I like the concept of MonkeyBrain Comics. But the initial offering of titles leaves me seriously underwhelmed. So, what do I think about this new venture now that more information has been released?
Right now, MonkeyBrain Comics looks more like a comics cooperative among friends than a comics publisher. From my understanding, the creators attached to the imprint are all friends of Roberson’s. This raises the obvious question: when will outside submissions be open and what form will the submissions process take?
That said, the contracts seem to be extremely generous. As MBC is currently a digital only publisher, the only rights possessed by MBC are digital. The creators can sell print rights to other publishers, they own the movie option, etc. Even better, MBC only takes a small percentage to cover marketing costs. Everything else goes to the creator(s).
With this publishing model, it is highly unlikely that MBC will itself break into print publishing. Rather, MBC will publish digital copies through Comixology ($.99- 1.99) and other publishers will handle print issues and trades. Unless Roberson’s own work sells extremely well, that is.
But what about the product? Well, I’m not too impressed with the offerings thus far. Bandette sounds somewhat interesting, but the preview left me cold. The art on Aesop’s Ark is damn lovely, but I have no interest in reading Fables: Noah’s Ark. And the other titles? Bleh. Maybe their Comic Con panel will have better offerings?
Will MonkeyBrain Comics be a success? I hope so. The comics industry needs to grow beyond just superheroes and Marvel/ DC. Unfortunately, I can’t say in good conscience that I’m as impressed as some of the comics news sites are with this. Would I buy any of the titles on offer now? No, they simply don’t interest me enough. Now, that sentiment will obviously change once they have titles I’m interested in purchasing. While I’m a supporter of creator owned titles, I’m not about to mindlessly waste money (and time) on purchasing titles that I’m not interested in.
I want to take another look at MonkeyBrain Comics outside of the controversy surrounding Roberson’s exit from DC Comics. Now, I haven’t been able to find out much more about MonkeyBrain than I did when I last posted. So, expect a third post to come when the press release hits next week.
As I said in my last post, I hope this venture is a success. I really hope so. I hope MonkeyBrain Comics will join the other creator owned comics publishers as a home for creators who wish to own their own work.
But, I can’t help the niggling doubts I have. MonkeyBrain Books hasn’t published since 2010 (and that a single anthology). What happened to MonkyBrain Books? Did it go on hiatus? Is it, perhaps, being retooled into MonkeyBrain Comics? Will it be relaunched? Given new life?
And will whatever happened to MonkeyBrain Books happen to MonkeyBrain Comics after a few years? I hope my fears are for naught and MonkeyBrain is a great success.
I agree with Joey Esposito of IGN Comics that more independent and creator owned publishers are needed in the comics industry. Check out the recent IGN Assemble podcast for his arguments for more independent and creator owned publishers.
Now, I do fault myself for being a bit of a DC fanboy. I need to read and buy more independent and creator owned titles. And that, I think, is another pledge I’m making- to take the time and effort to seek out creator owned comics (and maybe promote my local comics shops, too). Maybe something like the Russ Pledge is in order to bring attention to comics that aren’t published by Marvel and DC.
With the emergent success of The Walking Dead not only in the trades but also (apparently) in the individual issue releases, is this a sign that maybe, just maybe, creator owned comics are finally standing up to the comics superpowers? I hope so.
At the end of it all, will comics other than Marvel and DC’s superheroes be as successful? Only time, patience, and diligence will tell.
But for me as someone who wants to write comics, I am keenly interested in and hopeful for the future of creator owned publishers. Right now, my goal is not to write comics for DC or Marvel, but to write the comics that I created and own.
So, a few months ago, Chris Roberson created a brief internet storm in the comics community when he blasted his then employer DC Comics for their ethics. And DC promptly terminated his contract. At the time, and to this day, I still have the impression: Chris Who?
Roberson is back in the news now with MonkeyBrain Comics, an offshoot(?) of Roberson’s own MonkeyBrain Books. The details are still sketchy (apparently, there is some kind of press conference scheduled in about twelve days). Hopefully, questions about this new venture will be answered then.
How do I feel about this? Honestly, I’ll reserve judgement on MonkeyBrain itself until after the press conference. But, I am not so sure about the whole thing.
On the one hand, I’m excited about publishers being based out of Austin. It is a wonderfully wacky and weird city that should have an increasing cultural role. I love that city, so I’m thrilled that MonkeyBrain Books is headquartered there.
But, on the other hand, I checked out the website, and MonkeyBrain has not published anything since 2010 (unless their website is out of date). And that was a single anthology. I’m not sure exactly how many people are working for MonkeyBrain, so I don’t know if the company is chained to Roberson’s activities or not.
And this brings me to my fears over MonkeyBrain Comics: Stu Levy. Is MonkeyBrain doomed to a similar fate that Tokyo Pop was? If the company is successful, will it survive a shift in the publisher’s artistic interest?
I am all for independent and creator owned comics. But, there is something about this whole situation that does not sit well with me.
I think it is the suspicion that Roberson engineered his termination at DC to promote (after a few months) MonkeyBrain. All of this talk of “independents” and plays off of Independence Day leaves a bad taste, in my opinion.
As asked elsewhere, if Roberson truly felt so strongly about DC’s ethics, then why work for the company for years? Why continue to accept their money? Why wait till now to publicly complain about it? And why use that controversy (which probably only a small number of comics fans actually care about) to promote your own venture?
Will MonkeyBrain Comics be a success? Time will tell. I don’t think the patriotic marketing campaign will really prove successful. Rather, what will make or break this new company will be the books and series they publish. Will they be good series? Will they grab the shop owner and the comic fan’s attention? Or will they languish on the shelves of the largest comic shops? And will the company (and the creators associated with it) be held hostage to the creative endeavors of Chris Roberson?
We’ll have to wait and see.