Could the Image Revolution ever happen again?
Could anything like that (or Dark Horse Legends, another one I forgot in that post this morning) work in mainstream comics these days? Especially because comics are so writer driven these days?
Hypothetically, let's say Bendis, Brubaker, and Millar all had creator owned comics coming out from one imprint at the same time, an imprint that's also publish work from other popular creators. Let's just ponder that hypothetical for a moment, and then remember that that describes Icon and move on.
Let's raid DC instead. Let's say Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Keith Giffen, and let's throw in Mark Waid, even though he's in editorial at Boom! now (just to complete the 52 set) get fed up with writing cross over tie-ins. Instead of going to Marvel, they decide to strike out on their own.
Each guy writes a comic that plays to their strengths. Johns does an old school superhero book, Rucka does a mystery/crime/police procedural kind of thing, and Morrison does some kind of gonzo adventure comic with a lot of meta and subtext. Giffen does... well, whatever he wants, as long as he's got a scripter. Don't want to go against the the theory now. Does that take the DM by storm? Well, probably not, but surely it would draw a good chunk of their audience, and probably produce some good comics.
Maybe I'm looking at this wrong. Maybe you'd need really popular creative teams to really draw people in. Millar and Hitch! Brubaker and Phillips! Loeb and Sale! Morrison and JH Williams! Let Alan Moore write whatever he wants and hope Dave Gibbons wants to draw it! Steal the Way/Ba and Whedon/whoever combos from Dark Horse to get emo kids and excessively passionate genre show fans!
So, that stuff's fun to ponder, to me at least. I'm sure we could all come up with our dream lists of creator owned line-ups we'd like to see.
I'm not saying I don't think more creator owned work wouldn't be great for comics. As much as I like Morrison's DC work, I look forward to him doing his own thing again. I don't always like his creator owned stuff, but he's always at least interesting to me, and he can really run wild with all those mad ideas he conjures with LSD and cardio or whatever. I'd like to see what Loeb and Sale could do with a blank canvas.
I've just never been a binary guy. I can't get wrapped up in the creator owned vs. work for hire debate, any more than I can superheroes vs. art comics or Marvel vs. DC. I just want entertaining/engaging comics (I'm not sure any(all) of the comics I like are good in a nuts and bolts/art with a capital A way), and I don't care whether they come from Marvel, DC, Top Shelf, Oni, Fantagraphics, or somebody's home printer. I'm just too apathetic to join Team Comics, or any offshoot of it. Activism of any kind makes my skin crawl. Or activity. It just stinks of effort, man. Of course, I'm tuning out Sarah Palin's speech in the other room, so I kind of can't care about anything to strongly other than my own entertainment. I totally stole that from the Nightly News.
Of course, the big argument against that sort of thinking is that there may not be a comics medium (people usually say industry, but I don't care about the dollars and cents of it all, even if that stuff is inexorably tied together). Really, though, I think comics will live on well past all of us, creator owned ones most of all. Everything from mini-comics to web comics to the fact that publishers from Image to Drawn and Quarterly always have new work to publish should prove that. People are always going to want to tell their own stories with words and pictures because, well, Harvey Pekar pretty much covered that one already. You should know. But it's here anyway. So, I'm not worried about comics future. They'll morph in to something beyond what we know them as to survive, once someone can finally figure out what that is.