Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 The Year in Review The Indies Part 1 of 2

I’m approaching my year end review a little differently then I did before and getting it done before the end of the year. A few things are driving this process, number one I’m taking an almost two week vacation from the blog at the end of this year as I’m going on vacation for Christmas. Also comics have a skip week coming up at the end of the year. Finally while I would have occasional access to a computer and the internet in the hopes of this marriage being my last marriage the prospect of me being on the internet and doing posts would probably work against that desire.

The actual format of this will be somewhat of a stream of consciousness type of thing and will run over a course of days, how many will be determined by how long I go on about various things. Of course I will occasionally have to pull out of my recollections and do a little research as what came out this year gets fuzzy the further back we go.

I want to start out talking about the non big two and in fact I want to mention some of the smaller publishers and the steps they are taking to be not as small as they were before. In that group I include Image, because regardless of what they used to be they are no longer any bigger of a player then anyone else not named Marvel and DC.

First up are my friends at Boom. I have a mad love of Chip Mosher (not in that way) as I have struck up a friendship with him over the last couple of years via e-mail. Chip is the sales and marketing director for Boom and given how they keep moving up in market share I think he is doing his job. I see Boom as a great brand to have on your book. Now on occasion besides Michael Allen Nelson and Mark Waid, you wander if anyone else writes for them, but they do get a lot of different writers doing projects. Boom has done a great job in developing license deals over the last year and now has a kid book line that I hear is doing great, the Farscape comics (which I’m in love with as it is moving the story forward on one of my all time favorite shows), the Waid corner of the Universe and their novel section. What I call their novel section are the four part mini-series they do with great stories like Swordsmith Assassin, Dead Run and numerous other stories over the years. I see this as a great strength for the company because as digital comic distribution increases they have tons of genres covered that could get non-comic book fans interested in graphic story telling.

The license side of the business is where I see many companies (Dark Horse and IDW come to mind) learning that they can finance other ventures and be more experimental with what they publish as these books provide dependable sales and I’m sure a reliable profit number. Each license deal comes in with a built in market and remember a great selling comic maybe has 50,000 in sales, but a TV show with a small market may have 4,000,000 fans and a worldwide base so only getting a small percent to buy the comic guarantees great sales. Of course I’m sure Boom uses multiple distribution channels as tying themselves to just Diamond would be suicide. Then we have the Waid corner of Boom. Mark is busy writing for Marvel and I think Top Cow as well as acting as Editor in Chief for Boom as well as promoter in chief for Boom. Somehow he managed to squeeze in writing Irredeemable and has written one of the best new books of 2009. Irredeemable is shaping up as being a seminal piece of work for Mark and Peter Krause (artist). This is the story of a Superman like character who turns bad. It is told as both a present day story and a story revealing the Plutonian’s past and what drove him to going off the deep end. In fact not only is this one of the best new series of 2009, it is one of the best series of 2009 period, new or old.

From Image comics we have gotten some break out hits this year and not from their “big” names but from different guys publishing under the Image banner. Jersey Gods, Chew and Cowboy Ninja Vikings are all books that I classify as pure creative passion. Like Proof before them (which unfortunately is ending soon) the passion of the creators is there on the page for all to see. Jersey Gods is a great amalgamation of New Gods and Young Romance and each chapter keeps me interested in what is next for Barock (the god) and Zoe (our Jersey girl). Of course having lived in New Jersey for six years makes this book have a special place in my heart as Jersey never gets the respect it deserves. Chew is tearing up the charts and was so hot that the first issue of the book was selling on E-Bay for $50 or more. I never should have sent it onto Lee (kidding, I don’t care about those short term things anymore). The point being this book garnered a lot of attention and thankfully continued to deliver issue after issue and is now six months into its run and is even more enjoyable today. Cowboy Ninja Viking is just a baby at two issues old and I’m wondering if the concept has the legs for an unlimited series, but the dialogue is great, the characters are wacky fun and the art is cool and it is in the golden age format. I love seeing these new kids on the block (not really all that new but less known) lighting up the charts. Of course as that get more and more successful then Marvel and DC will come knocking on their doors and off they go as Jonathan Hickman, David Hine and Rick Remender can attest to.

Also out of Image we still have Invincible and Walking Dead from Robert Kirkman. These are two series that continue year after year to be consistently strong and well written books. I believe that 2009 were great years for both books as the consistent monthly schedule help to keep the pacing of the books strong and the consistent art teams are a big plus also. For 2009 I would have to give Invincible a nod as one of the absolute best of the year as so much happened and the character advanced so much.

Image has had issues with not finishing books like the Great Unknown, Four Eyes, Firebreather, Guerillas, Infinite Horizon and others. While I believe that is on the individual creators Image has to be careful allowing creators to publish under their banner if they can’t deliver because that then blows back on all of their titles.

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