Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Next 100

Opening note: URB magazine defines the phrase,
'The Next 100' as the new innovators to come... Those
whose vision and new perspectives can define and inspire
the next generation... Which suits what I'm about to say perfectly.

For those of you who're just tuning in to Planet Griffin, you may ( or may not) know by now about the recent decision made by the Mega-Distribution house, Diamond Distribution. Double checking the info, it is indeed official: Diamond is raising the minimum sales cap from $1500 to $2500.
( Big time correction: The actual amount is $6200!!! 2/2/09)
Now, if you're Marvel, DC, or Image, you wouldn't care necessarily... If you're an independent publisher, this means that if your title(s) don't reach the minimum sales cap, your title(s) are in danger of being pulled from the Diamond sales list, as well as the very good possibility of not even being picked up by retailers.
Y'know... You become an 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind commodity'.

The viable 'others' (Dark Horse, IDW, Devil's Due) will still be around... Of course, the bulk of their sales product rests in their ability to maintain their licensed property titles... Licenses that they still have to pay on whether or not the sales quarter is met. ( Remember Goodfellas? F*ck you, pay me...!)

But then again, the life of an indie creator overall has been a hard one. Look at Paul Pope, for example... Here was a guy who shopped samples to all the majors--- got rejected by them all--- decided to self-publish his 'samples' (among which, his debut 'drawn novel', The Ballad of Dr. Richardson, and his magnum opus, THB) --- the results of which culminated with his detractors becoming his 'biggest fans'. ( By the way, Paul just recently sold the film rights of his next work, 'Battling Boy', before the damn thing has even been released! Way to go, Paul!!)

But I digress.

For those of us who are considered 'The Next 100" to bum rush the industry with new ideas and fresh perspectives, we first have to deal with the new rigidly defined quotas branded by the Diamond family. I am well aware of the economic crunch currently affecting America, but I also know that even in these times, when it comes to business, the corporate heads are well aware that hard economic times can wield 'greater strategic advantages' in order for their respective businesses to thrive beyond the cash-strapped times. By raising the cap, most indie publishers are crushed, or X-ed out, under the weight of the corporate machines. I won't even talk about the underground--- because they'll vanish as though they never existed...

... As a dying subset, we ARE the DC CRISIS event!

Of course, this is NOT the end of us. To rework Obama's stirring statement: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking this business!

Understand this, folks: the industry is dominated (and even polluted) by the cape-and cowl crowd; and their numbers are truly LEGION. Many people believe that the 'Comic upswing via Hollywood' is the saving grace of the comic industry by drawing more and more awareness of the books they option and develop. But that's what the corporate heads WANT you to think. Hollywood could care less--- the gross points are their bottom line. ( I should know, I've been there...) Think about it--- if the indie subset is COMPLETELY overrun by the major players, then our only options become real easy: Conform to drawing comics the MARVEL way, or find another profession. To those of you who are creating the next STRAY BULLETS, STRANGERS IN PARADISE, BONE, or even the next AKIRA--- and damn it, I KNOW you exist--- you hold the keys to a brand new kingdom--- a kingdom the major developers don't want you to realize.

It feels good to hear those who have viewed my works with admiration ( hell, one response I received called FIERCE CREATURES '... the evolution of a new American manga...' I'll take it!!), we all do... If we don't start getting our hustles together and start getting our new works into the public' hands by any means necessary, all the admiration in the world won't mean squat!

Shameful that American comics are the only entertainment medium that suffers this. France, Spain, Japan, Korea, and the U.K. suffer none of this. For them, hard times be damned! We want our comics swag!!! The level of input these guys put out is not only HUGELY inspiring---

--- it's incredibly EMBARRASSING.

Don't get me wrong: America is home to the Kryptonian and the Bat and the Spider and Mutants galore... But it's also home to a growing legion of undergrounders whose works can easily rank alongside these great icons--- the new revolution begins...

Are you among the Next 100?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Magicians... Conmen... Who can tell?

" A successful illusion, no matter how outlandish, will work simply because
of the audience and how much it wants to believe in what it is seeing. In
other words: Who's the April fool? "
- Orson Welles

Here's one for you: I was watching F For Fake, a 1974 Orson Welles film that challenges the notion of what is, and isn't, fraud. Orson muses, " If a hoax isn't a hoax, isn't there a measure of art involved?" Incredible example: Elmyr De Hory, a master art forger who recreated works of the old masters and sold them to major museums, escaping prosecution and jail time simply because the curators of these institutions were too embarrassed to press charges! Clifford Irving, an investigative writer ( who, at the time, was writing a biography on Howard Hughes based on interviews with the man himself ) , was profiling De Hory during the filming of a TV documentary when it was discovered that Irving's bio project was actually an elaborate fake--- it incensed the Billionaire recluse himself to come out of hiding to denounce it to the media!

Welles point in all this was simple--- if De Hory and Irving had fooled so many people, weren't they doing something right? If De Hory could forge a near-flawless Picasso, wouldn't he be as good as the master painter himself? If Irving's Hughes bio was a work of fiction, couldn't it be a work of literature?

"Every true artist must, in his own way, be a magician, a charltan," Welles says.

My thought? if you applied that last line to the field today, then either many of us are not in on the trick, or we're caught up in the con. When I cut away to a commercial, my thought was immediately confirmed: The air of artificiallity nowadays can choke the life right out you... Y'know, the art of convincing you to buy what you don't need in 30 seconds or less...

... Come to think of it, looking at half of the garbage that's out here now, aren't we all buying into the fakers..?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Good Morning , Housekeeping...

Haven't you ever had one of those mornings where you feel all groggy and hungover like you tied one on in some hotel? It's been feeling like that lately as I try to play beat the clock with these pages... ( Remember boys and girls: Henny is plenty, with only Remy as a backup. Drink responsibly...)

I've also added a player to this thing, my 'Nil-Harmonic Sound Revolver'; to kinda occupy your senses a little as you try and figure out what the hell I'm talking about from one entry to the next. Listen to the sound ninja and I'll get back to ya soon.