The iFanboy Letter Column – 03/27/2009


Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means you have to spend the next 48 or so hours with your horrible horrible family, begging to go back to the sweet mind numbing sanctum of the corporate office. For others, Friday is the day when you have no more Battlestar and you cry and cry and cry.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming – contact@ifanboy.com



One of my biggest problems early on with comics was the covers.  I always hated that the cover would have these over the top looking battles/showdowns only to find that the comic may have little to do with the cover.  I’ve gotten over it, and learned to appreciate the covers on their own.  But I was wondering if you guys ever got that feeling where the cover gets you excited only to have the comic itself not deliver?


iFanboy’s MrPopular

I have gone on the record before, both here on the site as well as on the podcast about this very topic and my distaste for the approach to covers in recent years.  Call me old school, but I was raised on comics where the cover would be related to what was going on inside the comic book.  The cover should sum up the story in one image, to give you an idea of what is going on inside the actual book.  Now, to be fair, most comics do this quite well still.  But there are 2 factors that I’ve seen that work against this.

First, there’s the 3 months advanced solicitation model.  Individual comics titles are submitted to Diamond for pre-orders 3 months before they come out.  This puts the publishers in a bit of a bind.  Sometimes, the book is late or not on schedule, and its not actually ready at this point, but they need to submit something for the solicitations, so they have a cover created that just showcases the character and has nothing to do with the story itself.  This is just a byproduct of the problems/challenges of production schedules and the 3 month solicitation cycle.  I have to admit, I don’t envy the editors and artists who have to deal with this as a real challenge.

Second there is the advent of the “cover artist.”  It seems as if the path of ascension for some superstar artists is to work their way up doing full comics and then they reach a pinnacle where they earn enough money by doing a single cover that they stop doing full issues and just do covers.  Brian Bolland is an artist that comes to mind immediately as well as several others like John Cassaday (who I don’t think will ever do another comic story for a long time), Art Adams, the late Michael Turner and other “Rockstar” artists.  These sort of covers rarely have anything to do with the story inside, but rather are an awesome pin-up by an amazing artist.  Sure it’s a great image, but I hate that it rarely has anything to do with the story.

I suppose I should be more like MrPopular and simply come to terms with it, and for the most part, I have.  But when I see covers like the old Neal Adams X-Men covers (sampled here) or the recent covers by Erik Larsen on Savage Dragon or the Amazing Spider-Man covers recently, I’m reminded of how dynamic and engaging a good cover that compliments the story can be.  But for the most part, I look at the cover completely seperately and no longer have any expectation for it to actually work with or for the story inside.  Sad, isn’t it?


Ron Richards



I’m emailing you to get a little feedback and advice from comic book reviewers and see how you feel about receiving comic books from unknown creators much like myself. You see my brother and I are working on a book and I’m trying to figure out how to get it into people’s hands. Of course I’ll be making my rounds at comic conventions and submitting the book to publishers but I though it might be helpful to send copies to the people who tell people about new and exciting comics. Hell I’ve learned about so many new books from the iFanboy site, so I see the potential.

Of course I don’t expect to really get any coverage but I figure there is a slight chance that someone will really like it and possibly mention it to someone else. So to sum it up, do you ever receive comics from unknown creators and do you think you’d read them? Would you enjoy receiving comics in this way or would you find it annoying? There would obviously be no obligations and hey it’s a free comic! You could give them away to new iFanboy members!

Timothy O’Briant

This is a really good question, and I’ll preface by saying I hope I don’t come off as too much of a jerk trying to answer it. 

We get a lot of email from independent creators who want to send us their books.  This is a great thing.  However the other side of things is that, in reality, we’re already loaded down with more stuff than we know what to do with.  You have likely seen many of the Stack Week columns we’ve done, and basically there are only so many hours in the day.  In those hours, we have the choice of figuring out what to spend time paying attention to.  It might sound harsh, but most of what we talk about are mainstream comic books, and there’s a reason for it.  We like them.  In a given week, we struggle to fit all the comics we want to talk about in the Pick of the Week Podcast.  And the only books that really fit into that format are the ones we buy in issues, at the shop that week.  Very occasionally, we’ll make a special segment to talk about something else, but the audio podcast is sort of full. 

