Loose Cannon: Issue #52

Fri, January 18th, 2002 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Larry Young, Columnist

3… 2… 1…

[Larry Young]
Larry Young
Many comic book publishers hold you in disdain.

It's true.

Secretly (because, really, how would it look if this got out?),

many of the folks who toil daily to bring you your comic books really

could not care less about what you think. And by "you" I don't mean the

"audience," because entertainers need an audience to entertain. Almost

by definition. If you're producing something for public consumption,

chances are you wouldn't mind hearing some applause now and then.

No, by "you," I mean "Internet users."

Let's say you spend some time on any of the numerous message boards or

discussion groups or email lists devoted to comics. I mean, if you've

found your way through the wilds of the web to be reading this little

missive into the ether, the chances are pretty high that you check those

things out, yes?

One of the things I like best about these things is that, sitting in

your office, drinking some coffee, you can join a cocktail party where

you can hear everyone at exactly the same volume. The Internet. Man,

it's cool.

Whole businesses have arisen around this method of interpersonal

communication. Whole companies have completely changed their way of

doing business, based on the immediate feedback of their core customers.

But the comic book industry? The publishers with the greatest market

share?

They think that if you have the time and inclination to devote so much

energy into that radical deconstruction of The Hulk's id, then, QED,

you're a froot loop who obviously should be ignored, because, really,

don't you have better things to do? I mean, of course Thor is

stronger than Superman, right? He's a god.

Anyway.

If you've been reading these a while, you may remember me mentioning

that late in 1991, I found myself on the set of Star Trek: The Next

Generation as writer of a special MTV was filming on the release of

Star Trek VI. The guy shooting on the set for the special was Rob

Legato, who, at the time, I think, was the main special effects

coordinator and second unit guy. Anyway, my pal Rick and I were on the

set during the shoot, and were trying really very hard to be

professional, because, you know, WE WERE ON THE BRIDGE OF THE

ENTERPRISE. But in between set-ups, I chatted with Guy Vardaman, who was

Brent Spiner's stand in and lighting double. The cool thing was that Guy

was just a big ol' Star Trek geek, too, and very much enjoyed

that his day job involved walking around with pointed sideburns, and he

loved talking to guys like us who paid so close attention to their work.

At one point, I may have gotten a little geeky, though, because at lunch

Guy brought Rob Legato over with a stack of mail. Rob read one such

earnest missive off the top of the pile, undoubtedly from a serious

young man in the Midwest, taking Paramount to task over some continuity

glitch from a few episodes before. At the end of this overlong screed,

Rob looked up and waved his arm around in a grand but exasperated

gesture and said, "It's just a TV show."

And I think that's what's going on at the big companies. Before the

advent of widespread Internet use, they had complete control over the

public perception of their product. Any audience feedback an outside

observer would see was mostly relegated to fanzines with a limited

circulation, the odd thing like Amazing Heroes or Alter

Ego, or commentary in the letters pages of the comics themselves.

Mostly, that'd be an easy thing for companies to stay on top of.

But now.

Now, any malcontent can post up any damn thing they want on a website,

and have the same accessibility to a potential audience as, say, an

announcement of new work on Neil Gaiman's blogger, and, further, to the

uninitiated, have the same apparent weight and import.

You can see where the only sane response to so much untended

opinion-spew is to just consider it all crap and get on with the

job.

Now, that's not to say that people aren't listening. It's just that to

those trying to pay attention, sometimes it's a little difficult to find

the prize in the big box of Cracker Jacks that is the Internet.

Hopefully, you've found more toys than un-popped kernels in the past

year's worth of these columns. I sure do appreciate your

attention.

See you around.

src="http://images.comicbookresources.com/dot_blue.gif" width=440

height=2 ALIGN="TOP">

Email about this column should be sent to

href="mailto:larry@comicbookresources.com">larry@comicbookresources.com.

Of course, most answers to simple questions you may have about me or my

company can be gleaned from

target="_blank">http://www.ait-planetlar.com.

While you can get your news about the funny books all over the Internet,

I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information at

the

href="http://www.comicbookresources.com/boards/board.cgi?board=46">Loose

Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else. Although maybe not as

much as I used to.

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