Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Virgin Comics, only half a Virgin?
Every few years, a multi-millionaire will enter into the comic business with great fanfare, ready to show us fanboys how it's really done. Cross Gen, the late, unlamented Tekno (which I seem to be the only one who liked), are only two of the examples. They have a common characteristic of having big names involved -- who usually lend not much more than their name.
Virgin Comics was sponsored by Richard Branson.
Never took flight.
Not enough people gave it a spin.
I don't necessarily believe that there is wholesale rejection of new companies -- more that comics are a hard sell, no matter who you are, and if Marvel and DC weren't already Marvel and DC they'd have a difficult time.
Which makes Dark Horse Comics achievement all the more remarkable.
I'd say Image, too, except that they've come down so far from the height, that just surviving isn't really a success.
Interestingly to me, these comics often tend to find their footing a couple of years in, actually publishing comics that people want to read. I'm not sure if this is just because they have produced so many comics that they finally hit on a success by accident, or because they finally figure out the market. (See above Dan Dare comic....)
Of course, the Holy Grail of all these companies is to create licensed characters that can be made into movies, toys, T.V. etc.
I'm beginning to believe, in fact, that comics are nothing more than the Research and Development arm of Hollywood. Huge creativity expended at a relatively lower cost.
The comic pundits -- yes, we have pundits -- are ready to blame the insular comic market for these failures.
For instance, Dirk Deppey of Journalistica has this to say:
"The Direct Market caters primarily to a closed network of 25-35 year old men who’ve been reading Marvel and DC Comics for over a decade, and have next to no interest in buying anything that doesn’t cater to their narrow set of interests. You can occassionally snag a moderate number of readers by producing work that grabs them by the fanboy short-hairs — vampires, zombies and licensed versions of characters or creative works that they fondly remember from childhood are usually required — but anything else is slow death where money is concerned."
He apparently doesn't see the irony of an earlier statement in the same article:
"Setting the question of content aside — I haven’t read enough Virgin Comics to speak to that — "
Who screwed Virgin Comics? We all did.