Is is worth starting a creator-owned project in Vertigo anymore?

Is it worth starting a creator-owned project in Vertigo anymore?  Vertigo is the only surviving experimental imprints DC Comics still has.  Wildstorm is now dead, Paradox Press and Helix either are long forgotten or absorbed into Vertigo. Old series like The Crusades and Outlaw Nation have found new homes in reprints at Image, why because contract policies change over time with the evolving comic market.  Some series are incompletely collected in Trade like American Century and Books of Magic, likely because of the idea Vertigo has that these are not profitable, so they are left abandoned.  
Trade Paperbacks have become the norm that most Vertigo readers flock to.  This Graphic Novel culture no longer buys Vertigo monthly comics at average, but it is the monthly sales that drive the industry still.  In 2010, Air, Greek Street, Madame Xandau and Unknown Solider all were canceled.  Some monthly sales were obvious such as Air and Greek Street, which doesn't mean they were bad books, it just means they were undiscovered by the mass population who only read the "safe" and "popular" books. Even the acclaimed Madame Xanadu and the award-winning Unknown Solider just didn't have the support to cement their place.  
Vertigo has seemed to loose its identity.  Image has become as cutting edge with books like Walking Dead and Chew.  Old properties once Vertigo either forgotten or have found different homes.  There was even a Vertigo Encyclopedia that has series missing, likely because the rights are no longer Vertigo.
One Flaw Vertigo has had over its life span is its lack of "Edge".  Vertigo claiming it is "On the Ledge", but really all it was is they were a foot before the ledge.  Vertigo has shown it has no spine with not reprinting Flex Mentallo, even with Grant Morrison's name attached.  Vertigo as well lost a lot of respect with Hellblazer and Warren Ellis fans for originally censoring Hellblazer #141 "Shoot", taking over 10 years to finally print it.  The Jonah Hex Vertigo series " Riders of the Worm and such" as well has never been reprinted, like Flex Mentallo, Vertigo doesn't want to upset the people the books parodied.   Vertigo has simply lost itself. Wants to be edgy, but when too edgy it takes a step back.
I spoke to Greg Rucka at a Convention in Toronto over the Summer and asked why he doesn't release any creator owned work with Vertigo.  His response "I hate their contract".  My understanding the Vertigo Contract at that time was very controlling with rights, like movie deals have to be Warner or something like that.  I don't know the page rates, I felt is was not polite to ask. I was reading an article and the contracts for Vertigo apparently have changed again.
The below is from Bleeding Cool and I did not write any of it and do not take credit for the below part.

Contractual Changes On Creator Owned DC Comics

Submitted by Rich Johnston on December 20, 2010 – 8:00 am

I understand from a number of impassioned pleas by Vertigo creators that there has been a major contractual  change instigated at Vertigo. And indeed I’m now told it will apply to all new creator owned series at DC, Vertigo or otherwise.

The most recent model  saw creators working on a relatively lower page rate than work for hire (though the highest page rate in creator owned circles) and it was treated as an advance against monthly royalties – even if those royalties never paid out.

But previously the trade paperback and monthly comics payment dividends were separate – you were paid royalties on the collections from day one, no matter how the monthly series performed.

But now, if your book doesn’t make enough money as a monthly, they’ll won’t pay trade paperback royalties until it’s made enough money for the publisher.

But rather than affecting the lower selling books, it will probably affect all of them. The trade paperback clawback will kick in if monthly sales don’t reach 50,000 – which Vertigo books haven;t really seen since the Sandman days. It’s also possible that sales of trade paperbacks will never make enough to pay our royalties. And there are some current creators who depend on those royalties.

This won’t apply retroactively, those books are bound by previous contracts. It will only affect new projects going forward. From whatever date this policy actually came in.

This year has seen a number of underperforming monthly books cancelled at the company including Unknown Soldier, Air and Madame Xanadu. Future plans for a number of original graphic novels have been abandoned if the books were not sufficiently completed, involved editors have been made redundant, and Bob Harras has taking editorial responsibility for Vertigo with certain responsibilities away from Executive Editor Karen Berger. This was explained to me by a senior DC executive as being part of a financial rationalisation of Vertigo, the realisation that certain books have bled money for the company, without any likelihood they may make money for the company in the future. And they’d rather concentrate on the likes of The Unwritten and American Vampire. Well this looks like the next step.