That leaves the video show and the website.  Here we have the option to mix things up a bit, but just like said stacks, and the weekly shows, we’ve got backlogs of material to talk about.  So basically, if you’re going to send us work, you’ll need to be somewhat lucky.  Hopefully, the work is something that one of us will be interested in, because, very honestly, if I get a comic with a cat in space armor and a flaming sword fighting a zombie, it’s gonna be a while before I pick that up.  I made that example up, but it’s not far from stuff I’ve seen.  I really don’t like horror comics, but I swear 97% of the submissions I’ve had in front of me have been horror comics. 

Finally, and this is harsh, but true, it’s got to be good, and a lot of stuff isn’t good.  You start to see why the people who are pros are classified as pros.  There’s a real skill here, and throwing together ninjas, pirates, and atomic Russian cats does not a good story always make.  So, your chances are sort of slim. 

However, and this is the most important part, that’s a bad reason not to try. People can send us PDF’s or physical books, and we’re cool with either.  But personally, I’ve got folders of PDF comics that I know in my heart I’ll never get to reading.  A real book costs you more, but it’s definitely harder to ignore.  Basically, you’re fighting for attention from a lot of other things, and you have no frame of reference to draw upon.  Perhaps it’s not fair, but it’s not really a democracy either.  The only rule about doing this is that we tend to talk about what we like. 

In the midst of all that stuff, we have received comics we loved, and talked about them.  Just recently, Porter Mason handed me a collection of Bassist Wanted, at NYCC, and I loved that book.  They’re comic strips about a crappy local band.  Punk Rock and Trailer Parks was Book of the Month.  It might have been published by Slave Labor, but Derf sent me a copy himself.  I did a Mini on Wizzywig by Ed Piskor.  So basically, yes.  Send out as much stuff as you can to as many people as you can, but do it wisely.  Don’t waste your time or money sending stuff to people randomly.  Also, and it pains me to say this, but persistence does pay off.  If you keep following up, you might be irritating, but you’re more likely to get noticed, as I, for one, have a guilty conscience.  Finally good luck.  You’ll need a crapload of it.

Josh Flanagan



I was wondering, you guys (like many of us) seem to be fans of the large, hardcover collections.

If something you already own in trade is reprinted in a Marvel Omnibus, Absolute Edition, or DC’s new Deluxe Edition format, and you decide to buy it, how do you get rid of the old trades? Give them away? Sell them? Or do you keep them and just occasionally get defensive when people look at your shelves and notice the doubling up?

I’ve been really wondering about this. I don’t feel that indulgent when I buy trades, and it definitely helps me part with the issues down the line, but upgrading to another copy of a collected edition I already own seems a bit harder to fiscally justify.

Drew

This is something that I actually hadn’t thought about.  Or, at least thought about recently.  As someone who buys a lot of trade paperbacks and absolutely loves the oversized hardcover editions, I actually have doubled up on quite a few different books, not just in trade-to-issue form but in softcover-to-hardcover-to oversized edition form as well. 

Personally, I don’t worry about it and I keep everything.  I like having things that I love in multiple formats.  And it’s not just comics.  I have at least five different editions of the Star Wars movies.  I have two different DVD sets of Twin Peaks.  The list of comics that I have in multiple formats is too long to recount.

And I don’t feel guilty about it or feel the need to justify it or get defensive if people point it out.  It’s what I like and they have to deal with it.

As for having to justify multiple versions financially, well, you know, things in life cost money.  Is buying a new, oversized version of a comic that I already own any more or less justifiable than going out and spending $100 at a bar this weekend?  Or buying another pair of shoes when I already have four?  Or going to the high end grocery store instead of the cheap place with the questionable meat? 

