Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gotta Say I Disagree

Over on Robot 6, Kiel Phegley answers criticism for not pressing more on the question of royalties in his Cup O' Joe interview with Marvel's Joe Quesada.

Joe Quesada: Going pretty far back, in discussions about electronically/digitally distributed comics, our publisher Dan Buckley stated at several convention panels and in interviews that we would be paying incentives for creators of these books. We just didn't put out a press release about it, and I guess some folks just didn't catch it when he said these things. But there you go, welcome to the world of the Internet.
Kiel Phegley: To clarify the specifics of Marvel's plan a bit more, why did the royalty program take longer to get in place than the digital comics sales platforms?
Joe Quesada: Well, that's just the thing; it hasn't. Like all incentive programs, whether paper or electronic, sales are tabulated, math is done and then, eventually, checks go out. If you want specifics, okay I'll give you one: our first incentive checks for e-comics will be going out sometime right after San Diego Comic-Con. Announcing this, now maybe DC can put out a press release saying that they’re going to pay their incentives the week before San Diego. Cool, if they do that, then they’ll manage to be the first at something in the digital arena.

Phegley cited some fan reaction to the interview being negative about him even bothering to ask questions about the royalties. The idea being: imagine how much more negative reaction there'd be if he pressed with a few more questions. It would have been a waste of everyone's time.

Things I would have pressed on and wouldn't have thought were a waste of time:

  1. Sure, Buckley said Marvel intended to pay "incentives". It was first said in reference to Marvel DCU that has been around for years...and still hasn't seen a dime paid out to creators. So, you know, the fact that he said Marvel would be paying incentives is about as meaningful as all of those black and white 1950s serials that said we'd have flying cars in the year 1980. When a statement that hasn't resulted in any action over a period of years is used as defense, it would be smart to politely press on that. Otherwise, you've wasted everyone's time fielding this poor excuse for an answer.
  2. All due respect to Joe, but, well, that's just the thing: IT HAS. Marvel first started offering single issues via Comixology back in October 2009, but are PLANNING on paying their first incentive checks "sometime right after SDCC"? That's supposed to refute that their compensation plan has taken longer to figure out than offering their books for individual digital sale? Again, if you let that nonsense pass without a follow up, especially in light of all the "boy who cried wolf" claims about payments from Buckley that passed before, you're wasting everyone's time.
Phegley is a really good writer and, from all accounts I've heard, a great guy. I honestly think he'd be better off having not responded to complaints. Why? Because when tough questions aren't asked or bad answers aren't challenged on comic book news sites, I'm pretty sure the real reason is that freelancers have to fear professionals deciding they want to be interviewed by someone else from now on. 

Access is everything when you make your money covering comic books...and you'd be surprised how publishers and even some creators can be when deciding who to give it to. I know a writer who was pegged to do a running feature on a major comic book event and almost lost the job before it started because he had given the company's writer a negative review on one of his books months ago. 

I can't say it loudly enough: ACCESS IS EVERYTHING. And fans expecting high standards of journalism should stop looking for it from major comic book sites until less fans decide what sites they frequent based on how many exclusive interviews and previews a site gets. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

How Did This Piece Of History Sell For So Little?

Taking inspiration from Rich Johnston's column about Rise & Fall of Arsenal #4, I looked up a recently ended auction for one of the most (in)famous pieces of DC Comics art in a long time:

It went for only $76.77. A double page splash, folks. I bet if this was auctioned for HERO INITIATIVE at a convention, it would go for a few hundred. I'm sure the artist was certain it would command more, since he made sure to clearly sign the work.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Assorted Reviews (Because Something Needs To Go Here)

I went through a week and a half with no air-conditioning in my apartment. That led to less blogging for two reasons: the laptop overheated too often and comic-book-related thoughts had no chance of pushing out angry thoughts about a property management team that couldn't manage to fix the issue within a day or two.

I'll be getting back on the regular posting thing, but in order to put something up now, I'm going to share the pellet reviews I've done for the Best Shots team over the last few weeks.

Brightest Day #1 (Published by DC Comics): When #0 came out, I was fairly critical of it. I felt it jumped around haphazardly and had no flow to it. Whatever it was trying to do, it didn’t seem that successful at it. But issue #1? Much better. In his BSA of the issue, Troy Brownfield draws a favorable comparison between BD & 52…and I couldn’t agree more. This is due to fixing many of the problems in the #0 issue. Deadman seems more like a character and is used less clumsily as a transitional tool. We’re given a better sense of what the cast is going to encounter in the series. We’re shown that there’s something more than just observing a day in the lives of the characters going on here, which is better than what we were given in the initial issue.

Brightest Day #3 (Published by DC Comics): There’s something about how the different segments of this issue were weaved together that was not entirely satisfying. Each bit feels less substantial than the number of pages devoted to it suggest it should be. Without using Deadman as an obvious tool of the story, it seems like the team is unable to or unwilling (for some unknown reason) to make all of the scenes read like parts of an overarching story rather than a weirdly structured anthology title with possibly one too many stories than it can service in the room available. Which isn’t to say the book isn’t enjoyable. It manages to be well illustrated and entertaining enough to be worth purchasing and continuing to follow, despite the nagging feeling that it could be better executed.

Mighty Crusaders Special #1 (Published by DC Comics): If you can get over the feeling that this was made into a special just to be able to milk an additional #1 out of the upcoming series, it is an enjoyable read as a primer on the Red Circle characters. There are several writers involved in this special, but only one pencil artist…and you come away with the sense that it benefited from both of those creative choices. Each of the Red Circle characters seems to have their strong/unique voice (possibly made easier by the team of writers vs a single writer from the previous series), while a single artist helps make for a consistency to the visuals that was sorely needed. If more of the Red Circle titles had this type of artwork, I’d hazard a guess that they might have been more successful , ironically keeping this special from ever being needed.

The Matriarch #1 (Published by Arcana Studios): Richardson & Yarbrough craft a pretty enjoyable new character: a single mom, trying to balance raising her son with being a super-heroine and working for an ad agency. It’s a good, solid read, though, through the first chapter, that wasn’t my initial opinion. In that chapter, there seemed to be a rush to get as many of the character’s little hooks out on to the page as quickly as possible. While the urge is understandable (or would have been if there wasn’t so much room left in the book), it really hurts the character’s chance to naturally grow on the reader. Thankfully, the second chapter has a much better flow to it. It isn’t perfect, as the idea behind what the protagonists are fighting against could be more clearly defined, but we learn about the characters in a much more organic way than the prior chapter. The third chapter more closely resembles the first than the second, but creators were successful enough in the middle of the book for the good will to transfer through to the end. It’s worth a read if you can snag a copy. (edit: I didn't realize this had previously been a webcomic at the time of review)