When I started reading newspaper strip comics more than twenty years ago, I didn’t have any idea who was writing or drawing them. It wasn’t until I started reading the British reprints of Marvel’s comics that I noticed some of the names behind the stories I was reading. Alan Davis, Mark Texeria, Larry Hama and Leinil Yu were some of the first names that I noticed, and not for the reasons you’d typically expect.
Alan Davis featured in an interview in Wolverine Unleashed #8, which as you may or may not remember, was the first reprint comic I had ever picked up, and it’s for that reason I remembered his name, not because I was so taken with the story he had written (although I was – indeed I still am) that was featured in the reprint comic. Mark Texeria I remember because I didn’t like the art style in the few issues of Wolverine he had drawn that had been reprinted, but in retrospect that may have been more the heavy inks that had over powered the pages with needless black. Hama was a name that I had seen often enough in the reprints that I remembered, but again, not because there was any great nor negative impact upon my reading. Leinil Yu was drawing Wolverine when I first started reading the original comics, just before the beginning of Not Dead Yet.
But other than those names for many years I didn’t pay attention to who was creating the comics I loved. I followed the character, not the creators.
To a large extent that’s still true today.
When the new Moon Knight comic was announced I knew I’d be adding it to my pull list based solely on the character; I actually didn’t know any of the creative team attached to it, to be honest, but that’s not going to stop me from reading the comic (that I later found out three days before picking up issue #1) that Jeff Lemire and Jordie Bellaire were involved was a like a cherry on top). The same is equally true for Dead No More. I have no idea what it’s about, whether it’s a standalone story arc or part of an ongoing series. Nor do I have any idea who is writing and drawing it, but I assume it’s some kind of Spider-Man story that will feature the Scarlet Spider, who I am a huge fan of. I’ll be reading it because of the character, not because of the creative team attached.
And yet… as I’ve gotten older I find I am more likely to follow a creator around from comic to comic, usually a writer more than an artist f I’m being honest.
When I see a comic that Robert Venditti, Scott Snyder, Matt Kindt, Chip Zdarsky or Jeff Lemire have been involved with then I am more likely to pick up the comic if the synopsis is little more than half interesting to me, regardless of which characters are featured within the comic’s pages. The same can also be true for some creators that I tend to specifically avoid, and I will almost always only pick their comics up only when a friend has thoroughly convinced me to do so (if you’re looking for those names here, you won’t find them in this article).
I love comics, and I admit that I do enjoy superhero comics more than the other genres, I do tend to follow a character more than a specific creative team. If a writer I enjoy is taking on a character – or an idea – I’m even remotely fond of then I’ll give the series a chance.
But I also own a lot of bad comics because I picked them up due entirely to the characters within.
There was a time when I would pick up almost any comic featuring Wolverine on the cover because he was the be all and end all for me. While that did lead me to discovering one of my favourite series of all time featuring Wolverine‘s old mercenary buddy, the twelve issue series Maverick, in 1997, it also led to me picking up some pretty bad comics early in my comic reading that I’ve largely forgotten (although there was an issue of Elecktra that wasn’t horrible), and still lie in my parents house in England. Key example of that? The majority of Frank Tieri‘s Weapon X run because Maverick was involved somehow, but which ended up falling far short of my expectations.
I still have some pretty bad comics in my long boxes, but I’m slowly weeding them out as I get older and more ruthless with my collection (especially when I’ve only got four issues in a series that I have no intention to finish collecting).
The older I get, the more likely a creative team is going to draw me into a comic. Scott Snyder will be behind the typewriter on All-Star Batman once Rebirth has wrapped up and if it wasn’t for his name attached I’d probably have reservations about adding another Batman comic to my pull list. Instead, I’ll be dropping Detective Comics in order to make room for the series because despite being a fan of Detective‘s creative team I don’t have any enthusiasm for the previews that I have seen so far, but that has nothing to do with the creative team, and everything to do with the preview texts and the twice a month release schedule (although that’s a rant for another day).
When you’re considering picking up a new series, which carries a greater weight in your decision making process? The characters or the creators?