I feel that these two blogposts from the last couple of days, by Eric Canete and Dean Haspiel, may speak for the experiences of more creators than it may first appear. Canete, first, explained why he’s only going to be inspired by mainstream superhero characters when doing sketches and commissions, instead of actually drawing those characters:
In the 5+ years of images that I’ve put into my blog, I have done more – by way of style, design and flourish – with the characters I’ve wanted to draw than if I was actually directly hired by the companies who own them. I did all of that with full liberty and with no censor. It’s sort of like this: I grew up wanting to draw my version of Character/Team X, Y and Z. With this blog, I did exactly that. And having accomplished all of that, I believe for the time being, I have said all I can about them. Put simply, I don’t know if I can draw another Mr. Freeze, or another Harley Quinn, or another Galactus that could better what I’ve done already.
But let me be clear: I am not saying that what I’ve done with those characters are the ‘perfect’ versions of how I will draw them. And I’m not saying, “No more mainstream superheroes. Forever.” What I am saying is that for now, I think that’s as good as I can draw them – without going into some unsatisfying, auto-pilot version of that character. What I’m saying is that for now, I’m going to put those guys aside.
And then, Haspiel wrote about his own surrender of franchise characters:
I love what I do but I really don’t want the comix industry to send me into an early grave. I’d prefer to have stability and make comix on the side, for fun, than continue holding out for rare piece meal gigs. ACT-I-VATE, the premiere webcomix collective, was partially invented from a desire to work INSIDE the comix industry. Six years later, TRIP CITY, the Brooklyn-filtered literary arts salon, was partially invented from a desire to work OUTSIDE of the comix industry.
Franchise comic books are more editorially driven than ever before. It takes the fun out of conjuring unsolicited ideas. They only recruit new talent when an indie talent is getting tons of buzz and/or when someone from their regular talent pool starts to balk at editorial directives and splits dodge or falls out of favor. There is a game afoot and I never even got the chance to pass “Go.”
Look at the new Image Comics launches, both those that’ve appeared since January and those only announced so far; it’s not just these two creators who are moving away from Marvel and DC right now. This is the year, it seems, when creators are feeling a restlessness that appears to pull them towards their own ideas, creations and ownership. It’s not the Image 7 breaking away and beginning a revolution all over again, sure, but it’s definitely something.