Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Trouble With CrossGen

CrossGen was a comic book company that bit off far more than it could chew.  Many people, including the owner of the store where I worked (Comic Castle) during the time the company started, thought CrossGen was going places and would give Marvel and DC a run for its money.  Its “innovative” titles and programs would boost the comics industry and help get it out of its slump … or so it seemed.  I was less-than-enthusiastic because I had seen far too many companies as bold or bolder come and go just because they got too bold too quickly, and looking at the press release material made it obvious this comic was not going to produce characters as interesting or memorable as Wolverine, Raven or Marshal Law.  As it was, I stayed away from the CrossGen titles.  Not only did it seem like the company would go under fairly quickly, but the titles themselves came across as mediocre, though you couldn’t say that to the company’s fans.  There was one title that looked like it could be an exception, however.


That comic, from the description in Previews, held promise for me.  I think a lot of it had to do with the artist, Mike Ploog.  I’m a fan of his work, and this project sounded right up his alley.  The first issue came out and I have to admit I was disappointed.  The cover was horrible, and looked worse holding it than it did in the publicity material.  It wasn’t that it was poorly drawn; it repulsed me because I so dislike characters who are nothing but head, though I think M.O.D.O.K. is pretty cool for some reason.

I put aside my disgust and delved into the first issue, eager to see if it would live up to my expectations.  It didn’t.  Not even close.  I could tell it had potential.  I could see that it would possibly get better.  I quickly put it back on the shelf, though, convinced the company would go under soon enough, which meant I wasn’t going to put any effort into what I viewed as a doomed series that started off on the wrong foot. 
Two more issues were published and then Crossgen bit the dust.  Yes, it was later bought by Disney, and Abadazad became a series of children’s books that also never lived up to their full potential and then those were also scrapped.

CrossGen was an example of a company gone wrong.  Its intentions were pure and good.  The then-owner of Comic Castle bought into the hype full-bore and ordered a lot of CrossGen material on nothing more than a wing and a prayer and a belief that the stuff would sell, and when I left my employment there, we were still sitting on a majority of it.  The comics sold, but never at gangbuster numbers, and the trades languished – especially when they changed formats.  Abadazad was a prime example of one of the reasons I think the company never caught on: its books seemed good, but the execution was flawed.  It’s the story of CrossGen, and it’s the story of far too many new comic companies.  And it will happen again and again.  If only that cover were a little less creepy …

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