0:00-3:46: We get right into it, no kidding! There’s maybe twenty seconds of baffled recognition from your hosts, and then it’s right into answering questions. BUT! Before we get into the final round of questions from our Patreon supporters, Jeff has a few questions for Graeme. First up: how does Graeme feel about the CW shows (including shows like Flash and Arrow) leaving Hulu? Discussed: Seth Meyers monologues; late night TV; and just an eensy bit more before moving into a more substantive topic…
3:46-17:49: Earlier in the week, Jude Terror over at The Outhousers wrote a condemnatory piece on the Direct Market that stirred up a lot of reactions and support online. What did Graeme think about it? What did Jeff think about it? And what *is* wrong with the Direct Market? Discussed: Nighthawk; Omega Men; the direct market and cableization of TV; and more. So much more, in fact, that Graeme jumps the queue on our listeners’ questions to pivot to one related to the topic at hand, and so…
17:49-51:56: Comic Cruncher asks: floppies vs GNs/TBPs vs digital – how do you see the market developing and what are the implications for the future? Discussed: the sales numbers for DC Rebirth; the very strange side-effects of double-shipping; some finger-pointing from Jeff about the plateau/depression of digital comics; Graeme believes a Comixology comic was yanked from his collection (has anyone else had this happen?); Marvel’s reaction to freak hits; Angry Birds vs. DC Super Hero Girls; and more.
51:56-55:29: Maxy Bee asks: how startled are you that Levitz’s Doctor Fate is the last remaining DCYou title, and still kicking at that? Discussed: the DCYou book that outlived Doctor Fate; Jeff decided to turn cancelled DCYou books into codenames; and more.
55:29-1:07:23: Jeffrey Brown brings down the interrogation: what are your thoughts about the Recent Suicide Squad movie compared to Ostrander’s run on the comics post crisis? And The Films Depiction of Harley Quinn, The Joker, Captain Boomerang & the movie’s plot + Enchantress? and lastly what are your thoughts DC Young Animal titles : Doom Patrol, Shade, Cave Carson? Discussed: all of the above, plus a bit more.
1:07:23-1:22:23: Two Qs from Paul R Jaissle: (1) I recently reread Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! and was struck by how innovate and influential it really was (there’s definitely a lot more Chaykin in Tom Scioli’s Transformers vs GI Joe than I noticed at first). Why don’t you think it’s more regularly recognized or cited along with DKR and Watchmen as a seminal ’80s comic? (2) Given the success of DCU properties on TV (including Vertigo stuff like iZombie and Preacher) as well as the current popularity of “weird” shows like Stranger Things, how would you two cast and pitch a Doom Patrol TV series? Discussed: the challenges to establishing Chaykin’s legacy; our dream DC TV shows; Avatar; and more.
1:22:23-1:37:35: And the ever-welcome Brendan O’Hare drops by to ask two questions: (1) There’s a lot to hate about Superhero comics. What do you enjoy about the new ones coming out?; and (2) For Graeme: What was your favorite interview? Discussed: DC Rebirth; Flash; Deathstroke; Unbeatable Squirrel Girl; Mother Panic; D.C. Fontana; Geoff Johns; Maggie Q; and more.
1:37:35-1:47:55: Long-term pal o’ the podcast Miguel Corti has quite the question for us: Why do comics creators, fans, critics, and journalists (on the internet at least) like Archie comics so much? I’m not talking about “Afterlife with Archie” or the new series by Mark Waid, but the traditional Archie comics featuring high school hijinks that have been the staple of the comics for decades. Archie comics always struck me as a four-color version of “Leave It to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best.” They were also the only comics that church people and teachers seemed to approve of, which made me all the more suspect of them. Since my life felt like growing up in an ’80s version of “Leave It to Beaver,” Archie comics were the last comics I ever wanted to read, and, subsequently, the only comics I never saved. (I never bought them; always given them.) I never enjoyed their cookie-cutter stories, or their never-changing art style. I’d like to think this 21st-century internet love for Archie comics is some ironic hipster thing, but it feels more sincere than that (or I’m bad at perceiving ironic interest). I don’t want to denigrate anyone’s interests, but what am I missing? Are those old-school (or pre-reboot, if you will) Archie comics good by whatever definition you have for the word? After the years of accolades I’ve heard for “Afterlife with Archie” I’m sorely tempted to check it out, especially since I like zombies, but then I remember how much I dislike Archie comics and that stays my hand. When I was a kid, I wasn’t a Jack Kirby fan, but now I can really appreciate him and I rank him as one of my all-time favorite comics artists. Unfortunately, I can’t re-assess Archies comics favorably. Maybe I’m the only one, or maybe no one wants to say anything against Archie comics in public. Discussed: Riverdale; David Lynch; Dan DeCarlo; Bob Bolling; Jaime Hernandez; Love & Rockets; and more.
