Marc Alan Fishman: Boom! Is! Doing! It! Right!
It wasn’t too long ago that I heard Mike Gold exclaim “I’m really liking what you’re doing there.” He was talking to Ross Ritchie about Boom! Studios. It got me thinking. From one publisher to another, true respect shared between gentlemen. No snide jabs. No undercurrent of jealousy or malice. Just respect. And it’s that respect that made me realize that Boom! Studios is a shining example of what is going right with our industry.
A cursory glance at their site shows a publisher pushing boundaries in every conceivable direction. Where the brand was once known for either being Mark Waid’s playground or Stan Lee’s litter box, today they are producing comics in every genre under the yellow sun. They once clung to licenses from Disney in order to pay the bills. Without Mickey’s teets to suckle from, instead they’ve smartly chosen popular brands like Adventure Time, and the biker-beloved Sons of Anarchy in order to draw in more ‘non-comics’ fans to the shelves.
Boom! also has broken its brand into smarter sub-brands in order to focus efforts on different emerging markets. KaBoom!, its kid-centric brand, is of course anchored by the aforementioned Adventures of Finn and Jake. But they’re also branching out with other recognizable brands like Peanuts, Garfield, and the Adventure-esque Bravest Warriors. The fact that Boom! recognizes the kids market and pushes their line in order to draw the wee ones into a comic shop should be commended. And while a licensed kids book is nothing new in the marketplace… the fact that their books are not chained lock-in-step to their source material means kids will be able to see the comic medium as a place to explore the vastness of the worlds they may only know in cartoon form. It’s a small thing, that means huge ramifications as the li’l readers grow up.
Beyond that, Boom! recently realized its creative teams had more to say and show. So much so that they’ve chosen to branch out even further, with the newly dubbed BOOM! Box imprint made for experimental comics. Not happy to place these potentially “indie for indies’ sake” titles into Boom! Town, or its newly acquired Archaia lines… the box will house the weirdest of the weird. The idea being of course that comic creators who would otherwise choose to self-publish short runs of books that might be too crazy for even a “B” or “C” publisher like Boom! to consider… are given the carte blanch to actually give it a go anyways.
As an indie publisher myself, I’m of two minds on that. One mind says “kudos to Ritchie, Gagnon, and Watters for having balls!” The other mind morbidly declares “Yay! One more sub-publisher with money behind them to tell Unshaven Comics they’re cute for trying!”
These days a cursory glance over my newsfeed on Facebook shows normally at least several daily references to what DC or Marvel is messing up. DC way more than Marvel, if you’re tallying. It’s a bit hilarious to me, given my recent rekindled love of professional wrestling. Because when one steps back to see the forest for the trees, they’ll eventually see the cyclical nature of the continual soap opera that is male-fiction. With Boom! taking the role of the babyface… We crave a heel, and DC is glad to play the role right now. Can’t stand Villains Month? Keep blogging about it! Think Man of Steel crossed a line? Put it on a tee-shirt! Think Dan DiDio is secretly behind it all, and should be fired? Make a god-damned hashtag, and tag him in every post you write for a month! Guess what? There’s no such thing as bad press. Case in point? I’m DVR’ing Dads tonight on Fox. Do the math. I’ll wait for you to catch up. But I digress.
Boom! is doing it right. They’ve branched out beyond the capes (while still putting out some decent-if-not-mind-blowing cape comics) to compete with Image for the Comics With Original Ideas the Big Two Won’t Touch (and face it, Vertigo isn’t near what it used to be, and Marvel never even tried to compete there). They’ve made kids comics that matter again, and in doing so, have ignited passion for our media in the next generation… buying us soon-to-be-old-farts at least another few years to do what we love. The old adage is true; big risks equal big rewards. Boom! for the time being is reaping plenty of rewards.
We fans, bored of the Big Two are now seeing a true third leg of the market arise. Small(er) presses are proving profitable. Hollywood is even catching wind of it. And when big money backs small(ish) companies, it seems that the money may be headed not only into the coffers of secret investors… but back into the comic medium itself. It’s a grand day to be a comic fan, kiddos.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell