The Hobby and The Life…
Over time folks have questioned me about my views on what comics are and whether I collect them and if so, what kind of comics? With this in mind I decide to write this Blog to cover my thoughts on the questions.
Collecting, as far as the comics go for me personally, is like this. I love them to death but I don't bag them or have backing boards or any such. I have a lot of them archived away from the studio, itself, which is a shame, as I don't look at them that much really, but they are there if I do. It is all down to the space they occupy and besides I haven’t the time nowadays to look at them as often as I once did.
For me collecting as I was, prior to me beginning to work in the field and also for much of my early career, stopped a good few years ago, when I looked at the amount of product, which I was still buying, but more out of habit then really enjoying them. There were multiple crossovers, every two seconds, and the books that claimed that fame, as part of the ongoing stories, were quite often so far removed from being an actual real part of any such storytelling, as to be beyond belief the companies expected to get away with it.
For a while they did so with me too, but when all it simply needed was a single panel of a character in the background to suffice the cover claim tagline of appearing this issue, such and such as part of the multi-part cross-over event of the year, etc, etc, that I personally began to feel put off. Add to that the enormous price hikes, the lake of any real content of worth and I began to drift away from collecting the one thing in my life that from being a child I had adored and held dear.
Nowadays the studio contains lots of my favourite comics, graphic novels, trade paper and hard backed books, art books and novels. They are all easy to get at and the comics and magazines are in comic boxes, but only for ease of storage, not to protect them.
I do try to keep them as tidy copies, but not at the expense of reading them, which is the reason I collect them and indeed write and draw them for others to do the same. This is what is important for me, as a comics creator.
Back in the day comics used to be a disposable commodity for the kids and the adults who continued to buy them, which is ultimately why they continue to be collectible, because of the low numbers of good copies still in existence. Whereas nowadays the books are kept by the fans and so who else is there to collect them, unless the comic(s) in question are in short print runs and become sought after.
Folks have said they see the little of the fan in me, when speaking to me, as well as the creator and business guy, well you guess right when you say that. I guess everyone in the business is a fan to some degree. I love the way we are able to tell stories in a quite unique way, as opposed to Film and TV, novels and kids books, etc. But I am not obsessed and never have been, unlike a lot of comics fans, with how many rings Cap’s shield has or how many characters have changed identities and took on the mantle of Goliath, or with the convoluted continuities, which I feel stifle comic books today.
That said if I was to draw Cap’s shield then I would have to check to get it right, if that makes sense. Comics for me are both a great past time and also a business and I use different heads for the different aspects, as and when they arise for me, either as a reader or a creator.
I still get the same buzz out of comics nowadays as I did as a kid, but the difference for me is the way we see them displayed in the comic shops. Back when I was a kid we had them on spinner racks here in the UK and the shipping of them from the States was sporadic at best. We may get issue 23 of any given title and then some years later number 7 and number 10, which for me added to the fun of searching them out and completing my collection. I remember collecting Jack’s fourth world series like this and yet still making sense out of them, something I have discussed with others of a similar age to me, and older, who didn’t get Jack’s work at the time.
There is also the matter, as I mentioned earlier of the enormous cost of seriously collecting nowadays with massive amounts of different issues of a single character in several disassociated books. One example I saw recently was separate issues of a single US character in 14 separate titles in a single month, which, to me, means anyone wishing to collect even that single character, must do so as a very costly hobby. It also stops many readers from either collecting other characters, or even chancing a new title. I cannot for one instant imagine kids managing to collect such huge amounts of comics, when adults cannot afford to do so.
Personally, I buy more collections as hard backs nowadays and I am trying to get hold of some European titles at the moment too. I don’t frequent comic shops as much as I did, but that is down to a combination of the workload with Wizards Keep and also with having to look at a sea of product, which all looks the same and, which has so many multiple titles. The trouble with seeing it like this, is the inevitable missing of the gems, unless you sift through countless titles on the shelves, or are willing to read Previews, which used to take me long to read through than the entire month’s books I had bought, back when I was still collecting them more.
There can be any number of Spider-man comics, to use him as an example, and I have to ask myself, which is the series I want to check out, is this a mini series, and questions of that ilk. The problem is, if, as someone working in comics, I am asking these kinds of questions, what chance is there of a new reader staring to pick them up, with no jumping on point?
I see the same thing happening with graphic novels being displayed en masse with their small spines only, showing.
One other thing folks mention is creators having a “unique insight” towards the aspect of comics. I have to admit that I like to read how other comics creators think of these questions, just like a fan does. It makes for interesting reading at times and can make you think either, yeah I agree, or wow I never thought of it like that.
I still love comics, but not the corporate, formulaic books, with the new, so-called “de-compressed” storytelling in US comics. We have something at out disposal, as comics creators that folks in other media, such as film and the like, don’t and that is an unlimited budget, as far as the production costs go, the only limitation on that being the amount of time one can afford to give any given project, at any one time. What costs millions, in film, can cost us, in comics, as little or as much as we wish, according to time. There is room for all kinds of storytelling, all kinds of genres, and formats, just so long as we continue to experiment and look to produce new and innovative creations.
We are script writers, actors, directors, lighting operators, set designers, costume designers, prop designers, location specialists, fund raisers and any other number of hats we may have to wear to produce a single comic story for print.
I am grateful to have been able to pursue a career in a great art field, in a very privileged position, which many other folks aspire to. We have a very important thing we must all strive towards, if the medium is to continue to grow and flourish and that is to provide the readers with something that entertains and makes them want to come back for more by trying to give every page we produce the wow factor.
The only limit I see with what we do is governed by the limits of our individual imaginations.
Until next time have fun!
September 20th 2009
8 hours ago