I saw this [link]
's page and it really hit home for me. Eric Powell is an amazingly talented writer/artist [ The Goon ] and he put together a very funny video that encourages creators and fans to support independent comics. Please watch it and spread the word!
I have an idea. It may bother some creators that have decided Marvel and DC don't give back enough or should take more responsibility for the industry, etc, etc... But here's my ham-fisted thoughts:
I think Marvel/DC do a GREAT job of doing what they do BEST.
[ Both Marvel and DC offer creator owned options for top tier talent. That said, they're in the business of making money - so their percentages probably don't match the smaller companies regarding incentives. Marvel and DC Comics is not a government run operation designed to "support the arts". They have and always will be businesses designed to elicit profits. For every chance a publisher takes on something like Watchmen or Hellboy - there are hundreds and thousands of failures. They make money with superhero comic books on proven commodities like X-Men, Spiderman, Batman and Superman because of licensing and movies and other media besides just publishing comic books. That is their business model and companies like Warner Bros and Disney would not be interested in them if they didn't do so. ]
You can't ask a lion to be a wolf or a lamb or an alligator. Marvel and DC print primarily superhero comic books. And yes, they're owned by very large corporations. It simply is what it is. There's a place for those companies. We LOVE those companies and their characters. There's nothing wrong with that. But asking them to cater to Creators doesn't make financial sense to me. It's like asking NBC or HBO to offer some Public Access shows in their weekly line up... That's not gonna happen. That's why there's Public Access and Cable.
Image Comics prints independent creator comics. If you create a comic book for Image Comics you own 100% of the rights to that book and licensing, etc. But I think Image Comics needs to expand their printed comic books into broader marketplaces [ Who doesn't, BTW... I'm sure they are keenly aware of this ].
IMO, Image should consider also offering a limited partnership with creators and share some of the creative ownership $$$.
"Why" you might ask? Why should they take a cut of someone's ownership?
For one thing, not everyone that is creating their own comic book is a Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane or [ insert comic book creator with a built in fan base ]. Image comics offers all their creators the same privileges. That privilege includes ONE page in Previews. Image pays for that or has a deal with Diamond [ Diamond is the biggest means of distribution in the comic book marketplace ] which is great - but that's it. That's the ALL the advertising you get. It's certainly better than nothing but it's not really enough to really push your creator owned property in front of comic book shop owners and it certainly isn't enough to get NEW readers interested in your book that hasn't come out yet...
But that's what happens when you own 100% of something. You get 100% of it's funding/advertising responsibilities. If your book hits - AWESOME. If it doesn't.... Well, you're out a month or more of work that you could of had if you simply worked that month for Marvel or DC. [ And let's face it, not too many writers/artists can really create a brand new character/storyline and put it all together in one book in one month. Creating a new book takes a while. Once it's "up and running" it's possible to do so monthly for some. ]
Ideally, you have money saved and you can advertise and build hype for your 100% creator owned book. EVERYONE has plenty of money saved for that, right? I'm joking, of course.
Which is why I think it might behoove both Image and Creators to offer a limited partnership. Image could take a percentage of book and licensing profits from Creators and in return offer a broader, richer marketing strategy. In fact, they could vary their percentage rates depending on how much support they give by way of advertising. Plan A could be 15% which would equal "X" amount of marketing and Plan B could be 30% and would offer more than Plan A, etc. You may even have a situation where Image may own a Controlling Share of profits but really push that book like no other! I'm sure some newer creators could really benefit from exposure like that.
With that type of exposure they could always opt for Plan A, B or C for their next project or maybe they could simply rely on Image's existing Previews Ad Only Plan that has been in play since they emerged in the 90's. [ Obviously their original plan works well enough or they wouldn't be around today! ]
Something to think about.
I'd rather not waste time trying to make a lion into an alligator or a lamb. I think it would be smarter for a company designed to give Creators a viable launching pad for new books even more of a boost. It wouldn't take much of a policy change and it would open more doors for both individual creators and Image Comics. More potential money for both Creators and for Image. I think that makes good sense.
