Last week, I, like most of the comics reading internet, read this article by Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson (and, like a good portion of the comics reading internet, I found myself wishing I'd written it). As you'd expect, the reaction has been mixed, with the comments on Robot 6's post about the essay being the perfect encapsulation of everything that bolsters Stephenson's argument (although, to be fair, it appears the some of the Robot 6 commenters didn't actually read the whole essay - or possibly even the blog post on which they were commenting on). The reaction to the post speaks volumes to the siege mentality of comic fans, and the fact it's becoming so deeply ingrained into people that they're literally beginning to turn on the creators and publishers that make up the industry if someone dares say, well, anything they don't agree with (Steve Niles appears to be the whipping boy for this kind of thing at the minute).
I know it's just a small, increasingly vocal minority expressing these opinions, but, as with everything on the internet - whether its news sites, music or tech blogs - it's that minority that comes to dominate the conversation and provides an increasingly toxic atmosphere that pushes other, more reasoned voices away, and stifles what could be well thought out and insightful debates. In this particular case, though, they're missing the point that Stephenson is actually right.
Here's something that a lot of people may not be comfortable reading, but it's true: people's desire to share their creative efforts is spawned from their ego. If you write a song, you want people to hear it, or if you make a film, you want people to watch it - you want your creation to reach as many people as you possibly can. Comics are no different. By selling the rights for film or TV, you can get your creation to reach out to a whole new audience, find new readers and maybe even earn a few new fans along the way. As Stephenson says, how is that a bad thing?
There are people who do just make comics as storyboards, there's no denying that, and, more often than not, those comics aren't great. But to lump all creator owned comics in with them is doing everyone who puts the time and work in to make them a great disservice.
I can categorically say that Babble wasn't conceived as a "movie pitch" - but if Hollywood want to offer me and Bryan some of their filthy American dollars, I think we'll happily take it. Because, the other side of the creative coin is that it's business.
Like it or not, we live in a Capitalist society, where we need money to pay for goods and services and everything has a value, including the things we create. Some people can and do make a comfortable living from doing just that, and, personally, I'd like to be one of those people that can do that. If that means selling the rights for a TV series or merchandising rights for video games for anything I write, then so be it.
But people will still insist that Babble - hell, creator owned comics as a whole are nothing more than "storyboards for movies", and no amount of persuasion or discussion will ever change their minds. So, y'know what? Don't buy them. It really is that simple.
But, please, let people who enjoy creator owned comics just...enjoy them.