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Thread: Review: Creator Owned Heroes #7

  1. #1
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    Default Review: Creator Owned Heroes #7

    Louis Falcetti writes;

    I'm always getting into things at the wrong moment. It wasn't until Jerry Garcia was dead that I started listening to the The Grateful dead. We'd be here till the end of the world (less than two weeks away btw for those keeping score at home) if I was to tell you how many amazing concerts I missed because I hadn't heard of the group only to discover them a week or so later. That's just for music though, comics I'm normally on the ball about. I'm supposed to be freaking good at this! And so it's with a heavy heart that I discover how truly excellent Creator Owned Heroes is, right after the news is passed down of it's untimely cancellation.

    The creative people involved in COH is absurd, absurd to have this many talented people on one project, absurd at the amount of great comics for a totally reasonable price, just baffling. But not as baffling as the books failure to grow an audience, a failure that I'll share as a member of said audience. I didn't know it was this good! I didn't know it was pretty much everything I've been looking for from comics.



    #7 kicks off with a story by Darwyn Cooke & Dave Stewart called "The Deadly Book", a macabre tongue in cheek little tale reminiscent of Charles Addams or Tales from The Crypt, yet drawn with Cooke's masterful style that breaks the word "homage" and insists on a new word instead, for combining one's influences with one's genius. Oh wait, isn't that just called art?

    Another installment in the series "Kill Switch" by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Jerry Lando & Paul Mounts delivers an extremely well executed and well scripted crime story. A crime story that I have yet to read the beginning of. I'll admit that I was a little nervous, jumping in at Chapter 3, but even having no foreknowledge of the characters or the plot I was able to get drawn into the world and made to feel invested in the tale. It reminded me of Ennis' Back to Brooklyn, which shouldn't be a surprise since Palmiotti also worked on that excellent crime book as well. While Chapter 3 of "Kill Switch" probably wouldn't be the place to start with the story, it didn't matter, smart layouts, smart dialog and interesting characters drew me in and kept me there.

    "Meatbag" by Steve Niles & Scott Morse feels like Blast of Silence meets The Big Sleep meets something...wicked dark. Yeah I got an associate's degree in creative writing, why? "Meatbag" is not just a clever name, it has to do with the condition that a body is found in. The story has that Batman The Animated Series feel, where aesthetically it looks and feels like a bad day in 1949, but there are modern devices like camcorders. That combination of style and content works as Niles writes a fast paced, engaging detective tale and Morse delivers art that knows when to pop and knows when to simmer.


    Jeff Burandt and Dean Haspiel deftly prove something that I've been saying for awhile now regarding genre stories in popular culture, and that is we're not out of zombie tales. Just like we're not out of ghost stories or vampire stories or slumber party massacre stories (see Psycho Sleepover if you don't believe me). Smart storytelling can bring new life into any convention, walking dead included. And that is what "Blood + Brains" delivers, smart storytelling and new life, however fleeting into a trope that constantly seems to be on it's last, undead legs.



    The final sequential story in the book is "Complex" written by Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz & Dean Haspiel with photocomix by Kushner featuring Katelan Foisy as well as the aforementioned Miskiewicz as models. "Complex" is the name of the overarching work, while this particular segment is called "Luv_Underscore's_U". Both of those names are appropriate for the story, but "Complex" especially.

    "Complex" is hard to pin down, Foisy is Jasmine Bendory, a reporter assigned to interview VJ Quid, a VJ who appears to play floating computer image music things. VJ stood for "Video Jockey" in the halcyon days of Downtown Julie Brown, but it doesn't seem that VJ Quid is standing in front of a camera shouting about Billy Idol, so it probably means something else in this context. It's a sci-fi comic though at the same time I feel like the ideas being talked about in "Complex" are probably a lot closer to reality than I'm aware of since I barely spend any amount of time in reality as it is and when I am present I'm not looking up tech enhancements. I'm usually just picking up my Wednesday haul at Comics and More.

