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WAITING FOR TOMMY: BOB MORALES
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: So how would you fix this wacky industry that employs you?

BOB: American publishing as a whole is in a state of flux, and in many ways book publishing, magazine publishing, and comics publishing are as different as Federation, Klingon, and Romulan technologies. Most people from any of those publishing categories find the others incomprehensible - they have different editorial schedules, different payment criteria, audiences, goals, etc.

Frankly, what will save the industry is more comics from non-comics publishers. Right now, there are only three book categories that are expanding: historical narrative, chick lit, and graphic novels. Movies and manga will keep the industry afloat while book publishers scramble for a credible way to do non-superhero comics. In the meantime, the mainstream comics business will have to bend from their traditionalist thinking. There need to be more magazine-formatted comics from DC and Marvel aping Heavy Metal in form if not content. For example, Marvel should think of a way to do Savage Tales and Epic again, and I've always thought (as have others I've spoken with through the years) Action and Detective would work better for DC in the same revitalized pulp magazine-spirited format. I think traditional comics readers would be happy to buy an oversized, fairly-priced, monthly Detective, with multiple Batman-related storylines, rather than a dozen different Bat-titles.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE NEW DEAL HARDCOVER

Whether it's Chris Ware or the Ultimate Authority, it's obvious that many readers are into books as beautifully crafted objects, and that care - you see it in Sandman: Endless Nights - belies the notions of value and disposability that have dominated the industry for so many years. The industry's misplaced respect for crap and the quick buck is catching up to it - the rewards won't be able to slow its crash if it doesn't rethink its business plan. I'd like to see more of a backlist of creator-owed titles from both companies, like, say, Marc Hempel's Gregory, which is insanely out of print, as is Elaine Lee and Mike Kaluta's Star Struck. Not every creator-owned title, mind you - just the good ones.

It would be healthy for DC and Marvel to do true, creator-owned books - in short, be publishers for original work, and ONLY be publishers rather than angling to control every copyright application - but they've too swiftly evolved from the bullpen plantation mentality of the pulp era to become properties factories for their respective holding companies. That makes the cross-pollination of talent throughout the mainstream industry much harder.

There's probably not a single creator-owned deal among the majors that's contractually as fair to authors and artists as standard publishing deals - where if they screw you, they KNOW they're screwing you. In comics, the right to have true authority over one's work is still treated as a business indulgence because the industry has little practical experience otherwise.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 Continued Here...

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