Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If A Superstar Tree Falls Exclusively Does Anybody Hear It?

Well, another Nerd Prom has come and gone. In previous years, I sat around all weekend staring blankly at the computer, waiting for the announcements, ready to be blown away. Nine times out of ten, I wouldn't be disappointed.

There it was some guy from some "reasonable hit" TV series would be announced as coming on to write something for someone and we would clap our little Cheese Doodle-stained hands in glee and wait... and wait... and wait...

Still waiting...No, I don't think Damon (Lost) Lindeloff's Ultimate Wolverine/Ultimate Hulk mini-series will ever be done. Give up, it's oddly freeing.

We got the announcements of writer and artists exclusives. And we jumped up and down and screamed over how awesome it is that "they" "stole" "so-and-so" from "whoever." And we waited... and waited...

Yeah, we got, like six Superman covers from Art Adams during Chuck Austen's Action Comics run. The Kubert Bros. were lured away from Marvel and the possibilities were mind-boggling, they could show up anywhere and they eventually were announced as showing up where it looked like they could soar: Andy on Batman with Grant Morrison and Adam with Geoff Johns on Action. What we got was delay after delay after delay, fill-in art after fill-in art and eventually DC threw up their hands and ultimately decided to make them their default big project cover artists.

"We" got Terry Dodson from Marvel fresh from working on Marvel Knights: Spider-Man following working with notorious deadline blower/writer Kevin Smith. DC, of course, was going to give this superstar artist a comic he could sink his teeth into, along with a superstar writer who could keep him enthused and help him hit deadlines, right?

No. He was teamed with the overcommited writer of Grey's Anatomy and his run on Wonder Woman sort of limped along. He got another writer Jodi Picoult who knew little about comics writing and was given the task of thrusting Wonder Woman into an ill-conceived crossover event. Gail Simone eventually took over as writer but by then, the damage was done and The Dodsons were gone. Three writers in two years. Back to Marvel.


You can't build readership that way, another consequence of the hype neither the company or the talent seems quite able to live up to.

Sean McKeever, fresh from building buzz with Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, was assigned what seemed like a no-brainer, Teen Titans and the results have been... *meh*

He takes on Birds of Prey and realized after five issues it wasn't for him. So after his "run," we get back the writer who was "filling-in" in for him. Umm... OK?

Thanks for playing, though.

This weekend was Nerd Prom and I fired up the internets, checked my e-mail, went to work, went on a date and went about my business.

Why? Because there was this revelation. Exclusives give the company a chance to crow in the short term and the talent a chance to, I guess, work on characters they've been wanting to work on for a while and I guess, get health insurance, which I applaud. In the long term, It does nothing for the characters. In twenty years, no one will think back and remember an awesome cover run.

Why should we get excited about the prospect of possibility when the reality of the thing has ultimately been disappointing?

What it comes down to is this: as Mike so eloquently put it yesterday, "The Big Two, DC in particular, got so burned by trying to bring in creative talent from other media, that they’re sticking with what they know. It’s the creative equivalent of exhausting your starting rotation because you don’t trust your bullpen."

This year's Nerd Prom found us with... not much. A few re-ups, a few additions to the bullpen and you know what...

I welcome it.

Exclusives do nothing but make me weary. Of talent. They usually aren't given the proper venue in which to work. As much as the idea of a Dodsons' Wonder Woman is exciting, the reality of it is that, let's be honest, it's only short-term. The company uses them for their name and the ability to put certain asses in seats, meaning guys who like the way he draws the pretty girls. The appropriate writer seemingly was an afterthought. We should celebrate talent, never become wary of talent.

Exclusives don't excite me anymore. Exclusives seem to me, to be the comics equivalent of speed dating. Names gets out there. There's some face time. Everyone moves on in too short a time and ultimately, everyone's time was wasted but somehow someone figured out a way to make money. Really, how the hell could anyone possibly build any sort of exclusivity in so sort a time?

That said, the lack of exclusive announcements may have been the best news I heard coming out of San Diego and it sounded pretty danged sweet.


SallyP said...

Well said. And much ado about nothing.

KENT! said...

The two things that I was excited about hearing from Nerd Prom was a) the reintroduction of Milestone heroes into the comicdom (integrating them into the DCU... mmkay) and b) the remastering of Archie heroes into the DCU (I highly doubt they'll be using the Impact comics lineup, but if they use a facsimile of the Strazewski/Parobeck Fly I'll be very happy).

Both of these are very low-level revelations which any comics reader post 1997 wont really care about but to me, I get giddy. Hardware, Icon, Static, the Fly, Black Hood, the Fox, Shield,Jaguar.. weeee