Thursday, September 8, 2016

What makes him Super?

Earlier this year, I wrote some posts that were about Superman. I have a deep love and admiration for the character that began as a little kid wearing a red cape and enacting the Fleischer cartoons as I watched them.

Here are the three Superman posts:

Why we look up in the sky...
"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" review 

My "treatment" for a Superman movie here

I've been critical of the current movie version of Superman - very critical. I like Henry Cavill, I think he's a fine actor and he's very charming (see the criminally underrated Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and he has the look to be Superman, but the Zack Snyder films lacked a basic understanding of Superman and because of that, Cavill doesn't have the right presence to carry the weight that is Superman.

You can put an actor in a a red cape, blue tights and the famous Superman shield and they can certainly look the part. But can they really be Superman? Can they embody the very demeanor and attitude that makes Superman the Man of Steel?

That is ultimately the more important question.

Recently - and much to my delight - Superman was announced for Supergirl season two. He showed up in season one through Kara's blurred vision and often spoke to Supergirl online. But now he's going to be a full-fledged recurring character on the show played by Tyler Hoechlin. It's a version fundamentally different from the movie version, one that Hoechlin says:

“It’s Superman as I think he was intended to be,” Hoechlin said with regard to his take on the Man of Steel, “which is just an incredible symbol of hope to kids that they can do anything, that they can be good people, and that good people can triumph over evil. You don’t have to be dark and brooding and always in this state of masculine toughness. He sits in that very hopeful and optimistic place that Kara tends to be in.”

All of that sounds pretty damn perfect to me.

As more and more images are released of Superman from the show, the response has been positive for the most part. I actually love the suit and I think it's the best version of the suit since the red tights were ditched when the New 52 launched. Sure, I'd still tweak a few things, but overall it's a good suit and I think Hoechlin looks good in it.

But not everyone shares that sentiment. I've seen "wimpy," "skinny" and "small" among a few other choice expletives to describe Hoechlin as Superman. The main criticism seems to be that Hoechlin - a very athletically-built and lean muscular guy - isn't muscular enough.

This is where a common misconception of Superman comes into play. Cavill looked like a pro-wrestler and extra padding in the suit gives the movie-verse Superman a very bulky, Mr. Olympia look. But remember how I said Cavill doesn't have the presence of Superman? That's not something you can blame him for, the material he was given was bad and hindered the ability to really be Superman. So it ultimately doesn't matter if Hoechlin looks like a body-builder, what matters is how he carries himself as a farmboy from Kansas.

Let me give another example. Christopher Reeve is hands down the best live-action Man of Steel. Reeve was tall but he wasn't big. He didn't look like a pro-wrestler and in fact, he and Hoechlin have similar builds. As the story goes, producers were hesitant to cast Reeve became he was skinny. In order to avoid padding the suit, he started lifting weights with David Prowse (the body of Darth Vader) to bulk up for the role.

Still, it's not Reeve's physique that made him Superman - it was the way he just portrayed the weight of Superman. He was optimistic, charming, inspiring, he treated everyone - even his enemies - with respect and playful snark. When Reeve smiled as Superman you believed not only in the idea of what Superman is, but you also believed that the man on the screen IS Superman. That's one of the reasons Reeve is so beloved in the role. Other portrayers weren't bad, Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Gerard Christopher, Routh, Dean Cain - each perfectly fit the role for the type of story being told.

I remember when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker. No one thought he would make a good Joker. In reality, his performance as the Joker was so good that it overshadows many flaws with The Dark Knight. Fan outrage over castings tends to be normal and most of the time fans are proven wrong, but the reaction to Hoechlin is an interesting case study.

This idea of what makes Superman who he is isn't limited just to live-action. DC Comics recently killed off the New 52 Superman - a version that was temperamental, uninspiring, angry and generally much darker than previous versions. They replaced him in DC Rebirth with the Superman that John Byrne laid the blueprint for in 1986, one that through the 1990s and 2000s became something of a definite version of Superman. This has been one of the most well-received aspects of DC's relaunch, a Superman that inspires hope and has compassion... a Superman that is an ideal to strive for.

I've said this before and I will say it forever: Superman is not a character we are supposed to relate to, we are supposed to aspire to be him. We are meant to feel inspired by his word and actions. He's arguably a god-like being, but because of who he is and the people that raised him, he's a compassionate person that represents the good, and the very best in all of us. That is what makes him super. Not his powers, not how much he can bench - but how he treats and inspires others.

