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Comic book artist Mike S. Miller does an AMA on KotakuInAction - shares some insights on the comic industry

GreyHorace

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Mike S. Miller here, 27 year comic book artist formerly of Comicsgate, formerly of DC Comics, formerly of Marvel comics... a lot of formerly's... AMA!

CheapGear
Why do you think the big comic companies started pandering so heavily to sjw types? And still do it despite knowing those comics sell poorly.

Mike S. Miller @AbacusMike66 points·1 day ago
I think that the major comic book companies no longer need to compete. The amount of total money the comic book industry brings in every year in retail sales is about a billion dollars. Split that up with all the publishers, take out the distributor and retail %, and you're at about $400M. Probably $150 going to Marvel, $150 going to DC, and the rest divvied up among the rest of the industry.
That is chump change compared to a single WB or Disney movie. So for them, M/DC are at BEST an RnD tax write off. They don't make enough money to bother with, but they continue to be funded. Without the motivation of competition and profit, you get what has essentially become Socialist comicdom. The invisible hand that guides competition into greatness has become the social marxist petri dish pumping out propaganda wholesale, and bleeding the local comic shop dry in the interim.


qwertygue
What happens if, or I suppose, when the comic shops go out business? Does the industry have a contingency plan for that?

Mike S. Miller @AbacusMike22 points·1 day ago
The LCS is the victim of the big two's garbage business sense. The industry will just become more and more niche if things go the way they are going.

glorious-pc-gamer
Android/iOS apps. No need for spending money on print, selling wholesale to middle men, etc. All profit to the publisher.


Mike S. Miller @AbacusMike30 points·1 day ago
Totally different market as it stands. The LCS is the 40 year old dudes who grew up reading comics, and their offspring who they have somehow convinced to pick up the hobby.
The kids reading everything on their phones are on Webtoons and instagram, they don't care about Batman and Wolverine other than to watch them in the movies. This generational shift will in all likelihood produce a totally different fanbase that recognizes characters and stories that most people have never heard of today.


TonyTGD
Why has the quality of comic book art dropped so much in the last 10 years?


Mike S. Miller @AbacusMike53 points·1 day ago
They no longer need to compete. With no competition, quality is no longer an issue. Check out my response to CheapGear below. Now leftists hire other leftists, instead of Editors doing their damned jobs and looking for the best artists they can find.


nogodafterall
This might seem imprudent given that I handled reinstating this thread, but what is your opinion on the seeming rise and plateauing of the online comic industry? I am old enough to remember keenspot and other comic hosters being the wave of the future when the ink industry was in doldrums. I am still waiting for the renaissance of online comic making that was promised. Is there no future for online comics on a level higher than CTRL+ALT+DEL and other joke strips?

Mike S. Miller @AbacusMike14 points·1 day ago
I was there, man. I had a comic strip called 'Electronic Tigers' that I got up to 40K unique viewers a day in 8 months. I really thought webcomics were the future of comics. And in a way they are, but as I noted in the answer above, I think there's going to be a hard generational shift between here and there. Print comics may die. Or become so ridiculously niche. My daughter, her friends, they're on Instagram, they're on Webtoons. Those comics are reaching millions of readers, and smart web comics are making their way to those apps to continue to grow their free readership.
How they monetize that readership, today anyway, is still in print. Icarus and the Sun did what, like $750K on Indiegogo? That from a readership of 1.2 million on Instagram, if I recall correctly (I probably don't). That just proves there will always be comics fans. It's up to we, the creators, to go to THEM, not for them to come to us. The LCS is a relic of a market that can no longer sustain long term.


AnarcrotheAlchemist
Mike, you have worked for DC, Marvel and Image. I've noticed as a fan and through most of the management, editors, and "lead" creators interactions on social media that a hostility towards center and right wing views has taken hold in the comic book industry. I have noticed that any creators that have "revealed" themselves to have conservative inclinations have been ostracised from the industry. Is this something that you have noticed or is it something that is not true and is just a coincidence?
You were only working with DC until a couple of years ago. What changes did you notice that seemed to push out conservative creators? Can you give any examples?
Marvel seems to be the most openly hostile towards conservatives did you notice any hostility directed at you while working for them?
Are you still trying to put out material through Image and has the correspondence through them changed at all?
edit: also another question regarding the "major" comicbook news sites, these are openly hostile to conservative creators and stories is this discussed or acknowledged amongst creators and a factor in this bias against hiring conservative creators.

