The Dark Herald observes that the independents have completely routed the dinosaurs of the comics industry:
Comics Gate is over and the Big Two lost bigly.
What was CG has turned into is a revived and hyper-successful indie comics scene. The reason the old indie comics scene petered out was because back in the 1990s there was a one-two punch of comic book shops failing en masse, combined with the Big Two being big enough back then to get out in front of the movement.
Well, the big two don’t seem to be much bigger than the indie houses these days and genuinely talented creatives got screwed by lawyers assigned by the mega-corporations that still own the Big Two. Here’s a surprise, it turns out that “creator-owned” doesn’t actually mean “creator-controlled.” Sure the creator “owns” the character but the Big Two can do whatever the hell it feels like with them.
You made a comic book about a roaring, roistering barbarian warrior who kills orcs all day and bangs the bar wenches all night? Tough luck shithead! Conanson is now a genderqueer, trans living in New York City and constantly being amazed by how kick-ass his ex-girlfriend is because we say so.
You can do what Bill Winningham did and put his comic into the public domain. Maybe, but DC is fighting that one tooth and nail. Bottomline, you make a deal with the devil, the devil will be in the details.
When the history of the last gasp of the traditional comics industry is written, one of the most significant elements noted by historians will be the ALT★HERO crowdfunding campaign on Freestartr. Although the platform is defunct, the comic is going strong – I just received the final inks for Issue #10 from the illustrator – and the unprecedented support it received from the readers here inspired Ethan van Sciver, Eric July, and most recently, Razorfist, to launch even more successful campaigns.
Since the comics media – with the exception of Bounding Into Comics – studiously ignores Arkhaven, most people still don’t realize that ALT★HERO was most successful new comics crowdfund ever at the time of its launch. It has since been surpassed, of course, but it was conclusive proof that creators not only had any need of Marvel or DC Comics to produce top-quality comics, but could actually be better off going independent than working for them.
Now we’re seeing the mainstream artists struggling to find work, seeing their sales crumbling, and watching their creations be wilfully destroyed. Now we’re seeing new names and established figures alike going independent. And now the independents are starting to work together. While it’s too soon to name any names or titles, Arkhaven will be publishing some of the most successful recent crowdfunds, and some of those titles will also be appearing on Arktoons. All of the creators retain ownership and control of their creations, and in fact, some of these new creations are already being licensed by third parties.
Comic book legend Chuck Dixon, the creator of Bane, will see his recently released Chuck Dixon’s Conan novels get developed into a new RPG sourcebook. The new RPG sourcebook is being created by Autarch LLC and will use the company’s upcoming Adventurer Conqueror King System Imperial Imprint (ACKS II), the second edition of the company’s role-playing game.
The independent ecosystem may be small in comparison with the mainstream comics and RPG industries now, but note that it is already larger, and much more successful, than either of those industries were in their early days. And these are just the early days.
The ride never ends.