To be completely frank, I don't always like when Superman is portrayed or drawn as this hulking, muscular being, and that's actually part of what really intrigues me about Hoechlin's casting. He's doesn't have a body-builder's physique the way Cavill does. He's leaner and he's only 6'0 tall compared to Reeve's 6'4. (Cavill is only 6'1).

Also interesting about this incarnation of Superman is that Mehcad Brooks who plays James Olsen is taller than Hoechlin. I actually really like this kind of physical presence that Hoechlin is bringing to the role. Not only does it create an unassuming Clark Kent, but it presents the idea that the shadow of her cousin looming over Kara isn't a physical one.

What makes Superman isn't the muscles, the tights on the outside or the spit curl. What makes Superman - and his portrayal - memorable and "right" is the way he carries himself. If Hoechlin's quote proves true and we are presented with an optimistic, smiling and relaxed Superman, he will have nailed it. The Superman that is infallible in his moral standing, inspires others and even treats his enemies with compassion.

Given the tone of Supergirl and producer Greg Berlanti's handling of DC's characters, my anticipation to see Hoechlin's portrayal as Superman is palpable and I hope he becomes the live-action Superman we deserve.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The reality of indie comics (Or why I took a semi-sabbatical from cons)

I love Baltimore Comic-Con. It's a great comic-centric show, there are always a who's who of comic creators and there is just a general sense of acceptance and friendliness among the creatives down at the Inner Harbor. The Inner Harbor is also nice and over the past few years I looked forward to heading down to Baltimore for the con. Perusing social media, it looks like this year is a great show and part of me wishes I was there, but this year I had to take a bit of a sabbatical from the convention scene.

The 2015 con year was... maybe challenging is the right word? At the end of 2014, I ran the successful Kickstarter for Patriot-1. I did the 2014 Baltimore show to great success, 2014 New York Comic Con - the first NYCC I set up at since 2011 - was pretty solid. Things were going pretty well and I started to focus on conventions. As 2015 began, I started looking at cons to set-up at and the majority of them just so happened to more towards late Summer/Fall.

The thing about cons for me is simple. I can't afford to travel very far. I also don't like to. There are a couple of reasons for this. I don't fly, like ever. That's mostly because my wife and I aren't big travelers, we never really go anywhere we can't drive. I also don't travel for work, which admittedly is an amazing feat at my job, but any time I've had to do anything, it's been local. Now I've flown plenty of times, just not in the last 10 years or so (which also is kind of amazing), but that's mostly because I've never needed to. I'll fly if/when I absolutely have to, but because of my lack of flying in my adult life, it comes with a bit of anxiety.

So you weigh the cost of flying - both economically and mentally - and you consider realistically what you'd do sales wise with a small press book while also factoring in table expenses, food, hotel etc., etc., and you begin to see the harsh reality of making comics at this independent level.

I know, I know - in the long run there are considerations for exposure, new markets and all that. But I also have to consider I have two full-time jobs. One has been my regular day job at WWE for nearly seven years - which overall is a pretty cool gig. The other is a bit more exhausting - I have three kids. Nearly four-year old twins and a two-year old. I'm really involved with my kids... it's my favorite job, but it can also be really taxing. When it comes to doing cons and being gone for a weekend, my wife and I have to factor a lot of things, including who is going to help with the kids. And on top of these regular jobs, there's fitting in time to write and plot and all that fun stuff.

Would I love writing, comics and developing my intellectual properties like Patriot-1 to be my full-time job? Of course! But that doesn't cover insurance or pay my mortgage right now.

Cons aren't cheap for the indie creator. Many of us aren't going to get the "guest" status which means we have to pay out of pocket for the table space and other expenses - and that adds up. And when we have to do that, there is no guarantee we'll have good placement, or that the quality of work around us is on par with our own. It's kind of frustrating, honestly. And then you factor in the constantly rising cost of getting a table. You're hard-pressed to find one under $200 anymore. For writers, that's really, really tough. Artists can do commissions and sell prints and generally have an easier time of making up that costs. Writers don't have that luxury and the rising cost of these tables is starting to get both ludicrous and cost-prohibitive.

