So, upon reading Image Publisher Eric Stephenson’s speech to ComicsPRO members, we found we had a lot of things to say. Which is why we are dedicated an unprecedented two pages to the speech that has made a lot of waves in the comics industry.
I was completely torn about this speech. There are points in it that I whole-heartedly agree with as a fan and as a retailer (his notes on Variant covers for example). But it seemed like for every good point that Stephenson makes, there are whole sections that don’t make sense and seem to betray, frankly, a lack of understanding of what it’s like for the average comic store out there.
I agree that The Walking Dead and Saga are incredible books and deserve every bit of the success they have had. I know that whenever I personally turn someone on to those books, they usually stuck with it right up until the current issue/volume and become subscribers from there. The day that Batman sells 50,000-65,000 copies and Saga or Walking Dead top 100,000 I will cheer like no other. But is it because I think less of Batman? Good Lord, no. And it’s not up to Eric Stephenson to shame me for it as a reader or retailer.
Which is what bothers me the most about what was said. Stephenson made me feel like he was in the same breath praising the comics readers while also making them seem too dumb to explore options beyond DC and Marvel.
To keep my business open, I will sell the tables if I have to. Be it Donald Duck, Superman or Crossed, I want to give the customer what they want and that’s it. I could care less if it’s GI Joe, Justice League, Transformers, Avengers, Adventure Time or Walking Dead. It has nothing to do with society “training” people to think of comics as just superheroes. The fact of the matter is most of the comics in stores for the last 80 years feature superheroes in some fashion or another (including a title called Invincible and one of Image’s longest-running titles, a book by the name of Spawn). Will that change in the coming years as the industry gets bigger and reader tastes change? Of course it will and we will be there to work within whatever change comes down the pipe. But I’m not going to do it by shaming or judging my customers based on what they like to read and nor will I be shamed in the same manner.
Like I said, it brought up a lot to say.
To tell our two-part tale, we enlisted the talented Jim McMunn:
My name is Jim McMunn and I am a self-taught, semi-professional illustrator. I started out with Leadslinger studios and have been spreading my artistic seed wherever I can by doing books, pinups, covers, ads/promos, and whatever else comes my way. My most recent work is a mini series called the Devil’s Trail put out by Creator’s Edge press and contributed artwork to Jeff McComsey’s FUBAR zombie anthology.
Enjoy Part 1, my friends. See you back here Tuesday for Part 2!