You can save the comic book industry!

The coronavirus has essentially made clear the American comic book industry stands now on a precipice as the main distributor of new comics, Diamond, has suspended deliveries til whenever this all gets safe again which at best, is going to be July. If we’re lucky! Diamond are laying off staff, while nobody knows what’s going to happen as this week is the last week any new comics will definitely be published and shipped to shops. Thing is many of those shops won’t be able to sell them as they don’t offer an online buying or delivery service, so you can pretty much say those shops will not survive this.

I’ve seen several major crashes in the comics industry. By far the worst was in the 1990’s where shops crashed like ninepins as the speculator boom faded away, then the crash in the late 2000s ended up being a blip. This however is worse.

So what can you as a fan do? Some shops like Gosh and Page 45 need to be singled out because the world is a worse place without them, and because they provide a wide selection of comics outwith the spandex stuff but in this time, if you can, support your local shop. There might not be new comics to buy but this might be the time to see if they can dig out back issues for you, or pick up a trade or two. Anything to keep money flowing otherwise that shop you rely on for your weekly fix is gone and it ain’t coming back because the post-coronavirus world is going to look different to what it was only a week or two ago.

Good luck to all shops out there. It will be hard, some of you will go but as long as the community sticks together then that number will be smaller than it could be as long as people support them by buying what they can, when they can. I’m going to help by throwing out some recommendations in another blog of stuff to buy, but please use your local shop where you can.

The Comics Journal review of Doomsday Clock

The aftershocks of Doomsday Clock grind on with the 3 Jokers (oh fuck off Geoff Johns) and the critical fallout for something that creatively had the value of a roll of toilet paper. Just when you think it’s all going away, along comes The Comics Journal and R.C. Harvey’s review of the series.

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It’s a good review in that it doesn’t tear the book apart. Seeing Harvey despair of the writing as the series drones on is worth a read but it’s a curiously positive review, and I present it here purely to provide some shade to my own opinion of it as a steaming heap of shite.

Comics in the 1980’s

I’ve been scouring the internet for video or film footage for a while now, and every now and them, in amongst the ‘geek’ videos telling you how great <insert shite Marvel/DC comic here> while desperately hoping for that big TV deal you’ll get a gem. This is one of those gems.

This is a compilation of stock footage from the 1980’s, though some may well be 1970’s with the Neal Adams footage, and it’s a joyful flood of nostalgia as these days of comics are gone now to be replaced by a more corporate version. Enjoy this look into the past…

A tour of the London comic mart

I’ve spoken about the sad decline of the London comic marts over the years to the point where all that’s left is the Royal National show held in one of London’s moderately awful hotels. Marts are traditionally one-day events where it’s all about comics, and mainly cheapish, affordable comics as well as your hot collectors’ books. The show had fallen on hard times, and things were generally in decline with the show being a shadow of the days when for the first hour as a dealer you’d literally be taking money hand over fist before things calmed down for the rest of the day.

A recent video, however, shows signs of life. I’ve not been now in five years and if this video is representative of where things are then things are better with more comics dealers and a returned focus on the medium rather than modern ‘Comic’ conventions which have next to fuck all to do with comics. This though is encouraging, and hopefully we’re seeing a revival of comic marts in not just London but across the UK.

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World

Jack Kirby was a genius, and his run of Fantastic Four is still one of the greatest runs of any sort of comics.

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After Kirby left Marvel for DC, the prospect of Kirby creating a world from scratch was thought to be the sales coup of the century, but for a variety of reasons, his ‘Fourth World’ failed to set sales figures alight at the time. As an aside, if any superhero comic had those sales figures today they’d be the best selling titles of any publisher.

Those four titles, Jimmy Olsen, Mister Miracle, The Forever People and The New Gods, dropped enough concepts and characters to supply a creator or a publisher, a lifetime, but this was just a few years of Kirby’s life which is astonishing. There’s a lot out there describing what happened but this video is the clearest, most concise explanation of the story of Kirby’s Fourth World…

How many pages of comics did Jack Kirby draw?

Today most mainstream comics artists struggle with a monthly schedule, but back in the day, people like Jack Kirby would draw pages a day, especially in the early days of Marvel. So lets have a wee look at who did draw pages in huge numbers…

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Kirby drew nearly 18,000 pages of comic art but he’s topped by John Buscema who was also one of those artists who’d just work and work, but they’re all topped by Curt Swan who again, drew and seemed to draw Superman for a century. Swan was again, solid and reliable and looking through that list is looking at a list of artists who (mostly) hit their deadlines, put out in many cases splendid work, and could draw comics, not pin-up pages.

As Todd McFarlane has said, some artists today are too busy drawing pin-ups while failing to put the work in to build up a body of work that will stand the test of time and fashion. Even someone as painfully dull as Don Heck carved his place in comics history and will be remembered in 100 years while <insert hot artist this week> will maybe hit a footnote.

A lesson then for upcoming artists is to put the work in. Because if you don’t in 30 years time you’ll still be hacking out pin-ups while the other person who did do the graft is doing half the work for twice the money.

The surprising wisdom of Todd McFarlane

If there’s one artist which defined the superstar artist of the early 90’s and of Image Comics especially it is Todd McFarlane. Creator of Spawn, which is now the longest-running independent comic in the USA, McFarlane has been in the industry for nearly 40 and frankly, doesn’t need to be working on a monthly comic anymore but he is because he clearly loves comics.

McFarlane is also deeply controversial, and amazingly to him, still relevant and he’s got a point. There are no superstar artists of his scale in the American comics business right now, which makes his comments on the industry vitally important if you’re a young artist wanting to be the next McFarlane.

I hesitate to call this video on Cartoonist Kayfabe an interview as at times it crosses into being a lecture which is much more interesting. So sit down with a pen and paper, take notes and enjoy…