Regular readers of the blog know that I’ve enjoyed a few titles from Alterna Comics based solely on the proprietor, one Peter Simeti, being a stand up guy who just wants to publish good stories. This naturally put him square in the cross-hairs of Team Awful who dragged him up on the modern version of the Committee for Public Safety’s stage where they could give him the full Madame Defarge treatment for not denouncing large swathes of his somewhat limited fanbase. His refusal to do so cost him more than a few of what he mistakenly thought were friends, including a few creatives whose works he published(!).
Thankfully, it also saw his sales skyrocket as Team Story-First leapt to his defense and showered him with sales. Not just money, mind you, but the purchase of actual product. His usual weekly sales of 200-400 jumped up to 18,000. In gratitude for fans sticking by his side, he fired up the camera and spent three hours detailing his experience and thanking fans for their support. It’s an interesting listen, an dyou can get the gist in the first couple of minutes. What follows here is a subsequent video with less drama and more sales. I can’t really recommend it over something like a Seabury Quinn short story, as recommended here, unless you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the comics front of the culture war.
What’s worth pointing out is that, as you listen, all too many of the commenters fall victim to the myth of the monolith. Out of a misguided desire to bring all of their interests under a common banner, the questions Peter responds to, and many he doesn’t, revolve around the possibility of Alterna publishing books by the owners of Comicsgate.
Just stop. Peter has a very different take on comics than the Comicsgatekeepers. Both differ from the alt-comics produced by Arkhaven Comics under the mothership banner or the Dark Legion banner. They don’t need to work together, and it’s better for everyone if they don’t. What’s growing here isn’t a new Big Two, it’s an entirely new culture built along the new realities of marketing and sales, and given the hatred expressed by the foes of this culture, the long term viability of the culture requires diversity – genuine diversity – in every aspect. All three prongs of the alternative have different goals and tactics, and they will see different amounts of success. Some in the short term, some in the long term, and some not at all.
But give them space to experiment. Not only does this attack on multiple fronts put additional pressure on the Big Two and their little cousins, the experimentation they undertake will help others find the weak points in the mainstream comic armor that they can exploit as well. Staying small, nimble, and separated, also guards the nascent culture against coordinated attacks. As one wag put it on the twit box, “If we’re all in the same house, they only need to burn one down to kill us all.”
All your friends don’t have to be friends with each other. As a consumer, you don’t have to take sides. You can drink Coke and Pepsi. You can eat McDonald’s and Burger King. You can enjoy Alterna Comics, and Arkhaven Comics, and stuff produced by the Comicsgatekeepers. It’s okay! Really!
Just make sure you don’t buy from people who hate you.