Is Comic Creativity In A Funk?

Mark Millar

I just read an article about comic creativity from Mark Millar on the current state of comics and why he left the big two Marvel and DC. He was very negative about the Big Event comics and why Marvel and DC do them. The Article is found on Comic Book News if you would like to read it. I must say that I understand why he may criticize the big guys, Millar is currently doing only his creator owned comics, having recently announced he will no longer be doing work for the Big Two. Mark Millar (born 24 December 1969) is a Scottish comic book writer, known for his work on books such as The AuthorityThe UltimatesMarvelKnights Spider-ManUltimate Fantastic Four,Civil WarWanted, and Kick-Ass, the latter two of which have been adapted into feature films. In August 2007, he won the Stan Lee award at Wizardworld in Chicago.

Millar is well known in the business of comics so I was very interested in what he had to say.

Question: With Marvel announcing a plan to kill off a major character every month and DC relaunching their entire line, is there a lack of good creativity and writing in the medium at the moment and is it indicative of increasingly reductive sensationalism and events in comics?

Mark Millar: “Definitely. There’s no doubt about it. The beginning of the end was in 2006-7. When I did Civil War for Marvel, the sales were about 2 and a half times what they expected, and Marvel were like, “oh, let’s go back to the bad old days!” and DC were like “let’s copy them!”…It’s just the cycle of comics. The same thing happened twenty years ago and twenty years before that. That will wear out and then everything will change again. But unfortunately for Marvel and DC, they’re in that kind of boring period just now….And at DC it seems that there’s a massive desperation, they’re relaunching their entire line right now in September, all in one month. And I said, why didn’t you guys just roll it out over a year so that everybody gets a chance to buy, you know, try out the first issues? And they said, we’re actually more accountable to Warner Brothers now than we’ve ever been before – we need to show some serious profit….The culture atrophies if we just keep recycling the same thing, and when I saw the new Justice League that’s coming out in September, all slightly redesigned, it just felt like when you see Sylvester Stallone’s mum with botox?! It just looks weird. How many times can Batman kick the shit out of the Joker? How many times can the Penguin cause grief? If Galactus hasn’t destroyed the Earth the last forty times, chances are things are going to be fine!”

While I agree that Big “Event” comics and restarts are not my favorite way to run a Comic Publishing Company I understand the reason, “show me the money”. But there has been in this decade some very good stories with very good art work. Planetary story by Warren Ellis art by John Cassaday was excellent in story and art. Batman #608 – began the Hush story It was written by Jeph Loeb, and penciled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams was very high quality. The New Avengers written by Brian Michael Bendis started in 2004 and was fresh and new in story and art work for several years. Wonder Woman #219 which was the climax of a great story about the battle between Wonder Woman and Superman who was controlled by Maxwell Lord, the writer Greg Rucka. J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Amazing Spider-man was great. I am sure you can think of some work in the last decade that was very good.

My point is there is no lack of talent in the comic world but marketing plays a larger rule than it should in what comes to us in comic form. Crossovers in major events may have a place in comics but it should be rare. At some point you must settle down and have great stories and art work about the heroes we want to see. Place them in their own environment with relationships and stories we can be compelled to like because of who they are and what they stand for as heroes. And let us see the contrast in villains and what turned them to the Dark Side of comic characters. Just good stories and art is all we ask. Tell us stories that allow the imagination be set free in art and story as no other media can. Win new readers to comics because of the content not because it is a Number 1 or part of a 47 part Mega Comic Story. Get out of the funk that comics find themselves in. If DC is going to restart the stories then make them something to read and tell new fresh stories about the icons of comic history. And at sometime Marvel is going to stop changing the Universe and go back to doing things the Marvel way and from issue to issue tell good stories that bring us back because we want to not because we are forced to in some special event. I know things will change in time but I hope it happens before it drives people away. You can rely on sensationalism to draw people only so long. Stay tuned comic faithful for more. 🙂 Walt