Mike S. Miller @AbacusMike16 points·1 day ago
Hi Alchemist,
Yes, I have noticed that. It's not just a coincidence. And when Trump got elected, it got even more obvious. The conservatives I know who are still employed by Marvel and DC are quite about it. Some of them are just boomers and don't know how to use social media, or choose not to, and because of that, they stay under the radar with editorial. But anyone who voices an opinion on social media... their time is done at the big 2. I can't think of anyone that doesn't apply to.
Erik is a crazy leftist, as I think are most of the people involved at Image nowadays. lol. No, I'm not trying to publish with them at all. I'm doing my own thing on indiegogo now, and promoting on my YouTube channel. Times are a changin'. Change with them, or go the way of the dinosaurs!


ErikaThePaladin
Hi! While I was never a big comic book fan, I have paid some attention to the drama going on in the industry over the past few years...
My observation has been that... The industry seems to have been overrun (especially at the bigger publishers like Marvel, DC, and IDW) with people more interested in pushing a certain viewpoint than telling a story. I've seen examples from a lot of recent comics that have suffered in writing and art due to this.
Would you say that my observation is accurate, or am I missing something? And if I am correct, what do you think has lead to this?

Mike S. Miller @AbacusMike18 points·1 day ago·edited 19 hours ago
I just responded to this in this thread, but I'll ad to what I said. I had Chuck Dixon on my show 'Nerds of the Round Table' a couple weeks ago discussing just this. He said that 'liberals' had always been in charge for the most part, but that they were reasonable back in the day. He said that he and Denny O'Neill never agreed on anything, but they were friends, and Denny kept him busy as a writer. But when Denny retired, things changed. The more and more things lurched to the left, the worse off comics became for conservative creators. The more welcome the leftist creators became. The more quiet the conservatives became. Then, from my observation, when Donald Trump was elected president, everything went sideways. Trump Derangement Syndrome kicked in full effect at Marvel and DC, and now we find ourselves here.
Can the industry ever turn around, is the question. I find it hard to believe it can. I know it doesn't have the will.

Lots of interesting stuff he said here. Particularly about Marvel and DC not needing to compete with each other anymore, since they're now owned by corporations and don't need to produce quality work to survive. Which leaves them wide open for SJW types to use the comics as propaganda.
 
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tkscz

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Keeping up with people like Richard Myer and the like will easily allow you to see what's going on at the big two. What's worse is that DC comics will try and do something to reinvigorate the industry (recently they've changed who they are aimed at and what kind of books they put out) but it's normally invain. They've even tried dropping the sjw look more than once (look up an interview with Christopher Priest when both kept trying to only give him black characters to write until DC got over the SJW shit and let him do DeathStroke). The industry will fade out. Kids still love super heroes, but the way to get the comics just doesn't work. And they can't put them in convenience stores or places like Walmart like they use to as those places won't buy them unless they are graphic novels. Book stores like Barns and Nobel are the same, only take them in graphic novel form. It's sad to watch the ship sink but with no reason to change it, why should they?
 
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Even without all the SocJus stuff print Comics were on borrowed time. Movies and TV always had the capacity to make them irrelevant to the majority of audiences the same way movies and TV effectively killed off the Pulp Novel and the novella/short story magazine. Their mass appeal was in being low-entry, low committment popcorn entertainment. But TV and film offer that PLUS spectacle and now also perfect convience; you don't even need to leave the house. There is no way for print media to compete outside of people who appreciate it for the art's sake, and they were always a minority.
 
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RokkanStoned

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I definitely feel like there's been an issue with the hiring, but I also feel that the comic industry has completely misunderstood as to how they are supposed to appeal to a new generation. They're also trying to play things safe by using established superhero personas and put a new character in it or completely changing an old one. The writers also seem to reduce characters to rather simply identities that makes them feel like caricatures. And they try to make characters be liked and loved and awesome at times, to the point where you feel completely detached to the character.

On the other hand, mangas are rising, rather organically, due to having a rather wide appeal and being filled with action and interesting concepts. Part of this has also been helped by other mediums, like Web Novels and Light Novels. Especially the former seems like something missing in the West, allowing for people to really make attempts at creating interesting stories. Heck, the Isekai genre, hated and loved, have managed to create some pretty interesting and eye catching variation. From standard fantasy faire, to serious stories, to edgy stories, to almost ridiculous things ("in another world with your OP mom bugging you", "in another world as a vending machine", "in another world as a sex worker", "in another world as a spider"). Mangas also have the benefit of having a spurling animated medium as well, compared to western superhero comics.
Then again, mangas also tend to have a problem with story over time (like they get to a point where the pacing gets terrible after a 100 chapters or more), with power scaling and knowing when to finish a story. Bleach, Tokyo Ghoul, Naruto (and even One Piece, due to many arcs), tend to fall into this problem with a problem with keeping the story good and interesting.