    "Complex" flits through genres, as quickly as it moves, making you wonder if this is actually a science fiction story, or an erotic one, or a fame parable or a character study. It's all of those things and it accomplishes them in a very small amount of time, and though the work itself is short you can tell that a lot of work and love went into it. It's a comic that challenges your perceptions not only of the high minded ideas being bandied about, but also your perceptions of what comics should look like. Photocomix are not an easy sell and it's because it's so difficult to get them right, to avoid making something that looks like it was thrown together for Wizard Magazine (RIP) filler. You need to have models who can capture the range of emotions demanded by the authors without appearing to be trying too hard and Foisy and Miskiewicz nail it effortlessly. An enticing introduction to a story I hope to see more of soon,

    And that just covers the actual comic parts of COH #7, that says nothing of the great interview with Brandon Seifert (continuing a proud tradition of really excellent people interviewing Seifert), the phenomenal profile of Evan Dorkin or the illuminating and wise answers from Steve Niles or Steve Bunche on matters industry and other.

    Creator Owned Heroes I'm happy that I got to know you, however briefly and will sing your song when you're gone. Who would have thought that the title wasn't actually referring to the content within it's pages, but rather the creative minds behind it. A unique and interesting book, offering what everyone claims to want but seem to be so slow in actually latching on to and that is something different from the dreck the Big 2 routinely crap out. Ani Difranco said, "It's cool to discover someone but hard to support them" and while she was talking about music, you can easily relate it to comics. If it happened once though, it can happen again, so lets hope that the next time we as readers get the opportunity to get on board with something this fresh, it doesn't take it's death to wake us up to it.

  2. #2
    Dean of Cool University Victorian Squid's Avatar
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    This book needed a new title and logo, to start with. The covers I saw weren't selling this book at all, and anthologies are tough as it is.
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    Bleeding Cool die-yng's Avatar
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    Since the news about the titles cancellation hit and since reading the thread here about it, I thought about this book now and then.

    I was surprised that so many people didn't like the title or expected the book to be something different judging from the title.

    Now, I admit that I didn't give the title a second thought, before I ordered the book. I just had to see that Palmiotti/ Gray teamed up with Phil Noto for Triggergirl 6 and I was sold.
    After giving the matter some thought, I think the book would have been more aptly named 'Creator Owned", that title would have been more fitting, catchier and more enticing for new readers-
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victorian Squid View Post
    This book needed a new title and logo, to start with. The covers I saw weren't selling this book at all, and anthologies are tough as it is.
    Agreed. I had a hard time even finding it in the shop because the "creator owned heroes" words were so small and the cover art was so crowded
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    Quote Originally Posted by die-yng View Post

    After giving the matter some thought, I think the book would have been more aptly named 'Creator Owned", that title would have been more fitting, catchier and more enticing for new readers-
    Yeah! I agree completely! It was that name with heroes on the end (and i love capes and cowls comics btw) but for some reason that emphasis on heroes, anthologies i dont read for superhero comics usually, so thats why i was thrown off by the whole deal initially. but yeah.
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  6. #6
    Dean of Cool University Victorian Squid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by die-yng View Post
    Since the news about the titles cancellation hit and since reading the thread here about it, I thought about this book now and then.

    I was surprised that so many people didn't like the title or expected the book to be something different judging from the title.

    Now, I admit that I didn't give the title a second thought, before I ordered the book. I just had to see that Palmiotti/ Gray teamed up with Phil Noto for Triggergirl 6 and I was sold.
    After giving the matter some thought, I think the book would have been more aptly named 'Creator Owned", that title would have been more fitting, catchier and more enticing for new readers-
    I agree, if it had been "Creator-Owned" instead of "Creator Owned Heroes", I probably would have given the book a closer look sooner. The "Heroes" part made me think "superheroes", which don't seem to be the main focus of the book at all. The impression I got from the cover was of a combination superhero anthology/Wizard magazine. Again, that is the immediate impression I got from seeing the covers, not a reflection of the actual content.
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  7. #7
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    I think naming a publication any variation of "we own this" is not the best plan ever.

    But the bigger issue was bland package design, and limited scope for the press coverage [all comics and gaming media, no outside media in anything like a noticeable way that i saw] and it seems like really limited impact in social media - there was a huge push for #1, but after that even the people behind it seemed not to play up the series as much as other things they were up to. I'm friends with Steve Niles on FB and there's like 10 Frankenstein posts for every mere mention of Creator owned in passing even for the last two months - a pattern i have the impression of from most of the players that show up in my feeds - it was almost like they were self conscious about pushing the magazine being part of it.

    When i went drilling on google to explore the theory based on that passing impressions after the cancellation was announced, i found lots of reviews of the issues on less well trafficked blogs and the usual list of comics news and gaming sites. But not much elsewhere.