1:47:55-: Good ol’ Ed Corcoran asks: The subscription based all-you-can-consume model seems to be where most other media types and media companies are going (Spotify, Netflix, etc.). Comixology (or at least their Amazon bosses) seemed convinced enough that it’s the future for comics so they created Comixology Unlimited. Marvel Unlimited seems to be doing well for Marvel, but what if they went all-in on subscription and put all comics on there the day they were released? They would probably still sell floppies and trades and might sell single digital issues, too. But what do you think would be the effect on what comics they publish, what comics they emphasize, etc. if Marvel Unlimited became the primary method by which Marvel distributed its comics? Discussed: the Marvel BOGO sales; the direction Marvel Unlimited is taking now; and more.
1:54:19-2:07:54: Query from Cass, or to put it another way: QUESTION. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot, as I often do, about Spider-Man. I tried reading some of the later Dan Slott stuff, post renumbering, but I can’t get on board because I can’t recognize that character as Spider-Man. But then, I started thinking, who is the character of Spider-Man really? When Cap 3: Civil War came out, everyone said “That’s it; they finally got Spider-Man right.” But Civil War’s Spider-Man was in awe of the other heroes, whereas Stan and Steve’s Spider-Man was mistrustful and even hostile toward other super-types (the first issue of his series sees Spidey calling the FF “pikers”). The Tom Holland Spider-Man reminds me more of Bendis’s goofy, generally good-natured Ultimate Peter Parker. So I guess my questions are: (1) When people talk about “classic” teenage Spider-Man, do you think most really have Ultimate Spider-Man in mind? (2) What would you say are the essential characteristics of Spider-Man (or any comic hero) – what needs to be there in order for it to be Spider-Man? Is it just powers? Does the character have to have significant guilt? Anything else? Discussed: the various Spider-Man actors; Spider-Man and Civil War; Spider-Man and college; cosmic Spider-Man; understatedness; Dan Slott, Hannah Blumenreich, and Matt Fraction; etc.
2:07:54-2:16:45: Stephen Lacey of the fabulous Fantasticast asks: This is a question I posed to my listeners a couple of years ago, and I’m interested in your take on it. When it comes to the FF, pretty much everyone can agree that Lee/Kirby, Byrne, Simonsson, Waid/Wieringo and Hickman are the consistent peaks in the title’s history. But what are your underrated runs/stories, the gems that get lost in the gaps between these runs? Discussed: Steve Englehart’s run on the Fantastic Four; the Waid and ‘Ringo run; the Tom DeFalco and Ryan run; the Chris Claremont and Salvador LaRocca run; the run of Dwayne McDuffie and many artists including Paul Pelletier; Steve Gerber; and more.
2:16:45-end: Closing comments! Next week will be a Q&A session so please feel free to tweet or email us your questions. Look for us on Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! Matt! Tumblr, and on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
Next week: Skip week! And then the week after that: Wait, What? Ep. 209! And that ep may be an all-review podcast? Catch up with us catching up two weeks from now!
And if you’d like that link directly to cut & paste: http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts/WaitWhat208.mp3
Challengers of the Unknown, the TV series: my memory of the Challs have them traveling to a different exotic locale every adventure. (Okay, half the time it’s a tropical island with a volcano.) How do you manage this on a TV budget? Is there something compelling in the characters that can survive them having every adventure in the same rock quarry?