I wonder if socially media driven stories could be an avenue for more writers to come with ideas, whereupon publishers can fight for publishing the best of those stories. A good example of the many ways to approach a medium in the modern times is the Norwegian teen show "Skam". It was done as a web show, with them being posted as clips at the moment that the event happen in the story, while also including social media profiles for each of the characters. It became ridiculously popular and was later compiled into episodes. So popular it was that tons of countries have made their own Skam remakes (US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc.).
I think innovation and getting a large amount of writers to compete, would do a lot to help. And having editors that aren't useless.
Another thing is also how a lot of modern comics fail in interesting drama and in having a good build up of arcs and longer storylines.

The distribution model is also interesting, as while I think it's an issue, I don't see how any specific distribution method would help get more kids into comics. And more so keep them buying comics into their teens. Society has changed so much, that I feel it's harder to get a new generation that'll allow for growth. Then again, manga/anime has shown that there are plenty of people interested in "fantastical" heroic characters, even if they didn't grow up with it and even though it's very different from traditional western superhero comics.

Keeping up with people like Richard Myer

You mean Richard Meyer? Aka Ya Boi Zack? Aka D&C?
I prefer his general comic critique (when it's good and varied), though his observations about the industry are interesting to a degree, if they weren't so repetitive. His movie taste is hilarious though.
I think my favorite video is this one, which is a severely underappreciated video:
 

tkscz

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I definitely feel like there's been an issue with the hiring, but I also feel that the comic industry has completely misunderstood as to how they are supposed to appeal to a new generation. They're also trying to play things safe by using established superhero personas and put a new character in it or completely changing an old one. The writers also seem to reduce characters to rather simply identities that makes them feel like caricatures. And they try to make characters be liked and loved and awesome at times, to the point where you feel completely detached to the character.

On the other hand, mangas are rising, rather organically, due to having a rather wide appeal and being filled with action and interesting concepts. Part of this has also been helped by other mediums, like Web Novels and Light Novels. Especially the former seems like something missing in the West, allowing for people to really make attempts at creating interesting stories. Heck, the Isekai genre, hated and loved, have managed to create some pretty interesting and eye catching variation. From standard fantasy faire, to serious stories, to edgy stories, to almost ridiculous things ("in another world with your OP mom bugging you", "in another world as a vending machine", "in another world as a sex worker", "in another world as a spider"). Mangas also have the benefit of having a spurling animated medium as well, compared to western superhero comics.
Then again, mangas also tend to have a problem with story over time (like they get to a point where the pacing gets terrible after a 100 chapters or more), with power scaling and knowing when to finish a story. Bleach, Tokyo Ghoul, Naruto (and even One Piece, due to many arcs), tend to fall into this problem with a problem with keeping the story good and interesting.

I wonder if socially media driven stories could be an avenue for more writers to come with ideas, whereupon publishers can fight for publishing the best of those stories. A good example of the many ways to approach a medium in the modern times is the Norwegian teen show "Skam". It was done as a web show, with them being posted as clips at the moment that the event happen in the story, while also including social media profiles for each of the characters. It became ridiculously popular and was later compiled into episodes. So popular it was that tons of countries have made their own Skam remakes (US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc.).
I think innovation and getting a large amount of writers to compete, would do a lot to help. And having editors that aren't useless.
Another thing is also how a lot of modern comics fail in interesting drama and in having a good build up of arcs and longer storylines.

The distribution model is also interesting, as while I think it's an issue, I don't see how any specific distribution method would help get more kids into comics. And more so keep them buying comics into their teens. Society has changed so much, that I feel it's harder to get a new generation that'll allow for growth. Then again, manga/anime has shown that there are plenty of people interested in "fantastical" heroic characters, even if they didn't grow up with it and even though it's very different from traditional western superhero comics.



You mean Richard Meyer? Aka Ya Boi Zack? Aka D&C?
I prefer his general comic critique (when it's good and varied), though his observations about the industry are interesting to a degree, if they weren't so repetitive. His movie taste is hilarious though.
I think my favorite video is this one, which is a severely underappreciated video:

Yes that Richard Meyer and I pretty much stick around for his comic critique as well. Still remember when a bunch of people in the industry were afraid of him
 

DESTROYA

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Yeah I stopped reading comics about a year ago just because of the SJW crap. It’s funny I’ve been reading comic books since I was a kid but I really don’t miss it much.
I do find myself reading more manga.
 

