Sporadic Sequential
Friday, August 18, 2006
A Personality Quiz You'll Never See in Cosmo

David Welsh has a great post today about how a publisher's corporate personality can impact a consumer's perception of their product. Logically, I know that the former shouldn't necessarily affect the latter (except in extreme cases where corporate philosophy is very top-down, as in the Bill Jemas era) -- that the work should be able to stand on its own merits, independent of the attitudes and atmosphere surrounding the creation and promotion of said work -- but I also know that a publisher's antics do influence how I view their books. With that in mind, I decided to attempt to uncover my feelings about various publishers and catalog them as honestly as I could. Here's what I came up with:

Comic Book Publishers: A Field Guide to Understanding Their Quirks and Complications
Publisher Typical Behavior Overall Impression Created
DC - Is it Monday? Time for a new creative team and/or reboot/relaunch of our entire superhero universe!
- We just know this beloved character who has never been able to attract an audience will finally succeed this time
- But we also have Vertigo, CMX, and Wildstorm
Strangely ambivalent about own rich history: sometimes proud of quirky characters, embracing their inherent goofiness; sometimes attempt to cover up embarrassment over silly characters by changing everything about them except name (bipolar / manic-depressive?) Compartmentalizes.
Marvel - Endless announcements of upcoming and/or delayed projects, always involving excessive, near-delusional hype
- Announcements of exclusive creator contracts
- Subtle digs at their main competitor, followed by some insincere praise for same competitor
- Underlying tone of hostility toward fanbase
Arrogant; narcissistic; possessive; bully
Dark Horse - Very little in the way of hype
- Also very little in the way of updates: Cancellations or delays only discovered when online retailers inform me that my order will be delayed
Uncommunicative; aloof; mysterious; unreliable
Tokyopop - Barrage of press announcements bragging about latest innovation that will transform the industry that week
- Redesigned website hoping to catch some of that MySpace buzz
Insecure: needs to exaggerate own accomplishments while also copying what it sees as "hot trends"
Viz - Dominates Bookscan charts
- Lets others report on the fact that they dominate sales charts
Quiet performer secure in own abilities
Drawn & Quarterly - Announces intriguing-sounding projects that are neither too artsy nor too low-brow, but work never materializes; consumer wonders, "Did I just imagine that project?"; finally, work does show up years later (but looking beautiful) after audience has forgotten about it Perfectionist
Fantagraphics - Experiments with formats and content
- Occasionally rages against stupidity of rest of industry
Unpredictable; challenging
First Second - Sends out dozens (hundreds?) of comp copies to blogosphere to promote initial launch
- Works in small, manageable bursts
Confident and generous; professional

Granted, this is just a first pass based on my current impressions. Perhaps with more thought and additional refinement (not to mention input from others), this "Publisher Personality Profile" chart could become the basis for a new Internet fad: Which Comic Book Publisher Are You? (I'd say I'm some sort of mix between DC and Drawn & Quarterly, but that might just be my inner Tokyopop talking.)