Tagged: Alan Kistler

Marc Alan Fishman: Welcome to the Comic Book Industry of the Future!


Fishman Art 130209Greetings, 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

 

Marc Alan Fishman: Compress the Decompression

Just for funsies, I cracked open my DC Archives: Green Lantern hardcover the other day. An hour later, I’d reminded myself why I was never the biggest fan of Hal Jordan. But that’s a discussion I’ve bemoaned about here before, so I’ll spare you. What struck me, though, was the sheer density of the material presented. Oh, how have times changes. Some argue for the better. Others say nay. Concerning the amount of plot presented today in the standard off-the-rack rag we all love so much, it’s a debate I’m willing to fill a few inches of babble about.

I can’t personally put a pin at the exact moment of time when comic book writers started decompressing their material. My best guess is that it was a slow burn starting in the mid-eighties, that reached critical mass somewhere around the time Brian Michael Bendis was being knighted by Joey Quesada. Truth be told, I’m not a comic historian (like the incomparable Alan “Sizzler” Kistler) and I’m inspired by Michael Davis’ Lazy-Man, so I’m not doing the research to find out exactly when. Suffice to say, it’s no difference to me when this all happened, so much as whether it has been for the better of the medium. And that answer isn’t exactly black and white.

The thing is, when I read through those Silver Age reprints I couldn’t help but feel slighted. Huge problems for the titular hero were dispatched in a matter of a few panels. Why? Because by the turn of a page, we were already onto the next plot point / problem / story beat. In one story, Hal is called to a prehistoric world where he must save the blue skinned Neanderthals from evil yellow dino-birds. One panel? He’s punching them. Next? He’s blasting them with a big green canary. Next? He’s home. In less than a handful of pages, the entire story is wrapped up. For anyone out there that wants to defend that as being higher quality that last months’ issue of GL… come see me behind the shed. Simply put, this “gotta cram an entire story in 12 pages!” mentality may have suited people 20 years ago… But not now.

When it’s done right, modern comics have the pacing, depth, and content akin to a good movie. Take the first arc of Mark Millar’s The Ultimates. Not only do we get origins for Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Ant Man, the Wasp, and Captain America, but we get true moments of cinematic glory. When the Hulk rampages in the city, horny and angry, it’s a moment earned through the build up of tension across the four books it took to get there. If the same book were made in the Silver Age? Hulk would have been tearing up a building in one panel, booted out of it in the next, and laughing about the lessons learned before the page turn. In other words? Decompression gives the reader a chance to absorb characterization and depth.

When it’s done wrong, a book becomes a banal burden. How many times in the modern era have we plunked down good money to read a book that doesn’t move a story forward, for seemingly no reason? When an arc is immediately all too familiar, we can end up purchasing six or more issues of a story despite our ability to glean the entire plot beat for beat.

Case in point? Justice League International. In the very first issue, it was as clear as day: The team would assemble for the greater good, but show terrible cooperation. The big bad guy would do increasingly bad things and the team would eventually have to unite in order to win the day. And because I knew that this would be the arc they’d travel on, I simply dropped the title. The idea that all stories must “write for the trade” is a double-edged sword. When the plot comes out of the box of “been there done that,” all you’re doing is wasting ink and paper.

Let me not poo-poo the Silver Age without pulling back my anger just a bit. These older tales had something modern comics lack. Balls. Big brass ones. Do you think, even for a second, Batman of Zur-En-Arrh could have been pitched and published as an original concept in 2012? Not on your life. The older books had a mentality to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. It allowed ol’ Hal Jordan to be on a primitive planet fighting dinosaurs on one page, and then be whisked away to the anti-matter universe for a skirmish with the Qwardians on the next.

With the way modern books are published, those two concepts alone might take up the better part of a year to explore. Modern books slow time down to a visceral crawl. Case in point? For as good as Ultimate Spider-Man is… did you know it took Bendis five-plus years of bi-monthly issues to cover a single year of Peter Parker’s life? In 60 issues in the 60s, Spider-Man had fought 47 villains, went to college, teamed up with the Avengers, became a lounge singer, and still had time to forget to bring the eggs home for Aunt May.

