The Problem With Eric Stephenson, Bill Watterson’s 1989 Speech, and the Future of Comics!


Two things happened recently that set me on the path to writing this post. The first was Eric Stephenson’s speech at ComicsPRO 2014, the second was getting to see Dear Mr. Watterson recently, and learning about Watterson’s equally inflammatory speech from 1989 at the Festival of Cartoon Art. Yes, that second one is almost as old as I am, and yes Watterson and Stephenson have little in common beyond essentially working in the same industry. However, both speeches in their way highlight what is needed for the art form to continue growing – regardless of how much I may disagree with some of Stephenson’s finer points – and that is new content.

First of all, while I do agree with Stephenson’s greater point, I disagree with some of the finer points, and specifically how he goes about making these points. It’s worth remembering that his stake is not that of a creator, but rather that he is the Publisher of Image Comics. In case you’re wondering what that means it’s answered in the Image Comics FAQ:

“Publisher Eric Stephenson personally reviews every proposal. When he finds one he likes, it is passed around to the office staff for their input. The proposal is then reviewed at [their] weekly staff meeting.”

In short it’s his job to decide what Image will publish, but also (I’m sure) select those things that will make money – lest we forget, they are a business. So that’s the rub isn’t it? As much as he can attack other publishers for abusing cheap tricks to make money, his end goal is ultimately the same. Good intentions don’t put food on the table. So, while he may want to sport the mantle of savior, of someone speaking the good word of new content, he is in fact primarily trying to make Image the number one comic-book publisher. Any other seemingly altruistic intentions aside, the core is fairly pragmatic.

On the other hand, more than two decades ago Bill Watterson hit the same nail on the head, did so better, and with less ulterior motives. His concern was just that of an artist and storyteller seeking to retain control over his creations. It wasn’t to promote himself by taking shots at the competition. He only sought to motivate other creators to do their best work, and thus improve the whole art form. Read More

Hey, Look! Comics! (9/18/13)


The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor & the Ship That Sank Twice

SPX was fantastic, more on that soon, but I have so much to read that I don’t even know where to begin. Not making matters any easier are all the comics coming out this week, chief among them being a new chapter of The Unwritten written by the amazing Mike Carey. Also, new projects for Ming Doyle and James Robinson, more DC-shenanigans, and the spin-off no one saw coming.

Reading List

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor & the Ship That Sank Twice – I love The Unwritten. It’s an excellent comic-book mixed in with a ton of literary references! Mike Carey and Peter Gross have crafted a strong ongoing, and one that has remained a bright spot in the otherwise currently lackluster Vertigo catalog. This graphic novel should expand the universe, while also providing a fairly neat jumping on point for new reader – one that should offer a good taste of what it’s all about. Quality series, plus jumping on point, this one is a no-brainer! Read More

Hey, Look! Comics! (8/28/13)

American Vampire: Anthology #1

American Vampire: Anthology #1

Ugh… I need to start getting these done earlier! But, that’s not the point! This week! New American Vampire, and from an all-star team at that! A comic-book long forgotten to delays returns! The Justice League moves, apparently, and it leads to many conflicted feelings. And much, much more, including DC actually releasing something long awaited, that may be amazing!

Reading List

American Vampire: Anthology #1 – This is the book that introduced me to Scott Snyder. It was his first hit, and remains one of my favorite recent comic-books. I find it hard to believe that I’m saying this about a book starring vampires – boy, has that been done to death, and yet here I am! The mixture of horror and American history is where Scott Snyder is most at home, and in this one he gets to bring some friends along too! Becky Cloonan!, Gabriel Ba! Fabio Moon! Jeff Lemire! Greg Rucka! Gail Simone! Easiest buy I’ll make all year! Read More

Review: Walking Dead #96

Cover by Charlie Adlard

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler & Inker: Charlie Adlard
Gray tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton

Rating: ★★★★★ 

“We’ve been surviving in order to reach this moment, this discovery, the Hilltop… This is our future.”

If this quote is reminiscent of John Winthrop’s Shining City Upon a Hill that is likely not accidental. That concept originated in 1630, and has been connected to an ideal society, as well as notions of American Exceptionalism. More importantly it denotes the desire of a group of people to live a life as best as they can, and as an example to all that would follow. Which is precisely the sort of thing that Rick is trying to get at — no longer must they just survive, but live. Not bad for a story that’s set in a zombie infested world. Kirkman’s story has never really been about zombies, but rather about the characters inhabiting that world. Now though, it looks like a new layer of complexity is finally being unveiled. Read More

C2E2 2012 Journal: My First Con

Earlier this year I decided to apply for a press pass to C2E2. I didn’t expect to get one, after all back then my blog had only been up for a little while. To my surprise, I was approved, and so five days ago I flew to Chicago for my first Con ever. That’s right, I’ve never been to one before, but fortunately all of that changed this year. Whatever concerns I had were quickly washed away and in short it was amazing. I’ve come back with much reading material, which I will be writing about in the days to come, many pictures, which will likewise be posted in short order, and many other impressions and opinions. For instance, who knew Archaia Entertainment was so awesome? I didn’t, but in my mind they were the clear winner of the Con. Yep, take that DC and Marvel, more on that after the jump. Read More


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