For those of you who don’t know, Kurt Busiek is one of comic’s most prolific writers, and is probably most well known for his (absolutely fucking excellent) series Astro City. Recently, a post Busiek wrote on a private message board was “accidentally” made public. The gist? The vast majority of comics currently being produced by Marvel and DC are mediocre to sub-par, mired in pointless crossovers and unnecessary blood and gore, and overall completely uninteresting.
Apparently, this has caused a bit of a stink in certain circles, which confuses me a bit, considering that Kurt Busiek is absolutely right.
Seriously, I’m not sure how anyone could get mad about this thing. First of all, Busiek was way more polite about the whole thing than he had any need to be, providing valid, well reasoned, non-inflammatory explanations for why all these current comics don’t work for him, and even went out of his way to note the exceptions that he still finds interesting. It’s pretty hard to get mad at a guy when he essentially ends his argument saying, “but, hey, you know, it’s just not my kind of thing anymore.”
Furthermore, the overall quality of comics from the big two has dropped, and dropped considerably. A couple years ago I could barely keep up with all the books I wanted to read. Now? DC has Secret Six and Batman and Robin, and Marvel is down to The Incredible Hercules/Prince of Power (or whatever they’re calling it this week). That’s it. Out of the dozens and dozens of books these two publish, there are three comics that are any good.
Why should I read from the big two anyway, when there are plenty of excellent alternatives out there? As I mentioned in an earlier post, Vertigo has plenty of great stuff coming out right now (yes, I know that DC owns Vertigo, I’m trying to make a point here—shut up), and with comics like Hellboy, Chew, and Invincible still being released by other publishers, I don’t see any reason to sit around and wait for Marvel and DC to pull their heads out of their asses.
Marvel and DC wonder why the comics side of the business is failing, but when the only answer they can come up with is “More blood! More crossovers! More pandering to our dwindling fan base instead of trying something new!” it’s really hard to be surprised.