Mark Waid on the Big Two

I know, I tend to feature a lot of Mark Waid quotes on my blog. But that’s because he’s one of the few big name creators that a) talks fairly openly about the realities of the comic book business, and b) often has insightful and forward-thinking comments. Anyway, this particular one comes from a very lengthy and in-depth interview with Tom Spurgeon, over at The Comic Reporter blog:

Spurgeon: Is it particularly tough right now for comics to keep their eyes on that prize given the pressure of the corporate demands?

WAID: Yes. It really is. It’s harder than it ever has been before. I think part of that is because as a medium of a 32-page comics, or 28-page comics, or whatever they are right this moment, the standard monthly issues, I think those sales have pretty much plateaued. You look at anecdotal evidence that sales are up on monthly issues, but I don’t know if that’s sustainable and I don’t know if that’s a huge bump up. It doesn’t seem to me to indicate a rising trend. Let me put it this way. I do not know this, I am pulling this speculation totally out of my ass based on some informed conversation, but I would not be surprised if DC’s New 52 had been a hail mary pass. I would not be surprised to learn that Diane Nelson looked at the figures and the overhead and said a couple of years ago, “All right, boys. Pack up shop. We’re going to go reprint.” And Dan [DiDio] and Jim [Lee] and whoever else came in to make their case. “Give us one more shot at selling out comics exclusively to 13-year-old boys.” Again, that is speculation on my end. That probably isn’t true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case.

At Marvel, a little less so, I think. Those people seem to answer to higher-ups that seem to get what they’re doing a little more. They seem to grant a little more creative latitude. But I can certainly see it. There’s always the need to generate profits, move the next quarter. There’s always a need, even more as these companies are absorbed by the Warner Brothers and the Disneys of the world, there’s always more of a need to make the balance sheets shinier every year. It’s a tough job. A lot of times it means doing corporate stuff.

In the same interview, Waid talks openly about being essentially blacklisted over at DC, and forced to move on. It’s a really good read, if you have the time.