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Mr. Tom Willecome

Vertigo has ruined comics, discuss:

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Having sat through the excruciating pitch session at the London Con I have come to the conclusion that Vertigo* has ruined comics.

 

I'm sick of vampires, I'm sick of Lovecraft, I'm sick of kinky sex, I'm sick of "twisted" narratives that are meant to be clever but are just fucking willfully obtuse, I'm sick of Sandman**, I'm sick of redemption, I'm sick of edgy, I'm sick of horror and I'm sick of fucking goth twats who think they're better than me because they write shit, self-absorbed poetry and don't read superhero comics.

 

Why do people always concentrate on the surface of something when they're plagurising?

 

 

 

 

 

*Please note that I'm well aware that Vertigo is an impressively wide range of books most of which are nothing like the toss I've just described but you try telling these wannabe fucktards at cons.

 

**Obviously I don't actually hate Sandman, but there are times when I've really wanted to.

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I didn't see this pitching session (or any other for that matter) but I think I agree with your sentiments, Tom.

 

Thre is a certain snobbery in the comics world that looks down on "superhero" comics. Hey, I'm not ashamed to admit that while I do like gritty and moody "serious" comics, I love superhero shit too.

 

Oh, and I liked the comment about " writing shit, self-absorbed poetry and don't read superhero comics".

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do be honest, I do find at least 90% of superhero comics absolute SHITE. but then I find at least 90% of all other comics shit too.

 

what I don't like is how the comic book market seems nearly completely split in two factions: those who only read superhero comics and look down on comics that aren't about superheroes ("artsy fartsy comics") and people who look down on superhero comics and only read comics that they see as literature (see, The Comics Journal).*

 

that shit really annoys the hell out of me. I just bought an old issue of The Comics Journal which featured a long interview with Dylan Horrocks. now, while he's mainly an indie creator, he also has dabbled in mainstream stuff (I think he wrote Batgirl for a while, as well as the Names of Magic series for Vertigo). He doesn't hate superhero stuff perse, but he does make the point that the work for hire stuff that most superhero comics are don't exactly support breaking new ground. It;s hard to write something good when you're constantly forced into the strict guidelines put upon you by editors, etc. I mean, for every Daredevil by Brian Bendis, there are a five X Men titles which I can barely look at the cover of, it's that bad. not to speak off fucking crossovers. I think those are way more damaging than any pretentious drivel Vertigo as produced over the last ten years.

 

and personally, I do think that most of the stuff published by Fantagraphics and other independents is years ahead of anything Vertigo has done in recent years. not to mention the crap DC and Marvel have been pulling in their superhero comics.

*actually, you could say that there's another division these days, the people who hate manga and have decided it's a fad that will soon disappear and the people who think manga is great and that it is in fact "normal comics" that will disappear. if you look at sales figures, I can't help but think that those last people might well be right (just look at any recent graphic novel sales charts).

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I wasn't defending superhero comics per se. That's not the point I'm trying to make nor is it an arguement that I have a real opinion on (yes, I like superheroes/yes, I think there's more to comics than superheroes).

The point I was trying (and I guess failing) to make was that I'm sick of fucking "edgy horror" and that the way certain comics wannabes percieve "edgy horror" is just as cliched as the mainsteam work they seem to have set themselves against.

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I wasn't defending superhero comics per se. That's not the point I'm trying to make nor is it an arguement that I have a real opinion on (yes, I like superheroes/yes, I think there's more to comics than superheroes).

The point I was trying (and guess failing) to make was that I'm sick of fucking "edgy horror" and that the way certain comics wannabes percieve "edgy horror" is just as cliched as the mainsteam work they seem to have set themselves against.

 

ok, in that case I'm sorry, Tom, I completely misunderstood your post.... :(

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Not your fault, Sean. My rant was obviously not coherent enough. Either that or you couldn't understand my accent. :)

 

well, with all my Celtic Studies I feel I should understand a Welsh accent... ;)

 

actually, I think I took your and Atticus' statements together, and misread both a bit.

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I think the trouble at Vertigo represents what's wrong with comics as a whole. Frankly, the sooner I start making comics the better, because nobody's doing it right! :D

 

But seriously, we have a saying in the auto industry: "It's the product, stupid!" By that is meant no amount of branding or research or incentives or superfluous stuff is going to change the fact that what consumers want is a good reliable car. Extend the analogy to comics and I think what's happening is that the industry, by and large, does not turn out a good product, and they keep coming up with different twists to try to capitalize on what they see as good marketing trends when what they should do is stick to a simple formula.

 

Good story + good art + good characters = good comic

 

Isn't this what made Marvel king of the heap at one time?

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I'm of two minds here.....

On the one hand, Vertigo consistently puts out the most quality comics.

On the other hand, looking back, I've noticed that even though Vertigo hides this fact with different genre stories, in effect there are only two kinds of stories ever told at Vertigo dark and gritty or humourous.

 

I believe that Vertigo was the cutting edge BEFORE it was actually put under an umbrella and brand name. After the point that DC actually tried to clarify what their mature line was, it ended up a cliche.

 

I enjoy that there is an alternative in comics today. Everything does not revolve around super powers. But, the field has begun to stagnate also. MOST comics still involved fantasy or the supernatural, in some way or form. There isn't a lot of non-genre work being done with comic books.

 

On the other hand, "Watchmen" and "Dark Knight Returns" (they were masterpieces, no doubt); I feel they ruined comic books.

