My (*possibly wildly inaccurate) Armchair Analysis of the Comics Industry
ccsharumun replied to your quote: A fan dressed as Batgirl who had been at every DC…
So let me get this straight. They tell women that if they want to be in comics they had better send in their stuff, but then they don’t allow unsolicited submissions?
To be fair, it was Grant Morrison who told women to send their stuff in, not anyone with any actual editorial authority.
However, it does confuse me the way the Big Two don’t accept unsolicited submissions the way Dark Horse and Image do. When Marvel shut down their “slush pile” a few years ago, they said that they hadn’t found any talent out of it for decades. How is that possible when slush piles are part of how Dark Horse and Image (and most small press) operate? Talented amateurs would never pitch to the big companies?
I’m sure they made the decision that made the most sense to their editorial and legal departments. And I’m not naive, I’d guess that both Image and Dark Horse probably publish very little from their slush pile. But it is a notorious truism in comics that writers breaking is incredibly difficult, and a running joke that every time a writer breaks in one way, they brick it up so that no one can come in that way again.
I get that they’re not in the business of developing new talent, but in the interviews I’ve read and the few conversations I’ve had with established writers about the “breaking in” process, it seems to be a subtle blend of nepotism and editorial needs. Then it’s like that a few more times—an editor soliciting a group of creators for pitches for a given project—then, once you get on a “big” enough book (either in prestige or sales), you can start pitching your own projects/picking your own jobs.
Again, this all makes perfects sense when you are in the business of doing what they do—developing and protecting a brand. But I do believe (and I think Diane Nelson and the WB overlords are feeling this way too) that we’re at the point where even the brands need more innovation.
I’m not suggesting a return to the slush piles of yesteryear per se. However, Warner Brothers just announced today that a certain boy wizard franchise has crossed the $7 billion mark, making it bigger franchise than Star Wars. How did that come about? A single mother on welfare, who had never published anything before, once sent an unsolicited manuscript to a literary agent, and the assistant going through the slush pile decided not to throw it out.
It is entirely possible I have a wildly mistaken grasp of the situation, but it was my impression that Zuda—DC’s incursion into the webcomics field and the last DC imprint to have open submissions—closed because it failed to make the kind of money they wanted. However, no one is taking that as a sign that webcomics don’t make money. Webcomics can make money if they catch the right mood, find their audience, and have a marketing-savvy enough creator. Unfortunately for DC, that process tends to take several years, and there are plenty of talented creators with impressive webcomics that still have a day job. However, with WB’s new-found interest in their subsidiary, I wonder if it wouldn’t be worth some editor going to Diane Nelson and saying “Look, we could do this thing, which would no doubt lose money (but not too much because of really low overhead), but if we do it right we could find the next Harry Potter.”
And if DC (or Marvel) doesn’t do it, someone else should—and probably will.
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- pantieslegrandma said: Marvel and DC quit doing the slush piles because other companies are doing the weeding for them and discovering the new talents, so all they really have to do is keep an eye out on what others publish and then contact the creatives they like?
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