I will say this, though.  If I had ready access to my single issues I would probably get rid of some that I  own in trade.  As it stands now I tend to keep those simply because they are so hard to get to and it is infinitely less work to keep them than to not keep them.

Conor Kilpatrick


Comments

  1. Wow, nice absolute shelf….

  2. Suggestion for Drew: see if your local library takes TPB’s as donations.  I’ve noticed that some of the TPB’s I check out have stamps saying that they were donated, and also that a lot of their collection has the first trade of a run or series, but not subsequent ones.  I’m going to check about donating my ‘Gotham Central’ trades as the hardcovers come out — not just to free up shelf space but to help the library expand its collection, which I think is a *good thing* for comics.  Even if they don’t put donated books into circulation, they could end up at a library sale and expose someone who might not otherwise look for comics to books that you really liked (presumably, if you’re buying the hardcovers).  There may also be used bookstores in your area that take tpb’s for store credit.

  3. damn is that your absolute shelf conor?? thats badass. mine is almost that nice. it has 9 absolutes and 4 omnibuses on it.

  4. weekly web comics maybe… to get some eyes to that thing and eventually publish on paper – I’ve seen some people do that but since you already published maybe reverse it if it’s possible at all – to turn it into a weekly web comic of some kind.

    Or do a Watchmen parody… I’ve seen only two to three parodies so far. Also "my brother and I made a comic" isn’t a good selling point. Pimp your warez. Show some artwork or give some stats, or work together or separately  on some comics to be published online for free and use those as samples – it’s easyer and faster to go to the internetz and read a short comic – doesn’t take the douche much time and he won’t forget if you will send him a physical copy. light and electricity are in right now with all the yuppies. try drivethrucomics.com .

  5. That Lost Girls volume looks a bit worn.  Conor’s been busy.

  6. Can I call dibs on the Russian-Cat Space-Zombie comic for my membership pack? That sounds awesome.

    Timothy, I’d recommend looking into preparing a comic pitch to send out to some lower tier publishers like Red 5 Comics, etc. There is some information about putting a pitch together online, and Robert Kirkman included his Invincible pitch in the back of the first hardcover.

  7. Too bad. For a second I thought you wrote "invisible pitch".

  8. @stuclach: Oh that’s nasty….

  9. @stuclach   hehe.  That’s is not appropriate.  

  10. I have the 1st 3 trades for Ex Machina but I loaned 1 & 2 to a friend and now he can’t find them…..thinking of buying the big hardcover for it, but didn’t know what to do with Vol 3.  The library idea is interesting…..

  11. @ohcaroline  I couldn’t agree more.  I’m a teen librarian in Ohio and we just got a big box of donated comics the other day.  I kept most of them as prizes for events or to use with various crafts.  A really good copy of "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" was snapped up by a teen just yesterday, which was great to see but a lot of random single issues of Spider-man from the mid-90s were left.  Good work on supporting your local library!  We love the help!

  12. I actually have a couple good ideas for comics.  I was going to order one of those books from Amazon about how to write the scripts, but what do I do with it if I don’t know anybody with the time and patience to draw it for me?  I sure as hell can’t barely draw stick figures…

  13. I love how I can tell without checking names, who’s writing what by the end of the 1st sentence.

    I love cover art and am the exact opposite of you Ron, I don’t want to see a single story beat on the covers of my books and prefer iconic images instead. I don’t want to know that the Joker shows up until I flip that page and he’s beating a man to death with frozen bacon. The last Daredevil cover 117 where it shows Matt and Fisk shaking hands, I thought it showed to much. Beautiful picture still.

    I also don’t like when it shows an interaction that doesn’t happen in the book. For instance if 117 had a cover treatment of DD and Kingpin fighting that’s a let down, since they don’t.  

    People are going to say that eliminates all options, but if the back ground was the same but they were just looking at each other or looking away, it shows mood but no intent.

    I’m nitpicky and can understand why people would prefer different methods to cover art though.