UPDATE: I've heard from plenty of sources that thanks to Eric Stephenson and Robert Kirkman there are plans similar to what I discussed above already in the works. Also, as you can tell by my ramblings - my journal here has almost nothing to do with Eric Powell's cool video anymore. It just sort of sparked some thoughts. Probably things that you or others have bounced around plenty. Here's some thoughts on Diamond below. They get a bad rap and I'm sure there are plenty of horror stories from both publishers and comic shop owners. But there are some factors to consider.
They're taking a big chance on a truly independent publisher. Under the best circumstances, an average Indy won't survive long or make ANYONE any money. The Creator, the publisher, the comic shop owner or Diamond.
What is a distributor? The simple answer is they distribute comic books from a publisher to a commercial business. Do they dictate how much you can sell? No. It's up to the publisher to create demand for their product. That's not the job of the distributor. The reason Batman sells comic books is because DC Comics promotes Batman. Not because Diamond promotes Batman.
Should Diamond agree to carry an Indy Comic that doesn't sell over 2000 copies? Maybe not. Maybe that person or super small Indy company needs to build hype/advertise, create demand for their product so that a company like Diamond feels safe distributing their product.
If Diamond does agree to carry a product it doesn't guarantee people will buy it. They are gambling on Indies. Until that Indy can guarantee more sales they probably need to take a big chunk to insure they don't go broke delivering everyone's Indy...
It's not Diamond's fault. It's the marketing approach. And Diamond is a distributor - not a marketer. They deliver products to businesses. That's it.
There's more than one way to skin a cat. And there's more than one way to get a book noticed and build hype/sales. Sales equal leverage.
All I'm saying is that you can't realistically expect Diamond to advertise for you. They're not in that business. They're middle men.
Beverage distributors don't pay for Coke ads. Coke does. If Coke stopped advertising and Pepsi continued to, beverage distributors would eventually be distributing more Pepsi than Coke. It's pretty simple.
If you have a product - you need to advertise/hype it. Besides a rich uncle, who's going to take a chance on an unknown quantity? Why should Diamond take a chance on you? Just because? Because you "could" be the next big thing that saves comics? "Just because" is probably a good way to go bankrupt.
One of the determining factors on what Diamond will "buy" is also based on perception on their behalf.
If your "product" is getting a lot of attention [ advertising, hype, whatever ] that will influence their participation.
Diamond is in the business of moving as much product as they can. If it's Marvels, if it's Image and even if it's some new company. They can't make money otherwise. They're not trying to keep anyone down.
If Marvel lays down a ton of money on advertising a new book - Diamond is going to order a lot of copies because they'll anticipate big sales.
Advertising works in every consumer market. It works the same way in the comic book marketplace.
But Diamond is not going to do the hype for you. That's your job. Or Marvels or Dark Horses.
If you can create demand or perceived demand - they will order respectively to a point.
Now, here's an idea for Disney/Marvel or Warner/DC:
Leak some pictures of Miley Cyrus reading a Spiderman comic book. Any Marvel comic book. Have all of their stars reading comic books in public.
They control/influence media trends. They're why you know who Miley is.
Pepsi pays money for movie/television product placement. Disney should have their manufactured celebrities reading comic books when "caught" by paparazzi.
Every young girl or boy will want to read comic books.
Leo DiCaprio actually digs comic books. Interview him about them on some talk shows regarding this. Build. Do you think it's a coincidence DiCaprio or Christian Bale is on Letterman or Conan a week before Inception or The Fighter is due to hit the theaters? It's all studio hype. It's time those studios hype the comic book companies they own. Once America sees their stars buying comic books they're gonna buy comic books. Arnold bought a Hummer. Everyone bought a Hummer or wanted one after that. We're lemmings. We know this. We're very easily lead. Lead us. Tell us what to like.
Heavily market college campuses. That's our real audience. Not every kid in college is at the Frat Party. Most aren't. They're on their own and need entertainment/distractions. Think Facebook, the Social Network movie.
This isn't rocket science. Disney should have already been on all of this. So should Warner Bros.