Emerald Specter 35: State of the Comics Industry

Long time fans are both energized and disheartened by the state of the comic book industry. There are more choices than ever, yet, the old favorites still seem to win out, despite being rebooted almost annually. Is there another gigantic company crossover ruining your “day to day” enjoyment reading? Let’s talk about it.

If you are an avid reader of either DC or Marvel, then you understand that about once every other or every third year, your heroes are going to be reborn, rebooted, flash pointed, or just flat retconned to fit the “new normal.” Some of this will still contain all the continuity, other times this will just wipe the slate clear to allow the heroes to be something different, at least until they’re restored to their previous versions.

Welcome to comics.

I am someone who follows characters (or in some cases, teams). There are those that follow writers, artists, or creative teams that actually create the books. While I can’t say that I know vast amounts about the writers, if the art isn’t there for me then you could give me the collected works of Shakespeare and I’d not read it… because the art needs to be there.

When I was growing up, I was under the illusion that I might have a shot at being a comic book artist one day. As time went on and my art style didn’t improve to what I believed it should be, I slowly started realizing that my avenue in would probably be writer. So, essentially, I now have mediocre art and writing skills (self described) that aren’t getting me anywhere. My dream of writing for Shazam, (Miles Morales) Spider-Man, or one of the myriad of Avengers titles are dashed.

Then I see terrible art that has made it into comics and I realize I could probably make my own series using stick figures and terribly drawn backgrounds. I feel confident enough in my writing that I believe I would have a decent comic come out… if I just wanted to put SOMETHING out.

I’ve been into Marvel most of my life, but the decades of continuity that are holding the characters down has really worn my like of what’s going on down. I’ve tried some independent titles and I just keep looking back at Marvel wanting the decent stories.

On a recent episode of Comic Geek Speak (episode 1638), Chris Eberle noted that he thoroughly enjoyed the comics where the creator had complete control of the story. Part of what he spoke about was that certain characters have long since lost their luster because there is no down time for them. Take Captain America (Steve Rogers) for example, he’s been going from adventure to adventure non-stop (except when he was dead) for more than 50 years. We aren’t getting to know Steve anymore, we’re simply going through the motions of his life until he gets reset, rebooted, or retconned again.

Creator owned titles, though, have a beginning, a middle, and an end… and there is a complete story told, you get to know the characters involved, and you don’t have to worry about a retcon, revamp, reboot, re-whatever coming down the line.

So, that got me thinking.

Let’s say I create a character called the Crimson Specter. Instead of trying to get others onboard to get the Crimson Specter going in a monthly title forever (like a Captain America, Iron Man, and Superman), I have a time I can tell Crimson Specter stories before I need to move on. How about we look at the idea of the shared universe, which I’m a big fan of, as a single creator? Instead of looking at the monthly ongoing possibility (of which, as a single creator, I’d really only be able to handle one), what about trying to do a series of graphic novels?

Here me out.

I create and release Crimson Specter, a 122 page graphic novel in early 2018 (takes me 4-6 months to make and get printed). Then I come out with Bat Cop, another 122 page graphic novel which releases in late 2018 (because now it took me 3-5 months to get produced). Crimson Specter 2: Red Ghost comes out in early 2019, Titanium Tiger comes out in mid-2019, and Bat Cop 2: On Patrol comes out in late 2019… so now, if you’re counting, I’ve released 5 graphic novels in a shared universe without driving the characters into the ground 22 pages at a time. I’ve essentially created the Marvel Cinematic Universe in comic form.

Now, my shared universe would still have all kinds of easter eggs, be connected in millions of ways like the movies are, and I’m putting out comics on a regular basis (albeit in graphic novel form). I can change to whatever character I’m interested in including in the rotation, I am expanding the universe, and I have a complete story being told in each GN, as well as a larger arc. The world also gets to learn about how all my heroes, teams, and whatnot… Crimson Specter, Bat Cop, Titanium Tiger, Violent Osprey, Spectacular Sun Girl, and all my villains will be out there, too!

In case you’re wondering, those are all “on the spot” made up names.

I’m a fan of the Miles Morales Spider-Man. After hearing Chris Eberle on CGS, I realize that part of the reason I like his character so much is that he’s not been around for more than 15 or so years. There isn’t decades of continuity that he’s saddled with trying to work around, though I’ve had my enjoyment interrupted some with Civil War II. I also like Moon Knight, moreso because I’m very confused and interested as to what is going on in the title. Those are the only two characters/titles I follow in the big two. I follow Harbingers: Renegades from Valiant, but Valiant and I have a love/hate relationship… they put out a book, I fall in love with it, then they cancel that book. If they cancel Renegades, I’m likely to stop following anything they do.

All in all, it comes down to how comics are made. Stop running Captain America, Batman, Thor, and Wonder Woman into the ground. Do the graphic novels release thing, stitch together an epic story arc that draws everyone in… give these characters some progression, some rest.

That’s all for now… think on it.