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mygif

Dude, Hervé St-Louis’ views on things tend to tilt towards the “The Siegels and Shusters and Kirbys are all greedy bastards who hate the fans!” type of crowd.

I wouldn’t take any of his positions seriously.

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mygif

How often does he refer to himself as “this writer?” It seems like once per sentence.

Good defense, even if St-Louis is arguing a point that I don’t think a lot of people even believe.

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mygif

I’m not sure where it fits into the argument above, but in this writer’s (this commenter? this replyer? how about ‘this dude’) opinion The Maxx was one of best comics to come out of the early 90’s. It was remarkable, in my opinion, not only because of the strong vision of the work, but it’s the only time I’ve ever read a comic and felt like part of a community. I don’t think there’s any way it could have been published from either of the big two in that time frame, and I don’t think I would have been a reader of it if it hadn’t come from Image at that time.

Maybe the fact that I read the comic and felt a strong connection to the creator and the rest of the audience is evidence of this ‘cult’ but I don’t think it is. Maybe the fact that The Maxx had a unique marketing footing, such as a animated adaptation on MTV is evidence that marketing sucess and artistry aren’t necessary at cross purposes or maybe that a creater owned property is just as likely to be as ruthlessly milked cash cow as any coporate-owned IP (Spawn is clearly an example of that).

I just don’t like it that when people mention Image they only mention shallow whipping boys like Spawn and Pitt.

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mygif

I think even if St-Louis gets a bit rant-like in his speech, at least it’s easy to follow his train of thought, which I can appreciate. And then completely not support.

As a kind-of-aside, could you italicize the part that are St-Louis talking? Apart from the quotation marks, which I didn’t always notice the presence/absence of, there’s no clear distinction between when you’re talking and when he’s talking.

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mygif
Matthew Johnson said on October 7th, 2009 at 1:19 pm

This is an example of a fairly common logical fallacy (I forget which one exactly; I’ve seen it called “bootstrapping” but there’s a more formal name for it). St-Louis presents as his nominal thesis a basically inarguable point (“Creator-owned comics are not necessarily better than corporate-owned comics”) and sneakily presents his actual thesis (“creator-ownership is not better for comics and creators than corporate ownership”) as a premise leading to that conclusion. He also presents a false dichotomy between self-publishing and work-for-hire, as though nobody who publishes through a larger press retains ownership of their work.

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mygif

Jake: Done.

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mygif

I don’t understand what the dispute is, at the end of it all.

Comparing DC / Marvel to Image you really only have to ask two questions:

1) What is the rate of sales? If sales are going up (at least, relative to the industry) you can conclude that writers are creating appreciated works and new readers are getting converted into loyal patrons. All that talk about “creative freedom” operates under the assumption that more freedom means better comics. And better comics should lead to higher sales. Therefore, a steadily increasing readership should indicate a superior product triumphing in the marketplace. If Image comics pick up a smaller audience than DC / Marvel, and never expand after that, it seems that self-ownership results in a niche market without much overarching appeal.

2) What is the rate of compensation? The goal of self-ownership being (at least partially) profit motivated, if DC / Marvel writers get salary and benefits equal to or better than Image counterparts, then it seems self-ownership is self-defeating, financially.

If one business model captures both points, I think we can conclude that model superior. You have artists producing superior products at better rates of compensation. If the models split the points, you get to trade off between fame and fortune with one model offering a better soap box to deliver your media while the other offers a better pay scale to a smaller audience.

Hervé St-Louis doesn’t seem interested in either of these metrics, though. He’s obsessed with high school level culture/counter-culture bullshit about “What people think” rather than addressing anything substantive. He labels independent creators a “cult” in attempt to denigrate the practice, and he waxes poetic feelings and attitudes and preconceptions.

All this type space, and he doesn’t say a damn thing concerning how well the Image business model worked. Aside from a few dates, I don’t see anything quantitative about his analysis. It’s a piece written strictly from the gut, and carries all the hard facts and heavy statistics of a romance novel.

I mean, maybe St. Louis is right and Image is an under performing enterprise, but looking at this little piece of prose, even he wouldn’t know it.

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mygif

Dammit! We have to endure yet another history of Image!?

Man…..you could travel back in time and force Valentino, Liefield, Lee etc. to sign binding contracts with the big two, at gun-point and the entire INTERNETZ would collapse from the sudden vacuum in discussion.

Garn.

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mygif

I dunno. Swing by John Byrne’s forum and you see a pretty cultish clique.

And it’s hard to swallow that there isn’t a lot of people willing to praise the shit out of anything that doesn’t have Marvel or DC somewhere or other on the cover. Maybe not people willing to actually buy that shit and not get it off a torrent, but there’s so much shit out there that gets a free pass because it’s not big two.

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mygif

The writer keeps confusing financial success (the primary subject of his post) with artistic achievement. You don’t have to love Spawn or his creator to acknowledge that if any anyone got rich of Spawn’s early run, it should be Todd McFarlane and not some vast corporate entity. To state the painfully obvious, McFarlane is better off for having kept the character to himself rather than taking it to Marvel. Straw man is right.

