Steven T. Seagle on the State of New Comics

Vertigo's excellent American Virgin ongoing by Steven T. Seagle and Becky Cloonan will cease to go on, but Steve did offer this after the news.

I don’t know what else Becky and I could really do.

Though I have learned some more truths about monthly comics circa 2007:

Doing A Good Book Is Not Enough – You can see what the reaction is from people who actually read American Virgin. And yeah, before the naysayers pop up to post “Well, I hated it,” as they inevitably feel compelled to do – let me just say I didn’t really cherry pick too much here. What you read above is what is out there for the most part. And while I’ve known some creators who ask people to “pimp their rides,” to the best of my knowledge I don’t personally know any of the kind reviewers above – who I thank for their support. They just seemed to really like the book we were doing. But that wasn’t enough.

A Great Launch is Not Enough – Our first issue not only sold relatively well, but it actually sold out a four thousand copy overprint. American Virgin #1 clocked in at around 24,000 units (you never get that from these charts everyone analyzes month in and month out). Our second issue sold out too, and while I thought something would be made of the sell-outs, nothing was. Our bad – a lost opportunity to get some extra juice. And very quickly – despite really great reviews and buzz – and I mean very quickly, we were down to half that amount, and falling. I didn’t worry, because there was a lot of great press about the book and I thought, much like some other launches of the time, we’d get our rebound from the reviews and the release of the collections. But the reviews dwindled off and the second collection never seemed to come out until the writing was on the wall.

Fresh Takes Are Not Enough – I think we’re in an age that really wants fantasy – which American Virgin, obviously, is not. I was delighted that almost every review posted, or email I got, or person I talked to at a convention seemed to mention some variation on the phrase “I have no idea where this is going, but I like the ride.” I don’t want to do comics that are like a hundred comics that have come before them. But when I look at what’s making it in terms of monthlies, the truth is, it’s comics that look like a hundred comics (or movies, or TV shows) that have come before them. The comics I love lately are also dying on the vine because they’re not doing it by the numbers, and I think that’s pretty sad. Still, lesson noted, though not necessarily “learned.”

Letting the Work Speak For Itself Is Not Enough – By and large, I don’t like to get out there and hark about what a great job I’m doing. I always assume that if the work is good, people will notice. But it’s become clear to me that in the age of the super-star creator, it’s important to be yelling about what a f***ing genius you are from every corner. So in the future, when I’m yelling about what a f***ing genius I am from every corner, please remember that I feel as uncomfortable doing it as you must feel hearing it. And when someone posts “Seagle isn’t a f***ing genius” – as they will feel compelled to do - please post a follow-up explaining that I wish I didn’t have to be the person making such claims. PS – Becky Cloonan is a genius to begin with, so please don’t make her yell about East Coast Rising Volume 2, just go out and buy it when it comes out.

Going Out With A Bang Will Have To Be Enough – No, our ending is no surprise to me. I actually called my original editor, Shelly Bond, about a year ago and said, so when are we going to get axed? In actuality, I’m surprised we got this long. So thanks to Shelly, Karen Berger, Vertigo and all my esteemed collaborators on American Virgin over the last couple of years for making it this far. Becky and I have one story left – “69” – and you’ll have no idea where it is going…but you’ll like the ride.

Who knows, maybe if enough of you like it – buy those trades, my friends – we’ll be able to come back some time and do a little more with Adam and the seriously f***ed up Chamberlain clan.

Steven T. Seagle

He's right, of course. Not to shit all over the whole industry, but the fans are scared. Scared of new ideas. Scared of taking chances. Sad, sad state of affairs...

1 comment:

mike choi said...

If you ask me, and I'm not trying to blow the collective horn of my profession, on a brand new product, it's the creative team that gets the readers' attention (and in the case of AV I'm including Vertigo as an entity as part of the team), the art that grabs the readers, and the writing that keeps them.