Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Changes in the Comics Industry...

What’s different after almost thirty years as a professional?

Hi Guys,

Over the past almost thirty years I have noticed some remarkable changes within Comics.

The first and probably most crucial in instigating these changes being vastly increased communication channels.

For too many years the way publishing in this industry works has pitted creators against themselves with a closed-shop mentality, which I have never understood. Publishers who have made it quite clear not to discuss rates of pay with other creators, because it could have a negative effect (a euphemism for being fired).

I noticed this big change starting to take effect with the advent of the Internet, when suddenly all the creatives within the industry were able to communicate far faster and far easier than before. Suddenly we could all take to each other no matter where we were in the world and to folks whom we may only know from their work previous to this.

Now the above doesn’t mean I am speaking bad of anyone in the industry, but the way that publishing worked previous to this, whereby folks were working in isolation meant that quite often the mere knowledge of the fact the above may be true, indeed made it true, in the minds of those working inside of comics and as a result meant folks did keep things to themselves at times, not everyone, but it was there.

There was always a joke within the comics fraternity that if someone “coughed” we all knew about it within an hour or so. Nowadays that cough is almost certainly heard the nanosecond after it has happened and now it isn’t just the guys in the industry that hear it either with Networks like MySpace, FaceBook, and the like to deliver the information.

This freedom given to us to communicate 24/7/365 is what is enabling many of the changes to be implemented and endorsed by everyone.

What we all need to remember is, if more folks pool their skills, knowledge, and information of this kind then we really can thrive as a community.

Nowadays more folks are likely to inform others of impending work, whereas it was a while ago kept quite secretive, until the book(s) were off the ground ensuring work on the book was attained, without the fear of losing it through telling someone else, very sad, but very true.

There is also a shift in the emphasis of working in comics, because of a certain fact, as unbelievable to some as it may seem and that is, that there are some folks that want to work in comics that DO NOT want to particularly work in the genre of Superheroes. Now, despite the fact “mainstream” comics (I really hate that term) really only provide Superheroes to the world with variations on the same theme, in the US at least, other comics are now being produced, telling new stories in many different genres with many readers shifting their allegiance to read these new books, having become totally bored and despondent with superheroics.

Now to the Fanboy (whether that be as a Fanboy/Creator or a Fanboy/Fan) that may be tantamount to sacrilege, but it’s true.

Since I got back into the Comics scene a few years back, just before setting up Wizards Keep, I have noticed this shift and the other things I have spoken about today becoming more and more prevalent.

Yet the one thing I really see is a return to the roots of the US Comics Industry at least, whereby Creators are producing their stuff in-house and publishing it, in the modern setting themselves, whereas folks like Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Will Eisner, Jerry Iger et al, originally at least, produced their stuff and packaged it for the publishers, delivering, as they did, a complete package.

We are living in very interesting times at the moment in Comics with a shift in power between the large corporate organisations, who so obviously feel there is no room for the small guy and they could argue the semantics of good business practise here and that of the small guys.

Recent technological and demographical changes have meant that affordable printing and alternative means of distribution amongst a whole host of different emerging avenues to publish within, are readily available to those that wish to utilise them, which in turn means that for now at least the small guys have a chance to have a share in both their voices and also the marketplace with the big boys.

For me, that is all that one can ask for. Business is business, is business, as they say and as such competition is seen by most as a negative thing, whereas to my mind I think it just encourages one to up the ante a little on occasion, when you may look at someone else’s stuff and realise you may have been resting on your laurels a little there, so need to make a move to improve in some area.

Inspiration from other folks should be both sought after and indeed embraced and not shied from, almost as though it is something unclean. None of us working a vacuum and all of us are a some total of the observed parts of our life’s experiences, so we should not be afraid to look at the other guy(s).

I am not endorsing plagiarism or anything, far from it, I hate that, but I am saying we should all be aware of and keep in touch with the work of others and the marketplace.

This all leads me into a series of upcoming Blogs were I will look at the shifting fortunes of the Comics Industry from all around the world from it’s first tentative steps way back when to the present day. I hope you will join me here and that you will feel free to discuss your views on the subject too.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
February 18th 2009

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