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Sunday, June 15, 2014 

Walt Simonson creates his own Thor property

PC Magazine interviewed Simonson about his career as an artist, and lets know that he's preparing his own graphic novel based on Norse mythology called Ragnarok. He also notes he's been criticized for being too old-school:
PCMag: Speaking of lettering, I noticed that contemporary comics have fewer words per panel. Am I crazy or is that a deliberate happening?
WS: My view of that is that comics up until the '80s and '90s were created by people who read pulp novels and magazines as kids. Comics were visual, but they were written with pulp wordiness. Then we had a generation that was raised on movies and not pulps.

I've been attacked on the Web for being old fashioned and using thought balloons. You should use whatever tools are available. If part of what you're writing reflects real life, people do have internal thoughts!
That's a shame there's people today who don't appreciate old strategies that worked. But also that modern output uses less words. I don't think the best tales would work without more wording. Maybe what needs to be done is make the page size bigger instead.
PCMag: How do you counter the critics who say that you're too old-school?
WS: You'd like your work to satisfy you. I don't draw stuff because Jeff will like this. You write and draw for yourself and hope to share it with an audience that appreciates it.
That audience would be me, rest assured. I'm guessing most of the readers who seem fine with less wording are the obsessive collectors not interested in good storytelling, who couldn't care less if there's fewer words per panel.
PCMag: I know people who hope that digital comics will destroy the print collector market in which certain books are hoarded and high prices are maintained. Do you see digital driving down print collector prices?
WS: I'm not sure why anyone would hope that, especially if you get your comics digitally. What difference would the collector's market make? Of course, if you buy most of your comics digitally, but still long to own a copy of The Incredible Hulk # 181, I can understand that.

I think there will always be folks who enjoy the tactile sensibilities of holding an object in their hands, whether it's a coin or a comic or a rare book. That said, I don't have any clear notion of how the digital world in general will affect the collector's market for physical ephemera over the long haul. I could see the market diminishing over time as the number of people who have actually encountered physical comics shrinks, perhaps. However, the market for incunabula can be pretty expensive, and how many of us have ever held an example, let along grew up with them? We're still in the early stages of digital in a lot of ways. Ask me again in 50 years.
In response to this, I'd say it's better for paperbacks to replace pamphlets. Digital might work, but so long as the big two continue down their path of wreckage, I don't think it's going to work for them.
PCMag: Comics are selling, and their move adaptations rule the box office. Are we witnessing a comic book bubble that's bound to pop?
WS: Comics have always been a feast or famine business. The Image guys, the original seven or so guys, did pretty fine back in the '90s. There are times when [comic book] sales have been in the toilet. A number of times there were guys that I'd worked with who left the business for jobs that would sustain them. I have been very lucky.
Comics as pamphlets are not selling, thanks to the poor writing in mainstream and the ridiculous prices. And I'm disappointed here that Simonson wouldn't admit several examples from Image's early output helped damage the industry in the long run, like the notorious Rob Liefeld, and also Erik Larsen and Todd McFarlane. All that pandering to speculators for assumed monetary value and no good writing ruined everything, and Simonson would do better not to sugarcoat. So that's the part where he comes up short, by not being clear with the interviewer about the real sales picture, or Image's early embarrassments. I wish him well with his new take on Viking mythology, but I'd be a lot happier if more contributors would just show some guts and tell what brought down the medium.

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So now Walt Simonson is considered "old school." I can remember when his work (Manhunter at DC in the 1970's, Thor at Marvel in the 1980's) was considered innovative and cutting edge.

Contrary to PC Magazine, comics are not selling well, and the movie adaptations don't always "rule the box office." Today's top-selling comics would have been cancelled for low sales in the Silver Age. And some movies based on comics have been smash hits, but others have bombed.

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