There are good reasons why people become comic book creators. Their skill, their love for the medium or, in the case of Mark Millar, the fact that he’d be really, really bad in the world of international relations, something he proved again in his report on a recent trip to London:
Adi [Granov] still looks uncomfortably like Le Chiffre from Casino Royale. Also, he’s from Eastern Europe and has those killer’s eyes everyone had in Hostel. He’s a great artist, but I feel human life means nothing to him. He would slip a screw-driver into your eye and munch a sandwich at the same time, just for kicks. It’s not his fault, though. It’s the way they’re raised over there, as Eli Roth taught us.
(Mark is, as he’s announced, not signing back up as a Marvel exclusive when his current contract runs out. My hope is that he goes to the multi-cultural Virgin Comics with a project, if only because I’d love to see what he makes of projects like Virgin teaming up with Sony for their own massive multi-player online game:
Through a deal that joins two of the world’s most innovative entertainment brands, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), a global leader in the online gaming industry, is teaming up with Sir Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra’s Virgin Comics to bring the popular, India-based Ramayan 3392 A.D. comic book universe to life as an MMO video game initially for the PC.
You know it’d be worth it just to see Millar give interviews about how he’s updating Indian myths for the 21st Century by having them say “meatball”.)
Of course, for all my sarcasm, Mark Millar is probably the main reason that Marvel’s publishing division had such a good second quarter this year:
Marvel’s Publishing Segment net sales increased $7.8 million or 31% [from the same period in 2006] to $32.9 million in Q2 2007 principally due to continued strength in Civil War and the Dark Tower publications in the Direct and Mass Market channels. Operating income in the publishing segment rose to $14.7 million with an operating margin of 45% in Q2 2007, compared to operating income of $10.4 million with an operating margin of 41% in the prior-year period. The improvement in operating margin principally reflects the benefit of operating leverage resulting from sales of high margin trade books.
Those high margin trade books, man. I always told you that’s where the money is. Thankfully, Marvel’s reeling ‘em in there, because apparently their ability to read the audience is slipping. As the publisher teases the “end of an era” for Spider-Man, hinting that that era may be Spider-Man’s marriage, a quick poll of Newsarama posters shows that the majority of them want their Spider-Man to be married. Oh dear.
Even if that storyline bombs, Marvel has a way to retain fans – Make them think that they have a chance of working for them. Enter C.B. Cebulski and his “Chesterquest” initiative to find budding, cheap and desperate to please new artists for the House of Ideas:
Truth be told, reviewing art submissions is easy for me. Joe Quesada always says I have one of the best eyes for talent he’s seen, which I have always found flattering considering who it’s coming from! I don’t know what it is, but I have the ability to look at an artist’s work and judge it pretty quickly and easily. I know after a few pages whether a person has what it takes or not. It’s next to impossible to describe how or why though. It’s a mystery even to me, but I know what I like. It’s a skill that’s worked well for me, as well as plenty of artists, in this biz so far.
A new artist who doesn’t need C.B.’s help is Nikki Cook, who spoke to the mothership about her webcomics, upcoming collaboration with Brian Wood, and creative flexibility:
The creative control that I am afforded by working on my own is nice, but because of the time it takes, I’m stretched thing (i.e. I can’t be as perfect as I want it to be all the time.)
Right now most of projects I am working on are collaborations. I have a really hard time saying ‘no’ to a project when it it’s just so darn good, but there is a certain level of freedom that I really enjoy when I only have to worry about the art. I love cartooning because of the challenge of so many pieces of the puzzle—but when I am working with a partner I can throw myself into the visuals.
Other interviews on the site this week included Joe Pruett talking about the return of his publishing company Desperado, and a worst case scenario of relaunching your publishing company:
[O]ur first month’s offerings are running a bit late, though no fault of the creators. At the last second we decided to change our printer to one in Korea which added a bit of a delay in getting our first month’s titles out. I figured the delay was better to have now then after the first issues have shipped. We’ve been busy working sending out three months of titles at once to catch up the schedule and make sure that you won’t see delays between the issues.
And perhaps the most entertaining interview of the week came from Chris Arrant, interviewing Kieron Gillen about his recently-completed first volume of Phonogram:
It cuts down to wrestling with the moment when your own memories of your development start conflicting with the accepted history. You lived through those times and now, when people talk about it, they just don’t get it right. Now, it’s one thing to get annoyed with it when it was something important, but what about something which – in retrospect – was a bit rubbish? Or something which was culturally damaging? If there a justifiable reason other than nostalgia for that to annoy you? And, when you come to that, what’s nostalgia for anyway – and is “nostalgia” actually something you should group beneath a single word or something that’s actually more nuanced? How does nostalgia connect to what happened anyway? Does it matter if it doesn’t? In fact, is that what Nostalgia is? And why were Kula Shaker so rubbish?
Lots of questions and I’m reticent to give answers. I’ll say that it’s a retro book which is aimed against the cult of retro, using its tools in an attempt to dismantle it and show what it’s really for. Will that do? C’mon, let that do.
Right now, Crispian Mills is weeping, having Googled his name and discovering that he’s still fallen from popular opinion (although I will admit to secretly liking more than a few Kula Shaker songs. But then, I liked Menswear a lot, as well).
You’ll have noticed that I’m staying away from stories coming from Wizard World Chicago (other than to say that the only surprise about Millar and Hitch doing Fantastic Four is that Hitch had previously said that the project wasn’t Fantastic Four), as well as the two real news stories of the week: retailer Michael George, Comics World owner, being charged with murder, which clearly does not need any snark from a smartass like me, and the announcement that the latest League of Extraordinary Gentleman book will only be available in the US due to copyright issues, because Rich has covered that pretty well in LiTG this week… If his sources are correct, then here’s hoping that Scott Dunbier is brushing up on the Mark Millar school of diplomacy.