DC/Vertigo have found it difficult to attract what used to be their stalwart creators after a previous change in contracts. The likes of Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Ed Brubaker and others have chosen to take their creator owned books to Avatar, Image and Marvel, rather than give up half their media property rights. And now we have a new generation of Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire and Brian Wood joining the semi-new generation of Bill Willingham, Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey and Peter Gross. But how will they react to the new deal?

A reduction of sales and orders across the board in the comics industry mean that more monthly comics at Vertigo are at risk from cancellation, unless the company can find a way to justify their publication to the beancounters satisfaction.

This new change may make it harder to keep some of the people they still have on board. But it may also keep some of their books in publication…

Okay, back to the point.  The fans don't support Vertigo monthly and Vertigo knows this, yet the new contract seems like it traps creators now.  If you are a new guy looking  to make a name for yourself, Vertigo is scary if you can't make sales.  Vertigo was once a place were writers could experiment; Grant Morrison for example has written most of his best work to date under Vertigo.  But if sales suck why, would he ever leave Superheroes?  I don't think I would sign a Vertigo Contract if it was offered to me....
50,000 units or the trade paperback royalties are affected? Come on... that is not fair.  Writers and artist need to eat too.  Vertigo is too busy repackaging Sandman and Preacher to even push older great series like Sandman Mystery Theatre or The Dreaming.  
Vertigo needs to figure out what they want to do, make max profits or be the place were they can push boundaries.  Only when they dare to be the best can they.  It has been a long times since Vertigo had the status it did in the 90s.  Food for thought, may be some readers need to cut back on some poorly written superheroes and read something different.  It doesn't have to be Vertigo, but if Spider-Man is just going to have more Brand New Days and One Moment in Times, why not try an I, Zombie or a Sweet Tooth?  Series like Greek Street is bigger bang for you buck when you factor in that you have to try to understand it like how Morrison's books were not always clear and look at him now.
I guess all I am saying is the industry is not healthy and it needs a change.
- Silkcuts


*This is a Silkcuts' recommended pick up!*

Written by JEFF LEMIRE 
Art and cover by JEFF LEMIRE 
After the explosive conclusion of “Animal Armies,” Jepperd and his new traveling companions begin a long trek north in search of answers in this stand-alone issue. But as the first snowfall of the year hits, mistrust and fear threaten to tear the group apart before they even get started! This story will be presented in a special, horizontal storytelling format. 
On sale FEBRUARY 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US MATURE READERS

Message from Silkcuts

I'll be honest to you. Pick this issue up.  If you are a Sweet Tooth reader or not, this issue in this format is what Comics are about (Pushing the medium). This single stand alone will read better in this format, so even trade readers may want to get this issue for future reading.  Non Sweet Tooth readers can use this as a jump in point (Hopefully). Sweet Tooth is one of those series I double dip in, I pick it up monthly and then in trade and this issue I know I will only read as this format, even when I have the trade.
This is an issue you may not want to skip on.  Even if you are a late adapter, Sweet Tooth is one of Vertigo's stronger books, you may not want to miss this issue.  Your Local comic shop may not carry many of these, so you may want to place an order with them.  Don't pass up this issue.
There is a preview of the issue ( HERE)

- Silkcuts

Talking about Grant Morrison's Batman

Here is a thread attached to my blog (Silkcuts) so I can monitor comments so we as a community can make sense of Grant Morrison's Epic which is Batman.  From past Batman related reviews I have gone into details of cryptic symbols and pop culture influences.  This thread is available for all to discuss on, please keep it relevant, I will reserve the right to delete and monitor this accordingly.  There are others who will serve as co-editors of this Grant Morrison Batman project: Amegashita, FadeToBlackBolt J1ml33 and SUPER-MAN 23.  Feel free to contact them since they were involved in this Hypersigil of a project from the beginning of me starting it. 
The talks and discussions on this thread will help to create other discussion threads and when more threads get created there will be a master list to link everything together.  Any ideas a good idea when dealing with this Batman run.  Grant Morrison puts things in his comic on purpose and we all have to come together as "Detectives" to figute it out.  We can figure each comic out if we come together.  Be not afraid. Enter freely and at your own will.
Here is to making Comicvine a place were the analytical mind can grown.
 - Silkcuts


