A Modest Pitch
For Preventing The Comics Industry
From Being Aburden to Their Fans or Creators, and
For Making Them Beneficial to The Public
By Alex Mansfield (after Jonathan Swift)
It is a melancholy object to those who walk through their local comic shop or travel the Amazons,
when they see the shelves, the aisles, and eBays, crowded with beggars of the Big Two, followed by
three, four, or six small press titles, all in mylars and importuning every reader for a pre-order.
These creators, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their
time on Twitter to beg for sustenance for their helpless comics: who as they are released either are
cancelled for want of orders, or leave their dear native medium to fight for the Pretenderology in Digital,
or sell themselves to the Kickstarter.
I think it is agreed by all fans that this prodigious number of comics in the lurch, on the cancellation block,
or at the heels of their creators, and frequently of their editors, is in the present deplorable state of the
industry a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method
of making these comics accessible, quality members of the fandom, would deserve so well of the public
as to have their avatar set up for a preserver of the community.
But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the comics of professed beggars;
it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of comics at a certain age
who are born of creators in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity
on your timelines.
As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many days upon this important debate,
and maturely weighed the several points of other bloggers, I have recently found them
grossly mistaken in the assessment. It is true, a comic just dropped from its publisher
may be supported by their PR for an issue or two, with little other nourishment;
at most not above the initial arc, which the creators may certainly get, or the value in scraps,
by their lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at six issues old that I propose to provide
for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their publishers or the retailers,
or wanting second printings and collections, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding,
and partly to the bathing, of many hundreds.
There is likewise another great advantage in my pitch, that it will prevent those cancellations,
and that horrid practice of retailers slashing their non-returnables, alas! too frequent among us!
sacrificing the poor innocent comics I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame,
which would move tears and pity in the most savage swords and uncanny inhuman soul.
I shall now therefore humbly pitch my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least subtweet.
I have been assured by a very knowing critic of my acquaintance online, that a young healthy comic under-ordered
is at two issues a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled;
and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
I do therefore humbly offer it to fandom’s consideration that of the hundreds of comics already announced,
twenty may be reserved for reading, whereof only one-fourth part to be Marvel;
which is less than we allow to Dark Horse, Oni, or BOOM!; and my reason is, that these comics are seldom labors of love,
a circumstance not much regarded by our mainstream, therefore one Marvel will be sufficient to serve four indies.
That the remaining eighty may, at a story arc long, be offered in the sale to the new persons of quality and diversity through ComiXology;
always advising the retailer to let them suck plentifully in the last issue, so as to render them plump and fat for a good collected volume.
I have reckoned upon a medium that a comic just released will be 20 pages,
and in a quarter year, if tolerably purchased, increaseth to 28 pages.
I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for the direct market, who,
as they have already devoured all of the distribution, seem to have the only claim to the comics.
Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the issues at their spines;
the covers of which, artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for fanboys, and summer boots for speculators.
It would greatly lessen the number of event titles, with whom we are yearly overrun,
being the principal breadwinners of the industry as well as our most dangerous enemies;
and who stay atop the charts on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the old guard,
hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good creator owned properties,
who have chosen rather to leave their publisher than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience
to a corporate curate.
This food would likewise bring great custom to libraries; where the ‘brarians will certainly be so prudent
as to procure the best properties for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their aisles frequented by all the fine readers,
who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good continuity.
Many other advantages might be enumerated. For instance, the addition of some thousand fibers in our diets, a
nd improvement in the art of making good genre stories, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of superheroes,
too frequent at our tables; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well-grown, fat,
independent OGN, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a collector’s feast or any other comic convention.
I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work,
having no other motive than the public good of my hobby, by advancing our distribution, providing for the untapped new readers,
relieving the creators, and giving some pleasure to the online retailers. I have no comics by which I can propose to get a single penny;
my comic pitches being derivative, and my drawing abysmal.