So J.H. Williams is apparently leaving the relative obscurity of Desolation Jones, Seven Soldiers, and Promethea to draw Batman.
It’s not really a big thing. Williams deserves to be a superstar, and if drawing Batman helps, then good for him.
But it’s what it symbolizes that’s started to bother me. It’s tremendously unfortunate that an artist of Williams’ calibre needs to abandon groundbreaking and creative books by writers like Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, and Warren Ellis to find fame and stardom in the comics market. (Never mind my suspicion that his work with those writers will likely sell far more in the bookstores than Batman ever will.)
You can’t blame him. Everyone else seems to be following the trend. Just look at his colleague Morrison: Two years ago, Morrison produced Seaguy, WE3, and Vimanarama, all wonderfully crazy books he created and owned. Last year, he turned his Crazy-Vision on a bunch of C-listers with Seven Soldiers, where he was effectively able to do whatever he wanted with a bunch of characters no one cared about. But this year, he’s finishing up Seven Soldiers, continuing All-Star Superman, then taking over Detective Comics, WildCATS, and The Authority.
I imagine it’s a result of his contract with DC: Do some creator-owned Vertigo books, a bit of superhero experimentation, and then make DC some serious money on the big guns. And it’s Grant Morrison, who could sell books in his sleep, so I doubt he’s doing any projects he’s not really interested in. I shall not weep for Grant.
But it’s still depressing. It’s not at all new, but it’s depressing. Many comic fans simply don’t care about writers and artists unless they’re on one of 5-10 spandex books; as soon as someone makes a name elsewhere, the fans start clamoring for him to draw X-Men or Batman. People complain about Alan Moore somehow shafting the industry by writing From Hell, Promethea, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen instead of a supposedly groundbreaking run on Green Arrow.
Why can’t Williams be a superstar on Desolation Jones, which runs on the incredibly inaccessible concept of an ex-spy living in Los Angeles and could surely be a success on television or film? Why on earth wasn’t WE3 one of the best-selling comics of 2004-05? Why is Infinite Crisis given marketing precedence over the far superior Seven Soldiers? Why can’t Greg Rucka make Queen & Country one of his comics priorities when he can clearly make good money telling similar stories in novels? Why is it almost impossible for a creator to find fame and fortune without writing something about mutants or the Justice League?
I know, it’s old news and I should be used to it. And yeah, I suppose I’m probably an elitist snob and just miffed because the books I love frequently get lost in the shuffle of crossovers and variant covers.
It shouldn’t bug me, but it does.
I’ll be more cheerful tomorrow. I just wanted to get that off my chest.