Also, consider this is all in addition to the swelling costs of actually producing the comics. Then marketing them, then depending your distribution, factoring how much of a hit you'll have to take per unit. It's not a cheap hobby or tradecraft.

When my con season came around finally in 2015, I had virtually everything going for me. Patriot-1 had won an IPPY Award and was picked up by Diamond for distribution, ExtraOrdinary had launched, some cool stuff at the day job was going down... everything was promising.

I did a few small appearances and "cons." Nothing I had to pay for, sold a few books and mostly just hung out with other creators. There was Special Edition: NYC, which was okay... I had a good time meeting a lot of great people at that show more than I liked the show itself. Then the first bigger show rolled around... I did decent, was ready for the next. The second one about an hour away, two day show. Was able to go home at night and everything. The show itself was okay overall. Not great, not the worst. When I got home at the end of the show Sunday, I found out my parents - who came to help with the kids - left suddenly. Come to find out, my grandfather - and my first son's namesake - had taken ill and was hospitalized. And it was one those things that wasn't a case of "if" but "when." So the week went on, there was nothing I could do but wait (my grandfather lived very far from me). After much debate, I continued to the Baltimore Con the next weekend. Took my mind off everything, but at that point it just cost a lot of money to go. I wasn't splitting the cost with anyone.

My placement wasn't great in Artist's Alley - most Artist's Alleys have become so overrun with print sellers that it's hard to standout, but as I've learned... you've just got to make the best of it all. However, the second day of the show rolled around, I wasn't doing that great sales wise... and then I got the call. My grandfather passed. It was a weird feeling... I was okay with it all, I had a week to process it all. He lived well, he was 86, and he had just seen all my kids a few weeks prior. But still... it was my last grandparent.

I used to have a traveling partner for cons. We'd do a lot of shows together, but he was in a serious relationship (they're getting married now) and he traveled to last year's con with her. He was also tabling with the artist of his phenomenal book, and most of my other friends - mostly established pros - were attending the Harvey Awards that Saturday night. As a result, I was alone. It was fine - I like being alone... but it was just a weird moment in time to take everything in.

I left Baltimore with a bizarre feeling. I frankly didn't do as well as I'd hoped, the personal news stuck to me and I just felt tired. It was a weird thing... everything was going so well all year and then there was this massive slow-down.

A few weeks went by and it was time for the big one... New York Comic Con.

I love NYCC. I have a sordid history with it, but I love it. In the past few years I've been lucky enough to have a friend offer me space at his booth in Artist's Alley. And I also get to see a lot comic book world friends I don't see often. My experience was overall pretty brutal for 2015. I decided to drive into the city every day. You might think this is foolish, but in the past? Not a problem. HUGE problem in 2015. Every. Single. Day. The worst was Saturday, when I had to do a favor for the guy giving me booth space and didn't head into the city until noon. Two and a half hours, a trip through Queens and across Manhattan later, I finally made it.

Overall, NYCC 2015 was a grueling experience. I was happy/relieved when it was over. A lot of my friends did really well in Artist's Alley, and I once again did "okay." (My placement wasn't great, but I couldn't argue).

2015 started great... ended well... yeah.

2016 was a fresh slate and I booked my first show... East Coast Comic Con. I even paid extra for a "corner table." Let me rephrase, I paid extra for a table in the corner away from the main entrance, near a bathroom and a concession stand that did the least amount of traffic imaginable. I sold one book. The show was barely crowded and hardly anyone came by my table. Needless to say, I took the loss and stayed home with my wife and kids the next day.

It was on that drive home that I decided I needed a break from cons. They've gotten very expensive and the crowds are more interested in prints and Funko POPs than looking for books outside the norm. I canceled plans for Boston, Baltimore, a show in New Jersey, Vermont, two in Connecticut and Saratoga.

I was tired of being placed between print sellers or (as pretentious as this sounds) creators whose quality of work was nowhere near on my level. (If you've seen my books, they are high quality and professional). This is the reality for small press and independent creators. We spend a ton of money on a crapshoot when it comes to cons. I don't speak for everyone, and I have friends that do really well, but for me it was just an off year or so.

Never giving up also comes with the territory. I've been working on the second Patriot-1 book, is chugging along and The Atomic Thunderbolt is coming. In June of this year, I attended Albany Comic Con... which served as a reset. The first show I ever set up at with TJ Comics was Albany back in 2009. I also did it this year with my frequent editor - someone who has become a very close friend - just as I first had in 2009. It's a one day show and I drove up and back to Albany that day and on the way home, I really did feel like I hit the reset button.

