The webcomics blog about webcomics

This Seems Like A Big Deal

Cutting straight to the press release, which is not something I’d normally do, but … well, you’ll see:

Los Angeles, CA (June 16, 2021) – Celebrated creator and Eisner-winning editor Jamie S. Rich is set to join the leading digital publisher of webcomics and novels, Tapas Media, Inc. as Editor in Chief beginning Monday, June 21. The former DC Comics editor will lead a diverse and talented team from both traditional comics and webcomics while overseeing content creation as Tapas continues to grow and focus on IP development. Rich brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the sequential storytelling community and creator development to the fast-growing media company.

Cut out the PR-speak fluff and you’ve got something very important there: Jamie S Rich has been an editor for about forever, with stints at Dark Horse and Oni — I first became aware of him from Chynna Clugston’s¹ affectionate swipes at him adjacent to her Blue Monday pieces back in Oni Double Feature — and most recently at DC.

He edited at Vertigo when Vertigo was a thing, and had stints as the group editor of the Batman titles and later the Justice League titles. In terms of American comic books, those are about as big a set of properties to be shepherding as you can get.

Now, if you’ve followed the comics news, you may recall two things:

  1. Warners Media has been increasingly making noises that it doesn’t care about comics, and has been kicking DC back and forth between corporate divisions and masters. If you think there will be any more care about comics now that they are merging with Discovery, you’re wildly optimistic and also wrong. The DC line of comics are an IP source for what they consider bigger, more legitimate media.
  2. Tapas has recently been acquired for a cool half a billion-with-a-b dollars by an entertainment conglomerate/IP farm. They’ve got money to spare, and the difference between Kakao Entertainment Group’s relationship with Tapas and Warner Bros Discovery’s relationship with DC is that Kakao is run out of a country that values comics more than this one does.

So, still IP farm, but one that’s willing to find (and pay for) storied talent on the editorial side, in the form of a guy with deep roots in indie comics. My guess is instead of relying on nostalgia for a handful of aging properties in maintenance mode with almost nothing new², Tapas is going to be aggressively courting a lot of new ideas from small creators. Or, as Rich is quoted in the press release:

I look at all the fresh talent at Tapas and I see the comics that will mean something to today’s readers and inspire the next generation of talent. I’m looking forward to collaborating with the amazing team of editors we already have working here and building out a library of truly incredible material.

Will Kakao/Tapas drop the kind of money on a movie that after being a muddled mess get another US$70 million to recut it into a much longer, albeit different muddled mess? Nope. I don’t see that kind of concentrated effort in a single, big project.

But I do see them spending a fraction of that amount of money (which is still in the range of tens of millions of dollars) on dozens or hundreds of outstanding new comics, which could make a huge difference in the lives of dozens or hundreds of as-yet unknown creators, and good for those creators who may have entire careers as a result.

I wish them all the best, and remind them to read their entire contracts because enormous IP farms, whether they’re here or in South Korea, whether they’re spending money on your grandfather’s cape characters or something that could only be done today, are spending in the anticipation that what they pay will be much smaller than what they receive in return. Here’s hoping all those creators get better rewarded than Siegel, Shuster, Kirby, and entire generations of previous creators did.

And congrats to Rich, who saw an opportunity and took in, instead of waiting to see what the latest round of post-merger corporate bloodletting looks like.

Spam of the day:

Hey, I have a client in the cannabis space who is interested in doing a sponsored post on your website.

How many times do I have to tell these weed folks? You want Box Brown, but anybody with budget in the cannabis space is probably on his shit list for pushing corporate weed and undermining both giving control of the legalized industry to those formerly incarcerated, and homegrow. Good luck with that.

¹ She presently goes by Chynna Clugston Flores, but at the time her work was credited as Chyna Clugston-Major.

² What was the last really big new thing from DC? I’m going to suggest it’s likely Harley Quinn, and she debuted damn near thirty years ago.

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