Episode Two: Asterios Polyp and The Kirkman Manifesto

Episode Two is up!

Here is the Kirkman Manifesto that we talk about at the beginning, the afterword to Thief of Thieves #1:

When most people hear “comic books” the immediate thought is more than likely of some capes and tights and some muscle-y dudes or muscle-y ladies slamming each other into buildings or punching a battleship. Y’know, books like the ones those corporate suits produce over at the big two companies… or like the other book I do, Invincible.
You see, I’m a comic book fan; I kind of love that stuff.

But comic books, as a whole, are so much more. The good news is this isn’t news. Comics have always been much more from the very beginning, actually. And lately we’ve had things like Sin City and Hellboy, Cerebus, the fine crime comics from the likes of Brubaker and Phillips, classics like Minimum Wage or Love and Rockets, modern comics like Casanova, Morning Glories, Hack/Slash, Elephantment, Chew, Preacher, Y:The Last Man, The Walking Dead (whatever that book is) or the upcoming Saga.

So non-superhero comics are nothing new… and whoo boy is that a good thing.

Still, though… the vast majority of comics feature superheroes and the vast majority of those comics feature old superheroes, stale musty ideas from the middle of the last century or later. Around 60 to 70% of the comics produced each month fit that bill, so we’ve got a long way to go.

So here’s Thief of Thieves. This comic features cool splash pages and top-notch writing and art just like those comics keeping those old ideas alive, but our characters are very real. They live in the real world, they have real world problems… If we do our jobs right, you’ll never be wanting for any of our character to punch a battleship.

No really. I swear.

I mean, did you read thins thing? Nick Spencer, Shawn Martinbrough, Felix Serrano, Rus Wooton… all at the top of their game, and really, this book is just getting warmed up. I couldn’t be more pleased with how this thing is coming together.

This book brings to the comics medium the same kind of story you’d get in a movie, novel, or a TV show, but we’re utilizing the strengths of what our medium has to offer in order to tell the story.

At Skybound Entertainment, I’m extremely proud of the fact that our line consists of more non-superhero titles than otherwise. I think this medium has the potential to grow and embed itself in the public psyche, and become something everyone does, not a mere hobby. Finding that balance, where more grounded real-world stories can succeed, is the key to that.

As comics grow and mature as a medium, and begin to tell more and more stories that appeal to a wider audience, they will become a much more inviting form of entertainment.

You’d never describe someone as a movie fan – everyone watches movies. THAT should be our goal for comics, as retailers, as fans and creators.
I want to meet someone new, and NOT be surprised to find out that they read comics. I want not reading comics to be as weird as those weirdos who don’t own a television.

I believe we can do it, I believe we’re already more than halfway there.

I believe in comic books.

Robert Kirkman 2012

This article says that 14 percent of book sales are digital. That’s more than 5 percent, which is the number Russell made up, and that number is from May of 2011. The point is that digital book sales are still a rather small (but admittedly growing) percentage of physical book sales.

In addition to that, we’ve got Joshua Hale Fialkov’s blog post on “Being an Asshole” (aka downloading comics for free), and David Brothers response.

As an addendum to our conversation about the monetization of online comics, we failed to talk about things like T-Shirt sales or crowd-sourced funding like Kickstarter. These are important sources of income and there are some webcomic artists who are able to make a living from their work. But this number is quite small, reported on Wikipedia to be around 50 people. I don’t think anyone will argue against the statement that the mainstream comics industry supports a much larger population.

Name etymology site

T.S. Elliot’s “Tradition and Individual Talent”

Lynd Ward – a biography and gallery site

Will Eisner – a biography and gallery site (official)

The Odyssey – Full text if you want it… which you should because it’s the fucking odyssey (Jeff recommends the Richmond Lattimore translation, but there are free versions that are public domain scattered all over the internet and the real world.)

Romulus and Remus

Tweedledee and Tweedledum

Orpheus and Eurydice mythos as gathered from primary sources with interpretation by Edith Hamilton (a respected mythologist and folklorist)

We talk about Matt Seneca again as well, mentioning especially this post about looking at comics and music. There’s a link to his blog to your right, but he comes up most often when it comes to analyzing single pages. He also writes “Your Wednesday Sequence” on Comic Book Resources.

A minor correction as well – George Herriman drew Krazy Kat for only 31 years, not 50. I believe that the 50 year number probably came up because that’s how many years Charles Schultz wrote and illustrated Peanuts for.

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2 Responses to Episode Two: Asterios Polyp and The Kirkman Manifesto

  1. Simon Lee says:

    How do comics fit into the Japanese culture where young and old can be seen reading manga everywhere? Is that what people want to see in North America?

    Also, hearing the name Robert Kirkman, author of Battle Pope, associated with the term “legitimate” makes me feel old and uncertain as to the sanity of the universe.

    • russellheitzmann says:

      That’s a great question, something we didn’t even address as part of our podcast that was specifically about an Osamu Tezuka manga. You won’t hear that one for a couple weeks, but I will answer your question here quickly, and promise that we’ll talk about it more in depth at some point.

      Do people in North America want to see everyone reading comics everywhere? An emphatic YES is my gut reaction. Hopefully everyone who reads comic books wants more people to be reading them! There’s still a real social stigma attached to comics in North America, more than anywhere else from my observations. It comes down to comics being seen as a “lesser” art and some of the values expressed in comics being at best disrespectful and at worst offensive. The stereotype that people who read them are awkward or socially inept doesn’t help either. Fortunately most of these negative perceptions are quickly becoming inaccurate cliches. There’s more to it than that, but we’ll definitely talk about this on the podcast.

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