Millarworld revisits the wreckage of Crossgen, and asks a good question: Whahoppen?
Cleaning out my apartment this weekend, I pulled a box of Forge/Edge tpbs out from under my bed and after flipping through one, totally abandoned cleaning and reread both series’ of books in one sitting. It struck me about halfway through – why did these guys fail? Did no-one buy these books or did they just spend the money on coke and hookers?
I mean, many of the biggest gripes I hear about the industry were addressed by these guys – you had quality talent (Mark Waid, Chuck Dixon, Steve Epting, Paul Pelletier, Steve McNiven, Dale Eaglesham, Scot Eaton, Al Rio, Paul Ryan, Ron Marz, Tony Bedard, Joseph Michael Linsner, Joshua Middleton, Jim Cheung, Greg Land, Bart Sears, Butch Guice, Aaron Lopresti, Karl Moline, Brandon Peterson, George Perez, Andrea Divito) working on books well outside the typical superhero genre, with regular trade publication, as well as the supercheap digest sized books Forge and Edge (6 to 11 issues for 7-10 bucks!!), and most importantly quality stories that really lived up to the hype of “you can read these individually and be completely satisfied, or you can look at these books as pieces of a larger story”. Look at Ruse for instance (far and away the best book Crossgen put out), where it’s the supporting character who has the Sigil powers, but she can’t use them, leaving Mark Waid free to write fantastic Victorian mystery stories.
I know these guys went into bankruptcy, but why isn’t someone trying something similar minus the coke and hookers?
Somewhere, some lawyer is wondering whether that coke and hookers line is libelous… Meanwhile, the rest of the world ponders the question:
“Their biggest problem from a commercial point of view was trying to create in one go what it took DC and Marvel decades to build, and at a time when the comic audience was barely beginning to recover from the boom-and-bust of the 90′s. If Alessi hadn’t had so much money to throw at it, if he’d actually needed to come up with a business model that made sense to investors, they might well have taken a longer-term approach that might have succeeded.”
“Where they failed is that the series they ended up with at the end with a variety of styles is when they started to get the coverage, but before then they had oversaturated the market with what looked from the outside as very similar books. They weren’t, but the joint universe put people off.”
“Crossgen had all the right pieces in place – their roster of artistic talent is basically Marvel’s roster of artistic talent these days. I loved some of their books too – particularly Sojourn (where Greg Land wasn’t wasted) and El Calzador. These were different concepts that American comics were unacustomed to. It has been said here but the company was too short-term. It needed to build slowly. All of a sudden there were too many books. You can’t be a Marvel, DC or Dark Horse over night. It takes time and Crossgen never had the patience for it.”
“The interesting thing about Dark Horse, of course, is that their one signal misstep was their failed attempt at a shared superhero universe. Once they got that out of their system, things improved considerably.”
“It was a flawed business model from the get-go. CG *had* to put out a lot of books in a hurry because it took on massive overhead – the famed complex down in Florida. First rule of starting a business is ‘minimize your overhead’, and CG did the exact opposite. It had to have a certain amount of revenue to cover the costs of the complex, creator ‘salaries’ and benefits, etc., so it dumped a wave of titles on the market with a bunch of generic-sounding names.”
Alternatively, I think it failed thanks to first warning signs of a Greg Land backlash.