Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bat Bits!

I know I'm supposed to be resting and all, but I just couldn't help myself.  Yesterday was weird.  Yesterday was really, really, weird.  It was the first Monday since June 2007 that Mike and I specifically planned not to record a podcast. 

It's a bittersweet thing.  It felt a little empty, frankly, and there's a moderate sense of guilt about the whole thing.  The guilt is probably misplaced.  Comic Geek Speak, those industry leaders supposedly hosting "daily podcasts"?   I think they've produced two shows since our last product rolled off the assembly line.  We're on vacation, what's their excuse?  That's the guilt talking, of course.

Yes, guilt, but also some healing liberation.  Here's the thing that will sound bizarre, but also true - it's liberating to take a break from turning my passion into product.  Chronic Insomnia grew out of my overdeveloped love of comic books.  For one reason or another, probably originally stemming from a sexual fetish brought on by the Spider-Woman and Kitty Pryde, I have a deep and abiding fascination with comics and everything about them.

This is mostly a good thing.  Creating content for a show demands a certain amount of energy, which passion happily provides.  There is a dark side effect not mentioned anywhere in the Podcasting Manual, though.  What they don't tell you when you start these things is that when you create a show and do it right, that passion becomes an obligation, which faintly taints the purity of the love.

It's like this...when I do a weekly broadcast about comic books, I do still enjoy the content of the books, and I like going to the movies, and I click on Bleeding Cool with genuine anticipation waiting for the Next Big Thing to come down the pike and excite me.  That still happens.  But I'm also co-host of Chronic Insomnia, which means I'll be turning this stuff into content, and I'm "forced" to funnel all of that stuff into a piece of my subconscious labeled:


So a piece of me is just absorbing my issue of Vengeance # 1 just as you would.  Another piece is constantly churning toward producing content for the next episode of Chronic.  What that does is drain a little of the purity out of the pleasure, and it means that every moment I'm enjoying my hobby, I'm also "on the clock".  I'm not inviting sympathy, mind you.  It's not like I'm under contract, or someone is holding my children hostage to coerce my participation in the show.  I can walk away any time I like....and in fact I just did.

I'm just saying, after all of that verbosity, that as much as I'm looking forward to producing the next generation of Chronic Insomnia episodes, (and I'm already brewing ideas on that front, and that's all I will say about that) it's also very nice to sit down with a comic book or a news item and simply take it in without responsibility.  So that's that.

And having said all that, here's some stuff I bumped into recently that I have decided to turn into blog content, because in the end, well, I just can't help myself.

To The Bat Poll, Robin!

CBR just conducted a poll asking which of the DCnU Bat-Books have their audience quivering with anticipation.

The overwhelming winner so far is Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman, and I certainly agree with that assessment.  Snyder's current work on Detective is essential reading, and I predict that history will look very kindly on his run.  Tough to guarantee success, I suppose, because great success is by nature difficult for starters.  The other potential snag is that the Batman work I've loved from Snyder so far is Dick Grayson work, and the upcoming Batman series will feature Bruce Wayne.  It's possible that Snyder might be a Grayson savant and have no feel for Bruce at all.  I'm betting Snyder handles the transition quite nicely.

It was the bottom of the list that caught my attention, though.  Batman: The Dark Knight is the least anticipated, and that's a bit odd when you consider its sales figures.   Dark Knight debuted at the top of the chart, and outsells the other bat titles by a comfortable margin.  Morrison's Batman, Inc. (in limbo for the next year, which is also damned odd) is the only title in the family that comes close.

So everybody is buying it, but nobody is excited about it?  Absolutely correct, and the cause is plain to me - delays kill.  Delays are aggressive stage 4 cancer in pulp form, and I'm not sure why so many people are so ready to defend them.

You know who you are.  All of you "Do You Want It To Be On Time Or Do You Want It To Be Good?" people, look at that chart.  You folks who wonder why I whine so much, do you understand the data?  As I type this, only 6.7% of respondents are most looking forward to the best selling Bat title on the rack.

It took about six months for the # 1 selling book in comics to become the least anticipated comic of the Bat Family.  Who could be excited about something you'll get to crack once a quarter if you're lucky?  The answer is concrete and clear - just about nobody.

Our best and our brightest fail us over and over and over again. Creator delays are taking what once was and should be a shining star, and flushing all that good will and cash flow down the toilet.  Somehow I'm the asshole for recognizing this, and the world at large continues to worship at the Alter Of The Artist, regardless of how much damage they might be causing a fragile industry.  Good luck with that, I guess.

Bat Speculation!

The Batman Files
Matthew Manning
Andrews McMeel Publishing
308 pages for $99.99
Release date:  October 25, 2011

This handsome and gigantic tome is available in this month's Previews, and it's an absolute buy.

The Batman Files is loaded with time lines, schematics, computer files, news articles, even drawings sketched by the Dark Knight himself!  In short, it's going to be cool and fun.  I'm simply advising you about its financial possibilities because of its inherent qualities.

I don't engage in speculation often, but this is just so obvious.  There is no such thing as a Bat Fan who won't beg to get a glance at this thing, it's out of sight at the back of the Previews catalog, not up front with the DC stuff, and it's ruddy expensive.

Guaranteed to be under-ordered, and a really good bet to be earning a profit even at full retail within 12 months.  I highly recommend purchasing this at a discount now.  Worst case scenario is that you'll own a book even your non-comics-reading friends thinks is awesome.

- Ryan


DJ said...

That's one of the most honest answers I've read for why somebody would take a break, thanks for that. The guilt does make a little sense because of the attention that your show has brought you. It's a nice thought to know that people actually want to know what you have to say about a topic so the feeling of letting those fans down (which you're not doing in my case anyways), could make you feel that way but it really shouldn't since almost 200 episodes worth the weekly content handles any gripes a fan would have about this.

As far as the artist issue goes, your right it absolutely kills a books momentum because the title becomes so easy to forget, but, at the same time I was happily surprised when I walked into the comic shop yesterday. I bought both Batman: The Dark Knight #3 AND Lady Mechanika #2, so while they suck to wait for I do really relish and enjoy nice moments like that when I finally get a sweet taste of those books.

Enjoy your break Ryan


Web Wreckage Stephen said...

Hey Ryan,

The cool thing about blogs of course is that unless you are silly enough to chain yourself to promises of regular posting you can offer up your thoughts only when the urge hits you and not on any grind of a schedule. (Thats why even though I am now aiming for a weekly post on my own blog I have yet to announce it as enforceable gospel)

Batman The Dark Knight - I see your point about the 'decay of delays', however now that Finch has been released from the writing duties on the new book (handed over to Paul Jenkins) I think that delays might not be the issue it looked to be. Didn't Finch say something about not having to clear his plots with editorial as being a freeing up of his time? Fans of the book can only hope, I guess.

The Batman files - Thanks for the heads up on this one, Ryan. Another under ordered coffee table sized book, eh? Sounds like another Spawn Deluxe to me...

Chronic Insomnia said...

DJ - I believe you when you say that the delays don't bother you, and that for certain product absence makes the heart grow fonder. But I would say you're in the minority on that one. For the masses, out of sight is out of interest. I actually wish I could be more like you, but I definitely notice when a book is late, and it kills my interest pretty quickly.

Stephen - I hadn't heard that Finch had passed off writing duties. Smart move, but probably a case of too little, too late. I don't know - maybe Dark Knight does 150k in the relaunch and I'd love to be wrong about all this, but I suspect that DK will ship about quarterly and bleed 40% of it's readership in the next 12 months.