DC Buys Into Maker Culture with New SDCC Ads
Between the number of creators leaving the Big Two publishers for independent projects that they'll own, the controversy over Before Watchmen or the renewed success of Image Comics in the past few months, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the creators. Maybe that's why DC Comics is advertising its San Diego Comic-Con presence as a chance to "Meet The Makers."DC unveiled its "Meet The Makers" branding on its blog yesterday with a Scott Snyder ad, following it up this morning with one spotlighting Geoff Johns (A third is promised for tomorrow). The ads, which promise that SDCC will offer fans the chance to "See the sights. Talk the talk. Meet the makers." even if they're just following the con from home via the Internet, will run in DC books over the next few weeks, according to the blog. It's an interesting choice for the publisher, which has traditionally pushed characters and brands over individual creators. In some ways, it echoes Image Comics' "Experience Creativity" ads that spotlight individual creators, but with one telling difference: Snyder, Johns and the unnamed third creator (Presumably either Grant Morrison or Jim Lee, considering their big name status) are referred to as "Makers" instead of "Creators."
In many ways, it's a more honest title; neither Snyder and Johns created the characters they're working on, but they do make the current comics. When you factor in DC Comics' somewhat difficult relationship with those who did create successful characters for the company, however -- In addition to Alan Moore, who has spoken out against the current Before Watchmen line, you don't have to look far before reading stories about the heirs to Jerry Siegel suing for ownership of Superman, and that's just in the last couple of weeks -- the change of terminology seems more telling, and also slightly more ominous. "Makers" doesn't just feel less important than "Creators," it feels more temporary: Making isn't as unique as creating, it's doing a job, goes the implication. A maker is someone who can be replaced without the final product being affected too badly.
It's the opposite tack from Marvel, which promotes its creators as "Architects," positioning them as being responsible for a "House of Ideas," although that branding also removes the "creator" term -- again, with good reason -- and portrays what the creators do as a job, instead of something more romantic and idealistic.
Perhaps this is the best way for both Marvel and DC to take advantage of increasing awareness on the part of the audience about who is writing and drawing their favorite books, and the cult of personality that promotes, while also downplaying the issue of authorial ownership. Of course, it's also possible that DC simply chose the term "makers" for its alliterative qualities when paired with the word "Meet," and are pushing creators because there's no big publishing news coming from them this year. I guess we'll see in a couple of weeks when SDCC begins...