Do Comics Need To Be Saved By Robert Kirkman?

Where upon I posit that Robert Kirkman is to comics as Chris Jericho is to WWE. So, expect him to punch Shawn Michaels wife in the face any day now.

The wrestling reference fits because Jericho's recent WWE comeback started out with him trying to save the company from crappy sports entertainment. It was a call back to his famous first appearence. Eventually, he turned on the crowd, because he realized they didn't want to be saved. Well, that and they like Shawn more than him. The crowd, for their part, looks at Jericho as a jerk partially because they don't need to be saved. So, you know, total allegory. Just like Star Wars Episode III and the Bush Administration!

Anyway, back tothat Kirkman video. I liked it better when Warren Ellis did it, because at least he was profane. Kirkman is just way too sober. I mean, depressingly so. If I wanted to watch some sad, bearded, pasty white guy blat on about comics, I'd read my my monologues in to a mirror again.

No, wait, that's too snarky. But there are many things I disagree with in R-Kirk's video/blog combo, and I want to spew about them here, Burgas-style. Hopefully Burgas didn't write these same things verbatim, because who wants to be that guy? I really need to stop taking shots at people like that.

So, what Kirkman's saying (well, in the written part; I'm telling you, that damn video just bums me out) seems mostly reasonable. Well, even a superhero nut like me finds the whole "Most Marvel and DC books are awesome!" bit too concilliatory if he's serious, and he seems deadly so. But most people tend to agree on the whole "We need to appeal to the fan base beyond pasty bearded white guys." I feel the same way some days, since I'm pretty much Kirkman with no career to speak of. Which would make me Chris Sims, I guess.

I've also always wondered what would happen if guys who mainly fish the super stream branched out to their own thing, or at least did something different generically. Now, I don't like Jeph Loeb's writing any more than the average guy who thinks he isn't very good (but more than T.), but I've always thought it would be cool if his next project with Tim Sale would be a Two Gun Kid or Enemy Ace comic. Mainly because I want to see Sale draw cowboys and bi-planes, but that's just one example. I bet Loeb and Sale could sell a creator owned GN just off the back of Heroes with the right (any) marketing.

But; but! First off, what's this we stuff? From people who don't make comics, not Kirkman. I haven't seen a lot of manifesto stuff in that vein since the Warren Ellis Forum went away, but I know it still exists, and I hate it.

Second: Haven't we moved beyond saving comics yet? That is so 2002 WEF! Things seem better than comics outside of the direct market. The literati crowd is not just covered in the New York Times, they're actually in it. Fun Home won a book of the year award that included books without pictures and/or Batman in them not too long ago. Manga still seems to be selling like gangbusters with the tween crowd, and I can even give you some anecodtal evidence of that! So, comics seem pretty healthy now. The DM is what it is; let Deppey and Hibbs mull over that. It will either change or die after its base starts to die off, and it can only change so much. I just doubt that it will

Third: What Kirkman's asking for has already happened. It was called Gorilla. So you can see why people are leary of doing it, although Waid and Busiek at least have done further creator owned stuff.

Fourth: Bendis and Hickman still do creator owned work. And Kirkman's spirtual forefather Ellis. And Millar, Brubaker, Fraction, Waid, Jason Aaron, Fred Van Lente; that's just the prolific mainstream super-writers I can name off the top of my head. I'm sure Greg Rucka and Grant Morrison will again at some point in the near future, when being DC's architects takes less of their headspace and time (hell, Seaguy's coming back this fall!). So, it doesn't seem like we neccessarily seeing a lack of creator owned books from popular mainstream writers.

Now, you could argue that if they didn't have all those work for hire books weighing them down, they could do more. We may not see another Five Fists of Science from Fraction again any time soon, because Marvel commitments probably keep him from writing a lot of GNs. On the other hand, Ellis has time to be prolifically published in the work for hire and creator owned spheres, so maybe his pal Fraction will pick that up in time. I think it helps that Ellis has a Mad Lib-esque script generator that he grafts all his superwork in to, so even the X-Men can sound like techno fetishits! Really, I just said that to see if I can make him pop over here and call me names. But to make a lot of digressions shorter, the creator owned stuff is out there, and I can't really get worked up if Fraction would rather by his baby new shoes instead of focusing solely on creator owned work.

Mostly because, as Kirkman alluded to, this stuff can work itself out. Once Marvel's done riding Fraction (or Aaron, or Van Lente, or Pak) for scripts and moves on to the next hot writer for the 'net and Wizard to get all hett up over, the point will be moot; the guys(s) will focus on creator owned work. Well, after going through the same thing at DC. Or just not do comics. Which would suck, but it happens.

Finally, it's funny to me that Kirkman is talking about leaving Marvel, because I've only ever read his creator owned stuff. Mainly because that's the only portion of his body of work people have ever really reccomended to me, outside of that one crazed hobo who keeps yelling at me to read Marvel Zombies. Well, I think that's what he's saying. Hard to tell. But Invincible and Walking Dead or just as, if not more, popular than his Marvel books, as far as I can tell, and will probably have more shelf life outside the dumb zombie thing. Especially because his X-Men run sounds terrible.

I don't want to pick on Kirkman or anything, beyond the whole "what have you ever done, jerk?" aspect of my place in the peanut gallery. His heart seems to be in the right place. Well, that and he seems very depressed, based on that video. Maybe all the established comics writers should focus on creator owned stuff just to chear him up. I sure hope I'm not that somber at 30. Since I have to go substitute teach now, I may very well be. A few more years of this and I'll be posting depressing video editorials, too.

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