Download: Slugfest Inside 50 year Battle between eBook (ePub, KINDLE, PDF) + Audio Version

  • File Size: 14108 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (October 3, 2017)
  • Publication Date: October 3, 2017
  • Language: English

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With a party recently, two fellas got into a heated tangle over Marvel versus. DC. Marvel, one insisted, has exploded too snooty living atop the comics sales heap for decades. The other insisted DC was stuck in World Conflict II and hadn’t a new good idea since Eisenhower without pirating it from Marvel. As somebody with no corner to again, I found the discord confusing. But watching two guys kept my emphasis narrow.

Freelance journalist and sometime radio sidekick Reed Tucker takes a broader view. Spanning the period from Marvel’s launch to the present, he explains the parallel development of two industry titans who latch onto the wonder inside readers, and speak to beliefs in justice. Introduced around 1962, by 1972 Miracle dominated the market, and has ever since. Tucker gets the business right, but something feels absent from his analysis.

Right after a very brief introduction to DC’s history, Tucker dives into Marvel’s start and its industry influences. Marvel started so shoestring that it relied after DC to distribute its titles. But heroes like the great Four, who fought among themselves, or Spider-Man, who often couldn’t pay his bills, touched a nerve for teenage readers. DC assumed audiences ceased reading comics around age 12; Marvel caught more mature kids longing for something meatier.

Marvel’s heroes got complex inner lives that touched Baby Boom readers, while DC’s heroes continued to be patriotic pin-up characters from a prior generation. Miracle encouraged pathbreaking artists like Jack Kirby and Dorrie Ditko, while DC managed a house style so generic, literally anyone could draw any hero. Miracle took risks during an era when risk-taking paid handsomely, while DC conservatively clung to a portfolio well worth more in licensing than publication.

Thereafter, Marvel brought while DC followed. DC’s Carmine Infantino plundered Plug Kirby, Frank Miller, and other Marvel talent, but shackled them, and their talents sputtered. Marvel pioneered event crossovers, in-universe continuity, and other now-vital aspects of graphic storytelling. POWER copied. Even though DC pioneered one domain, live-action theatre, they did not parley that into marketing success.

Tucker takes the relatively uncommon tack of focusing on business and production, spending little time on stories and art. He appreciates that early Marvel comics had a nuanced depth of characterization that POWER, stuck in post-WWII kiddie schlock, didn’t match. Yet he doesn’t explicate why, as DC matured and Marvel became a factory, Marvel kept outselling. Especially since around 1986, DC’s stories have competed with Marvel’s for psychological complexity.

This is especially perplexing considering how many personalities, like Plug Kirby, Jim Shooter, and Frank Miller, crossed between publishers. DC literally got the ingredients for Marvel-style revolution, but couldn’t convert them into more-than-mediocre sales. Tucker limply claims that DC’s in-house management style couldn’t unleash such expertise. But that sounds unconvincing when talent moved between the houses throughout the 1980s. Something deeper reaches work, and Tucker maintains focus elsewhere.

Tucker offers mere glimpses into even large story developments, like Secret Wars or the Death of Superman, generally superficial descriptions which anyone who see the actual comics already knows. If Miracle really succeeds from emotional depth and complexity, why not pause on important points? Almost as strange as what Tucker includes is what he omits. Influential writers like Joe Moore, and non-Madison Method publishers like Malibu Comics and Dark Horse, get only salutary mentions.

Over a personal level, the period Tucker identifies as the high-water mark for imprinted comic sales, the early on to middle 1990s, is actually the period We stopped following comics. Stories became too intricate, globe too massive, and keeping abreast became a a lot of the time job—one I didn’t want because, with young legalis homo after me, I got a literal full-time job. The qualities that forced record sales drove me personally away.

That being the case, I’d have preferred more attention to stories and art. The business is fascinating, particularly to fans, but sales numbers and market dominance follow audience interest, not business lead it. Myself, the comics I’ve most enjoyed recently have come from DC, but tellingly, have generally been non-canon graphic novels like Grant Morrison’s  Arkham Asylum . Stories that don’t require decades-long immersion in character backstories and universes.

Speaking of Grant Morrison, an e book already exists which addresses the mindset Tucker mostly overlooks. Morrison’s  Supergods   mixes Jungian analysis with Morrison’s own autobiography of comics experience to straight how each generation’s new superheroes addresses their time’s unique needs. Maybe enthusiasts should read Morrison and Tucker together. By itself, Tucker’s MBA analytics are interesting but anemic, missing clear insight into what drives readers and their loyalties., If I say to you " Spiderman #252 was very hard to find, Dreadstar was Jim Starlin's crowning achievement, and Omega Men was a superviolent X-Men knockoff" and that sentence meant something to you and wasn't total gibberish then you will love this book. If the sentence was gibberish, but you're a general comic book fan, you'll probably still like it. If you believe I'm a silly nerdlinger, then you probably won't enjoy it.

Basically, if you're of an age where you did your comic shopping at a comic store, not simply a rack at a convenience store, this book will walk you through a lot of behind-the-scenes history, feuds, and business-related decisions for things that I had been kind of curious about but never understood. For example, I never grasped why superheroes would sometimes start in unrelated titles - Iron Man's first appearance was " Tales of Suspense, " for occasion. One reason was so they really could track the sales and see if they deserved their own subject. I guess that's fairly obvious, but I'd never put it together.

The feuds between these two companies were legit - so that as a Marvel enthusiast back in the day, I do remember being disdainful of POWER comics. They always sensed old-fashioned - which is why when artists like George Perez or David Byrne suddenly switched from Marvel to DC it did catch my attention. I knew some of those stories of why and how people bounced around, but I got little clue how aggressive it was, or how later royalties deals would make a number of them very abundant. So Reed Tucker's bank account did a good job of taking me again to time periods of my youth and addressing questions I didn't even know I wanted to ask.

For those who might mock the issue and say " it's just comic book heroes, who cares about you, " I'd say this is a billion money industry that has mapped our entertainment options for 10 years. They've obtained the episodic comic book structure and applied it to movies with no finish in view and this is a serious economical subject. Tucker did a good job at displaying how movies became the focus of the industry.

Tucker doesn't cover all subjects - which is probably for the best. The independent comic rise of early '80s gets a little attention, but the focus remains on the Big Two. He or she doesn't really go too deep into comic accumulating, except to talk about variant covers, etc. and overplayed " events. " We did get excited for comics because I loved the stories, but around the time of " Secret Wars" I started to feel like they were being lazy about history in favor of " splash" (not coincedently, the comparison of " Crisis on Infinite Earths" to " Secret Wars" helped push me in the direction of POWER at one point).

For me as a viewer, this was an extremely fun nostaligic read of brands and memories - Rick Shooter, Frank Miller, Marv Wolfman - that meant something to me in those days. I knew those brands. I took them seriously and looked up to them - I even sent a spec software to Marvel myself. So while I didn't follow comics in the 1960s, or after about 1986, I had enough context and familiarity to know very well what was going on.

We was entertained and fascinated the whole time. This is a fun book written with enough informal panache to be neat to read, but Tucker's voice doesn't finish up too cutesey and not takes away from the story. He or she jokes around a little bit, but he will take the material seriously and that's important (the guide was a little casual, and i also was worried the whole book was proceeding to be like that - but it's not)

Bottom line, if the brands and phrases I've thrown around in this review mean something to you in a good way, then you're going to love this book.

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Slugfest Inside 50 year Battle between
Average Rating: 4.88
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