GreyHorace

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Even without all the SocJus stuff print Comics were on borrowed time. Movies and TV always had the capacity to make them irrelevant to the majority of audiences the same way movies and TV effectively killed off the Pulp Novel and the novella/short story magazine. Their mass appeal was in being low-entry, low committment popcorn entertainment. But TV and film offer that PLUS spectacle and now also perfect convience; you don't even need to leave the house. There is no way for print media to compete outside of people who appreciate it for the art's sake, and they were always a minority.
I wholeheartedly disagree. How can you say print media is outdated when JK Rowling is already a billionaire from the sales of her books alone? And that was before they were greenlighted into movies.

I'll admit though that American superhero comics (particularly those published by DC and Marvel) have always been a niche market and comparing them to a blockbuster literary series Harry Potter in terms of sales is laughable. But there was a time when sales of a single issue comic sold in the millions, when Marvel launched Spider-Man by Todd Mcfarlane and X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee launched in the early 90's. Comics were at their peak then with heavy media focus after works like Watchmen by Alan Moore and The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller broke the mold to appeal to general audiences rather than just the average comic book nerd.

But how did comic biz react to this new found success? Well they fucked it all up of course. Publishers doubled down the dark n' gritty storylines because of Watchmen's success (something Moore regrets inspiring), plus the comic book speculator market ruined comic stores after tons of unsold comics were wasting away in the back issue bin (the biggest culprit being the new boy Image Comics founded by Jim Lee, Mcfarlane and the other superstar artists).
 

wipeout364

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That was interesting and not at all what I expected when i opened this thread, I was pleasantly surprised to see him confirm what i have noticed about the comics business lately. Is this the Mark Millar that wrote Ultimates and the Authority? I have enjoyed his work over the years if its the same one.
 

GreyHorace

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That was interesting and not at all what I expected when i opened this thread, I was pleasantly surprised to see him confirm what i have noticed about the comics business lately. Is this the Mark Millar that wrote Ultimates and the Authority? I have enjoyed his work over the years if its the same one.
Mike S. Milller. Comicbook artist who worked in both DC and Marvel.



Mark Millar is the guy you're referring to. Who wrote The Ultimates and created Kingsman and Wanted.

 

wipeout364

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Mike S. Milller. Comicbook artist who worked in both DC and Marvel.



Mark Millar is the guy you're referring to. Who wrote The Ultimates and created Kingsman and Wanted.
Thanks for the clarification, not familiar with this artist work. Will take a look at it.
 

Shouta

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Even without all the SocJus stuff print Comics were on borrowed time. Movies and TV always had the capacity to make them irrelevant to the majority of audiences the same way movies and TV effectively killed off the Pulp Novel and the novella/short story magazine. Their mass appeal was in being low-entry, low committment popcorn entertainment. But TV and film offer that PLUS spectacle and now also perfect convience; you don't even need to leave the house. There is no way for print media to compete outside of people who appreciate it for the art's sake, and they were always a minority.

Pretty much this. The industry has been in a decline for a long time and it's because it can't really compete in the American mindset for entertainment. Any other reason is kind secondary or even tertiary. A huge part of why manga in Japan stays as healthy as it does is because movies and TV don't dominate the consumption habits over there. There are definitely structural differences there but it really does help when you have people actually interested in reading something rather sitting back and watching it, lol
 

GV82

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I wholeheartedly disagree. How can you say print media is outdated when JK Rowling is already a billionaire from the sales of her books alone? And that was before they were greenlighted into movies.

Isn’t that from like a different generation of kids already though? First Harry Potter book was 1997, so the ones that bought it the most and continued to read are likely millennials, who still buy books today the last generation who were pre Internet in their young adulthood or just discovering early internet.

But Gen Z and Gen Alpha, they are probably less likely to buy print, that’s why no author has sold many books to a new younger generation since Rowlings reign started - 22 years ago already.

I’m not saying the 2 new generations don’t buy books, just not as much as the generations before them, I doubt they make much percentage of Rowlings Billions

It may come back round though, maybe.
 
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KOMANI

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I definitely feel like there's been an issue with the hiring, but I also feel that the comic industry has completely misunderstood as to how they are supposed to appeal to a new generation. They're also trying to play things safe by using established superhero personas and put a new character in it or completely changing an old one. The writers also seem to reduce characters to rather simply identities that makes them feel like caricatures. And they try to make characters be liked and loved and awesome at times, to the point where you feel completely detached to the character.

