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Image Comics Publisher: What’s So Wrong With Wanting Your Comic To Be A Movie?

A common complaint from comic book fans about a number of creator-owned comics is that they’re little more than “movie pitches with pictures,” but as Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson asks, what’s so wrong with that, exactly…?”Let’s pretend for a moment that virtually everyone writing and drawing creator-owned comics is only doing so because they want to shop their ideas around to Hollywood, so they can be turned into television shows and movies. Or both,” Stephenson wrote on his blog in response to the criticism. “Let’s say these creative people are so driven by ambition that selling comic books simply isn’t enough. They don’t just want their stories to reach comic book readers – they want them to reach the world. They want as many people as possible to read their stories, to look at their artwork, to experience their creativity. Is that so wrong? Is wanting to expand the audience for your creative endeavors beyond the relatively limited horizons of the comics market really a bad thing?”

As one of the premiere publishers of original creator-owned comics in the American comic book industry, titles coming from Image Comics have found themselves the targets of the “nothing but movie pitches” accusation on multiple occasions, whether on titles like Robert Kirkman’s Thief of Thieves series or series created by talents outside of the traditional comic gene pool like Rosario Dawson’s Occult Crimes Taskforce or Tyrese Gibson’s Tyrese Gibson’s Mayhem (Not a typo; “Tyrese Gibson’s” is part of the actual title of the comic book). As Stephenson argues, however, the idea that wanting to take a comic book into another medium is automatically a bad thing while simultaneously cheering the success of Marvel’s The Avengers seems contradictory:

Somehow, though, it’s okay to cheer for Marvel when Avengers makes millions at the box office – not even the smallest amount of which is shared with the estate of the series’ co-creator – but comics by independent writers and artists who want to retain control of their creations and profit from their the mainstream exploitation of their work “are little more than story boards” for movie pitches?

Even if all anyone producing creator-owned comics wants is to have their comic book stories turned into movies, that’s a pretty disgusting double standard.

In fact, he continues, it’s not just one double standard, it’s two:

If you look outside comics, there is original new fiction of all stripes – and novels are adapted into films and television shows even more frequently than comics – but are the writers behind those books being accused of generating new ideas simply to pitch to other media?

Or is it just that certain comics readers somehow feel threatened by the fact that not all writers and artists want to filter their creativity through someone else’s characters and ideas?

Them’s fighting words (Not a first from the outspoken Stephenson), but there’s more than a grain of truth about the defensiveness of comic fans in there. Perhaps fans should start complaining that Marvel and DC are producing comics purely as IP R&D for awhile in order to even things out?

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