January 9, 2016

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Weekend Pattering for January 10th, 2016-- On The Morality of Comics

** Maybe someday I'll get this back on a schedule where this is going up on Friday instead of Saturday or Sunday.

** It's been a while since we've done a roundup of all of our pattering so here's a few weeks worth of it to tie you over until next week:

** Writing About Comics (Youtube)-- Back in October, James K. participated in the Writing About Comics panel and it's now up on YouTube and you can check it out here as well.



** Analyzing Comics 101 (Tee Hooded Utilitarian)-- Chris Gavaler has been continuing his series at HU on Analyzing Comics, the latest being about closure in comics.
Moment-to-moment and action-and-action, for instance, are often ambiguous, sometimes combining identical leaps in time. And since actions do occur in McCloud’s moment-to-moment examples (a women blinks!), it’s not exactly clear what constitutes an “action.” Aspect-to-aspect can also be indistinguishable from subject-to-subject, both of which may or may not involve a movement in time, and so may or may not also be moment-to-moment or even action-to-action. And scene-to-scene might be a location leap and so also a kind of aspect-to-aspect at the big picture level, or a scene-to-scene can be in the same location but at a different time–so then how much time has to pass for an old scene to become a new scene?

** From the Fringes to the Mainstream: Ten Years of Growth In Graphic Novel Publishing (Publisher's Weekly)-- Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald talk to a number of people involved in the comic publishing and retail industry about the growth of graphic novels over the past decade, including, "Leyla Aker, v-p, publishing at Viz Media; Charles Brownstein, executive director of The Comic book Legal Defense Fund; Christopher Butcher, manager of the Toronto comics retailer, The Beguiling, and cofounder of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival; Kuo-Yu Liang, v-p, sales & marketing Diamond Book Distributors; Terry Nantier, president, publisher and founder of NBM Publishing and Papercutz; David Saylor, v-p, creative director, Scholastic, and founder and editorial director of Graphix, Scholastic’s graphic novel imprint; and Eva Volin, supervising children's librarian at the Alameda Free Library, in Ca."  That's a fairly strong lineup of opinions on the business of comics that's well worth reading.

But as a reader of comics, there was one thing that really jumped out to me.  Chris Butcher talked about the choices we make in where we buy comics when answering the questions of what are the biggest challenges the business will face in the next 5 years.
I honestly think that customer education is the next step for all of us. Letting customers know that their purchasing habits have very strong effects on the industry, and that how they choose to support an author or work, approaches being as important as supporting that author or work. Buying from Amazon versus indie retailers and what that means for authors/pubs, supporting publishers who underpay (or don't pay) artists, all of it. I think there's tremendous purchasing power in this nearly billion-dollar-a-year market, and the fight to move that power in the direction of addressing some of comics' systematic imbalances should be what's at the heart of the next five years.
I have some issues with the idea of pre-ordering comics as anything other than a way of letting your retailer know what you want and when you want it.  The idea of pre-ordering as some kind of activism gets a bit grosser and grosser to me each year.  I understand how it affects the comic industry but you barely hear any other mass media talk about pre-ordering that way.  "Make sure that you order your copy of the Hateful Eight blu-ray so you can send a message to the studios and distributors."

But the idea of where we buy comics being a way of supporting the industry is something that too many of us (myself included) probably don't think about or just try to ignore.  I spread all of my purchases around retailers fairly liberally.  I buy a handful of comics weekly from my local comic shop and Comixology (now an Amazon company, in case you've forgotten.)  I also purchase quite a bit from Amazon, usually on higher ticket items where there's a savings.  Same for discount online retailer Discount Comic Book Service but more their sister company Instock Trades.  



For a few years a while ago, the majority of my comics came from DCBS.  They're a supporter of comic podcasts and they offer savings of up to 50% on new comics.  The catch, if there can be a catch here, is that you're paying in advance when you place your order.  So if you order $50 dollars worth of new comics from them from the newest Diamond Previews, you're paying them $50 now for comics that you won't get for 2 or 3 months, or longer.  In the past, I had paid them for books that were getting to be up to 8 months late.  I got to the point where if anyone was going to sit on my money for a couple of months, it was going to be me and stopped ordering from DCBS.

Now let me say that DCBS is a great service and their prices are tough to beat.  I had no complaint about their service.  If you're looking to get the most comics for your buck, they're the place to go.  And when I was on a bit tighter of a budget, they were my place to go.  Until I got tired of paying for books months before I would get the books.  For the record, I still place a few orders with their graphic novel and collection storefront a few times a year because those items are usually instock (hence the names I guess) when you place the order.

So I order stuff from Amazon; big, bad Amazon.  I'm an Amazon Prime member and everything.  And I choose to ignore what Amazon actually is and how they conduct business because it's so convenient and inexpensive.  And I get books from Comixology because sometimes I need my comic fix then and there.  But I also support my local comic shops, stopping at the same store almost weekly for over 20 years now.  Their discount is fairly average.  I probably could get most everything I buy there cheaper online but everyone who has worked there during all of my years of hitting them has been great to me.  I stop at MY comic shop (notice the level of ownership there) because I want to support them and their employees.  That's been my decision of why I still shop at comic shops.  

So Butcher's statement about the education of the customer stuck with me from all of that huge piece at Publisher's Weekly.  "... and the fight to move that power in the direction of addressing some of comics' systematic imbalances should be what's at the heart of the next five years." I'm going to be interested in finding out more about this as we move into the latter half of this decade.

** FOUNDER OF RUTHLESS COMICS MONOPOLY SPEAKS OUT IN FAVOR OF INCOME INEQUALITY, REBUKES GOD DAMN LIBERALS (The Outhousers)-- Of course, some of "comic's systematic imbalances" may be Diamond Comics, the distributing arm of the Direct Market.  While I have problems with the DM, I don't know if I ever thought that Diamond was evil or anything as much as they were the winners in a game that ended up being rigged in their favor.

And then there's Steve Geppi, one of those faces of comics that I've chosen to just ignore over the years.  There's so much to go into on this but I'm just going to leave you with the Outhousers summary of it.  And with the thought that this man controls the main distribution of comics in North America.

From BDEgalite.org

** So this week, The International Festival of Comics announced their nominees for their Grand Prix; 30 men and 0 women.  The France-based female cartoonists organization BDEgalite called for a boycott of the 2016 prize, which was supported by a number of the men who were nominated for the award.  

To have an award that's a lifetime achievement award and saying that there are no women in the history of comics, of BD, and of manga who belong on a list of 30 nominees is just ridiculous.  Completely ridiculous.

To conclude this week's Weekend Pattering, I'm just going to link to some of the writing that's been done about this during the week.  Go and read them.