Not that I’ve really added anything by returning to the topic.

§ January 5th, 2018 § Filed under publishing § 3 Comments

So anyway, I was going back over some old posts and realized that I’d meant to return to your comments about who the big Frank Miller/John Byrne-esque comics superstars are today. I think part of my problem is definition of terms, and that perhaps the Miller/Byrne superstardom was inflated in my memories. I mean, not too much, they were undeniably Big Names, but I think I may have been trying to compare creators of today to a standard that perhaps didn’t really exist as I remembered.

I don’t think I was too far off base; there was a reason why DC handed Superman over to Byrne and said “okay, pal, go to town.” And why Miller was given a six-issue mini-series in a new deluxe format starring demons and future-ninjas and not a single Batman in sight. And some of today’s creators are comparable, I think, despite the business being a quite different beast now. I don’t have much to add to the suggestions you left…I think Alex Ross and Neil Gaiman are probably the two most likely suspects. Okay, Ross covers are all over the place, but should he decide to do interiors on a series, that would almost certainly grab attention. And Gaiman is, well, Gaiman…he gets attention whenever he delves back into comics. And Mark Millar, too…yeah, okay, “boo hiss” but he’s pretty much got free reign to do whatever, and good on him. And I still think if Todd McFarlane came back to a Big Two comic (as unlikely as that is), that would probably suck up all the available money in the direct market. I mean, just picture “Todd McFarlane’s Superman.” Holy cow, I just had a vision of myself diving into my money bin the day after that first issue came out.

Anyway, my response to the original question was perhaps ill-considered…there are plenty of popular creators out there who get an extra amount of attention from fans and news sites/mags, but, as was pointed out, even the most popular creators don’t necessarily appeal to everyone. It’s hard to pick out one or two folks as being superstars, and even when a dummy like me does it anyway in that previous paragraph, there are plenty of pro and con arguments to make. Hey, let’s just agree that everyone is a superstar to somebody. Even if it’s just, y’know, Mom.

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Okay, still taking your comic industry predictions for 2018, and I’ll start looking at your 2017 predictions next week…after an End of Civilization post, hopefully.

3 Responses to “Not that I’ve really added anything by returning to the topic.”

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    I notice two things about all the folks you mentioned. One, none are out of doing comics on a regular, monthly basis. Maybe that’s why Byrne and Miller were the bigger names in their time?–they had long stretches at the height of their powers and popularity while doing monthly comics. All the guys you mentioned were like shooting stars, there for a short period and then gone except for rare special events. (Maybe on this count Grant Morrison is most comparable to Byrne or Miller, although even he is mostly out of monthly comics now.)

    Second, they were both artists and writers. Is there anyone working today who’s both one of the top artists and top writers in the game? There’s a reason we remember Babe Ruth as the best baseball player ever–there’ve been better hitters and better pitchers, but who else could do both?

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Thanks for answering my original question, Mike! I grew up in the ’80s & ’90s & remember how McFarlane, Lee, & Liefeld were all the rage. I also remember J. Scott Campbell and Joe Madueira being seen as the Next Big Thing. After their stars faded a bit, I don’t recall another artist taking the fans by storm. Bryan Hirch circa the Ultimates, maybe? Darwyn Cooke? Alex Ross might be the only exception, but I wonder if his art moves the needle all that much any more. Did his oversized DC books with the Paul Dini scripts sell particularly well?

    I realize the ’90s were a different time in oh so many ways. I think the audience for super-hero comics shrinking and the price point (and other factors) precluding a lot of kids from reading super-hero comics have prevented a lot of excellent creators from reaching “rock star” status. The biggest names in the medium being writers is an interesting shift as well, and it may serve to obscure the contributions of the artists.

    Or I’m way off base, and that gorgeous-looking Steve Rude art makes Future Quest Presents move a quarter-million units.

  • Jack says:

    Does Jim Lee still move books when he shows up for one of his short runs on things? He’s about the only artist I can think of these days-not a writer, that’s a different ball of wax-that seems to be a big deal when he actually does interiors.

    Of course, it says a lot that I had to go to a guy who came up in the late 80s and was huge in the 90s about the modern notion of superstar artist.

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