Helping each other out with G-Mo's Batman (prelude)

I was talking to a lot of people since my latest Batman review - Batman: The Return.  Some people asked if I was going to review Batman Inc, which I really debated.  For now I've held off.  The Digging Deeper into Bruce Wayne's Past blog got decent response.  So that got me thinking, should we as a community create a Morrison Support group?  I was talking to SUPER-MAN 23 and he commented about "Silkcuts Incorporated", which I thought was cleaver and funny.  I am glad we can joke, but seriously, would a support group be the better direction about talking about Morrison's books? Sounds better then a review an issue or so just pointing out stuff, right? If its a good idea, what would we call this support group and who would join?
I have already listed a lot of the cryptic messages over the last few batman related reviews, I would list more, but I can't do all the detective work, I am sure I miss stuff as well. Who is with me?   

To making a better reader out of all of us.
- Silkcuts


Digging Deeper into Bruce Wayne's Past

My take on The Return of Bruce Wayne is different then my peers.  Partly the reason is because I waited to review all 6 issue of The Return of Bruce Wayne all at once.  With Grant Morrison his stories have a lot of layers to them. Grant Morrison is acclaimed because he is one of the few writers who really push the medium to its potential. Part of the reason he can do this is because of his knowledge in the Occult.   There will always be three types of readers that walk away from a Grant Morrison story: (1) Those that had no idea what happened and did not like it, (2) Those that had no idea or little idea what really happened but enjoyed the story and (3) those who understand the messages between the lines.   With Grant Morrison spearheading Batman, the three camps have been more obvious than ever.   Some old fans have left the series and have not comeback, many have stayed on for the ride and try to understand as much as they can.   The following reviews are more about the Occult symbols and why it is making Batman the level of young Vertigo when Grant Morrison was making his name.  
The Return of Bruce Wayne Reviews:

  1. Here
  2. Here
  3. Here
  4. Here
  5. Here
  6. Here
I would love to talk about the comics here or on the reviews itself.  Grant Morrison is writing comics we can be analytical with and I am loving it.

Manapul's Flash of Fame

I want to believe I am the biggest Francis Manapul fan, but I'm likely not, since I never heard of him before he was making huge strides at DC Comics.  One thing is for sure, I am very proud of him.  He calls Toronto home and same with me.  He was was raised in a Filipino house hold same as me.... (Shocker for those who think I am British... I am not even close).  But Back to Manapul, he has such as great story and for the level of talent he is, he is still a Humble man, he has become a hero to me.  ( HERE) is a link to the article found in The Canadian Immigrant for November 2010.

Francis Manapul is a Peerless creator in comics because he is the perfect balance of Talent and humbleness.  Swagger can be a turn off and when you meet Francis he just simply has a magnetic Personality.  I am so glad this article was printed, I could not praise him better.  Francis deserves every nice thing said about him because he is a great guy.  He is in comics for a reason and I am glad Synchronicity was in his favour.
 If you are in Toronto, see if you can find a copy and pick it up.  Or If you are no where near Toronto I'll give you the link again ( Here). 

Sketches I have from Francis I wanted to share to the Comicvine community and if you (Francis) are reading this thanks again, Krypto is my favorite. 
 Not sure the history of this Signature, I guess because he was only Penciler on the run of the comics.

 Like I mentioned before, not sure why the sig is different then his awesome FJM symbol, but its his.

 Can't cover the Signature.

 I absolutely adored this book my review for it can be found (here)
- Silkcuts

Pornsak Pichetshote and Vertigo

I stated in a past blog, that DC is miss handling Vertigo. ( HERE)

 Pornsak went the extra mile and responded to a question I sent him.
So it is official, Pornsak is finishing up with Vertigo.  It is sad that DC is mishandling the once proud Vertigo.  If you are wondering why I I even bothered asking Pornsak, well I noticed Jeff Lemire is still in contact with him because Pornsak is his Vertigo Editor.  This confused me because I learned Pornsak was laid off.  It is confirmed that Pornsak's time with Vertigo is expired.  I do wish him the best, since I do associate quality with his AWESOME name.
I don't know if he was being nice or he actually read my reviews, but it made my day reading that and I do plan to review more Pornsak soon. :D
I wonder how many other people are worried DC is killing Vertigo?
 - Silkcuts

