The bodies on the gears of the culture industry

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Theonlyspiral
    October 2, 2014 @ 5:49 am

    Gwen Stacey was the only Spider-Book I have paid money for since the Bendis-Maleev run on Spider Woman. I love it. And I would love if they could just fridge or retire Parker forever. The conceit of Peter Parker (and Spider-man) is that he's the world punching bag, a perpetual sad-sac who does his best, correct? This only works if it ignores the very real privilege that Peter Has. Peter is white, middlish class, and has an education. Hell, right now doesn’t he have his own company? For a person with that kind of position, to be sarcastically putting down his low rent opponents? That’s crass. Spider-Man was supposed to be an underdog. To have the world knocking him down. That just doesn’t happen anymore on a structural level. He’s made it. As a super hero, professionally, personally…and so either he needs to grow up, or we need someone else to take up the mantle. Otherwise he turns into Nolan’s Batman (which has ruined all enjoyment the character once brought me). Peter is using his gifts to punch down, and that is a scary sort of hero.

    I namecheck Gwen and Miles here, because both have systemic problems someone like Peter can never face, both appeal to groups that don’t have a ton of cred from publishers, and both have had very successful reception in sidebooks. Marvel has shown themselves to be more progressive than DC in many ways, and has been pushing the envelop notably (Ms. Marvel comes to mind). This is an outgrowth of that. Either choice shows a repudiation of the “boys club” of comics and acknowledges the sins of the industry in a certain way. If we get Miles then one of the biggest books in comics is forced to confront it’s white-washing of social situations and inherent privilege. If we get Gwen, we confront the patriarchal system of Comics publishing/fans, as well as the original sin of her murder.

    My point is that Peter could still be Spider Man in the off books, like Marvel Knights titles and such. This character that White-Boys love could still exist. Maybe he’s around as a mentor. But that the main Spider-book? It’s moved past him. Comics has moved past him.


  2. encyclops
    October 2, 2014 @ 10:45 am

    I'm clicking Like on your whole comment here. I love everything you're saying here.

    I finally got myself up to 5 titles on my pull list — Wicked & Divine, She-Hulk, Elfquest, Sandman: Overture, and Saga. I only added Saga to get up to 5, which is the minimum my local shop requires (I could go somewhere else, but I like these people and want to give them my money); I've been preferring reading Saga in trades up to now, but what the hell, a cliffhanger that doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

    You are both convincing me to add not only the Miles Morales book to my list but also this Gwen Stacy one. I love Spider-people but have no particular attachment to Peter Parker other than his traditional role in civilian life (if not an underdog, at least a regular person with regular problems) and am more than happy to make the switch to someone who's still occupying that role.


  3. Allyn Gibson
    October 2, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

    Thor was hard to like, let alone love. It wasn't the book Marvel seemed to promise it would be; instead of establishing the new status quo with the female Thor, we spend our time with the old Thor being mopey. That's okay… if this weren't marketed as a jumping-on point for new readers to get in on the ground floor with the new Thor. Instead, we get a comic that is mired in dealing with Original Sin and the previous twenty-five issues of Thor. It was disappointing.

    And, Miracleman

    As should Miracleman be, given that it's actually not much longer than Watchmen in terms of page count. Instead, as ever, we get $4.99 issues for sixteen pages of story. Bastards.

    Marvel's pricing strategy on Miracleman is nuts. I imagine they spent a lot of money to lock down every little dangling right and they want to recoup that investment, but it's hard to look at Miracleman as anything but a price gouge.

    I know Marvel's goal is to have something in bookstores to be a perennial seller like Watchmen or V for Vendetta. I'm not sure their current publication strategy gets them there; DC's going to beat them on price unless they eventually repackage all of The Original Writer's run into a single Watchmen-sized book at a Watchmen-like price.


  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 2, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

    They must be going to eventually, surely. I mean, my assumption is that I'm paying out the nose to see the new production values early and to experience it serialized, like it's the first time, only done to modern tastes and standards. And that, yes, I'm subsidizing the $20 mega-trade that's going to eventually exist.


  5. Doctor Memory
    October 2, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

    Or possibly Marvel has accurately gauged that the primary audience for Miracleman is going to be the extremely small cohort of 35-50 year old men with disposable income and a hazy recollection of the buzz around the original series and its subsequent disappearance into copyright hell.

    Even at $5/issue, I suspect that this is a labor of love rather than profit.


  6. Doctor Memory
    October 2, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

    And to be clear: I'm one of that small cohort! And I love it! But if they're selling through more than 10,000 copies a month of each issue, I'd be shocked.

    If there's any actual profit to be made on MM, it'll be when they reach the new material with Gaiman's name attached.


  7. Doctor Memory
    October 2, 2014 @ 3:07 pm

    Oh hey, turns out this is totally something you can look up! And it's better than I expected:

    01/14 Miracleman #1 – 52,313
    01/14 Miracleman #2 – 36,927 ( -29.4%)
    02/14 Miracleman #3 – 25,970 ( -32.6%)
    03/14 Miracleman #4 – 23,557 ( -9.3%)
    04/14 —
    05/14 Miracleman #5 – 22,399 ( -4.9%)
    05/14 Miracleman #6 – 20,598 ( -8.0%)
    06/14 Miracleman #7 – 19,123 ( -7.2%)
    07/14 Miracleman #8 – 17,654 ( -7.7%)

    Not quite at my ex-recto 10k number, but trending there.


  8. BerserkRL
    October 2, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

    In defense of Peter Parker I'll say this: he's one of the few superheroes I can imagine having an interesting/enjoyable conversation with.

    I mean, seriously, what would I talk about with Steve Rogers or Tony Stark?


  9. reservoirdogs
    October 2, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

    I think a large chunk of issues with modern Spider-Man can all stem, in one way or another, all the way back to Spider-Man 2 due to comics desire to make themselves more like the movies and that film pushing the concept of Peter being a luckless person who has a terrible life but still does his duty as Spider-Man to the breaking point. And thus, the comics decided to make their Spider-Man like that Spider-Man, and pushed the concept even further (Back in Black, OMD, BND, ect.)


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