    So we had a HIGHLY industry oriented self referencing title, that ties the content of the publication sight unseen to a clash between [in some ways against] the largest spending share of the customer base in the direct market, and the less free spending indie side of the market. For an anthology with often cool grey toned covers, with lots of text [design 101 no-no]. That was only given 8 months to find a base in an overcrowded weekly release, monthly cycling market?

    It was not one thing, it was all those things and an unwillingness to let it play out for a full 12 issue volume and then rest for a season break so stragglers could catch up.

    They should reboot, it would help if with a new title that's about great stories and not who's making them [if they asked i had an idea for one that i won't probably have time to use myself] - for sure with new packaging, and a broad general media marketing push that includes the direct market but does not rely on them even for the core press effort. More major media and social media. And give it at least a year guys!

    I took an extra interest in this, as i'm self publishing my own quarterly personal anthology series right now. And my game plan is to make no decisions about it working or not until i'm well into year two. I'm kind of amazed a bunch of seasoned pros threw in the tows so fast here.
    Last edited by salgood; 12-09-2012 at 07:27 PM.

  8. #8
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    Hey guys,

    We did , on average, a few interviews a week, sent out preview copies to retailers through IMAGE comics as well as advancing pdf's to dozens of sites for previews the week before the book hit, and I made personal phone calls and offered free ads to comic shops , as well as made chase covers , because a group of retailers requested them. As well, we created a facebook page dedicated to the book and previewed art and teasers every other day and posted art and links to the interviews, previews and reviews on a daily basis. There was not a day that went by where I was talking up the title to retailers and fans alike. I even sent complimentary copies to retailers that had sell outs or were giving them away for promotion. Internally I sent e mails to all our talent how to push and sell the book themselves.

    We also did giveaways, got fans involved at cons with content ,did booth signings with the model dressed like Triggergirl at San Diego and New York, and as well got the LONG BEACH comic con to give away a exclusive issue to each person that bought tickets to the weekend show. As far as outside comic book media, we did interviews for sci-fi magazines and sites, hit horror sites and we did some videos pushing the books at San Diego Comic Con. There was a ton of interaction...i know...because my house became a press room for the past 8 months.

    What we didnt have was a lot of sales and money to make posters or pay for ads.we also had a bunch of artists and people that did not know how to push social media or their work, so a lot of the promotion came down to just a few. We had a loyal base of about 4-5 thousand people buying the book, but the profit on that number did not cover paying all my guys..which I did out of pocket in advance. I would never ask someone to work for free. As well, we tried and learned and experimented with interior design, logo design and the articles as well inside. It was an experiment on our part, but in the end, I just didnt have the extra 24 grand to see the book to issue 12.

    Looking back is always easy and seeing where we failed is also easy. I am proud of the 8 issues...issue 7 was a turning point for us design wise...and issue 8 we feature a bunch of interviews with guys like Kirkman and the Hernandez brothers and so on. I got the comments from the retailers...we got the recommendations from fans and pros and we were always changing the book. Compare issue 1 to issue 7 and you can see where we were headed.

    Given another chance, I would be changing a ton of things...First being raising the price point out of the gate. but for now, it will make some nice smaller collections and a great trade book down the line and I thank those that gave us a chance and grew with us. Its easy to throw stones at projects like this, but you do have to understand that it was the first time we tried something like this and wanted to give something back to the fans...comics and articles and interaction that they were not getting elsewhere in a comic book format.

    Yeah, wanted to stop by here and say my peace. Glad the last few issues are getting such nice reviews...and glad to see the book on this site being covered. ...and yes, we would probably drop the word "heroes" out of the title. Live and learn.

    JIMMY PALMIOTTI

  9. #9
    Bleeding Cool die-yng's Avatar
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    Well, apart from the name I had nothing to criticize at all. I loved the book, every single issue and I'm sad it's gone and glad for the issues we got.
    PLEASE CONSIDER putting SilverSmurfer on ignore due to his factually incorrect and hysteric claim that "Uber" is a "historically revisionist nazi fantasy," and that we should boycott Avatar for it.
    Thank you for your Considerations.

  10. #10
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    COH was something amazing in a sea of so-so. It deserves an OHC treatment, which would make the articles easier to read. Even a lower print run for those that value content over titles, would be worth it.

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