On the other hand, mangas are rising, rather organically, due to having a rather wide appeal and being filled with action and interesting concepts. Part of this has also been helped by other mediums, like Web Novels and Light Novels. Especially the former seems like something missing in the West, allowing for people to really make attempts at creating interesting stories. Heck, the Isekai genre, hated and loved, have managed to create some pretty interesting and eye catching variation. From standard fantasy faire, to serious stories, to edgy stories, to almost ridiculous things ("in another world with your OP mom bugging you", "in another world as a vending machine", "in another world as a sex worker", "in another world as a spider"). Mangas also have the benefit of having a spurling animated medium as well, compared to western superhero comics.
Then again, mangas also tend to have a problem with story over time (like they get to a point where the pacing gets terrible after a 100 chapters or more), with power scaling and knowing when to finish a story. Bleach, Tokyo Ghoul, Naruto (and even One Piece, due to many arcs), tend to fall into this problem with a problem with keeping the story good and interesting.

I wonder if socially media driven stories could be an avenue for more writers to come with ideas, whereupon publishers can fight for publishing the best of those stories. A good example of the many ways to approach a medium in the modern times is the Norwegian teen show "Skam". It was done as a web show, with them being posted as clips at the moment that the event happen in the story, while also including social media profiles for each of the characters. It became ridiculously popular and was later compiled into episodes. So popular it was that tons of countries have made their own Skam remakes (US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc.).
I think innovation and getting a large amount of writers to compete, would do a lot to help. And having editors that aren't useless.
Another thing is also how a lot of modern comics fail in interesting drama and in having a good build up of arcs and longer storylines.

The distribution model is also interesting, as while I think it's an issue, I don't see how any specific distribution method would help get more kids into comics. And more so keep them buying comics into their teens. Society has changed so much, that I feel it's harder to get a new generation that'll allow for growth. Then again, manga/anime has shown that there are plenty of people interested in "fantastical" heroic characters, even if they didn't grow up with it and even though it's very different from traditional western superhero comics.



You mean Richard Meyer? Aka Ya Boi Zack? Aka D&C?
I prefer his general comic critique (when it's good and varied), though his observations about the industry are interesting to a degree, if they weren't so repetitive. His movie taste is hilarious though.
I think my favorite video is this one, which is a severely underappreciated video:
Problem with Zach is he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to art, often using words he doesn’t understand like “tangents”. And it takes him ~20 min to deliver a 5 min point.
 

GreyHorace

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Problem with Zach is he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to art, often using words he doesn’t understand like “tangents”. And it takes him ~20 min to deliver a 5 min point.
The rage comic creators have against Richard Meyer is a mystery to me. Before he blew up in fame, he was a small time youtuber doing reviews on comics with barely 3,000 subscribers. Yet Mark Waid and the rest of the Marvel White Knights took it upon themselves to try and ruin the guy.

Look at the result. Comic fans came to his defense and bought his comic making it a success. His channel now has over 100,000 subs and counting. By their efforts, Waid and his gang of diots made him an overnight success.
 

KOMANI

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The rage comic creators have against Richard Meyer is a mystery to me. Before he blew up in fame, he was a small time youtuber doing reviews on comics with barely 3,000 subscribers. Yet Mark Waid and the rest of the Marvel White Knights took it upon themselves to try and ruin the guy.

Look at the result. Comic fans came to his defense and bought his comic making it a success. His channel now has over 100,000 subs and counting. By their efforts, Waid and his gang of diots made him an overnight success.
I dont know why i was quoted here, but it shouldn't be a mystery to you. Anytime you challenge an SJW, no matter the size of your fanbase, they will come after you. It made Zach and Ethan Van Sciver become friends.
 

GreyHorace

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I dont know why i was quoted here, but it shouldn't be a mystery to you. Anytime you challenge an SJW, no matter the size of your fanbase, they will come after you. It made Zach and Ethan Van Sciver become friends.
But it wasn't just any SJW that went after Meyer, it was Mark Waid, a long time industry veteran with a well regarded body of work. Why the hell would he ruin his livelihood plus the goodwill he built up with comic fans by going after a small time reviewer like Meyer? The dude was even willing to break the law to ruin Meyer's deal with Antarctic Press. It just baffles the mind.

I'd understand more if Waid went after a reviewer with a bigger audience, like say Linkara. He's been making fun of Marvel and their stupidity for a long time as well.

EDIT: For context, it'd be like Mike Tyson picking a fight with some junior boxer who made fun of his lisp.
 
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