I mostly agree about the “burn the direct market” thing, but I think it should be noted that criticizing Marvel’s marketing and reliance on events and the mainstream comics press’ acting more as advertisers for Marvel and DC than journalists is what The Outhouse (and Jude Terror particularly) is doing in every other article. I mean, that’s the one thing you can’t ask more of them. More nuance, more rigor in presenting information, sure! But more beating on CBR and Marvel’s marketing? I can’t see how’s that possible without them turning into an outright hate website.
Hey thanks for doing my Spider-Man question. I really dug both of your answers and find myself somewhere in the middle of the two.
Also, re: Comixology sales leveling off – As a person who recently made the changeover from Android tablet to iPad, I find myself buying a lot fewer books now. The out-of-app purchasing procedure is a major deterrent. They don’t even advertise their sales on the iPad app. It’s crazy.
I also wonder – and this is probably just a me thing – if the four dollar price point is warding off potential customers. For me, most of the time it comes down to the principle of the thing. Even though I want the comic, and I have the money, I just refuse on principle to spend $4+ on a digital comic, where I know the overhead is so much lower. I could vaguely justify it to myself when I was buying floppies – “well, Mark Waid says it costs almost a dollar to print these things, and then the retailer has to make a cut…” – but the same price for a glorified pdf? C’mon.
I feel the same way. No way in hell do I pay the same price for something when the distribution and printing costs have been stripped out (though I assume Amazon takes a cut). Frankly, I only buy stuff on Comixology in large tranches when it goes on 99 cent sales. That said, I’m almost entirely buying stuff for 99 cents that I wouldn’t buy at all otherwise, Like Southern Cross, Sex Criminals, Lazarus, The Fade Out, BPRD, Giant Days and others – I’ll happily spend 99c an issue, but not more, and I don’t really want the physical copies cluttering up my house. Also use those sales to buy otherwise overpriced (though I guess now in line with the market) IDW series like My Little Pony and Jem for my daughter.
One of the reasons I think Archies hold up fairly well is the disposable nature of the stories allowed many types of stories to be told. Each of the characters had their own sensibilities and they translated to the different books that featured them. As I got older I appreciated the art and craft that went into a 6 page story and the way the art participated in the story. One of the reasons I think the stories are given to you (or you are nudged towards them by adults) is that they are accessible for kids with a limited vocabulary, less sophistication, and they feature arch type characters in which you can identify. They did feature stories that reflected an idealized town or time period and they were generally safe. The thing I always liked about them is that the various titles each had their own sensibilities and humor to them and if you liked a particular character like Jughead you had a magazine where he was featured prominently. My Favorite was Life with Archie because they told stories (especially 60’s and 70’s) with more adventure and mystery, as well as being longer in nature. Some of them are a trip. If you have a desire to revisit Archie and the Gang, the Best of compilations they are putting out in giant size volumes are great for a sampling through the ages. You can see how versatile the characters were and could be fit into almost any type of story. Plus the art and story telling changes slightly through the eras and that is fun to note.
I’m pretty sure that if Graeme just searches his Comixology “My Books” tab, instead of searching the store, he’ll find his missing LOEG: CENTURY volume. For example, I have some IDW era DOCTOR WHO books, which don’t show up in a store search, but are in my library (same with Dark Horse STAR WARS comics in their app, as Jeff noted). I’m pretty sure the standard digital deal Comixology works on is that they can continue having the files on their server, and delivering them to prior purchasers, even after the publisher withdraws them from further purchases. If that’s not the case, well first of all it should be a bigger story. And second, I’m sure that if you pointed it out to Comixology they’d fix the problem or refund your money or give you an account credit or something.
I’m not sure why anyone gave that Outhouser piece any attention at all. I couldn’t even finish reading it. Seriously, what a crappy site.
Not sure why a SUICIDE SQUAD sequel seems so unlikely. It’s going to end up making more money than MAN OF STEEL (domestic, international, even adjusted for inflation), off a much lower budget and with a C-list title (with some B-list and A-list characters) as opposed to MoS having one of the two top DC A-list characters. DC’s reaction to MoS was to give the guy in charge the other top A-list character for the sequel, and two JUSTICE LEAGUE movies with all their top guns. I’m not sure how that doesn’t get you a sequel, unless the director or some of the stars aren’t interested (and I’d assume the actors at least are locked in to a sequel option).