Support your Local Comic Shops - "Silkcuts Loves Your Comic Shop"

This blog was inspired by Sara's "Comic Vine Loves Your Comic Shop" Thread. 
Part of the reason I love living in Toronto is because of the rich history it has in comics.  Canada in general, but Toronto has to be one of the best places in the world when it comes to comics.  I have spoken to a few people who come across the boarder during Fan Expo and they all seem to love what Toronto offers.  I was once told that Toronto has the most Comicbook stores for its population.   This doesn't shock me at all since I will share with you all my favorite places to pick up Comics in the Greater Toronto Area and why.
I will list the stores in alphabetical order to avoid visual bias:

  • The Beguiling.

     Located at 601 Markham Street - Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Behind Honest Ed's.  Toronto's premier comic book retailer, and possibly Canada's premier graphic storytelling retail store. I have found many great gems there and the staff all know what they are talking about.
  • BMV.

    There are three locations: 2289 Yonge Street, 10 Edward Street and 471 Bloor Street - all Toronto, Ontario, Canada. BMV deals mostly in used and overage books and movies.  Because they do not directly work with diamond, but other sources, they can get huge varieties of books at very low costs.  Their prices reflect the product and what they paid for it, so if a used comic was purchased for like $2, it may sell for $6.  Some trades I've seen go for $2, such as the Andy Diggle Swamp Thing trade.
  • Comics and More

    1325 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.  This has become Jeff Lemire's local comic shop. If you are lucky you may bump into him there, I have during a signing.  This store has been around for over 20 years and the owner still seems to enjoy comics.  There is a pretty good selection.  His back-issue situation is randomly addressed so on a good day you can get great deals.  Besides the Jeff Lemire signing, I have found a bunch of good stuff there too.  I rarely go there because its out of the way of my Wednesday root.
  • Dragon Lady.

    Located at 609 College st  - Toronto, Ontario, Canada .  This store at one time was Darwyn Cooke's local store.  This comic has a great fairly untapped back-issue section.  Me telling you that is a big secret.  I found Peter Milligan Batman issues from long past as well as Brian Azzarello's OOP Marvel Max CAGE there.
  • The Labyrinth.

    Located at 386 Bloor Street west - Toronto, Ontario, Canada .  This store I has a special place in my heart for many reasons. This store I feel is the premier comic art store in Toronto and maybe Canada.  The owner supports local talent by selling their work when he can.  This store also carries a great selection of Sketch books from famous artist, as well as art books (both how to and pretty pictures kind).  Another nice thing about The Labyrinth is the rewards program, where roughly if you by 10 trades you get the 11th free and if you buy 10 comics you roughly get two free.* Confirm in store for details.  Another reason I love The Labyrinth is that the staff knows me as "Kevin the Hellblazer guy".  I pick up my Hellblazer stuff there, like monthlies and trades.

    Three locations: (Main location) 354 Yonge Street, 2nd floor.  - This is the best location for indie and odd ball stuff.
    HAIRY T NORTH 6979 Yonge St. (647)430-1263 - This is the warehouse with the back-issues
    HAIRY T WEST 2949 Dundas St. W - The smallest location, not bad.  I got lucky there with a few random stuff.
  • Seekers.

    Located at 509 Bloor St. West (Downstairs) - Toronto, Ontario, Canada .  This is my OCCULT shop.  They have limited selection of trades, but like BMV they deal mostly in used and overage stock.  This store has been good to me and is a place of synchronicity and if you ever stop in, never know I may be besides you. This is the place I picked up a lot of sweet deals. Such Superboy: Boy of Steel for $12 CAD and Absolute Sandman's $40-60 CAD each.  I mentioned this is my occult shop because if I want anything in the occult, from Tarot cards to magic books, this is where I would look.  I trust the staff there.
  • She Said Boom!