I decided to maintain my semi-sabbatical on cons, though. The exception was to be New York Comic Con, but after getting shut out of Artist's Alley and Small Press, I may just attend as the traveling pro this year. If my friend offers me space at his booth, I'd be hard-pressed to pass it up but if not, it's all good.

I'm hoping and I'm optimistic that 2017 will be a huge year. I'm getting ready to book a number of cons. Patriot-1 is going to have a new life as book two will enter into production towards the end of this year, ExtraOrdinary has been very well-received and The Atomic Thunderbolt is coming.

I guess the point of all of this was partially therapeutic, partially to highlight the realities of doing this comic thing. It's a grind... but it's something I love and I don't want to give up. I want Harveys and Eisners and the ability to keep making comics.

In the meantime, if you want to support my books... you can get them here: TJ COMICS SHOP.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Comics Industry is Dead! Long live the Comics Industry!

There's been some discussion the past few days about the direct market in comics. By discussion I mean a passionate rant by Jude Terror of the Outhouse that did hold some level of truth followed by a rebuttal from Comics Beat's Heidi MacDonald that was much more level-headed and then as Jude pointed out to me as I wrote this... another rebuttal.

All of this was more or less sparked by the unfortunate news that Marvel has cancelled Nighthawk. (Disclaimer: I thoroughly enjoy Nighthawk, especially Ramon Villalobos' art).

I'm not going to dissect the rights and wrongs of either argument, but rather just toss out an opinion based on my experience as a creator, customer and a retailer. I've been a part-time retailer for 14 years. In the past few years, I've taken on a somewhat "silent partner" role in the store. Eventually, I will take the store, it's been in business for 30+ years and it's a store that has outlasted countless others in my city following the '90s boom and collapse.

Given my experience, some of the Terror Manifesto struck the right chords with me, some of it didn't. Heidi's approach - which was more analysis than rant - also struck a lot of the right chords also.

Essentially, there HAS been a shift in the way comics are consumed. Much more dramatic than comics no longer being sold on newsstands and grocery stores is the shift from monthly floppies to graphic novels and trades. I LOVE getting my comics every week. But I also love my ever-expanding graphic novel library. Hell, I buy the majority of my graphic novels from Barnes & Noble usually through gift cards and the constant discounts they offer. In fact, a recent discussion with my store's owner about product placement and store layout was about putting more of an emphasis on the graphic novel and trade stock while reducing the monthlies.

For the reader, sometimes consuming in trade and graphic novel form is much easier. Admittedly, I've moved that way for some titles as well. An example is the phenomenal Sheriff of Babylon. I get the issues every month, but I also wasted zero time getting the trade because that is a perfect example of a book that one must sit down, read and really digest. Reading it in one sitting is a completely different experience than it being serialized. When DC announced Omega Men was cancelled and then wasn't and then was, I decided that I would stop reading the monthlies and pick up the trade. It arrives this weekend and I can't wait to sit down and just read it all at once.

These are just two examples, but it does represent the way some readers consume. I also read A LOT of comics every week. So many that I can barely keep up and for me, it's easier to wait for the trades. I do religiously certain floppies as I always have like Action, Detective, Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Captain America, Moon Knight etc.), but even some of them, for example Green Arrow and Moon Knight, I always buy the trades.

I'm just one guy and obviously my reading habits don't reflect every reader. I've also been in the comics game since I could read, so I'm not exactly representative of a casual moviegoer or someone who happens to wander into a store.

In terms of the direct market, no I don't think it should die. But that isn't to say there can't be improvements made. Is it burning? Well, yes, for a number of reasons and the majority of the problem isn't with retailers and customers. There is some blame to put on the system for sure.