The key here, in this carpy columnist’s opinion, is balance. Not every book needs to “write for the trade.” Some of the best comic books I own are single-issue stories that aren’t anchored to one trade or another. When done well (for example, GrimJack: The Manx Cat), a dense story across six books can feel like a novel in and of itself. When done poorly (the middle 30s and 40s of Irredeemable), a decompressed story can feel more like a worthless stall and cash-grab.

Far be it from me to spend so long pontificating about the pacing of a story as my article gets longer and longer. I guess when it comes down to it… to summarize… or in other words, wrap things up: Pacing in modern comics has never been more important. As a fan, all we can hope for is a feeling that we’ve gotten our money’s worth by the time we place the comic in its bag and board.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Crazy Sexy Geeks: Tim Gunn VS Green Lantern! Part 1 & 2

Crazy Sexy Geeks: Tim Gunn VS Green Lantern! Part 1 & 2

Green Lantern

On sidewalk broad and runway long,
The bias cut is bold and strong;
Let those who worship haute couture
Beware my label! It’s Di … er…

—John M. Ford

Fashion authority Tim Gunn re-unites with Crazy Sexy Geeks! This episode, he looks at the Green Lantern with hosts Jennifer Ewing and Alan Kistler, superhero historian & Agent of STYLE columnist for Newsarama.com (@SizzlerKistler)! Be sure to listen to the weekly Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast (featuring Alan and Jill Pantozzi, @TheNerdyBird) on iTunes and at CrazySexyGeeks.libsyn.com

Part 1:

Part 2:

Crazy Sexy Geeks: Tim Gunn vs. Green Lantern, Part 2!

Crazy Sexy Geeks: Tim Gunn vs. Green Lantern, Part 2!

Tim Gunn, well known his appearances for Project Runway and The Smurfs (seriously) continues his look at the Earth-born Green Lanterns, with actress Jennifer Ewing and actor/writer Alan Kistler (columnist of “Agent of S.T.Y.L.E.” on Newsarama).

Also check out weekly Crazy Sexy Geeks Podcast, available on iTunes. Feel free to donate to CSG via paypal to SizzlerKistler at gmail dot com.

A few seconds of music from “Ring Capacity” by Kirby Krackle was used in this video, out of love not out of a need to steal.

Crazy Sexy Geeks: Tim Gunn vs. Green Lantern!

Just in time for the San Diego Comic-Con Masquerade tonight, we bring you the return of Crazy Sexy Geeks with special guest, fashion authority Tim Gunn! This episode, the Project Runway mentor looks at Green Lantern with hosts Jennifer Ewing and Alan Kistler, superhero historian & Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. columnist for Newsarama.com (@SizzlerKistler)!

Be sure to listen to the weekly Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast (featuring Alan and Jill Pantozzi, @TheNerdyBird) on iTunes and at CrazySexyGeeks.libsyn.com

ComicMMXI: ComicMix Predicts 2011

ComicMMXI: ComicMix Predicts 2011

Now that we’ve taken a look back at the year – and boy oh boy, was that an interesting year – we can now look over the rainbow at what’s coming down the pike. Intelligent theories meet best guesses with a dash of wild-eyed visions; crystal ball, there’s so many things I gotta know… what’s coming in the New Year?

We’ve seen what the growth figures have been like for electronic reading, and now we can say there is no sign of slowing down. An estimated 70 different types of e-readers are expected to be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show later this month, and rumors have it that Apple is looking to purchase 65 million screens for iPads in the coming year, where book reading platforms are in the top 5 and two comics reading apps are in the top 20.

With the departure of Paul Levitz, Karen Berger is now the longest serving editorial employee at DC. But she’s on the other end of the country from where the action seems to be moving, and her sales figures haven’t been super-inspiring. Yes, Sandman moves lots of trade paperbacks a year– but what has she done for them lately? How many Big Events can they shove into the ever-narrowing pipeline? What if Green Lantern bombs? How do these new kids on the block respond? More THUNDER Agents? We will be told Wonder Woman is being given a bold new direction by a
new writer. This time the jacket will have fringe on it. The
DCU will get a few steps closer to being right back in the silver age.
Kyle Rayner and Wally West should buy some plots next to Ryan Choi any
day now.

