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Yknil Linky

The great shift of medium for the comic form, from paper to digital, passed its tipping point sometime in the last few years. Over the same period, the market for “literary” comics-as-books has grown enormously, the economics that supported the popular “pamphlet” comic book format have utterly collapsed, and (with ironic timing) the primary content of those dying pamphlets has become the biggest moneyspinner in the Hollywood arsenal. This makes for some interesting times.

Consider:
Popular webcomic “Order of the Stick” is running a crowdfunding campaign to gather $60K to fund a *reprint* of a print collection of its freely-available online strips. As I write, it has beaten its goal sixfold, and there are almost three weeks still to go.

Wholesome all-American Archie Comics, one of the few pamphlet-style lines that seems to be in decent financial health, has not just introduced a gay character, they put a mixed-race gay military wedding on the cover. And the latest news is that Archie will be covering the Occupy movement. It wasn’t so long ago that the Archie characters were spouting God’s word on-panel, and spun off a whole sub-line of Christian comics where the Archie gang learned about prayer, scripture and the fires of hell.

The Avengers film is going to launch a new trailer during the Superbowl, the most expensive advertising spot there is. It will do huge numbers at the box office (+ more if it’s any good). Probably 99.5% of viewers will never have read an Avengers comic book, and never will afterwards either. (The real secret of success here: Comics people teaching Hollywood how to do a crossover with film properties. Comic books figured out how this works back in the 30s. Hollywood never did until Aliens vs Predator – which was of course a comics adaptation.) (Although Freddy vs Jason came out first.) (And no, those Abbot & Costello films don’t count.) (True fact: Hollywood has never really understood IP, even while it fights furiously to defend it.)

Comics from around the world, particularly Europe and Asia where the medium is thriving in print as well as digital, are also more available to the English-speaking world than ever before. Two Euro examples:
Billy pointed at this marvellous strip that takes advantage of screen presentation in an absolutely stunning way, and tells a heck of a story as well.
And various comics types have been delightedly sharing this amazing 24-hour comic by Boulet – created from nothing to completion in (just over) 24 hours. Fantastic!

Every single one of these items is just amazing to me. (I won’t talk about Before Watchmen, because after six months of rumours I’d already resigned myself to its existence. And besides, the Alan-Moore-devised role-playing adventures provide all the prequel content I need…)

Maire just found a neat bit of research on what happened to that slave who wrote a letter to his old master. (Here’s that letter – really, really worth a read.)

This one’s been popping up all over, because it’s marvellous: a girl who can say words backwards. I love this video not just for the party trick itself (which is lovely and fascinating) but for the details: the girls in the back seat conferring as they try to come up with the hardest words they can, the guy looking around for inspiration and naming everything he can see which tells you a lot about where they are, the fact they are in a car in the first place, and best of all the way the video ends. (Oh crappers.) It’s all so damn genuine.

What’s wrong with “First Word Problems” (Via Ms Scarlet)

ALIEN linky now: Jones the cat’s view of Alien (Via qarl) and the wonderful ALIEN AGE 11, which is a comic adaptation of Alien made by an 11-year-old who had only read the novelisation and never seen the film (via dritchie).

Shakespeare in the original pronunciation transforms the work & reveals previously-hidden puns. Great! (via Sonal)

Lance Reddick from Fringe and The Wire reveals a new side of himself.

Classical concert performer interrupted by ringtone, and handles it very well indeed

Your wow photos for the day: Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

And finally, via Mike Sands: cats 4 gold

{ 10 } Comments

  1. Maire Smith | February 3, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Hi, Morgue,

    Since you’re doing comics, I just thought you might like this series of reviews: The Great Alan Moore Reread

    http://www.tor.com/features/series/the-great-alan-moore-reread

  2. Andrew (another one) | February 3, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    (psst, hey, it’s “pronunciation”, not “pronounciation”: see the clip you linked to)

  3. morgue | February 3, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    argh typo argh will fix now. i have brought shame upon my english teaching mother.

  4. morgue | February 3, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    & thanks Maire – funnily enough I discovered that yesterday. Looks promising!

  5. samm | February 3, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    RE the backwards talking. I had no idea that something I can do (and indeed used to do as a party trick) was so viral youtube worthy. Alyssa may have bogarted my fifteen seconds of fame dammit. That said she does do it a little faster (about a second or two faster) than I can, although she seems to do it in exactly the same way: picture the word in your head, and read it backwards.

  6. morgue | February 3, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    bloody hell Samm, I had no idea you could do that. You must perform for us!

  7. morgue | February 3, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    And the psyc nerd in me is happily fascinated by how you describe it: “you just picture the word in your head and read it backwards” – it’s completely normal to you but the vast majority of people cannot do this cognitive trick at all!

  8. Andrew S | February 6, 2012 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    Well, I wouldn’t say that the economics of comic books have utterly collapsed, so much as they’re stalling. It’s for a confluence of reasons, the main one being the terribly insular, Ouroboros-like nature of the direct market, but also including the sheer competition for entertainment media and the way in which it is consumed. Funnily, I don’t think digital has really impacted all that much yet purely because the distribution is still a stunted bastard child. But it’ll inhibit growth in the future, I’ve no doubt.

    (As an aside, the current trend for publishers to use comic shops to help seed their future digital sales is more than a little galling. I’m no advocate for pretending that digital will go away, but it all feels a bit like glove-slap to the face that we should be speeding it along.)

    I’ve been arguing for years now that the market needs to change it’s outlook, and there are stores out there with a more progressive attitude to comics retail, shifting toward a niche bookstore model which promotes GNs that target a much broader market. After all, what kind of bricks and mortar bookstores are going to exist for the next generation other than niche ones?

    But…the market has stalled and managed to resuscitate itself before and I’m sure will do again. But the sales channels may have to change (probably to digital for the serials). So comics – yay. Inflexible, old school comic shops – prognosis not good. Stores who manage to reposition themselves in the market – fingers crossed!

    Also, although certain series regularly break sales records, the industries in Japan and Europe are certainly having their problems. Both are having the same struggles with falling sales in the middle market and lack of direction when it comes to digital.

    The funny thing about films generating sales is that the superhero films will rarely generate anything for us, and than perhaps a temporary, modest spike. But the non-superhero films based on graphic novels (American Splendor, Persepolis, Ghost World, etc) almost always bring in trade, and sustained trade at that. We still sell copies of Ghost World of the back of the film, 10 years later. And those people tend to be discovering there’s more to comics than they thought, and come back for more. Which, thank god, we can now give them. Gone are the days when someone would read Maus, and all you could rely on being in print to give them afterward was a superhero story featuring a big naked blue guy.

  9. Andrew S | February 6, 2012 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    No offense to stunted bastard children everywhere, of course.

  10. morgue | February 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Stunted bastard children around the world have appreciated your insightful comment, sir