The preorder system is both a blessing and a curse for everyone involved, but it's relatively low-risk for the publishers and Diamond while it can cripple a store. Here's a pattern I'm sure other stores see. Captain Comic #1 comes out. Marvel and DC load up the marketing, must have issue. If it's Image, they are sending emails to retailers berating them for not ordering enough (these are totally real). Captain Comic #1 and all it's variants sell out. All the regular readers want it, and all the people who saw it in USA Today or on Good Morning America want it. So what does a retailer do? Up the order for issue #2. A month goes by. You MIGHT see issue #2 sell out, but odds are the regular customers get it and a few people who picked up #1 come back in and get it. Everybody else? They made their $20 on eBay. So now, we have a retailer left with some unwanted #2s, do we have enough time to cut the order of issue #3? No? Shit. We've also got an influx of #1 reprints coming in. Captain Comic #3 comes out. Now we're just down to regular readers and the one or two new readers. Let me throw $20 at Facebook and target the shit out of selling this book. Issue #4 comes out. Now only half the regular readers are still getting it. The initial order of #1 was 200 copies, we're down to 10. Issue #5 comes out, now it's only 5 or 6 regulars with a subscription. Issue #6 is the last issue... book has been cancelled. Now the retailer is left with all this unsold, nonreturnable stock while the publishers and Diamond get ready to do it again. This is just one example of the vicious cycle that exists.

Customers are encouraged to preorder the books. A lot of them just don't understand that system, especially the ones without subscriptions, so when Captain Comic #1 sells out and they don't understand how that can happen, it's kind of awkward to explain how much of a gamble ordering something like that is.

Another quick example is this: Super Awesome Man #24 will feature the debut of a new Super Awesome Man... except now it's Super Awesome Woman. Huge news. It's so big that the publisher has spoiled the issue, two days before it releases - Christmas for Rich Johnston. Bleeding Cool runs the story. Newsarama and CBR runs the story. has about 50 articles asking the same question 20 different ways. Jude Terror has some snarky hot take. All the usual suspects do their thing. Then the mainstream news, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, The TODAY Show. This is huge news. Someone goes on Colbert. Someone gets mad at Nick Spencer.

That Wednesday, the phone is ringing off the hook, "I need Super Awesome Man #24!" The kicker? Three months ago, the issue was just "Super Awesome Man #24," there was no indication that this would in any way be a special issue. No additional copies were ordered. All five for non-subscribers sell out in a matter of minutes. Now you're just losing business because as a retailer, you weren't privy to how big of an issue this was going to be and now you and every other store are scrambling to reorder. What's the logical thing to do? Double or triple your order for Super Awesome Man #25. The casual readers don't get the preorder system, so you have to blindly compensate. The next month, you know what doesn't sell? Super Awesome Man #25. There's no marketing. No USA Today, no morning news. Rich Johnston has moved on and The Outhouse is just fighting with Dan Slott again.

I'm not trying to sound negative about this, I'm actually really optimistic about the future of comics, I'm just pointing out a reality. DC Rebirth has been really, really great from a retail standpoint. And even better is the box of unsolds my store owner has been itching to return. And that's not meant in a bad way, because now he can take that money from the returns and try different product or spread it around a little more without having to worry about storage or using up bags and boards to stuff them in our perpetually 30% off back issue bins.

Like I said, my store has been around for 30+ years and used to sell Spawn by the caseload in the '90s. To an extent, the owner is set in his ways, but he's really trying to sell these comics based on characters everyone loves. Characters that are literally everywhere now.

That's why I've been pushing him to heavily sell the culture of comics in addition to the comics themselves. But even that is tough. Around the corner is Gamestop, which sells the Funkos, T-shirts and action figures at constant discounts and it doesn't affect their bottom line if they don't sell through immediately. There's also Barnes & Noble, which is a store I love, but they can actually return stuff to Diamond. How do I know? We opened a case of Heroclix once that still had the Barnes & Noble price-tag on it.

I am one of those people who believes comics should be in grocery stores and "newsstands." But I don't think they should be the same comics you can get at a comic specialty store. Let me explain.

When Avengers: Age of Ultron came out, there was a one-shot called Avengers: Operation Hydra. It featured the movie cast, in the movie costumes, in movie canon. It was pretty much all-action and it was accessible to all-ages. It's not ground-breaking, but it's a fun comic. I love that book and to me, that's the kind of book that needs to be anywhere but specialty shops.

Writing for the trade makes up a majority of story-arcs and storylines now. And that's fine, I don't disagree with that strategy and I embrace it. I do however think that model has partially created some of the problems in the comics industry for larger and more iconic characters.

