Steve Jobs, the founder and somewhat CEO of Apple is regarded in the American technology industry as a bright mind and someone that although may not spearhead the new trends, unleashes them with style upon the masses. His input in the computing industry has made Apple Computer the darling of many and the one to beat of many challengers. In the comic book industry, is there anyone that has the same profile and profound influence that Steve Jobs has in the technology industries? Is there someone that continuously challenges every other industry player in the comic book industry, coming up with new products and new ways of being more relevant for readers, collectors and shareholders?
His list consisted of Todd McFarlane, Jim Shooter, Jesse Garza (of Viper Comics), Chris Ryall (IDW), Joe Quesada, Steve Geppi (Diamond, Gemstone), Mike Richardson (Dark Horse), and Joe Nozemack (Oni Press).
My initial thoughts:
- Todd McFarlane might have deserved to be on that list 10-15 years ago but nobody cares about him anymore unless he goes back to drawing.
- Jim Shooter is too into superheroes and any Steve Jobs that "rescues" comics is going to have to bring something more to the table than one more shared superhero universe.
- Joe Quesada could be the guy but that might be like asking Bill Gates to be Steve Jobs since Quesada's working for "the man" and making lots of dough- though, eventually he'll get deposed and then maybe it could happen.
- Steve Geppi is barely holding on and I've always had problem with the guys who owns the distribution monopoly also being a publisher- and he couldn't even keep publishing Disney comics which he loves so what would make anyone think he could start something new and make it work?
- Mike Richardson is busy trying to sell properties in Hollywood as IDW takes over his market share. Also, he has zero cult of personality.
- Joe Nozemack- someone from Oni? I guess I forget they even existed anymore. They do seem to have a cult audience but not one big enough to do much but barely sustain the company.
- Jesse Garza- In order for Viper Comics to be copied maybe I'd have to actually see one in the store which I'm not sure has ever happened to me- if the list needed an underdog how about Chris Staros who went from making a self-published zine to publishing Alan Freaking Moore and who's company was way ahead of the curve on the OGN thing.
- Chris Ryall from IDW is the best on that list since they seem to have come nowhere to a major player in 5 years without relying on any one gimmick, making it possible to ride out any fads. Once again though I don't see a crowded room full of people gasping at his every movement.
Now, that I think about it more- what about Jim Lee?
Mark Waid (Boom Studios) and Chris Staros (Top Shelf Productions) should have made that sort of a list. Rantz Hosely (editor of Tori Amos' Comic Book Tattoo from Image) is a creator, editor and now inventor of the Longbox project so I’d suggest him since any ‘Steve Jobs for comics’ is likely going to bring some new technical innovation that leads to new distribution channels (or improved ones, anyway). As much as I’d hate to do it, that Platinum Comics guy (Scott Rosenberg) should have been there too though I don’t think he deserves it, he should at least be in the conversation. I think I’d also have put Joey Manley (webcomicsnation.com) on there even if it’s been way too long since the new ComicSpace was announced without much to show for it- WCN and the rest of his sites likely get tons of hits and he’s often trying to find the leading edge and innovate new ways of getting comics out to more people. Scott Kurtz (PVP, webomics.com) should probably have been included.
I’d also keep at eye out for some of the people blogging or podcasting about comics as some of them may very soon branch into other avenues (I’d already be interested to see if any creators notice a podcast effect and which ones can bring measurable sales increases).
I imagine I'm still leaving off 5-10 quality names because I'm a nobody in the industry who doesn't know who some of the players behind the scenes are. I know there's a few top level editors who've had a had in the successes of various companies who have potential to be power players in the field- I just don't know who they are or can't remember their names. Also, reading St. Louis' intro paragraph I assume he's talking someone who CAN BE a Steve Jobs type in the future, not who might have been in the past and maybe I'm mis-reading that. Anyway, I thought it was interesting in a way and figured I'd share my thoughts here since The Beat's comment section often seems to get derailed and good points ignored (which seems to be a problem everywhere I go to discuss comics. Which is why I think it's funny when people wonder why comics never live up their potential- maybe it's because you get ignored unless people know who you are and think you can give them work in the industry).