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March 16, 2014

Twenty-Five Things About 2014 On Its 75th Day

Today is the 75th day of 2014. Here in brief are some things I think may be true about the year so far.

image* The book of the year so far may be Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet.

* The comic book series of the year so far may be Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky.

* The on-line comic of the year so far may be The Nib, edited by Matt Bors.

* None of those three works will hold those same positions on December 31, and at least one will be near-forgotten.

* Too many comics people will spend more time and energy to attend conventions and festivals than they will spend to secure health insurance they don't yet have. Some of them will make money at these shows; some won't.

* The on-line social/community component to comics has become highly balkanized and even customizable; yet in many ways people feel more strongly than ever that they're interacting with the entire world.

* We still talk far too frequently of companies becoming hugely successful with creators benefiting as an assumed positive side result, and far too infrequently of creators becoming hugely successful with companies benefiting as an assumed positive side result.

* Image's recent success may be as simple as the publisher providing the best deal that many of its creators can secure in order to do the things they want most to do.

* Not yet three years in, DC's 2011 relaunch is still severely lacking in terms of developing compelling characters distinct from their former iterations.

* That last big Marvel event series felt a bit like a DC event series.

* Twitter allows some people to feel connected to comics 24/7, which is all they ever wanted.

* There are enough creators that believe DC has dropped the ball on getting material developed into other media to cost DC some creative relationships.

* There are enough creators that believe Marvel has dropped the ball in terms of their book program to cost Marvel some creative relationships.

* A lot of people really, really love Bill Watterson, to an almost alarming degree.

image* A lot of people really, really want the best for Stan and Sharon Sakai.

* A significant percentage of reviews and pieces of criticism are gushingly positive, and there are critics that practically -- or in reality -- write nothing but positive pieces. This, despite the perception that the critical apparatus is so negative as to be completely out of touch.

* We don't talk about writing in comics, either.

* The strength of comics' non-sales infrastructure will catch up with the talent pool before the strength of sales across the board and down the lists does.

* It looks like neither extreme view of manga sales formed more than a decade ago in a thousand blustery jeremiads turned out to be true. Imagine that.

* We still ask way too many people to work for free or for diminished rates, and we're too quick to support those that do so as if they're not exploiting their talent.

* A downside of giving people money for art ahead of time is that they may not come through with what they promised you in return. If part of that money changed hands due to a pre-existing, positive feeling, a change in expected outcomes may have an effect on those feelings. Or, one may find that enough positive feelings existed for a mixed or even additionally positive reaction to the new situation. None of these outcomes are a sweeping indictment of anything, and don't as concepts to explore form the basis of intriguing art.

* Even with an expanded view of what consitutes editorial cartooning, we still don't have a lot of good ones.

* Trying to improve an industry or an arts community without first being self-critical is like trying to improve the mood on a road trip by skipping showers.

* We can do better by creators past and present in part because we have and we do.

* I'm probably wrong about a lot of this. Not the one you're thinking, though.

posted 3:45 am PST | Permalink

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