Posts Tagged ‘Ike Perlmutter’

Outsourcing Comics

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

 

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Last week’s blog post, Power Outage at Marvel, suggested that Marvel and DC, in an effort to cut costs, might consider suspending their publishing arms and focus on licensing their characters to other comics publishers to minimize their expenses and risks.  This concept might be a little extreme considering the two industry giants have each been making comic books for over 75 years but there is no doubt that the depth of their intellectual property is now more valuable in other forms of entertainment media and as a license option.

Marvel and DC, however, could understandably balk at the idea of farming out their comic books to others but would still need to cut costs in production or do a radical shift in marketing of comic books if they intend to effect things like DC’s reported two million dollar fiscal loss or Ike Perlmutter’s legendary thriftiness at Marvel.

Given that the current climate of American industry is a willingness to outsource production and manufacturing to foreign countries, it has to be considered that this be a logical possibility for comic books. Recent polls have shown that comic book writers are more popular now with readers than comic book artists, and though the art is definitely more labor intensive, it is also seemingly more interchangeable by today’s standards. What are the chances that art production could be shipped overseas, especially to India where great strides are already being taken in comic art production?

amazing_world_of_carmine_infantinoThere is precedence for this in comics. Carmine Infantino in his insightful autbiography, Amazing World of Carmine Infantino,” describes how, in an effort to stave off a comic artist strike in 1971, He, Joe Orlando, and Tony Dezuniga, went to the Philippines where artists were used to getting $2 – $3 a page. Their plan was to have Tony and his wife run a shop with artists where DC paid $45 – $50 per page plus 20% to the Dezuniga’s for their management effort. Later, a young Filipino artist comes forward at a convention complaining about being paid only $5 per page and it became clear that those running the show in the Philippines were robbing the artists and DC blind. Carmine does a wonderful job of not making a direct accusation but gives us enough information to explain possibly why the Dezunigas do not return to New York until 1977.

The influx of Filipino artists did prevent a strike and it did give us the great talents of Rudy Nebres, Alfredo Alcala, Alex Niño, Nestor Redondo and Gerry Talaoc just to name a few, but we may never know how much it set back the value of American comic artists in the industry.

We are living in a global economy where we are happy to see our electronics, clothing, food and everything else farmed out to people working in other countries for slave wages by our standards. It is sad to expect that the same will happen to our comic books. Many companies already print in China and elsewhere and nobody complains. Who knows? The next issue of Superman or Spider-Man could be drawn by a kid from India working for peanuts.

Just another reason to support homegrown, independent comics.

Gerry Giovinco

Power Outage at Marvel

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

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It has been a long time coming. Ever since Disney plunked down four billion bucks to buy Marvel, the world has been waiting for Marvel to lose its autonomy. It finally happened last week when Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter was deposed as reigning king of the roost at Marvel Studios. Kevin Feige stepped over his former boss to report directly to Disney honcho, Alan Horn, to oversee that Marvel Studios joins with Pixar and Lucasfilm in its next logical step of integration with the House of the Mouse.

Perlmutter is a notoriously tight fisted skinflint that refuses interviews and lurks in the shadows, dodging photographers like a vampire reeling from the crack of dawn. (Only one image of him from decades ago exists on the internet!) Legends of his unscrupulous tactics abound from wanting to offer only potato chips at a Marvel premier to denying new pencils if two inches were left on an old one. He led Marvel with all the fear tactics and guile of Dr. Doom but his success as a dictator was unquestionable until now.

Perlmutter was deemed too much of a threat to the sanctity of Hollywood business etiquette and has now been banished to control only the television, animation and publishing end of Marvel.

Oh, the irony!

The world knows, and Kevin Fiege will attest, that the success of Marvel Studios has been predicated on the quality of the source material culled from the comic books and their persistent adherence to it. Yet, the comic book publishing end, like Ike Perlmutter, will be destined to play second fiddle to the hugely profitable films regardless of how responsible both the comics and Perlmutter are for being the  solid foundation on which the current Marvel empire has been  built.

Perlmutter in his storied career has proven to be both resourceful and vengeful so be sure he will not be buried in the comic book ghetto for long but what does this mean for the comic industry?

Don’t expect to see comic creators getting paid well anytime soon. Now that DC Comics is cutting back in wake of a reported $2 million deficit and  and Perlmutter’s predisposition to cheapness, there probably could be no better time to jump ship as a creator and go independent.

The driving force of the world’s most famous superheroes is no longer comic books, it is film. The publishing arms of Marvel and DC are both firmly planted in the back seat of their entertainment conglomerate’s priority list. DC is also racing to enforce edicts from on high to realign their comic book versions of their characters with upcoming film and television versions.  Don’t be surprised if Marvel and DC both pull the plug as comic book publishers while their valuable properties are licensed to other comic book publishers just to save a buck.

Lights Out.

Gerry Giovinco

Marvel/Disney Erasing History

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Marvel/Disney is waging a licensing war with Fox over the Fantastic Four and X-Men properties. Marvel sold the film rights for the characters and their supporting casts to Fox back in the 1990’s when they were struggling with bankruptcy. Since then Marvel has moved on to bigger and better things including joining the ranks of Disney and becoming a film blockbuster builder themselves.

Now they want their toys back and Fox is not parting with them and are unwilling to share like Sony has with the Spider-Man franchise.

Marvel’s answer is a self-imposed embargo that blocks any and all licensors from using the characters associated with Fox’s film rights. Sounds like a brilliant strategy!  Marvel will defeat Fox through attrition by preventing as much external awareness of the properties as possible.

In-house, they have also cancelled the Fantastic Four comic book  and killed-off Wolverine, the most popular X-Man. They have even gone so far as replacing the characters on graphics from famous covers and removing them from Marvel Universe posters and 75th Anniversary trading cards. They are systematically erasing anything to do with the properties as if they never existed.

This decree, reportedly issued by Ike Perlmutter, is so obsessive it is becoming perverse in its resemblance to Holocaust denial, a conspiracy theory  considered an act of antisemitism that is illegal in several countries. Like Marvel erasing mutants,  Holocaust deniers will go to great extremes to convince people that the Holocaust never happened. Their goal, like Marvel’s,  is to revise history to suit their agenda.

It is ironic that the mutants which compose the X-Men have long been a symbol of marginalized people and have often been equated with the Jews in the Holocaust. The mutants have been the champions of those that are different in the Marvel Universe. They have fought the good fight to be accepted and in their success have attracted fans world-wide who could empathize with their struggles and achievements.

Yet now, to satisfy the agenda of a corporation, these mutants, along with the Fantastic Four, a team that is the keystone of the Marvel Universe, are being eradicated, replaced by a new, more acceptable breed of heroes called Inhumans and an assortment of other “B” list characters.

Marvel/Disney is becoming our worst nightmare, an oligarchy that is willing to erase a mythology that has had a tremendous impact on our popular culture and specific marginalized communities that have embraced its message of inclusion and tolerance. They are manipulating history for no other reason than to effect their bottom line but at our culture’s expense.

Marvel’s property embargo  is a brilliant tactic but a disgrace to a humanity that has accepted these mutants and heroes as our own. It is just another gross example of how willing corporations like Marvel/Disney are to  manipulate us for their own gain. Congratulations Marvel! You are officially Disneyfied.

Gerry Giovinco


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