I've long been a proponent of the major publishers doing two lines. One is the standard continuity stuff- your Civil War II or your Rebirth - the other are standalones featuring characters in their most recognizable form, featured in quality stories for no more than $2 found (primarily) everywhere but comic shops. Call me optimistic, but that's a way to get both young and new readers. A good example of this is Spidey, or even the Adventures of Superman and Sensation Comics anthology styled books.

When I was a kid, I could go to the comic store (the same one mentioned) and I'd usually buy Superman comics from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Many of these books would stand on their own. There would be larger plot threads over multiple issues sure, but most of them gave 8 year old me a satisfying (sometimes ridiculous) Superman story. As for current books, I could go to the comic store or the convenience store near my elementary school or the grocery store and find arrays of books still following that pattern.

In middle and high school, I spent Summers at my grandparents' house where there wasn't a local comic shop, but the grocery store and all the convenience stores carried the books I needed - usually the Superman books, Batman, Spider-Man and X-Men. Again, I realize this is just my experience alone, but I do think it speaks to a broader point.

I think print comics need to be available in more accessible forms everywhere, especially the major characters. I haven't really talked about digital comics and I'm not going to, because I don't think digital sales swing the pendulum significantly in either direction - they are a revenue stream and a convenience. Anyway, with the right marketing, 20 page, $2 standalone stories could sell at Toys R' Us, movie theaters, grocery stores and local shops. I really, wholeheartedly believe that and I believe it will have positive effects on overall readership.

Rounding back to return-ability. I do agree that in some fashion, Diamond and the publishers have to make the books returnable. My store isn't alone in the aforementioned vicious cycles. We're left with all this backstock that doesn't sell and lately Diamond comes knocking for the next round's payment when stores haven't broken even on the previous week's. This isn't all stores, but it's also not unique to mine. I know of two within a 50 mile radius that haven't received new comics since mid-July because Diamond refuses to send them.

Diamond used to grant leeway to local shops. Retail itself is a tough business and comics retail isn't any easier. As I mentioned, my store has been in business for 30+ years. There's a relationship with Diamond and one that often allowed for leeway when it came to payment. This has been the case for many retail shops. Then this Summer there was a shift. Something happened and suddenly, Diamond started demanding payment or else no books would ship. From the outside, it makes business sense, but from the inside, suddenly there's a panic... you can't make the payment for the week because you've got double the amount of books coming and last week DC didn't release anything and Marvel only had six books. But you need next week's shipment because it's a huge publisher relaunch, you'll be able to make up the difference, but after all these years, Diamond finally says no. Why? What happened?

Is it just business or is it the $1.5 million elephant in the room no one is talking about? I've talked to a number of stores all over the country and Diamond's shift in policy toward them seems to happen all around the same time - Hastings going under. Now, I'm not saying Hastings is responsible for a store's plight, nor am I saying they are responsible for the collapse of the industry, but $1.5 million is a big piece of revenue for Diamond and I just happened to notice it all occurring around the same time.

So yes, I do believe there is a bit of an unfair burden placed on the retailer. Especially small retailers who can't afford Midtown Comics-level advertising because they are mostly just worried about selling enough to get next week's books while maintaining their own bottom line and profit margin.

But I do believe there has to be an emphasis by publishers on evergreen stories for casual readers. A casual reader might pick up the Kelly Sue DeConnick Captain Marvel trade and head into a local shop looking for more of the same. What they will find is a drastically different Carol and overall tone in Civil War II than they do in Kelly Sue's phenomenal book, and I think that's a turn off for some casual readers.

And please, for the love of Zeus, at least put the Comic Shop Locator web address with your movies and TV shows. PLEASE.

With all of this said, we ARE in a Golden Age of comics, just not the mainstreams. Creator-owned and indie comics have so much talent and quality that I wish we all had the marketing budgets of Marvel and DC - we'd outsell them. This is why Kickstarter has become an incredibly crucial tool in the advancement of the comic industry. It allows creators and publishers to sell direct, cultivate an audience and make backers feel they are part of the story.

I've run Kickstarters, I've been carried by Diamond, I sell at cons. It's a grind, but I love it. I love comics and I want to see the industry broaden and reach a point where a small press can say 50,000 copies is considered a success, not 5,000.

Both Jude and Heidi are right. And the state of the comics industry is equal parts the everything is fine meme and Nero playing a fiddle while Rome burns. But the future can be really, really bright. The future can be a place where we look up to the sky in wonder again.