Ryan's Big Announcement
I still haven't posted my experiences from Comic Con, so I don't think I ever revealed what Ryan's big revelation is/was. Or maybe I did? In any case, he's now the inker for WildCATS over at WildStorm (which is owned by DC Comics). It's all very fun and still makes him a bit giddy every time he accesses the FTP server owned by Warner Brothers. They asked him to keep it under wraps until after the Formal Announcement was made in their panel session. Ryan was told that the books would be discussed in alphabetical order and since he had 'til the W's to stand up and smile, he crammed in some tacos from the back row... of course, someone jumped ahead to mention him, so he stood up and waved to the crowd with lettuce on his chin. Here's the blab on his own blog.
Disney + Marvel = ?
Our email boxes started filling up earlier this week, when Disney announced that it will be purchasing Marvel Entertainment, which includes their characters (for licensing, etc.) and the comic book division. What I think most people don't realize about Marvel, is that it's NOT just a comic book company. There are eleventybillion divisions that run the gamut from licensing to sports cards (remember Topps? Upper Deck? Owned by Marvel) to real estate and insurance. Marvel "comics" is a verrrrry small part of that company and always has been. Which is why Stan Lee wasn't too proud or sad to cash in and sell it off a couple decades back. ANYWAY, everyone wants to know: "what does that mean for the industry?" From where I sit, it's all sunshine. Everyone is really hyped up on trying to scare the Marvel artists because Disney has contracts with their own artists/animators that gives Disney the rights to any character created while working for them. This is a CYA situation (see: the Nightmare Before Christmas debacle) and doesn't mean that the artists can't do their own thing on their own time... it's more of a technicality. And do I think that Disney is going to fuss with the Marvel artists/writers? No. That would break the pipeline of revenue that they've already built. Disney purchased the licensing rights for $4 BILLION dollars. You don't throw down that kind of cash if you don't think the company is doing something right. And now that Disney is in charge, there will probably be an IMPROVEMENT in the licensing (afterall, Dear Old Walt revolutionized the field of character licensing). Disney will be keenly interested in using more of the characters and in more prominent ways. Can't sell bedsheets of a character no one's ever heard of, right? So I'd expect an increase in the use of characters - which means, likely, more books, more movies, more cartoons, more bedsheets! That leaves lots of openings for artists and writers and animators and everyone else. Win: Comic Industry.
The deal also includes movie distribution, which is going to be extremely profitable for Disney and with their technological advancements in 3D movies and general know-how with marketing is going to make the next Marvel movies smash hits. My guess is that Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment for the audience -- Disney lacks the cache to attract the young male demographic (quick! Name 3 Disney productions that your 15 year old son can't live without!), whereas that seems to be all that Marvel can do (quick! Name 3 Marvel comics that your 15 year old niece can't live without!). This merger will bring into the financial fold, audiences of nearly all ages and demographics and income segments. It's a win-win-win. So why wouldn't Marvel want to keep it? Because, like I said, "Marvel" is owned by a giant mega-conglomerate. They're looking at their portfolio of real estate holdings, pharmaceuticals, etc. and thinking that they'd rather have the cash than to build up an audience beyond young males - so they cashed the check from Disney.
In a nutshell: I think it's going to be a win. Will you ever see Spidey at Disneyland? No. In fact, you only see a handful of Pixar characters at Disneyland and the reason why is that basically Disney needed to cash in on the Pixar excitement (remember peeing your pants over Toy Story?) and didn't have anywhere else to put them. It was a big controversy then and even a bit so now... which is why you'll primarily see Pixar popping up in the "second park," Disney's California Adventure, where they're "related" to California via the entertainment industry... and keeps Disneyland pure of characters. So, you won't see Mickey in Spidermanland and vice versa. In fact, you know everyone at Disney is chuckling to themselves over the licensing royalties that they're earning from their competitors (Universal uses the Marvel characters in their parks). I'd lay a buck down and say that there were some Closed Door Meetings over at Universal this week sounding something like "how about Incredible Hank Coaster? We could have pictures of Hank Azaria near the entranceway?"