Honestly, I’m not even sure how valid my observation is this week. I’m doing it by feel, this is the way I feel about the subject and I’ve somehow morphed this feeling and lack of awareness into a full-blown summation of the marketplace.
Is there a collecting strain that revolves around writers? Comics are popular because the sequential art tells great stories, stories that we could not get enough of over the years. The formula involves some artists and always a writer or two. So why all the focus on the characters with their first appearances and their first cover appearances and why all the fuss around the artists with their first comic works and their first covers and why all the fuss around that classic cover that is so visually striking or appealing that you have to have it in your collection? I guess we know the answer to the whys above but I only ask to draw attention to why we as a collecting community don’t give more reverence to the writers.
Like I said above, writers are a key ingredient in the comic book recipe and if you really dissect it they are probably the most important ingredient, who wants to read a terrible story, who wants to read about a non-interesting and terribly contrived hero or villain no matter how nicely drawn and inked.
I know that often a writer and an artist collaborate on a creation and those creations don’t concern me as much as the ones that owe their existence to writers. Or am I wrong? Do artists automatically get co-credit for the creations just because they drew them?
Never mind about a writers first work, how about a writers opus work?
I know there are examples, Frank Miller Daredevil Elektra saga and his Dark Knight saga, though he did the art for those stories as well and the Daredevil run had a great first appearance in Elektra. Maybe Alan Moore’s Killing Joke is the best example, the value here seems to be solely story-driven.
Why can’t I think of tons more?
I’m trying to think of five books where the value comes from the celebrity of the writer alone. Captain America #3? Stan Lee’s first text in a comic? I think the value there is in Stan Lee the industry titan and pop culture icon versus Stan Lee the writer. How about that celebrated Master Race story from EC in the early 1950s? Master Race gets its accolades mostly from the Bernard Krigstein art though. How about Bone? Again here we have first appearances and Jeff Smith art. Fantastic Four #51 comes to mind, I think that stand-alone Stan Lee story has some legit market value from being a fantastic Ben Grimm story and thus we can hang most of the value of this book, above and beyond what a normal run issue of Fantastic Four in this era would get, on the writing.
My point is that we can off the top of our heads name dozens and dozens of books that derive their values from characters and from artists but most of us would be hard-pressed to name a handful of books that derive their value based on the writer’s participation.
Maybe this example will help me describe my thoughts, Batman may be the most sturdy and versatile hero of them all, no other hero has allowed so many creative teams to make a name for themselves as the Caped Crusader has. Scott Snyder, Tom King, Brian Azzarello, Paul Pope, Jeff Loeb, Frank Miller, Alan Moore and other greats have all added to the depth and texture of Batman while making a name for themselves as writers, but very few of us in the collecting community gravitate to the writers of these stories as the primary reason to grab the issues, the covers, the artists, the 1st appearances all get the early consideration.
Its not my most coherent argument but it is food for thought and I’d love to hear everyone’s take on this.