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mygif

On the other hand, he does make the interesting (and valid) point that the Image creators claimed that they were acting to support the rights of creators, who were being oppressed by the Big Two and not allowed to share in the fruits of their labors due to restrictive work-for-hire agreements…

And then went out and hired a bunch of young artists, signed them to work-for-hire agreements, and proceeded to exploit them in exactly the same way that the Big Two exploited their young talent. :) (Although arguably less expertly; Todd McFarlane’s brouhaha with Neil Gaiman showed that Tood still needs to work on his exploiting skills before his next court appearance.)

I could see that as a legitimate argument, if you wanted to try to rewrite the column into something coherent; the vast majority of small publishers in the industry don’t play nice because they’re legitimately principled, but because they lack the clout to do what Marvel and DC do.

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mygif

I don’t know that Robert Kirkman on Invincible is automatically better than Kirkman writing X-Men. I do know that he can do whatever he wants on Invincible and he can make more money in the long run. Even if X-Men sells 100,000 copies and Invincible sells 25,000 copies, in the long run he’s getting the reprint rights, the merchanding rights, and the movie or animation rights if that ever comes up.

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mygif

The most important advantage of self-publishing, IMO, is that it eliminates the worst kind of comics: the kind where the creator simply doesn’t care about the end product at all. DC especially is guilty of releasing comics that exist only because of a market niche that they imagine needs filling – comics like Outsiders that nobody likes or wants to read or write – and sticking those comics to some starving artist who couldn’t care less about them but needs to make the rent somehow. The result may be technically competent if the artist is, but it is bland and soulless.

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mygif

Hello guys.

1-Using “this writer” and so on is a convention in academic writing and professional journalistic circles to avoid using “I,” “me” and so on. If you’re gonna criticize someone, don’t criticize him for using standards you’re not familiar with.

2-Nowhere did I write or say that creators should not have rights of their own. There is an assumption that because I don’t encourage the excesses of the cult of the comic book creator, that I must be anti creator. That’s a big leap to make and a misrepresentation of what I wrote. Please stick to what is actually on the page itself and not second guesses on what is not.

3-I did not oppose self publishing to company-owned publishing. Again, people are making assumptions on what I did not write. And about the third solution, creators owning their materials published at publishers, it’s mentioned that it’s part two. Saying I did not cover that when I wrote clearly at the end of the article that it would come is not paying attention and again jumping to conclusions without a parachute.

4-I find many of Foley’s argument childish. For example, the scorn he reflects about the Image Comics’ crowd. It reminds me of the same patronizing attitude Heidi MacDonald had when she referred to Todd McFarlane as “Toddy.” My article was not about the artistic merits of the Image Comics’ founders’ work. I treated them with respect and avoided falling into the typical trap of just attacking them on the creative output, like is frequently done. What I criticized was their business and marketing techniques.

5-About being a “company man” versus supportive of “indy” creators.

First, I’ve written it a long time ago and you guys can find it in the Other Comics’ section of the site, I don’t like the dichotomy mainstream versus independent/alternative. I seriously believe that a comic book should not be defined as the anti thesis of another. Which of course, leads to the logical argument that I am neither a “zombie” like DC/Marvel fanboy as many have tried to pinned me as or someone that hates “independents.”

If I hated independents and self publishers, I would not have spent years arguing that they need to improve their business skills. I would not have bothered writing a series of articles on business plans for publishers that can help any one starting out publish their comic books. If I was so against self publishers and just a DC/Marvel guy, the Bin would not have the best English-speaking European comic book section available. It would not even bother with manga and yaoi (which I don’t read). Nope, we would just focus on Marvel and DC and never sink them and be very critical of them in reviews and articles. I’m the same guy that criticized Zuda Comics for their dubious creator’s rights proposals as well as gave Marvel’s Secret Invasion #5 a 0/10 and called it racist.

The point is, I care about all comic books but I am critical of all of them equally. Just because I like Nexus, I don’t give Steve Rude a pass when he deserves a fail. These are the ideals we have at the Bin. We are independent. I am independent and free thinking.

It’s annoying to be pinned as a company man when we are definitely not that. I’m the guy who asked about the abuse of Don Decarlo to Archie Comics’ publisher in an interview. But I’m the same guy that will criticize extremes by comic book creators when I see them and I did.

6-Self publishing is a business venture. The moment the creator publishes multiple copies of his originals to make them available to more than one person, he enters the business realm, whether he only wants to sell 5 copies instead of 1000. And the moment he steps into that space, he has responsibilities as a business man. That, if you guys want to pin anything on me is what you should. I don’t give a pass to any comic book creator that thinks he’s just enjoying himself when he tries to sell his stuff.

A few specific points

8-I wrote about the business success of the Image model in the past. I didn’t have to repeat that article. What do is link to it within the article, if possible.

9-There is a cult of the comic book creator. Many don’t like the term, but there is such an attitude which in my opinion hurts the comic book industry. Owning one’s property or self publishing, is but one aspect of that and it is in that context that I wrote the first part of that article. You’ll notice that in the comic book creator copyrights article, I addressed the cult of the comic book creator, but did not address self publishing.

Best regards

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mygif

I read both articles and all the comments. God, how aggravating. Brave of you to attempt a discourse, Andrew.

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