Thursday, September 29, 2005

Comic Book Industry Grows A Pair

The following was written by Erik Larsen.

Finally a man with cojones.

Bits from "An open letter to comic book creators everywhere:"

Read the entire thing here, is well worth it!

"Is that all you've got?


Because if it is-- that's pretty fucking sad."

"What have you done, which is really yours? What characters will you leave behind? What can you point to as being something near and dear to your heart? What work are you most proud of?"


"I understand the desire to clutch on to the security of a guaranteed page rate. And I understand the attraction of working on characters that you grew up with. But at what point are you going to grow up? When are you going to stop sucking on the corporate tit? When are you going to (gasp) take a risk?

Do you think the guy working for MdDonalds really has a better chance for success than the guy opening up his own restaurant? Sure, McDonalds employee #12876 is getting paid a regular paycheck. Sure, the guy going out on his own is taking a real risk-- thousands of restaurants go belly up every year and there's no guarantee of success-- but shouldn't there be more to life than slapping together somebody else's hamburgers? Are you really going to feel as though you've lived a full life having spent it churning out more Big Macs?

Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.

What's the matter?


Or do you really have nothing to say?

Are you ready to confess that those "old hacks" that you look down on really had more going on than you do? Are you willing to confess that you're devoid of ideas? Are you going to fall back on the tried-and-true "all the good characters have been created" or "I'd just end up ripping off some existing character-- and who needs another Batman knock off?"



"You'll be writing or drawing or inking or coloring somebody else's creation. Maybe you'll get another assignment. Maybe you'll sign an exclusive contract and play a part in the "Big Two's" corporate pissing contest.

Good for you.

But I think you're missing out. I really do.

You'll never know what it's like to wake up in the morning and be able to put whatever you want to on a page. To do whatever you feel like and not have anybody around tell you otherwise.

But you stay shackled to that chain and pick that cotton and tell us all how "nice" your master is and how much you "like it" there. Tell us all how good you feel about the relative size of your house to the one your boss has and how fulfilling your life is doing somebody else's dirty work for them.

You get to draw Superman.

You get to draw Spider-Man.

You get to put a bullet through Blue Beetle-- a character you didn't create or help create-- but you got the opportunity to destroy.

How nice.

How peachy.

That's just swell.

No, seriously."


"Because you haven't created jack shit, that's why.

And don't give me that line about being given "creative freedom" at the "big two" because it's a crock. When somebody else owns the character you're working on it's not yours. Ultimately, any decision or direction the creative team wants to go is, ultimately, dictated to them by those that do own that character. You can't have Mary Jane Watson-Parker get pregnant, fired or divorced without getting somebody else's permission first. You can't have Spider-Man go anyplace, do anything, say anything, feel anything, meet anybody or do anything else without some kind of approval. Spider-Man will never be your character and as hard as you fight to make his stories be as close to what you want them to be, he'll never be your character. You can never fully guide his destiny. You will always be held back to some extent. And the next guy to do the book can erase, ignore or undo anything you've done.

What if…?

What if all Jack Kirby ever did was draw other people's stuff? What if he drew that issue of "Captain Marvel Adventures" and then moved on to doing some Superman comics and some Batman comics and some issues of Green Lantern and Jughead and Richie Rich?

Marvel Comics wouldn't exist today.

What if others did the same?

There wouldn't be any comics."

These are excerpts from Erik Larsen's Column: One Fan's Opinion Posted on © copyright 2005 Erik Larsen, CBR All rights reserved.
Posted here for scholarly review.


John Beatty said...

Fuckin'A that hit home with me a few years I haven't went on to create a new comic book...but I have developed skills so that I didn't have to rely on "inking" other's pencils anymore...and I'm a happier person for it.

Mike Manley's blog today addresses some of the same issues that Erik points out...

Good food for thot!

Process Junkie said...

True, not every "creator owned" book or concept can put food on the table, but I think his point, as well as the point I always make here on this blog is: you got to work on your ideas too, develop your own stuff, write original stories for your own sake, take a chance, it may not work but so what? leave something truly yours behind, besides the smell.

Make a living working for the man but do your shit on your own time, print your own books, be your own man, keep a sketchbook, even if you work for someone else for the rest of your life to be able to survive, at least you can say "This is fucking mine, I created something, I own this!" what's the fucking use of being an artist otherwise?

The problem is, artists don't realize they are different than regular human beings, they keep aligning themselves with the masess, with the followers, with the trend slaves and the star gazers. Do you have an idea of how much money I'd be making if i just drew Catwoman and Batgirl for the Babymen of this world? I always get the same response to my books: "This would sell more if you did this or that" so I pay the prize gladly to do something which very few people care about, but it's something I can call mine, for some unknown reason that is cause for a tremendous amount of joy for me, what's the fucking point of life anyway? to work like an ass, feed your head and die? does doing my own thing make me any better than the next person? no, but it feels good and I sleep great at night knowing that I just didn't lived and died, like a street dog, I fulfilled at least part of the purpose I beklieve I was created for. life was good to us artists, we're not regular people, we shouldn't squander this gift, this privilege of being artists. Sorry about the rant, I promised not to go on long tirades, my bad.


antonio said...

Nice comment A.!
I agree totally The idea is to sell your art without the feeling you are selling out just drawing what you believe in....
Un abrazo.


emceeONE said...

fuckin a'

rubio2d said...

You're soo right!
We will free out of the corporate.

Se puede decir más alto, pero no más claro
Erik rules!
Un abrazo.