     372 College Street - Toronto, Ontario, Canada .  This is more of a random store, since it is mostly records and used books.  But the trade paperback section is not bad and the prices are pretty good since like BMV and Seekers they deal with used books and overages.
  • Stadium Comics

    499 Main St S #104 - Brampton, ON.  This is an unconventional selection, but it is a secret I have to share.  Stadium Comics is a young store, ran by some very nice guys.  They still have the love for comics which is lost by a lot of the older stores where the owners are just sick of comics.  Free Comic Book day, this is the place to go.  They invite many comic creators and acutally make it a community event.  The last few years Francis Manapul and his girlfriend Agnes Garbowska both have made promises to do Free Comic Book day there.  Francis and Marcus To missed this year, because DC kept them busy, but if they were free that was the store they would be at.  Another nice thing about Stadium is they have a trade paperback reward program, by 10 get 11th free for up to the value of $20 or use that $20 towards a more expensive trade. 
I can understand the urge to save money buying online. I don't blame you and I do buy online myself, most ebay for rare books.  But for the Normal stuff I just shop around and do not depend solely on sites like Amazon.  I know in Toronto we have a healthy comic culture, so these stores can all provide something special.  It could be the service, the product selection, promotions and specials, local comics shops are there because that is how comics stay healthy. We are suppose to go to these shops and flip through and judge for ourselves if we want to read those comics.  Depending only online you are tend depending on others to tell you what is good.  
One of the nicest things about comics is the hunt.  Because of reprints and the industry now being controlled by a younger audience, many of the older good books are being forgotten.  I always love finding books no one has seemed to have read, it is fun and its like find treasure if its really good or fools gold if its really bad.  Supporting your local comic shops is a win-win for everyone.
I attached the link to the "Comic Vine Loves Your Comics Shop" thread. But I would also like to know what great comic shops are in your area. Who knows, may be I'll need that info if I am in your town.
- Silkcuts

Is Bendis a Hypocrite?

Is Bendis a Hypocrite? Thanks  J1ml33 for sending me this link.

First off, I know this is Hypocritical by Copy and Pasting Blogging.  So what? Big deal, I confessed on this one.  This was just too good to ignore.  These two guys I agree with a lot.  Bendis is in the front of the line of the industry. Then he says something but is doing something different.  He can say he wants better written reviews, but really does the masses care?  I don't think they do.  It is easier to have "Knee Jerk" reviews then to have laid out critical reviews.  There are a whole bunch of great Journalistic bloggers on this site, but do people care to read them?  The threads that get the most traffic are the shallow superficial threads like "Which chick is hotter?".
Back to the point.  Bendis says one thing about "Better critic and better journalism", but his best selling comics are not something you can always praise.  So does he really want to hear the good stuff and the better journalism?  To make money in comics you have to sell out.  These guys hit it out of the park with Scarlet. Does it sell Avengers numbers? No. To make money you have to water down the product.
The Comic Industry is hurting as an Art form.  As an Entertainment it is healthy, but most fans don't want to know how comics work.  I am grateful to Mat 'Inferiorego' Elfring for mentioning my Blog and my Batwoman review in his Around the Vine: Community Wrap-Up 10/15/10, but does users on the Vine care for these suggestions?  The Artist blog has not really had any activity, which is likely because most people don't care for "better journalism" and higher criticism. I am not saying it is brilliant, because it is not, but it was researched.  My most passionate work and at times my best is written "FREE", so Bendis is right that writers write best when its free.  When you are making money, you have to write to the masses because you have to sacrifice something to make it more appealing.  When you write to the masses you have to write more shallow and avoid any depth, the more complicated the work, the more likely the fans won't like it.  I like to think of Grant Morrison and his X-Men.  I enjoyed it, but it is light years a head of any X-Men before it, so a lot of the masses didn't accept it.
I listed Bendis as the number 1 most overrated writer because of his confusing stance on creating comics.  When he writes for himself, I have nothing bad to say.  When he writes to the masses I rather use the comics as kindle.  In retrospective, maybe that was hash, but its true.  Most of the writers I listed there were better writers before they catered to the masses. If Bendis means what he says, then I would love to see him raise the bar in his superhero writing.  It is very easy to say it when you have the money.  I don't make a cent with the what I write on the Vine, but when I get the one or two readers it is all worth while.  Writing for me is about the substance, something I feel is lost in comics today.  This rant of a blog is not to single out anyone on the Vine, it is about Bendis.  He is on to something?  If so does that make him a hypocrite? 
Does the industry need a change?
- Silkcuts