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Many comic book publishers hold you in disdain.
Secretly (because, really, how would it look if this got out?),many of the folks who toil daily to bring you your comic books reallycould not care less about what you think. And by "you" I don't mean the"audience," because entertainers need an audience to entertain. Almostby definition. If you're producing something for public consumption,chances are you wouldn't mind hearing some applause now and then.
No, by "you," I mean "Internet users."
Let's say you spend some time on any of the numerous message boards ordiscussion groups or email lists devoted to comics. I mean, if you'vefound your way through the wilds of the web to be reading this littlemissive into the ether, the chances are pretty high that you check thosethings out, yes?
One of the things I like best about these things is that, sitting inyour office, drinking some coffee, you can join a cocktail party whereyou can hear everyone at exactly the same volume. The Internet. Man,it's cool.
Whole businesses have arisen around this method of interpersonalcommunication. Whole companies have completely changed their way ofdoing business, based on the immediate feedback of their core customers.
But the comic book industry? The publishers with the greatest marketshare?
They think that if you have the time and inclination to devote so muchenergy into that radical deconstruction of The Hulk's id, then, QED,you're a froot loop who obviously should be ignored, because, really,don't you have better things to do? I mean, of course Thor isstronger than Superman, right? He's a god.
If you've been reading these a while, you may remember me mentioningthat late in 1991, I found myself on the set of Star Trek: The NextGeneration as writer of a special MTV was filming on the release ofStar Trek VI. The guy shooting on the set for the special was RobLegato, who, at the time, I think, was the main special effectscoordinator and second unit guy. Anyway, my pal Rick and I were on theset during the shoot, and were trying really very hard to beprofessional, because, you know, WE WERE ON THE BRIDGE OF THEENTERPRISE. But in between set-ups, I chatted with Guy Vardaman, who wasBrent Spiner's stand in and lighting double. The cool thing was that Guywas just a big ol' Star Trek geek, too, and very much enjoyedthat his day job involved walking around with pointed sideburns, and heloved talking to guys like us who paid so close attention to their work.
At one point, I may have gotten a little geeky, though, because at lunchGuy brought Rob Legato over with a stack of mail. Rob read one suchearnest missive off the top of the pile, undoubtedly from a seriousyoung man in the Midwest, taking Paramount to task over some continuityglitch from a few episodes before. At the end of this overlong screed,Rob looked up and waved his arm around in a grand but exasperatedgesture and said, "It's just a TV show."
And I think that's what's going on at the big companies. Before theadvent of widespread Internet use, they had complete control over thepublic perception of their product. Any audience feedback an outsideobserver would see was mostly relegated to fanzines with a limitedcirculation, the odd thing like >Amazing Heroes or AlterEgo, or commentary in the letters pages of the comics themselves.Mostly, that'd be an easy thing for companies to stay on top of.
Now, any malcontent can post up any damn thing they want on a website,and have the same accessibility to a potential audience as, say, anannouncement of new work on Neil Gaiman's blogger, and, further, to theuninitiated, have the same apparent weight and import.
You can see where the only sane response to so much untendedopinion-spew is to just consider it all crap and get on with thejob.
Now, that's not to say that people aren't listening. It's just that tothose trying to pay attention, sometimes it's a little difficult to findthe prize in the big box of Cracker Jacks that is the Internet.
Hopefully, you've found more toys than un-popped kernels in the pastyear's worth of these columns. I sure do appreciate yourattention.
See you around.
Email about this column should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, most answers to simple questions you may have about me or mycompany can be gleaned from http://www.ait-planetlar.com.
While you can get your news about the funny books all over the Internet,I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information atthe Loose
Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else. Although maybe not asmuch as I used to.