Image Comics recently celebrated their 24th anniversary and in an new interview with CBR's Albert Ching, Eric Stephenson dropped a whole bunch of truth bombs.
'Talking about comics and analyzing the industry has, by and large, become more interesting than a lot of the work being generated. And I know, there are going to be people out there with pitchforks saying that I’m claiming there aren’t any good comics — that is not what I’m saying. There are always good comics. There’s too much great talent in this business for there not to be good comics, but I think the genuinely exciting new work is obscured somewhat by the sheer same-as-it-ever-was of it all. It’s like the bland leading the bland, and there’s just so much out there, it’s hard to sort the good from the bad'.
Peep the entire interview here:
The simple fact is, he's right. Too much is bland and samey. As a Marvel fan, I'm really dissatisfied these days. The state of the X-books right now in particular is a perfect example of this. The metaplot is regurgitated twice over and the flagship title is trying too hard to feel like a 'classic' book instead of doing anything new or fresh. He also hit the nail on the head by stating that the constant relaunches are just a symptom of a larger problem. Marvel and DC see an immediate return, so they keep doing it instead of just fixing what's wrong.
A few points about the interview.
He didn't say anything that so many fans have said and got dismissed for.
He is running a company that is not held hostage by one character.
He has a company where the fans coexist.
'Walking Dead' fans don't fight 'Savage Dragon' fans.
No book at Image has a writer that doesn't care for the character they are writing.
Folks who buy 'Saga' actually READ it and not just buy it because it's 'Saga.'
I'd go a tad further stating the comic industry is a facade.
Disney and Warner Bros. use their comic book divisions for bouncing ideas, testing plot ideas and characters to be used in TV and Film (real money) through focus group called comic readers. Comic books can't make money by constantly rotating creative teams and changing characters just like changing cast members, channels and viewing times for a television show. But, rebooting and rebooting and rebooting creates short term spikes in sales and diminishing returns. Reboot after Reboot. Event after Event. None of it means anything.
Image might be single-handedly saving my passion for this medium. Especially in an age where there's reboot/relaunch/event/variant cover fatigue. Every reboot is a jumping on point, but its also a handy jumping off point.
Let's talk about Image. You want some sureshots.
Anything by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips - start with 'The Fade Out' which has recently finished, a brilliant Noir-ish look at McCarthy-era Hollywood.
'Lazarus' by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark: a dystopian look at how the world fares after the 1% really take over (hint: not well for most of us).
'Velvet', by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting: 1970s spies in the spirit of Len Deighton or John le Carre.
Also add: 'Southern Bastards' by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour, 'Descender' by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Ngyen, 'East Of West' by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta and 'Saga' by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples.
Last but not least: 'Paper Girls', 'Invincible', 'The Walking Dead' & 'Black Science'
Warren Ellis said this once, and I'm not sure if he coined it but, "I'd rather read and interesting failure than a boring success." Which isn't exactly the same as completely tanking a good idea with ineptitude at the basic level, but creativity is more important to me than perfectly nailing the execution. Art is hard. I'd rather watch someone try something interesting and risky. There has always been quality and it hasn't always been about superheroes.
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