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November 17, 2004

Let’s All Please Nip the Revisionist Histories of CrossGen In the Bud

imageReading this article spinning CrossGen Entertainment's existence and the seeds of such spin in the general coverage of Disney's purchase of CrossGen company assets, sometimes from people who should know better, I would like to offer up an alternate view.

1. CrossGen was a failure. If CrossGen had been a success of any kind, money would have come its way long before a post-bankruptcy fire sale, and there would have been more than two and a half serious bidders.

2. CrossGen failed largely on its own merits. Despite facing comics' legitimately tough traditional marketplace, there were no structural impediments keeping any of the books from really hitting if they captured a broad audience's fancy. That comics will support books exceeding their marketing resources based on content that hits with an audience has been shown time and time again, and was even borne out at CrossGen near the end of the company's run when it had a couple of surprise, modest hits. Comics can support successful comics companies at CrossGen's marketshare with CrossGen's resources. It's not the industry's fault founder Mark Alessi had eyes for Marvel, DC, and early '90s Image instead of IDW or Dreamwave. It's Alessi's fault.

image3. CrossGen did nothing to change the industry from a content standpoint. Nothing CrossGen published hadn't been seen before somewhere from someone. The line was hardly innovative as a whole, either; it lacked superheroes only if you believed CrossGen's self-serving denial about several titles. And the connected universe idea with which they launched is potentially one of comics more loathsomely exploitative and all-too-common concepts.

4. CrossGen's employee set-up was an alternative idea, not a revolution. You know, pretty much any company that asks people to re-locate and work regular hours with a dresscode and everything will provide benefits and a salary. The guy who edits Spunky Knight for Eros Comics gets a salary and benefits. The revolution will be full, affordable access to benefits by freelancers, not an employee opt-in. And I'm afraid based on the company's inability to consistently attract top-tier talent, I'd say the employee strategy was a failure.

5. While it sounds like we can and should be happy for writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Ploog for how their situation is being resolved vis-a-vis their Abadazad, and look forward to what their obvious and considerable talent will do with it within a Disney-backed framework, unless that situation is somehow replicated 30-something times, with similar relief offered to those not connected to a specific creative property, this does not constitute a win or justify anyone's original vision.

posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

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