Monday, December 20, 2004

2004: Comics' annus horribilis?

At Ninth Art, Paul O'Brien takes a grim look at The Year That Was:

"... Manga is here to stay, and the major American players are finally waking up to the prospect of a future where they don't matter. DC has taken an outright move into manga reprint territory with CMX, presumably calculated to get them a foothold in the market. Marvel, on the other hand, have tried producing their own material in digest format, presumably reasoning that a genuine American alternative is more distinctive in that audience than mock-Japanese imitation. It's not an unreasonable theory, but they've had a lot of trouble finding the material to make it work - leading to the Marvel Age imprint undergoing a shake-up over the next couple of months.

"... 2004 saw the deeply unpleasant return of the Big Event. IDENTITY CRISIS? Avengers Disassembled? Sins Past? Overhyped crap, the lot of it. DC's touching faith that IDENTITY CRISIS was somehow marketable to mainstream audiences because it happens to be written by Brad Meltzer was wince-inducing. These are direct market products if ever there was one - histrionic, incoherent melodramas sold on their Big Event status rather than the quality of their writing. We'll doubtless get many more of them next year, a prospect that makes me want to stab my eyes out with knitting needles."

Meanwhile, Tom Spurgeon wonders, "why are the particulars of American comics industry maneuvers more worthy of analysis than the specifics of manga company strategies? There was a time in the 1990s when DC was treated less as their own company and more as 'Not Marvel'; are we becoming guilty of treating manga more and more as 'Not Comics'?"

But at Comic Book Galaxy, Alan David Doane puts 2004 behind him, and instead looks at the most anticipated graphic novels of 2005.