they are reading may have lost it’s spunk quite some time ago.
One thing I have been really interested in and enjoying as of late has been Jim Shooter's revival of many classic Gold Key/Valiant characters that have been out of print for quite some time, it started with Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom and Magnus: Robot Fighter and over the next few months we will see The Mighty Samson and Turok: Son of Stone released into the line as well. Honestly, both of the kickoff books have been really action packed and very character driven so far and and I'm excited to see what becomes of these (new to me) characters in the near future, I wouldn't mind seeing even more characters brought into the line by other creators as well, there is always room for more when something has been this enjoyable. It's funny because I never cared for these characters back in the early days of my comic book collecting and nothing about them was appealing to me in the least, but when I found out that they were being revived and with new story lines and re-imagined for a new audience I figured I would give them a shot, I'm so glad that I did because it's been a delightful ride so far.
Dynamite Entertainment puts out quite a few fantastic comics every month that people should be reading, first and foremost is the revival of tons of golden age characters in a series called Project: Superpowers, this line of comics is probably the next best thing to a start of a brand new universe of superheroes being superheroes and villains being villains, the huge success of this line has been headed by legendary cover artist Alex Ross and series scribe Jim Krueger. Another huge line that Dynamite puts out each and every month is the Green Hornet books, the core title is written by Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob) and the "Year One" series which is currently crafted by Matt Wagner, both books are worthy reads as are the Kato titles that round out the series of books in the Green Hornet line. Other fantastic titles put out monthly by this amazing publisher are Red Sonja, The Last Phantom, Robert Jordan:Wheel of Time and the upcoming Kirby: Genesis, there is also a slew of already established properties Dynamite publishes monthly like RoboCop, Vampirella, The Expendables, Buck Rodgers, The Lone Ranger and Zorro. With a publisher like Dynamite Entertainment there really is something for everybody and it seems like they are acquiring new licenses and properties all the time, I smell a future #3 in the industry if they keep up this trend of quality comics.
Image Comics isn't exactly a "small press" company and they certainly are not a new comer to the party, but as of the past few years the publisher has been putting out many high quality comic books that deserve a much larger readership, one of those books is a title called Dynamo 5 which is one of the best team books on the market and has been for the better part of 4 years now. The company's flagship title (sorta) is a book called Invincible and be warned, this series is not ashamed to be a superhero comic, instead I would say that it loves that fact that it's a superhero comic and it does not shy away from delivering a deep storyline and nice visuals in the process. Image Comics prints many other fun and interesting titles that deserve a moment or two to be in the limelight, books such as The Walking Dead, Haunt, Guardians of the Globe and Noble Causes are all worthy reads and even books like Savage Dragon and Spawn are still very much in print and still in the limelight, Image Comics has a little something for everyone and a wide range of top tier creative talent helping to keep them in the current #3 slot behind Marvel and DC.
Well, that's it from me for now, I just wanted to put it out there that comic books do not begin and end with only 2 company's and that there are alternatives out there to the mediocre swamp that has become Marvel and DC. Seriously folks, there are plenty of choices out there and lot's of quality titles to chose from, I urge you to take the chance on any of the books or publishers mentioned above and to get back to me on how you felt about these comics and what you plan to do in the future as a collector. My ear is open :)
As always I want to thank those who took the time to read my blog, it's much appreciated and you can always check me out at www.twitter.com/manga4life as well as TZ and FUNI.