Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #115

Tue, August 17th, 1999 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

GONE FISHING

This week's column won't be as timely as usual. I won't be getting back from San Diego until the 17th. And as such, I'm throwing together this column with some rather odd material.

What you see below are the starts to two columns I began writing about a month ago and then abandoned. They were decent ideas, but neither fleshed out into a full-fledged column. But I saved them anyway. So here they are. Hope they entertain!

I'll be back Friday with the first part of my San Diego con report. I expect it'll run two parts.

EVIL EVIL EVIL

It's all my fault.

I invented the direct market. I ripped the comics from the newsstands.

I killed Superman, cloned Spider-Man, turned Tony Stark into a teenager, and broke Batman's back. I killed Green Lantern, Barry Allen, Wally West. Bucky? Aunt May? Mine. Mine. All mine.

I replaced Superman with four different Supermen. I replaced Spider-Man with four different Spider-Men. I replaced Batman with two different Batmen.

I rebooted Spider-Man and the Legion and the entire friggin' DC Universe -- twice!

I gave Superman's old costume to someone else. I gave Spider-Man's old costumes to four different people. I gave Flash's costume to someone else. But even worse than that recycling: I gave the New Warriors all new costumes!

I give you the art of Mark Badger and Marat Mychaels. The writing of Tom De Falco and Ron Marz. The editorial brilliance of Kevin Dooley and Bob Harras. The lettering of Janice Chiang.

I cancelled LOBO, YOUNG HEROES IN LOVE, CHASE, MAJOR BUMMER, SLINGERS, NOVA, and VEXT, not to mention the entire Ultraverse and lines of Disney Duck comics. I've cancelled DEADPOOL three or four times now, but it never seems to stick. I destroyed the original Valiant Universe. I just recently changed my mind on that, too. I can't help it. I'm fickle.

But yet I create new universes like M2 and new comics lines like Helix and M Tech.

I've spun off so many series from JLA, New Warriors, and X-Men that it's made you sick of those entire lines.

I set Dale Keown's schedule. (I'm lazy.) And Astro City's. (I'm sick.) And Rob Liefeld's. (Back to being fickle again.)

I write the scripts to all those superhero movies that get made -- and several for movies that haven't. Be grateful for the latter.

I sold Malibu and Harvey to Marvel. I sold Wildstorm to DC.

I bankrupted Marvel. Then restructured it editorially. Then bought up the comics distribution market. Then restructured the company editorially again.

I brought wrestling to comics. And Pokemon.

I am evil.

10 YEARS LATER...

I just passed by my Tenth Anniversary of reading comics and what have I learned?

Use sunscreen.

OK, I'm tempted to parody that here, but I'll go with something else.

What I've Learned In Ten Short Years of Reading Comics

What inkers do. It took a while, but I figured it out. They're the people who trace the penciller's work and, in the process, make it look like crap.

Bags and boards aren't a sign of the collector's mentality, but are a pretty nice way to keep what you buy in good shape.

Nobody's artwork is universally bad. Except maybe Mark Badger's.

Nobody's writing is universally bad. Not even Tom DeFalco's.

DC will never maintain a clear and consistent universe for any time period longer than 5 years.

Marvel cannot survive behaving like Microsoft. It will only drive them further into bankruptcy.

Never believe a creator when he says that his/her new assignment is his/her "dream assignment." They'll leave the book within the year 9 times out of 10.

Comic book prices are not merely driven by inflation, but also by cost of paper, the technology involved in computerized coloring processes, and the size of the initial orders.

That said, I don't think the rise in the cost of a comic is worth it for computerized coloring. I'll never understand why Marvel bought out Malibu for their coloring computers. Malibu's coloring may have been high tech, but it looked like crap 9 times out of 10.

Using long boxes over short boxes won't decrease the amount of space your comics take up in your room. Heck, comics will expand to fit the space allotted to them. They're a lot like hard drives that way.

New Universes come and go from a myriad of publishers. Only about 1 in 4 will last past their initial hoopla.

The only thing that remains constant is the number of blood-dripping vampiric erotica solicitations in each issue of PREVIEWS.

Save every last comic book you buy. You never know when one might be a treasure five years down the line. You'd be amazed how some of today's top artists started in some of yesterday's lowest selling books. (I can show you Greg Capullo's early work in a Marvel WHAT IF? Or Joe Quesada on WHAT THE -- ?!? or Brandon Peterson on STAR TREK or Scott Lobdell in countless Captain Ultra stories in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS.)

Sad to say, but 4 out of 5 comic book fans fit every negative stereotype you might have of a comics fan. And about one in ten far exceeds it. (When I get back from San Diego I'll give you an update on this one. I think that's a pretty darn good size population to generalize from. =)

Each new issue of PREVIEWS will leave you both breathless in anticipation and shocked at the stupidity of some publishers. You just hope in any given month that the former outweighs the latter.

PIPELINE LEARNING CURVE

I've written Pipeline for 3 years now. I haven't missed a week in more than 2 years.

And what has this experience taught me?

It's much easier to write a weekly column than you'd think. It's also much harder.

Just when you think you've seen it all, they'll come up with something new.

Just when you think you've got nothing to write about, someone will open their big mouth or some piece of news will break. You just have to know where to look.

When in doubt, start writing. Keep writing. Something will come up.

When all else fails, just review a comic. Then see the previous item. You'd be amazed how many review tangents have turned into columns of their own.

There are more comics creators out there reading what you're writing than you would have guessed. If they aren't, a friend will alert them when you do.

Never be afraid to take a position you know nobody's going to agree with. You'd be amazed how many people do agree with you. (I'm surprised by how many people have written to me to thank me on the occasions I've defended Rob Liefeld.)

You may get more reactions from other topics, but nothing makes people more passionate or more loquacious than the direct market.

Keep at it. Even when it seems like nobody's reading, keep writing. Keep letting people know you're out there and not about to give up. It'll pay off in the end. (Thanks, Jonah!)

After that, of course, you'll have to work harder because there will be expectations. (Thanks, Jonah.)

HTML -- even the most simplistic page of links -- is a pain in the ass. At the first opportunity, let someone else do it. (Thanks, Jonah!)

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