Today I'm finding myself more drawn to James Robinson, Kurt Busiek and Grant Morrison's (etc.) homages to comic books past. Respectful, well-written stories that revolve around the conventions of superheroes. Instead of this whole habit of deconstructing the superhero, which is a byproduct of "Watchmen"'s (etcs.) enduring success, acclaim, and popularity.

 

I do feel that the quality of "mature reader alternative" comic books has gone steadily downhill since the late-90s.

Grant Morrison says that comic books are a cyclical industry (I agree), and in more recent years (other than a majority of Marvel books) comics have taken more to superheroes as the leader of the industry again.

I remember a time in the early-mid 90s when superhero books were all like over-written soap operas whose only purpose was for collectors to make big bucks. Discerning Comic book readers turned in droves to Vertigo and the indies. Now, the tide has begun to shift very much towards the superhero books again.

 

Another big problem is there's not a new generation of "cutting edge", intelligent comic book writers coming along to take the place of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Grant Morrison's "generation".

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I think it's stupid to say that Watchmen or Vertigo or The Sandman or whatever "ruined comics" when it's all really the fault of the plagiarising halfwits that knock out 90% of mainstream comicbooks.

 

Even if Watchmen and DKR had never existed, we'd still be up to our knees in shite comics. The only thing they really did was give the hacks something new to latch onto.

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I think it's stupid to say that Watchmen or Vertigo or The Sandman or whatever "ruined comics"

 

Tom qualified his statements about Vertigo and Sandman so heavily with his footnotes that he implicitly admitted they were hyperbole.

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Well, of course saying "THIS is what ruined comics!" is hyperbole!

First of all, who says comics have been ruined?! Many would say comics have been better than ever in the past few years (not me!).

Secondly, if you do agree that comic industry has been ruined, to say ONE cause is to blame is very much an over-exaggeration. It's the industries fault as a whole for the situation of comics, and it is also the readers' faults to an extent (the lowest common denominator readers).

I think you can look to the rise of comic books as a "pop culture phenomenon" in the early-90s (when comic book prices and collectibility skyrocketed, when you had 18 different gimmick covers to choose from every month, when art was more important than stories or even really characters) as the first link in the chain which led to the stagnant market we see today.

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Tom actually left out the killer line which he (or possibly James) came up with over the weekend - the problem is (both editorial and creative) taking the wrong things from the best of comics.

 

Hopefully Tom/James will read that and go into more detail cause I really agreed with the point made and don't want to bugger up its delivery.

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Can I just butt in and say that I think you're all having a rather narrow view of comics right now? American/british mainstream comics (DC/Marvel) are not the be-all, end-all of comics you know. There's HEAPS of other stuff out there.

 

And I'm sorry, but while I agree with some of the content of your rants (Lot s of shite is being published under ever-changing fads and fashions) what do you really expect? DC and Marvel are doing this primarily to earn loads of cash. If that means chruning out shallow, fashionobsessed tripe, they'll do it. It's just the same as Hollywood when it comes to movies.

 

And thankfully there are loads of other sides to the sky.

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Did I miss the point? Is this simply a hate on Vertigo thread? Can anyone add to what JMac was saying?

 

And Red, wouldn't you make much more cash with a better product?

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Basically, my elaborated point at the con was this:

 

I'm sick of substandard "edgy horror" comics and that Vertigo and it's pantheon of, admittedly great, writers are responsible for the trend.

It seems to me that most people who claim to be influenced by the Vertigo stuff are only interested in playing with the same old tired cliches: eg. Goths, vampires, willfully obtuse storytelling, faeries (not so much nowadays, thank fuck), s&m.

 

None of which are particularly horrific (well, not in the way they're intended to be anyway).

 

Now the odd thing is that Vertigo hardly publish any of that kind of bollocks anymore but, if this weekend's con is anything to go by, in Britain it's perpetually 1987.

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It's a problem that appears in all kinds of media, though. The X-Files was turned into shit like Dark Skies whilst Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was the tiny pebble that began an avalanche of smug, posturing Cockney [over-used word]s. Any success will be followed by thousands of unimaginative pricks who imitate the surface elements of the story (edgy horror, Cockneys with guns, conspiracy theories) without quite understanding what made the originals so great in the first place.

 

The ironic thing about that pitching session was that the only genuinely horriffic pitch was the "comedy" Lord Chit's African Adventure. Oh, for a photo of Tom's face as he gawped at those pictures...

 

Tom qualified his statements about Vertigo and Sandman so heavily with his footnotes that he implicitly admitted they were hyperbole.

 

I was referring to Christian's post above mine.

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This has always bugged the crap out of me. I remember reading comments from various Vertigo personalities in letter columns and On the Ledge and just giggling at what posers they seemed.

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Garth Ennis playin' it tough always gets a giggle out of me :

 

"The Dreaming... let's just say we're dropping the D"

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SON OF A BITCH!!!!

I was writing a nice long reply for Charlie, and my computer died!!!

Anyway Charlie, to sum it up:No, better does not = more sales. Red is correct.

Vertigo and indie readers are a niche market. Marvel and DC does not need our sales to live.

Just look at the early-90s (the hottest period in comic history) or the Wizard Top 10 to see proof of what sells the best.

 

Now, I think we can all argue up and down about what's wrong with comics, and in the end, we're just ignoring what we all know to be true.

We all know that Reagan, Thatcher, and Gorbachev are what ruined comics.

;)

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No seriously. British schoolchildren were given free milk for years as a kind of national health program to improve the health of children and ensure they got enough calcium. Thatcher decided to stop that program, and the job of milk monitor vanished with it,

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