by Beau Smith
Yesterday I was driving into town to have lunch with a buddy of mine. Along the way I noticed a guy outside the gas station changing the prices of fuel. I’m happy to report they are going even lower. The guy was standing out near the road using a long pole device to switch out the numbers on the sign. He was doing this in 9 degree weather with the wind chill making it a lot colder. I admired that.
Granted, for all I know, he could come from the Beau Smith School of Cussing and was giving Old Man Winter Hell as he changed the sign. Regardless, he was doing his job. Seeing that triggered my thoughts to things, big and small, that I admire, in life as well as in pop culture. Pop culture is why we’re all here writing and reading this column, so I’ll try my best to stick to that topic. I figured I’d share with you some of the things in pop culture and comic books that I admire. We may even find that we agree on some of them.
I admire comic book creators that not only meet their deadlines, but at times, hand them in early (Chuck Dixon is the benchmark). I hope that editors and management admire and appreciate that work ethic as well. In these modern times of creating monthly comic books, being on time has become somewhat of a lost art. The quote “Do you want it good, or do you want it on time?” does cut with me. It can be both if you have the talent and work ethic.
I admire the way IDW Publishing continues to seriously broaden the horizon of comic books with content for every reader, from science fiction and horror in the most adult terms to youth friendly comics that kids can once again grow up on.
I admire the way Marvel Entertainment on the film and television end, has taken the traditional roots and foundation of Marvel Comic book characters and enhanced them for a wider audience of viewers. They are doing what I always thought could be done, even as a kid; they are making comic book stories and characters for an all ages audience (Say that three times really fast).
I admire the way Dark Horse Comics has made a grand opportunity of hiring not only new creators, but also established creators to not only bring license properties to life, but a wide range of creator owned ones as well. Like IDW Publishing and BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse is doing wonderful work to reach out to all readers.
I admire the way direct market retailers are taking it upon themselves to promote and sell comic books that don’t have broad audience appeal. They are taking the time to know what their individual customers like and what they may want to try. It’s customer service in the highest form. Publishers are either too big or too small to be able to truly give a line of books the attention they need. Retailers have picked up that slack and are using not only their local abilities to promote these comics, but the internet as well. I admire that this is possibly the best time as a reader to take advantage of the great customer service in comics.
I admire the fact that the roots and history of comic books and comic strips are not being forgotten, but are being revitalized by publishers such as The Library Of American Comics, Dynamite, as well as Marvel, DC and other larger publishers by keeping collections and new versions of gold standard characters in print. Look around and you’ll find Terry and The Pirates, Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Conan, and so many more at your reading disposal.
I admire the way Oni Press has continued to produce a wide variety of creator owned and interesting books that no one else is doing. Oni has never been afraid to push the limits on concepts that others won’t take the risk on no matter what state the industry is in.
I admire the subtle way that Terry Moore has brought the readers one of the most sophisticated and entertaining horror books in decades, Rachel Rising. It is a well-done film from cover to cover with every issue. It’s truly creepy and truly human. In my opinion, no other horror book stands near it right now.
I admire the way so many creators have embraced the art and need to promote and market their projects and their own careers. In the direct market you cannot depend on the publisher to do this for you. You have to do it yourself, no matter if you’re working on a high profile book like Spider-Man or your own one-man/woman book that is buried deep with the back pages of Diamond Previews. 20 years ago, I was one of the few that would self promote. I found no shame in it, it’s my job. I needed to do it, not only for myself, but for others as well. It’s important, just ask Stan Lee, the greatest living example of it in comic books.
I admire the way true creators have stepped up and reached out to push their talents in writing and art to other branches of pop culture; novels, film, TV, animation, video games and much more. They have learned that there are more paths to travel other than just comics, other forms of entertainment have learned that there are an abundant army of creative ideas to be had by tapping into the talents of comic books. Barriers are broken down and we’re all prospering from it. Just look around.
Most of all I’m thankful, thankful that I work in a business that I enjoy and one that I’m passionate about. One where I have friends from all walks of life whose work I can admire. Always remember, with admiration comes thanks. Be thankful.
The Flying Fist Ranch