How many Thor miniseries came out last year, in preparation for trade collection in time for the movie release? How about Captain America minis? Will the Spider-Man musical take flight – or will somebody get killed? Spider-Man himself will not die. Marvel’s Fear Itself will tie into Phobos being angry that daddy Ares was killed during Siege. The Avengers line-up will change and a new Avengers title will rise. Then, towards the end of 2011, we’ll have more Avengers mini-series than Richie Rich has tax shelters.

And then there’s the sword of Damocles hanging over the entire print industry. Steve Geppi’s financial problems are still touchy, not noticed as much because everybody’s had a softer year than most. Right now, we get the impression that Diamond’s treading water and has been able to refinance any cash flow problems, but shutting down their West Coast warehouse has to worry some folks about their future viability. But the real problem is with the Borders Book Chain: they closed the year not paying its creditors and returning tons of warehoused product. Sadly, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million aren’t doing all that much better.

The Green Lantern movie will be better than Spider-Man Turn On The Dark… we think. The Green Hornet movie will not. Please, please, please prove us wrong.

Beware the FINAL PICKLE. It’s coming.

Dr. Mid-Nite, Dr. Doom, Dr. Who, and Dr. Strange will start a competing talk show to take on the syndicated The Doctors. The show will however fail when Dr. Doom’s “Top Ten Super Health Tips for 2011” begin with SUCCUMB TO DOOM’S WILL!

The JLA line-up will change and spin-off into a new title, and no one will buy that book either. DC will quickly reconsider their no-crossover policy to jump on the Avengers bandwagon. Marvel will laugh.

Reed Dies. Sue Dies. Johnny Dies. Ben Dies. Franklin Dies. …. H.E.R.B.I.E. Dies. His parts will be distributed at random in the “final” bagged edition of Fantastic Four.

With the entire Disney Animated Universe being milked dry by BOOM! (and, increasingly Disney-owned Marvel),
look out for Avatar’s cleaning of the wonderful world of DiC.

Odin will return from the dead in a very angry state of mind. And a new pair of glasses.

Stan Lee’s characters for BOOM! will be forgotten by the summer, but don’t worry… Striperella will hit the shelves in the fall. And get ready to forget Stan’s new Archie titles!

The Walking Dead series will end with a unique twist: It was all a dream. Then Tom Welling shows up.

Marvel’s relaunching of the CrossGen Line will prove once and for all there was a good reason CrossGen went out of business.

Robert Kirkman will release only 17 new IP’s for Image.

And the surprise of the year: that Aunt May is going to outlive Miss Grundy.

How about you? What does your magic 8-ball reveal?

(Marc Alan Fishman, Mike Gold, Glenn Hauman, and Alan Kistler contributed to this piece.)

Crazy Sexy Geeks: Superhero Psychology 2 – Robin!

Comic book historian Alan Kistler and the forensic psychiatrists of Broadcast Thought discuss the teenage heroes called "Robin." And how does Batman benefit from having an apprentice? With guest host Jen Jamula. All images are from DC Comics. Music is royalty free. Please support us.
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‘Crazy Sexy Geeks’ Asks… Is Batman Really Crazy?

‘Crazy Sexy Geeks’ Asks… Is Batman Really Crazy?

For decades, the question has been asked… is it sane to spend millions of dollars and obsessively micro-manage your life to go out and beat up muggers dressed as a giant bat with a young boy following you around? Well, in the return of Crazy Sexy Geeks, comic book historian Alan Kistler discusses the mental state of Batman
with three forensic psychiatrists, the founders of Broadcast Thought.

Take a look– and then give us your thoughts in the comments section!

Crazy Sexy Geeks – Superhero Psychology Part 1 on Vimeo.