Monday, November 12, 2007

Draft Notice

Within the last couple of months, DC Comics has announced
  • the return of fan-favorite writer, controversial industry figure and time-and-time-again pariah Jim Shooter to the Legion of Super-Heroes series (interview at Newsarama),
  • the appointment of legendary creator and aggressive creators-rights advocate Jerry Robinson, who was crucial in rallying support and negotiating with Warner to grant Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster appropriate compensation and credit for the creation of Superman, as a "creative consultant" (press release at Newsarama),
  • and the signing of an exclusive contract with the company by fan-favorite longtime Marvel artist Mark Bagley, known as one of the fastest-working, most professional creators in the industry (press release at Newsarama).

Could they possibly be trying to communicate something?

Well, as I noted a while ago, DC don't seem to have many reliable, consistent high-profile creators in their stable currently - Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison aside, they simply don't have anyone who can be counted on to deliver a Top 10 book consistently and monthly.

Then there's the latest round of lawsuits filed against Time Warner by the Siegel estate surrounding the creation of the Superman/Superboy characters, which is again bringing a lot of attention to the company that they'd probably rather avoid.

Finally, two of the most prominent complaints currently aimed at DC by fans are concerned with the publisher's frequent failure to get their books out on time and with their supposedly regular creative teams involved.

Bearing all this in mind, those announcements seem to be saying two things:

One, if you're a popular creator, come to us, or come back to us. It doesn't matter whether you've burned bridges in the past. We need you, we want you, and we're going to take good care of you.

Two, if you're a fan, don't worry about late books or fill-in issues anymore. We've learned from our mistakes, and we've got it covered.

Of course, this leaves one major concern: What about the top-down approach of editorially-driven storytelling that's currently dominating their line? It may be necessary to coordinate all those large-scale events, sure. But I doubt it's very attractive to the kind of creator DC is in desperate need of at this point.

If they're serious about a new round of high-profile talent hiring, I'd expect the DC Universe's major franchises to become much more creator-driven and self-contained after next year's Final Crisis series.

1 comment:

matches said...

The editorially-driven storytelling will stop when it stops working. Despite the beating it's taking online, Countdown is one of DC's most consistent sellers. Meanwhile Checkmate, Shadowpact, Jonah Hex and other, more creator-driven books are sinking like stones.

Eventually the event stuff will dry up, just as it did in the late 90's, and then both DC and Marvel will move on to something else. But neither will move on while the current plan is still working - neither company is much into innovation these days. They're pretty much going to ride the wave to its bitter conclusion.