• I fully understand that Marvel and DC are corporate entities with properties to protect, and that their success creates space for the rest of us to operate. The DM, comics conventions, shelf space at B&N, movies etc are all largely there because of the big two. But the notion that comics is about caretaking past creations is an astonishingly clumsy statement from a smart guy like Didio.
  • Clumsy? I'd say it's pretty damned accurate of what the Big Two comics business has become. He's just confirming it so the fanboys will calm down and quit worrying that anything might change.
  • More specifically, it's intended to justify Before Watchmen, by putting it in the same context as every other piece of intellectual property they've spent the last several decades exploiting.
  • edited June 2012
    Fair enough. But if anyone wants to complain about this issue, first they should stop buying anything being published that isn't being drawn or written by the original creators.
  • edited June 2012
    I think that's oversimplifying it.  Building on the work of previous creators isn't simply evil or simply good.  It depends on the context. I'm perfectly OK with anything from Macbeth (original creator way dead) to Jenny Everywhere (creator way doesn't care) being messed around with, but works separated from their living creators by trickery or economic pressure are a different matter.

    More to the point, the objection I have to Didio's comment is that it denigrates and deprecates new ideas.  It isn't just that DC and Marvel exploit the creations of Siegel, Schuster, Kane, Finger, Simon, Kirby, Lee, Ditko, Etc, but that Didio thinks that doing so is (or should be) the strength of their business, to the exclusion of fostering new creations by new creators.  It's a manifestation of what copyright has mutated into: instead of being a mechanism to promote the creation of new things, thru a short-term grant of exclusivity, it's become a perpetual license to keep profiting from existing works, effectively discouraging the further development of new works that add to our culture.
  • Well, I place that blame at the feet of the capitalist system which treats corporations as individuals(!), but, while I do think there are certain situations under which it's fine to manipulate the creation without the consent of the creator, in comics those are few and far between. The number of titles that don't carry the stigma of the creator being screwed out of something by the publisher are rare in mainstream comics publishing.

    My broader point was this. Nothing against Josh, and I'm glad he wrote his letter, but mainstream comics publishing can't exist without exploiting those IP the way they do. Longtime readers (the repeat customer) don't want change. They can't even handle when Superman gets a new collar. This is Marvel and DCs bread and butter. It's not particularly nice, but it's how they afford to pay the page rates they do. If you want freedom as a creator, if you want ownership of your characters, if you want a movie cheque - go talk to Image. If you create a character for Marvel or DC, you don't get those things, you get a pay cheque. Which is why there aren't a lot of new characters being created - it's not really editorial mandate, it's on the creators (who wants to give away a potential multi-million dollar idea?) as well. So Didio may be stating that this is how he likes to do business, or even how he thinks the business should be run, but ultimately, it doesn't matter, because the bottom line is, it's how the superhero comics biz IS, and it will never change. So, if you don't like the Watchmen prequels for some moral or ethical reason, then I think you'd be hard pressed to find a mainstream superhero comic that DOESN'T come with similar baggage.
  • I don't buy corporate-owned comics anymore. the only DC comic i buy regularly is Scalped and that is coming to an end. Haven't bought a new Marvel comic in years.
  • Much of the ethical/ moral issues around copyright and work for hire stem from the legal fiction of ownership of intellectual property. I'm not knocking it, I think it has a place. For myself, I don't tend to buy much, because little of it interests me, but I do pick up a few things from time to time to keep my antennae up and com bat tedium.

    But leaving ethics aside for the moment and referencing the amorality of art; that is, any aware artist knows just how much she borrows, filters, steals, homages and is inspired by the work of others. Art is one long conversation with your predecessors. And even "The Great Fount" Jack Kirby drew Jimmy Olson and his pal Superman for a minute, although he handled it very uniquely.

    So for me, (and ignoring the morality of how these came to be corporate properties) doing work for hire is as legitimate artistically as creating your own projects. I'd get a kick out of drawing or writing some of my old favorites, but recognize that as a creator, my path is necessarily another one. I'm just disappointed by Didio's apparent belief that playing with other people's toys is the best we can aspire to.
  • "doing work for hire is as legitimate artistically as creating your own projects"

    I know for me, for sure, I work every bit as hard on them as I do my own stuff. Actually, I technically work harder, given the nature of things, but what I mean is that I put the same amount of care and craft into everything I do. So that standpoint, it's all the same to me.

    The big benefit of doing creator owned stuff is that you can do anything you want, whereas with creator owned you have to serve the property, and that means you are limited in what you can do. I don't necessarily regard that as a negative, myself - I actually enjoy finding solutions to what editors want in a way that keeps the spirit of the property intact.

    Everyone is different, though. I'm not sure if I care about artistic merit, because I'm not sure what it means. I would consider the things I care about - telling an interesting story and having characters that are interesting - to be about craft, and that applies to whatever I do.
  • I am isolating artistic issues for purposes of discussion. In life, ethical issues may loom as large.
  • edited June 2012
    I'm just disappointed by Didio's apparent belief that playing with other people's toys is the best we can aspire to.
    I believe he is merely referring to mainstream superhero publishing, where this is largely the case. He can't be ignorant of image, dark horse, or archaia, etc. can he?
  • edited June 2012
    I don't think it's even true of mainstream superhero publishing.  It may be what Marvel and DC have chosen to specialize in as the business model, but it isn't the core strength of what mainstream superheroes can do.
  • I believe Didio's comment merely establishes what everyone already secretly knew. The big two are planning on sticking with what they've sold and specialising in that. It sounds like they are going to leave "experimenting" to the other publishers who are willing to "take a chance" on new IP. It's the sign of any large company who is preparing for a downswing. They pull in and focus only on what has been making them money and not taking any financial risks until the market changes. What will likely end up happening is a further segregation of the big two from the rest of the comics market.
    Notice when I spoke there wasn't a single mention of anything artistic? That's because this isn't an artistic decision or discussion. It's about doing something that they feel makes financial sense. I'm not saying I agree with it. I think that there are enough outlets for creators, writers and artists to get their work out there that it's really just a matter of choosing what they want to do. But arguing artistic merit of a financial decision is like trying to argue the artistic merit of the stock market.
    Having said all of that, I think it's sad that this means that the big two have resigned themselves to beating dead horses, further challenging artists and writers to resuscitate them. It will likely mean that unless you have an established superhero story to tell, you are probably better off going elsewhere.
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