Michael Davis: Off The Hook
Those words are the title and tag line for Marvel’s latest universe direction and marketing approach. Seems a bit like the DC reboot to me, I could be wrong. I was… once.
Full discloser. I don’t spend a great deal of time following the comic book industry. That is to say I don’t make it a point to go to comic book websites, publishers websites or any of the zillion forums where people talk about what goes on in the industry. So, I don’t know how much press or hype surrounds the Marvel Now agenda. If I’m late to the party it’s because I simply don’t pay attention to press or hype.
Given the stuff I’ve been able to pull off in my career you may find it strange that I don’t follow the industry closely at all. I won’t bore you with my résumé but trust me, it’s impressive. I’m mostly clueless as to trends or news in the industry and I plan to stay that way. My way of doing business works best for me if I’m not influenced by what or who is hot.
As an example just about every mainstream publisher does comics these days. I put Simon & Schuster in the comic book business…in 1996. One of the reasons I was able to do that deal was because I don’t pay attention to trends, I pay attention to the idea and where would be the beat place to exploit that idea.
Disco was a trend, Hip-Hop was a movement created by ignoring what was popular at the time and which music now dominates the planet?
Here’s a hint, KC and The Sunshine band are not represented.
I visit ComicMix a few times a week but just to read the columns; any news I get is because I see something on the site that just screams to be read. ComicMix is how I learned about the DC reboot, Before Watchmen and Marvel Now.
Incidentally, I thought I would hate Before Watchmen and love the DC reboot. I actually like some of the Watchmen books and the DC reboot was for the most part cool, but did I love it?
Regardless of what I thought of the books I knew and I said the reboot would be a success and it was, big time. I was sure it would be effective because of the buildup which, after I was aware of the reboot, I noticed everywhere and the originality of the concept didn’t hurt either.
But, here’s the thing, it wasn’t original, far from it. That particular kind of event has been being done for – all DC did was changed the “hook.”
Marvel is not ripping off DC vis-à-vis a universe reset; they are following DC with a new hook for their books.
I write for television as well as mainstream publishers. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned as a television creator.
Very few things are new.
Consider these classic TV shows: Father Knows Best, Eight is Enough, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, Charles in Charge, Home Improvement, Modern Family, The New Normal, The Cosby Show.
All of the above are based on the same premise essentially they are the same show, to produce a “new” idea the creators simply changed the hook.
The Cosby Show was pitched like this, “it’s Father Knows Best except the family is black.” They changed the hook. Now you can take any of the above shows and do the same thing.
Some require changing more than one hook but you get the idea.
The Partridge Family is the Brady Bunch except they sing. Home Improvement is The Cosby Show except the family is white. Etc, etc, etc.
Marvel Now is DC’s new 52 except it’s Marvel…Now!
Look, redoing comic book universes is not new. Publishers have been doing it for decades on a smaller scale usually just rebooting a character. DC and Marvel did universe overhauls in the 80s and have been doing it ever since. DC with the Crisis series and Marvel with Secret Wars.
DC came out of Crisis with one earth and Marvel came out of Secret Wars with a black Spider-man, sort off.
DC’s New 52 was a brilliant move because they changed the hook on everything. Universe overhauls staring with a mini-series or one title were always implied to span the entire universe but DC went ahead and said it out loud and kept saying it so the age old universe overhaul was now something bold, new and that seemed to never have been done before.
Because of the way DC presented it. You call something “new” enough times and even if you have seen it a million times after a while you start believing the hype.
I have no dog in the fight between the New 52 and Marvel Now. Neither company is writing me a check these days so speaking as just a fan I hope the Marvel Now stuff is great.
A lot of people are going to think Marvel ripped off DC with this idea, they didn’t. The idea is not new. Rather or not Marvel was motivated by the success of the New 52 I’m sure that played a part in it but that is just par for the course in comics and in a few years it will happen again on some level.
Meantime, Dark Horse, Image and IDW are not thinking about “universe overhauls,” they are thinking about original content. Those publishers are doing some great work, or as we say in the hood, those publishers are off the hook.
WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Wants You Off Your Ass