A post from my ancient Marvel blog concerning the fact that it’s the creators, not the editors and back-staff, that readers care about.
May 18, 2009 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General
Read a piece over the weekend in which, in speaking about a particular project that had recently been completed to some acclaim, an editorial personality complimented the sales, marketing and production teams, as well as himself and his fellow editors, on the success of the series. One group, however, was missing from his litany of back-patting:
Now, maybe it simply goes without saying that the creators are those most responsible for the quality of any given project on which they work. Still, to list off everybody else in the pipeline without even mentioning them struck me as a very odd way to run a railroad.
There was a time at Marvel, way back when I first started here, when the common wisdom at the company was that the editors were the ones who made the comics, and the creators were just the tools they used to get the job done. I didn’t buy into that line of thinking then, and I don’t now either. It assumes that all creators are created equal, more or less, and that simply isn’t the case. I can instantly tell the difference between a story penciled by a world-class talent and one drawn by only a nation-class talent, and so can you.
Myself and my fellow editors work damn hard, but without the creators, without those talented people who write and illustrate and embellish and paint and letter these stories month in and month out, we have nothing. And Marvel has remained on top for so long by both attracting the best, most talented people we can, and then giving them the freedom and the respect to follow their muses and create the stories they want to create.
And absolutely, the sales, marketing and production personnel make miracles happen, and aren’t often lauded for it publicly, so there’s nothing wrong with tipping your hat in their direction. But not at the expense of the people who gave them something to sell and market and produce in the first place.
The creators are the stars. Everybody else is just the Key Grip and the Gaffer to one extent or another.
5 thoughts on “Blah Blah Blog – The Stars”
Glad you feel this way. It’s the truth. What drew you to comics? The characters & the images. Maybe the script kept you. Everything else supports the content, created by the artists, writers, etc. Every part of the process needs the corresponding teams responsible for their specialty, but like you said, you need material to edit, produce, package, market, & sell.
It’s similar in other businesses. Fiefdoms. But different because very few people can draw comics on the high level of proficiency the market demands. You don’t want to unnecessarily insult them and lose them to a competitor.
The industry I’ve been in over 20 years is lab-based, production & R&D. There are also Regulatory, Compliance, Quality, Safety, Marketing, IT, Facilities, etc. And each is important. But we’re not in the IT or Facilities business. What we sell isn’t made by those groups. But there’s a tendency towards group centric self-importance.
Even the characters, which are a big part of comics, can suffer from weak content. Unlike Tom, I’m a big Batman fan. And there have been creative desert periods for the character. Years I couldn’t buy a Bat-book because the content stunk. Early 2000’s come to mind, before Grant Morrisson’s Bat-Rennaissance. And excellent story & art can elevate “lesser” characters to top shelf status. Remember when Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis had AQUAMAN (Aquaman!) outselling every SPIDEY & X-MEN title (including Wolverine)? I do. Embarrassing? 😉
I wish so many of “The Stars” whose work I love still wrote and drew for Marvel. There was a slow exodus that took place over the 2010s that I’m still feeling when I look at the line.
I get that time marches on and the roster of talent has always been in a state of flux, but Marvel used to have an embarrassment of riches in its Murderer’s Row firing on all cylinders.
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Health is affecting some of the older pros. There’s still a lot of excellent artists working now. It’s the writing I find is mostly interchangeable & mid-level.
I’m talking about the ones who are working regularly at DC and/or doing independent titles
As an 8 year old, my main interest was in particular characters, although even at that age I began to take note that many of my favorite comics had Stan Lee listed as either “writer” or “editor” or even “co-creator” or some such sobriquet, and I certainly noted that all my favorites had the Marvel logo in the top left corner. By the time I was 13, in 1975, I was paying more attention to the particular writers and artists of the titles I most enjoyed. As an adult collector, the characters didn’t matter as much to me at all as the writers and artists. A great cover might entice me to pick up a particular comic, but if the writing didn’t appeal to me I’d be highly unlikely to pick up another issue. If the writing really appealed to me, I’d even overlook so so art for the story. Of course, those issues where everything just clicked, well-written story, with great art, expertly inked, colored and lettered, were the brightest stars. Some editors seemed very capable of nurturing new and rising talent, at most providing some fine tuning to their work to help ensure the best product. Other editors, by reputation, seemed more overbearing, stifling of creativity, seeming intent on reducing everything to a bland artifact. Still, by the 1990s, as comics got ever more expensive and I had less free time to read them, I mostly stuck with those by writers whose work I enjoyed or of whom I read favorable enough to reviews to want to check out. Of course, sometimes I still would check out a comic simply due to a cover that somehow really appealed to me or highly amused me. But certainly I never made a selection based on who the editor was, even if I loved every comic that particular editor had a hand in.
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