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Cronin Theory of Comics – Writers are More “Famous” on the Internet

Comic book writers appear to have more of a presence on the internet than comic book artists. Now, of course, there are very popular artists who are on the same level as the most popular writers – guys like Jim Lee, John Byrne, Todd McFarlane, George Perez, Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, etc.

However, the second tier writers appear to be on a different level than the second tier artist – on the internet, at least.

To wit, Jason Aaron is basically a household name on the blogosphere while R.M. Guera is much less so.

Now there’s many different possible reasons for this.

As noted in the last post, writers work on more books, so they have more chances to get their names out there, so while Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera are both big parts of Scalped, Aaron also can do multiple other books to get attention, while Guera has just Scalped.

In addition, writers seem to do more interviews than most artists [EDITED TO ADD: And yes, their main skill - writing - also comes in quite handy in a written medium such as the internet].

Whatever the reason, this directly affects my picks for A Month of Writing Stars. While for the Artist Month I was able to pick guys like Pete Woods and Steve Lieber and actually have people say stuff like “Wow, this guy is good, I will check out his work!”, the comparable writers to those guys would be people like Jason Aaron or Dan Slott, and those writers are clearly too famous to spotlight on something like this (“You folks should really check out this Matt Fraction guy. Did you ever hear of Christos Gage?”)

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Writers also _write_, which the Internet is very well suited to pass on. Which is not to say that artists can post art on the Internet as well, but in terms of getting your name out, there are very few artists out there with the web presence of, say, Warren Ellis or even Brian Wood in terms of blogging, twittering, etc.

I don’t know about the whole internet but I can tell you why writers are more “famous” to me: it’s simply because I care about the script a lot more than I care about the art. There are a couple of artists I really cannot stand (Humberto Ramos, Larry Stroman, maybe Greg Land), but as long as the art is not completely horrible I generally don’t care too much. Therefore if I read a good comics I’m much more likely to remember the writer’s name than the artist’s.

I’m not sure Simonson, Miller and Byrne are good examples of “popular artists who are on the same level as the most popular writers.” I think of Simonson as writer moreso than an artist (after all, he only drew half of the issues of his Thor run) and Miller at least as much of a writer as an artist (in that I can think of an important work he wrote but did not draw – Year One – but cannot think of an important work that he drew but did not write). While his run with Claremont on UXM probably leads most people to view Byrne as an artist first, his runs on Superman, Fantastic Four and Next Men show the importance of his writing to his reputation.

Of course, this minor quibble just reinforces your larger point of how it’s hard for a comic creator to have a significant web presence without writing credentials.

Anonymous, Frank Miller drew the first Wolverine mini (written by Chris Claremont) if i am not mistaken

I’d say it depends on your classifications of “presence” and “second tier.”

Do you qualify the former by how many people know of an artist? By how often his/her name comes up in conversation on blogs and messageboards? By how many hits his/her website gets? By how active his comments section is on Deviant Art? I don’t know. There are a lot of ways to claim fame. Especially online.

And, what constitutes the second tier any more? On the web, every artist is still in contention. Cassaday and Quitely are awesome, but they’re not Kirby. Can anyone touch the King?

And, does derision count toward presence? Because Ramos certainly catches his share of flak from all across the internet. Land, too, is probably best known online for tracing porn. Does every mention mean another notch on the fame/presence chart, or is quality a factor? Where is the second tier?

Where do workhorses fall on the list?

Where does Immonen fall?

I just…I don’t get the rankings, man.

Let’s not forget the percentage of aspiring/frustrated comics writers in the internetosphere. So of course they identify/worship writers.

And conversely, I’m sure there’s no frustrated artists online, either, which would add to the writers being more famous.

In all seriousness, though, it does seem that currently the focus for readers seems to be on following a writer more than following an artist. Granted, a hot artist can still sell a book simply by being attached to it, but not in the way they could back in the 90s. Last decade people were way more about following artists from book to book. This decade it’s writers. My guess is people finally got smart and realized a pretty comic with a shitty story isn’t much fun to read, but that could just be my personal bias coming through.

And I guess this is along the same lines, but I also think it’s pretty clear by now that the internet comic community does not make up the majority of the comic book buying community. Because artists and writers and titles that are almost universally panned on the internet still end up being huge sellers, and the only explanation would be either the people on the internet saying how horrible they/it are are still buying it, or there’s a lot of other people out there buying it and not caring what those of us online are saying.

For me, the art is non-negotiable. If the art is bad, I don’t care who the writer is. There is no writer so good that I would buy something with bad art just to read that writer’s writing.

Maybe this is also why “badly written” stories with “Good art” sell better than the internet pundits think it should…

The art sells it to people who are more art-focused, and less likely to post online on boards like this…

They couldn’t care less that Batman: Hush was written by Jeph Loeb or ASBARTBW was written by Frank Miller. They are buying the titles for Jim Lee’s artwork! “Cool! Batman beating up Superman/Green Lantern drawn by Jim Lee! I’ll buy that for $4!”

Omar Karindu, back from an Internet Thogal ritual

January 5, 2009 at 8:35 am

Comics, as a collaborative medium, are rather like film: the best script in the world will be destroyed by bad direction and acting. But the crappiest script in the world — or, as Godard tried to prove, no script at all — can work just fine if well-acted and well-shot.

I think spoilers might have something to do with it. I’ll read an interview with a writer, because I want to get hints about what’s coming up or to get his thinking as to what’s going on in the story. I find artist interviews somewhat boring, because they seem more technical or focus on why a character is drawn a certain way.

One other factor is the language barrier. Every comic writer (in our market) speaks English, while huge numbers of artists out there speak only Spanish or Italian or Portuguese. I can read an interview with Matt Fraction just fine. Whereas since I don’t speak Spanish, I can’t do the same with his art partner, Sal Larocca without an intervening translation which often loses much of the nuance. .

Great point!

Yeah, there are tons of reasons for it.

It was just interesting when I am putting together a list of writers to feature, and so many of them seem far too famous to feature in a deal like this.

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