  14. Thanks for the response Josh.  I don’t think you came off as an asshole at all.  Just letting the future comic creators out there know how hard it is to get noticed when you’re starting out.

     

    I think that’s an important lesson for anyone trying to make it in a creative industry.

  15. @ Timothy O’Briant I run a podcast with a focus soley on independent trades.  We love to review small-time, self-published, or even web comics.  We also review bigger name independent comics, but welcome anything independent.  I love listening to ifanboy because I can catch up on what is happening in mainstream comics.  Any creaters can feel welcome to contact us as stumptown trade review on blogspot, and we will at least give a written review.

     

    This isn’t meant to be self-promotion, but instead to let aspiring creaters know that there are other avenues that don’t focus on mainstream comics.

  16. Isn’t Cassaday doing ‘I Am Legion’? I dunno how often it’s coming out, but it’s still a regular story w/ him as the regular artist.

  17. I Am Legion is reprinting a story he previously drew for Humanoids.

  18. So there’s not a chance that Casaday will ever draw the last issue Planetary?

  19. "the cheap place with the questionable meat…."

    mmmmm…. questionable meat

  20. Ha ha. every week i justify the amount i spent on comics by quitely saying to myself "on a big night you piss way more than that away."

    honestly? absolute editions are nice and look great but not that user friendly. they’re very difficult to read in bed, on the bus or in the bath. so maybe it’s worthwhile holding on to the trades

  21. @edward: I would think any comic would be difficult in the bath…

  22. @TNC: you have not lived my friend. occasionally i take the laptop in there too. that’s right! i’ve posted on iFanboy whilst my bullocks have a lovely soak, you want a fight about it?

  23. Oh man! I want the Captain American Mini Mug. Pretty sweet!

  24. Mighty Mugg.

  25. Hello everyone, I haven’t posted here yet but my names Timothy O’Briant and I’m stoked to see my letter up there in the column.   

    @Josh: Hey thanks for answering my letter, persistance is certainly the key so you know what that means; you haven’t heard the last from me!  I’m pretty realistic about the whole situation anyway but my philisophy is to go for your dreams while your young and can still afford too.

    @chlop: I agree that "my brother and I are making a comic" isn’t a good selling point but I wasn’t trying to sell anyone on it yet.  I was just explaining my situation and asking a question.  I had no idea it would be posted in the letter column but I’m glad it did in case anyone else has the same question. 

     

  26. Conor, that shelf makes me all tingly inside. And not just because Lost Girls is on it.

    Things I have in HC and another format:

    Batman Year One

    Killing Joke (2 SC printings and 1 HC)

    Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League

    Marvels

    Wolverine Origin

    Barry Windsor-Smith’s Wolverine Weapon X (which is great in HC since the original story was serialized in Marvel Comics Presents at 8 pages a shot.)

    Kitty Pryde and Wolvie miniseries

    Nextwave

    Ucanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire

    G. Mo’s New X-Men Omnibus

    Things I have in TPB and in single issues:

    American Jesus vol. 1/Chosen

    Dark Knight Strikes Again

    JLA: Year One

    Star Wars: Tag and Bink

    X-Men: X-Tinction Agenda

    X-Men: X-Cutioner’s Song

    X-Men: Dream’s End

    X-Men vs. Apocalypse: The Twelve

  27. Nice column Conor, I’m with you on the cover business, I want to be able to recall by glancing at an old issue what the comic is, at least vaguely, about. ‘Iconic’ covers, to me, mean just another shot of Wolvie snarling, with his claws on display (he may not be drawn short these days, but he certainly has the old short man syndrome).

    I wouldn’t, mind, lump Brian Bolland in with the cover-only artists whose images have little to do with the interiors (though I agree it’s a shame we don’t see continuity stuff from him more often).

    Wonder Woman from 63 on, for example:

    http://www.comics.org/covers.lasso?seriesID=3396&skip=50&show=50

     Or Flash, from 164:

    http://www.comics.org/covers.lasso?seriesID=3358&skip=150&show=50