What will be the fate of Marvelís book publishing?

May 20, 2011

By Avi Green

Itís been awhile since Iíd tried to do some kind of a serious update for this site. I am pretty busy with other things today, like my daytime job, visiting my nephews and nieces, and under the reign of Joe Quesada, Marvelís editorial has ultimately disillusioned me from their output, forcing me to all but move on, and limit my reading of their products to just older items. But now, I thought to add something more to the list here.

The New York Times recently wrote about the uncertain future Marvel is facing as a book publisher. This is due in part to their apparent favoratism for becoming more of a moviemaking outfit, while they destroy the comic book continuity and characterization that people like Stan Lee worked so hard to establish.

It shouldnít be too surprising, but thereís no telling if theyíre willing to admit it: their disrespect for their own property Ė including but not limited to their maltreatment of Spider-Manís marriage Ė is exactly whatís driven more than a considerable amount of people away from their serial fiction.

Their overly leftist propaganda is another blow to their sales. They published money-guzzling crossovers like Civil War, and this year have even put out another time-waster called Fear Itself, and they expect those to hold them together in the long term? Good grief.

Then, thereís also the atrocious publicity stunt they pulled where they killed off Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four, for no good reason other than short-term moneymaking. To make matters worse, they even canceled the regular FF title and replaced it with another book.

I want to make this crystal clear. These stupid kill-and-villify-the-character stories are no substitute for character drama, something Marvel once mastered before abandoning as they have for the sake of company wide crossovers. Nor are the variant cover stunts. Seeing how low sales have become, itís clear Iím not the only one who thinks that now.

I guess the real tragedy is that some of the veterans from better days will not speak out clearly about this. I realize that Stan Lee, for example, does not feel he can criticize Marvel under any circumstances, being as he is from a time when you donít speak poorly about the places you worked/are working for, but even so, his failure to stand up for the better interests of his creations is exactly why theyíve suffered.

Marvelís disrespect for their comic books has even had the effect of discouraging me from watching the movies based on them. Mainly because it seems like theyíd rather I care more about the movies than the comics! But if I donít care about the original source material, how can I possibly care about the movies? They certainly seem to care more about the movies than the comics. And thatís just why my intellect feels so insulted, Iím not bothering about the movies now. (Besides, when I realized that J. Michael Stracynski wrote the official story for the Thor movie, it was just one more reason why I wasnít up to it, even if he didnít write the official screenplay. How can I possibly reward the man who helped to destroy Spider-Man, and acts like heís otherwise not guilty?)

Iíve floated this idea that maybe Marvel and DC Comicsí publishing arms could be bought septerately from what are now movie developing outfits and the conglomerates that own them. And maybe someday, that idea could be seriously tried out. But for now, it sadly looks like Marvelís on their way to closing as a book publisher, along with DC, and even I may end up being witness to the demise of a once fantastic business.

Copyright 2011 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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