Sunday, April 03, 2011

From the ETC Mailbag: Need More CBC Issues?


Hello Evil Twin Comics,

I have been a collector of documentary and biography comics for about 15 years and was fairly impressed with Action Philosophers and more impressed with Comic Book Comics. I'm writing to ask you to be in no hurry to wrap up the series and take your time telling the saga of comic books. Please consider doing chapters on the following events and expanding the series past 6 issues.

1. The Jim Shooter saga from his start mailing scripts to DC comics as a kid to his days at Marvel Comics Editor and his work forming Valiant, Defiant, and Broadway comics and his current writings for Dark Horse.

2. The formation of so many new companies such as Dark Horse, The Jim Shooter companies mentioned above, Image, Rebel, Northstar, Boneyard, AC, Eclipse, Eternity Apple, Caliber, Mirage with TMNT, and especially Revolutionary Comics who put out over 200 of the best biography comics ever produced. If anything suggested in this letter gets into your comics, I hope it would be a comic book bio on Revolutionary comics and the bio comics they put out.

3. The bull market comic books had after the first Batman movie in the late 80s, and the implosion of the comic book market by the mid 1990s with print runs dropping and so many companies folding or slashing production in such a short period of time. Remember all the die-cut, glow in the dark, embossed, hologram, presealed polybagged comics every fanboy had to buy at least 10 issues of? Nobody wants them now and they sit in quarter boxes for the most part currently. There were a lot of flavor of the month comics like Harbinger, Fish Police, Vampire Lestat, GI Joe, etc... that commanded a premium price at one point, but worth very little now.

4. The impact of certain artists and writers on the industry. Names that come to mind include Sergio Argonoes, Frank Miller, Jim Starlin with his Thanos/Warlock sagas, Tim Vigil with Faust, Hart Fisher, Robert Kirkman, and how everyone tried to copy Rob Liefeilds art style during his days drawing New Mutants/X-Force/Youngblood.

5. Zombie comics from the Golden age to Deadworld up to the Walking Dead and the sudden popularity they now have.

I thought this e-mail would be just a short note, but turned into a full fledged letter. Anyway, thumbs up for your efforts so far and good luck on future series. Ideas that come to mind for other bios include assassins, dictators, political scandals, covert CIA operations, religious cults, and social justice activists. How about a mini series bio on the 1999 Battle in Seattle and the WTO, or a Ralph Nader bio?

Whitney Smith

Hey Whitney, thanks for writing, and you raise some great points.

1. Shooter is a fascinating figure with a great personal story, but not one I'm sure we'll get to. He is doing a great job telling his own story over at his blog, http://www.jimshooter.com/, though.

2. & 3. are largely being covered in the history of the Direct Market that is part CBC #6, though perhaps not in the detail you're suggesting.

From a historical perspective, I'm not sure the boom of the early 90s had much to do with Burton's Batman. In fact, the general consensus of industry watchers that super hero movies move very few super hero comics (at least in the Direct Market).

In fact, the boom and bust you're talking had a lot more to do with the popular Marvel artists defecting and forming Image, and the industry shake-up/distributor collapse that followed.

4. "Comic Book Comics" has been more about broad historical trends than the specific contributions of individual creators or titles. We're avoiding a "textbook" or "tour bus" style of history where we stop briefly at every popular or impactful person. Instead, we're going for a slightly broader picture where trends and influences are more highly valued. I'm more interested in the essay form, with a distinct beginning, middle and end, than namechecking.

You didn't mention him, but nobody would argue that Chris Claremont's X-MEN isn't hugely historically significant to American comics. Thing is, I'm not sure we have much to say about it, other than, "It was the most popular comic of the 1980s and 1990s." It perfected the Marvel formula of the alienated hero in the teen team subgenre, but we already talked about that formula in our "Tales to Marvel (at)" story. That there have been successful incarnations of it since then seem, to me, a given, at least from an analytical historical perspective.

5. Hmmm. That's an intriguing idea, but I'd have to say that it's too early to gauge what the historical impact of "The Walking Dead" is going to be. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Scott Pilgrim" and "Bone" are also indy B&W books that have been phenomenally successful, but they haven't necessarily spawned legions of imitators. ("Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters" not withstanding...)

You could also reasonably argue TWD's success is part of the overall zombie-mania that's swept the USA for the past decade in all media, for reasons that will no doubt spawn innumerable doctoral theses for years and years to come...

Also, as the guy who inherited "Marvel Zombies" from Kirkman, I'd feel kind of weird writing a history I'm kind of a part of ... ;)

Thanks for writing, and raising great points.

Best,
FVL

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