The comic industry’s billion dollar inferiority complex

It's time for Comic-Con, the annual gathering of 130,000 fans, artists, collectors and culture geeks that defines the wild ambitions - and pessimist mindset - of the billion dollar comic industry.

The comics industry is massive. Not only are spinoff films routinely blockbusters. Even the selling of comic books amounts to billions. Yet, according to Wired’s John McLauchlin, there is never a shortage of breathtaking pessimism about the industry’s demise:

No matter how many metrics and how much anecdotal evidence shows that things are looking up, there’s a persistent undercurrent in comics fandom that seems to want things to go down. Every new storyline is lambasted. (“It’s just a gimmick!”) Every new publishing initiative is criticized. (“You’re disrespecting the real fans!”) Every single store closing is met with a strange schadenfreude. (“See? I told you it was all going to hell!”) And it’s been this way for years.

McLauchlin has it down to an inferiority complex, long lodged in the spine of comics fandom. He quotes Joe Quesada, creative director at Marvel:

The fact that fans may occasionally say, ‘This is the death of Marvel! This is the death of DC! Not another crossover! This is the worst thing ever!’ I’ve been hearing that as long as I’ve been in comics. […] It’s part of fandom, and believe it or not, I think it’s part of the fun of fandom. It’s a fandom built on conflict.

The Atlantic: Ditko’s brand of humanity

A lot of these pessimist narratives on the comics industry stem from perceptions of Comic-Con International, which starts this week in San Diego. This year, several stalwarts are staying away. Another legend missing this year is Steve Ditko, the legendary Marvel comic-book illustrator and writer who died in June at the age of 90. His profound influence on the field – and by extension its the massive on-screen success – was, according to The Atlantic David Sims, to “infuse characters like Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with a revolutionary sort of humanity.”:

Spider-Man was a hero a world apart from his wealthy, costumed counterparts Superman and Batman at rival DC Comics. He was a regular teenager, treated like an outlaw by the public, struggling to pay rent and keep his head above water, bullied at school and plagued by bad luck. Even catching and unmasking a bad guy like Electro would feel anticlimactic at times—which was a core tension for Ditko’s Spider-Man that helped him stand out and become one of Marvel’s top-selling heroes shortly after his 1962 launch.

A head tip to Redef, which reminds us this week of a legendary 2007 BBC4 documentary hosted by self proclaimed comic book fan Jonathan Ross (“It’s probably the most personal program I’ve ever been involved in”). He charts the career of Steve Ditko and seeks out the reclusive artist to possibly be granted an exclusive interview…

New York Times/AP: 1st Comic-Con of the MeToo Era 

This is also the first Comic-Con of the MeToo era. Comic-con, as in large convention at which people dress up as scantily clad heroes and heroines. AP writes writes that sexual harassment at fan conventions is a subject that is often raised, and that  but the scrutiny will be even more intense this year with the heightened awareness about misconduct:

But as with most big confabs and entertainment festivals, events don’t stop when the convention center closes, and many attendees will continue their nights at parties and offsite installations, beyond the reach of convention hall security and staff, during the four-day event. And Comic-Con has the unique distinction that many attendees dress in costume, some of which can be revealing.

 

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Wired

Does the comics culture have an inferiority complex?

Comic book publishing—yes, just the business of selling printed comics—is a billion-dollar industry. And yet, many people who care about comics seem to live in perpetual fear of the industry's demise.

The Atlantic

Steve Ditko’s Ordinary People

The legendary comic-book illustrator and writer, who died in June at the age of 90, infused characters like Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with a revolutionary sort of humanity.

The New Yprk Times

1st Comic-Con of the MeToo Era Grapples With Harassment

questions remain about its atmosphere and whether convention organizers will take any extra steps to address longstanding allegations of harassment issues during the event which kicks off Wednesday night in San Diego.