By the way, regarding digital sales, did you notice this from David Walker:
“Fact is that more people read NIGHTHAWK than read SHAFT, and only about 100 people have read ARMY OF DR. MOREAU. That’s the business.”
For those who don’t know, that was a 6-part digital series from Monkeybrain, collected in print from IDW. 100 copies, presumably combined digital and print? That probably doesn’t even pay for professional lettering…
Good show and thanks for answering my Q’s. I always like Graeme’s interview stories and I thought that you both had interesting takes on superhero comics these days. I hadn’t noticed that the pacing is changing for the better lately, but it’s true!
On the Jude Terror rant, I think some people took it too seriously, and then other people took them too seriously. But the issue that I identify with is when a series fails and people say more pre-orders would have helped. If comics are living and dying on pre-orders, then they are dying. Pre-ordering, in my opinion, is simply asking too much of the consumer. The publisher is often trailing the pre-order cut off date with publicity and advertising, leaving the retailer knowing less than they need to know in order to promote the book, and the consumer with even less info. The success of this process also assumes that the consumer even knows what pre-ordering is. Most don’t, I’d say. I was doing it wrong for years and my LCS was just scrambling to back order or track down issues for me, god bless them. You might as well be Kickstarting a series when you pre-order, knowing precious little about the comic, its schedule, its longevity, the creators. Hope that your small contribution will take it far enough to succeed through a story arc.
What if 100% of readers pre-ordered? Then the retailer wouldn’t have to order a single extra copy. The publisher would know the fate of a series before the first issue came out, basically. What percentage of a readership needs to pre-order to make a series succeed? Or do they just need more readers in general. Surely if pre-ordering is the best practice, then pre-dropping is, too. I know one LCS owner who thought that pre-dropping was the way to go, ie. if you want to drop a subscription, you still have to buy the next couple months’ books because they were already ordered. Idk, it doesn’t add up, for me. You put all this responsibility on the reader who wants to enjoy a fun pastime and it makes buying trades in a bookstore or online a whole lot more appealing. I’m sure Brian Hibbs has a much more sensible analysis of this topic in Tilting at Windmills, but sensible analysis doesn’t grab people’s attention like a nice rant, or tweet, or rebuttal.
On Suicide Squad, I’d say it’s worth a watch. One of the most puzzling films in existence. David Ayer is one of my favorite filmmakers, but he was the wrong guy for the movie. He’s interested in all these themes that theoretically should compliment the Suicide Squad, but can’t be explored to their full extent, particularly bonding through violence, be it in gangs, prisons, armed forces, or race. The stars of Suicide Squad gave each other real life tattoos, which is exactly what the characters in his movie Sabotage did. The guy is weird and fetishizes gun violence, pain, and patriotism to mortifying levels in his movies. On top of this, Ayer also excels at practical effects and shooting with film. So DC taps him to make a PG-13 computer effects movie? Doesn’t make sense. Ayer wanted to use and abuse the characters to make an Ayer movie. DC wanted to use and abuse Ayer to make a DC movie. I doubt the magical good cut of the movie is out there; Ayer was compromising from day 1, and it just got worse from there. The “fun” tone of the movie must have been ex post facto. I can name 5 Ayer movies where you see people’s intestines, so he’s not the guy you tap for a naughty romp.
Last thing, unless I think of something else (this episode sparked a lot of thought for me). DC Super Hero Girls is just a line of dolls. All the ancillary media is just ads, esp. the shorts. DC is very committed to the idea of selling toys, not to getting young female readers of comics or viewers of TV and movies. I will say of any of the Super Hero Girls media, the comics have the best chance of being something more, because there is a chance no one is watching them. “It won’t be mistaken for GI Joe” made me laugh for a long, long time btw. That was good.
