Greetings, past-dwellers. Tis I, Marc Alan Fishman, the sage of the future! I traveled here to the past, via my patented DC Direct TimeSphere. It was only $299.99 at my local comic retailer (which in the future is just Amazon Prime…)! I come to you, this random Saturday morning, on a mission from ComicMix 8.0. I’ve come to give you hope that in 2013, everything changes. Hold on to your bow ties, time lords. Let me give you the glimpse of what will become of your industry.
In 2013, the rumblings began. You see every time a creator got uppity in the past, they dropped those immortal words: “Creator-owned is the future, man.” And every time those creations (not of Marvel or DC, mind you) became one with the zeitgeist, the word revolution spread across the artist alleys of convention floors like a plague. Ah, I know. I know. You say “but that means nothing, FutureBeard… no one will ever take down the Man!” And, in a sense, you are right. The Man, thanks to lucrative movie franchises only made the big two stronger. Much like Coke and Pepsi, so too grew Disney and Warner Bros. until they were simply entertainment forces of nature. But therein lies the seeds of change.
It will all happen so slowly, you may not notice it. DC’s New52 and Marvel Now continued to polarize the ever-aging fanbase. The movies and TV series connected to them (both live action and cartoon) never lead to direct increases in comic book sales. They were, in essence, two distinct media with distinct audiences. It took a while to figure out ourselves… but our NerdVerse Historian, King Alan Kistler decried it, and it was written; while there will always be crossover, there wasn’t (and will never be) a movie or comic to unite them all.
And with that knowledge, spreading like primordial ooze across the vast lands of Nerdtopia, came with it the paradigm shift.
Through careful and meticulous planning and the support of the not-as-big-as-you’d-hope-but-still-pretty-big fan base… established creators turned towards indie-or-self-publishing outlets. Crowd-sourced, and then sold for profit directly towards their bottom line, these creators proved that even without a corporate overlord signing a check… a meager living could be made. And this is how the pebble begins to roll down the mountain.
When those small books became big hits, their creators soon became corporations unto themselves. And then, those same creators, backed by their cultivated fan base, combined into local studios to consolidate their power. No longer mere islands adrift in freelance work, these micro-states began dictating what they published on their own terms. And yes, even on the outskirts of these creator-states… smaller unknown (cough… cough… unshaven…) studios took to the same open road and formed bonds that could not be broken. And now, from the future where I come to you, I’m proud to say that the industry has never been stronger, where creators are no longer afraid to present their own ideas… and take home enough to support continuing doing it again.
Now, don’t cry for Marvel or DC. They still have a large foothold of the rack-space. But their talent pool is a wide berth of only the young unknowns, and the old guard who chose never to leave. The young, lured in by the shiny opportunity. The old, still fearing the unknown, and clinging to the terrible contracts that deny them anything more than pittance while their creations bring in countless millions in other mediums.
And yes, occasionally some of the Indie Nation takes on an old favorite. And they sell magnificently. But here in the future… after that tale has been told, they are reenergized to return to their own pocket universes. It’s a glorious time for sequential fiction. It happened in dribs and drabs over the aughts. Image’s old image (heh) of splashy pastiche universes gave way to intelligent, and brilliantly crafted mini-series. Dark Horse, IDW, Boom!, Avatar, Dynamite, and others began looking towards those self-sustaining garage bands in the artist alley and gave them a powerful ally to help build their brands.
The Internet, social media, and most important, peer-to-peer connections via conventions spread the word of the DIY-revolution. Indie comic creation became the new rock-and-roll. And 2013 my friends… was where those faint rumblings began to move the needle towards the utopia I live in now. Suffice to say: keep your eyes and ears open. More importantly: keep supporting your favorite creators when they make the leap away from the dark side.
I should also note, in case you’re curious:
Superman ditched the Nehru collar. Grant Morrison’s consciousness was transferred to a super-computer. Rob Liefeld eventually got his eyesight checked, and realized the error in his proportions. He redrew every ounce of work he produced up until 2015. Afterwards, his wrist looked like Cable’s, circa 1996. Unshaven Comics optioned the rights to the Samurnauts to Sony Pictures. Brad Bird directed the first of 17 successful films. Subsequently, Unshaven Comics erected a 75 foot golden beard in the heart of downtown Chicago.
And, finally, Alan Moore eventually forgave DC. Shortly after, he ascended to Snake Mountain and has since lived as the NecroLord of Fourth Realm. He still puts out books every year, and they are still amazing.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander