The indie movement in movies, books, music and comics has left a lot of casualties in its wake.
Record labels are losing money; bands are struggling to stay afloat; retailers like Tower Records (where I used to buy all my CDs when I lived in a crappy apartment a block away) are long gone. Thankfully Zia is still hanging in there--part of the indie scene in its own way, and my favorite place to look for CDs--but what does the future look like for record stores?
Publishers are hurting, too, and bookstores across the country are either dead or dying. I love my ebooks, but I also love spending an hour or two looking at stacks of books I'd never heard of before. I don't want brick and mortar bookstores to go away any more than I want paper and glue books to go away.
But I can't regret the change. For music lovers, there are more bands, and more music, available than ever before. It's harder for the bands to make money, which is a shame, but at least they're still making music. Same thing in books--thousands of authors have their books out there that never had a chance before. Many are making no money, or hardly any money--I know all about this--but the sheer number of books available means that there are more books to meet any taste. The quality is uneven, but that was always true. Like many readers, I've found very entertaining novels that would never have been available without epublishing.
The same trend is evident in comics. More people are putting more titles out than any time since the Golden Age of comics, which gives the reader more choices than ever. Print-on-demand publishing at a reasonable price has opened up the market for all kinds of folks.
One group I'm rooting for is over at Phi3 Comics, makers of Spiralmind. They had a table at Phoenix Comicon, where I picked up issue 1, and although it's a rough start, it's easy to see all kinds of potential. I don't love the black and white art, and some of the writing is overblown--but I like this comic for a simple reason.
It's creative as hell.
The story takes place in a modern North American Nineveh (the same name as the Biblical city where the ten northern tribes of Israel were carried off to, before they were called the Lost Tribes). Nineveh is in the grip of evil, fighting werewolves, demon possession and the return of the Nephilim, the descendants of fallen angels and humans. Facing them are Sol Rotblatt, an exorcising rabbi, Spiralmind, the title character, and allies that are hinted at in the "Nineveh News" on the last page. As they explain on their website: "Evolving under the guiding hands of Rabbi Sol Rotblatt and Father Tom O'Brian... Ben Landry [Spiralmind] utilizes his acute mind and manipulates Phi (also known as the Golden Ratio) to duel the Occult and her dominion."
That's a lot of ideas per page. I love that creativity.
Oh, and here's something else I love about Phi3--they're not from New York or California. They're from Texas. And not Houston, or Dallas--their hometown is El Paso. That's indie!
I've ordered the second issue, and look forward to future issues as they're published to see what the authors make out of this world. If their execution comes anywhere close to their ambition, it's gonna be great.