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Monday, 1 February 2016

If I Wrote "Fuck Comic Publishers and Comic Intellectuals" Would It Offend You? Good.

Cinebook posted this re. Angouleme: "The 2016 festival is officially over. This year was marred by a number of controversies and disputes: accusations of sexism, boycott of the prize, the worsening social situation of authors and artists... Like the rest of society, the world of Bandes Dessinees struggles with a changing environment, and must adapt."

Which is not really telling it like it is. 

"the worsening social situation of authors and artists" what that does not say is that European BD publishers seem to have moved away from being the creator friendly companies they used to be who welcomed innovation and style -look at Giraud and co. -would they have been able to break into comics today? Make a living from it?

I doubt it.

One thing I have noticed over the last few years is that out of the thousands of Franco-Belgian books published each year, a large per centage are not of good quality when it comes to art. Stories and themes can seem very repetitive.

As I write this, to my rear are my shelves which include about 20 BD from Casterman.  These have good art, good story and some have nice twists to their endings.  To my right are two huge stacks (about 4 feet/1.20m each) with a couple hundred Casterman books that aren't really that great.  There might be some slightly interesting art but about 98% of the art is amateurish and when I looked at it I was slightly stumped.

If you check out BD Gest (link on the blog roll) you'll see the same thing. It's almost as though that old Franco-Belgian eye for spotting real talent and innovative art has been lost. I noticed about ten years ago (in fact I'm sure it was more like the early 2000s) that these publishers seemed to be trying to find trends rather than real talent.  They went the whole hog when it came to Manga, then they tried Chinese artists and now it seems to be an attempt to be hip or trendy...."young" or youth orientated.

But here is the thing, the snooty attitude of the "proper" BD mainstream which laughed and looked down at the "lower level" cousins producing super hero books (Wanga, Hexagon, etc) suddenly saw that super hero movies and books were selling and -as we say in the UK- "their knickers dropped".  DC and Marvel reprints get the BD treatment but how long this will stay "hip" for who knows (it certainly seems to not be as big as it was a year or so ago).

Franco-Belgian publishers are business people.  Always have been.  However, "fair deals" for creators seem to be a thing of the past (?).  Publishers can call the shots on deals and do they give one talented creator a great deal or two lesser ones a poorer deal so they pay less and make more profit?  Creators wanting to break into the business will jump at a deal with a big publisher and will take the deal given. 

So creators struggle more.  Have harder times.  Hey, folks, let me tell you a little secret: artists, writers and creative types have always struggled.  A publisher will happily publish a comic looking at the plight of the poor, hungry and starving people in another country.  They'll take all the press and accolades they can leech from it. The creator of the book?  What about him/her?  They got paid.

Put this into perspective.  In the 1980s if I wrote a script for Fleetway...say a four page strip, I got £35.00 for each of those pages.  That's £140 -from which I took my postage, phone chats with the editor, typewriter ribbons, paper, etc.  The artist on one strip got £160 per page that is £640. Another got £240 because it was colour work -£960....who came out best here: the person who had to have the idea and put all the work into typing it up and editing and then selling the story to the editor or the artist who got sent a script to draw?  No script -no artwork.

Let's not get into US publishers because that opens up a whole can of worms.

Europe used to treat its creators with respect yet from what I'm hearing that has changed and today it is "strictly business" -creators take the deal offered or take a hike and someone else gets the work.  No one seems to want to disturb "the balance" yet they will boycott and stop to protest at the drop of a word any other thing -even things that will probably never affect them.

This is the place of the creator.  "The days of artists and writers living in dives and going hungry is a thing of the past in comics" -so the publishers and their lackeys keep saying.  I'm not seeing that. The publishers do not care so long as "the product" gets out there and brings the money in.

I am guessing that Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and a lot of other European countries have their own self publishing industries going -but we do not hear about them.  The whole point with CBO was to be a place where Independent publishers and Small Pressers could get their books seen (even ones in languages I do not understand) -people could see the books and, hopefully, follow links and buy. 

Well, the UK Small Press, Indie Comics just became a part time hobby where friends buy books. Comics? No such thing in the UK despite the arse-lickers trying to pretend there is.
Publish your own books and try to get them in book stores or even comic shops -unless the owner is a friend....good luck.

For those who pursue comics or art as a way of making a living it's tough. From 1983-1995 while I was a comics agent I had around 500 artists send me their work.  Some never realised that drawing comics WAS work. They disappear fast.  Others just were not even at a semi-pro standard and they vanished, too. That left about 100 who were passable to good artists. How many of those are still around today? I can tell you -four.

Some who gave up now work in supermarkets, drivers delivery vans and one even reads gas meters for a gas company. Why? Because they needed to eat and pay bills and as the UK comics scene died that was it.  Marvel and DC who snapped up British creators to save their companies in the 1980s couldn't give a damn any more.  Why should they?

The UK should have a thriving artistic community from Scotland to Wales to Ireland and England. Instead, potters and ceramacists, painters and writers all struggle away in some crappy conditions without funding and trying to make a living from great skills.  But unlike votes at comic events for female creators they do not count.  No one kicks a stink up about the shitty way they are treated or ignored. Even so called "primitive civilisations" appreciated their creatives.

So, boo-hoo-hoo. The "intellectuals" of comics bemoan "the worsening social situation of authors and artists... Like the rest of society" yeah, adding "like the rest of society" means they can shrug and just say "nothing we can do about it" but some of those "names" at Angouleme -how many invited struggling authors and writers to their yearly lunches where they discuss their industry?

Fuck publishers, distributors and fuck the "intellectuals" because if they just pulled their fat fingers out of their collective arse and did something positive they could start making a change, however small.  Comic shop owners -fuck you, too because you are as guilty as the publishers.

I would be proud to be a friend to one down on their luck, struggling creator than a dozen of you glieds.

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