I love the new Mark Waid Archie for the same reasons I never got into Archie before– the characters are strongly defined and dynamic, there’s a larger teen drama storyline that advances each issue, there’s clever humor that gets past the family-friendly radar, and the artists have all done excellent work interpreted through their own styles. Most importantly, it treats the teenaged characters with the kind of respect you rarely get from adult writers trying to understand those damned kids and their hippity hops.
Haven’t read the Jughead comic, but the Adam Hughes Betty and Veronica comic is pretty much everything I had hoped the Archie reboot wouldn’t be, especially the trying-too-hard-to-be-cool vibe you get from later Simpsons episodes.
As much as I clown Graeme, his analysis that the Spider-Man creators think exists and the Spider-Man that HAS existed are two very different things is pretty spot on. I remember being shocked and confused when in his Brand New Day bible, Tom Brevoort asserted that “Peter Parker must never grow up.” Wait, his uncle died and his aunt was frail and always near death and he had to scrape by to make ends meet and keep her alive for years. for years. Isn’t that… isn’t that the definition of having to grow up too soon?
Also, “Peter Parker never growing up” means, apparently, two stories in a row where teenagers are eaten- one’s bones liked ON PANEL and Spider-Man being unable to save them. (the Lizard and Kraven stories). And both times, the villain gets away. Yeah, that’s real appealing to kids OR adults.
I remember talking with a Marvel higher up- not gonna say who, but this guy is VERY anti-Marriage, and I explained that I- and I suspect a lot of other fans- liked the Spider-Marriage because it gives Spider-Man a relief from his misery, some hope. The guy responded “I get that, but bottom line the moment things go well for him sales go down.”
this was in 2010, right before Dan Slott took over, where excepting Doc Ock, EVERYTHING has gone well for Peter Parker- well, except for the fact that he’s being written by a completely burnt out Dan Slott.
So… yeah. That.
“The guy responded “I get that, but bottom line the moment things go well for him sales go down.””
How true is his statement, though? Possibly some of the highest sales the title got were probably around the early 90’s. Even with the conflicts at that time he was still married to Mary Jane.
Didn’t the sales go down during the Clone Saga, when he wasn’t Spider-Man? And going by Comichron sales the title was doing probably 60,000-70,000 before the Spider-Man Chapter One. And the lowest sales during the Byrne era were during when things went bad for Spider-Man (some issues were around the 50,000’s or lower).
Regarding AMERICAN FLAGG, I agree that it would be remembered as one of the all-time highlights of 80s visionary quasi-mainstream comics if only it was a self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and end ala WATCHMEN, DARK KNIGHT, V FOR VENDETTA, RONIN. But Chaykin’s work also is marked by a lack of earnest emotion that could perhaps leave a lot of people cold. In addition, Chaykin possesses a glibness and a crudeness that I believe rubs folks the wrong way (not me). Maybe it makes it harder for “serious” critical appraisals of his oeuvre because his career is chock-full of casual “fuck yous” to fan expectations (BLACK KISS, TIME SQUARED, THE SHADOW). Chaykin is a genuinely interesting, one of a kind, singular voice in a mainstream scene that has not had many of those. Even if all of his male lead characters look exactly the same, meaning they look just like him. And he’s obsessed with garter belts and blowjobs (no shame in either of those). And Reuben Flagg’s pants are way too tight… That actually dates Flagg more than almost anything else for me, visually at least. The pants, man… Sheesh. But Raul the talking cat! With the cybernetic paws! That is COMICS. I love friggin’ Raul. Chaykin is the best.
Chaykin’s heroes DON’T look just like him. In his youth he looked like Robert Downey Jr. He uses the same heroic character as part of his brand, and said heroic character is modeled after three actors in their prime: James Garner, William Holden, and Henry Fonda.
For those looking for insight into the Chaykin hero, watch the movies STALAG 17, THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, and the tv series MAVERICK.
I always assumed Reuben Flagg was wearing what were essentially motorcycle leathers as part of his Plexus Rangers uniform. Never gave it a second thought.
One last thing: Chaykin stayed on AMERICAN FLAGG! for the first 26 issues both writer and artist, with issues #13 and 14 drawn by others. Most agree the book took a small drop in quality after issue #12. Those first twelve issues are fantastic though.