Comics

Nepotism

Ryan Paul

Geoffrey Hawley is banking that readers don't need flashy costumes, out-of-this-world adventures, and recurring villains.

Nepotism

Publisher: Spleenland Productions
Contributors: Geoffrey Hawley (Artists), Russell Hawley (Artists), Janet Alexander (Artists), Marc Raab (Artists)
Price: $3.50
Writer: Geoffrey Hawley, Russell Hawley
Item Type: Comic
Length: 20
Publication Date: 2003-06
Amazon

One Storyteller

According to Diamond Comic Distributors, the primary distributor of comic books, Marvel and DC Comics together account for over 70% of both dollar and unit market share in the comics industry. Lump in the market share of the three largest "minor" publishers (Dark Horse, CrossGen, and Image), and there is less than 15% of the already small comics market left to be divided up between dozens of tiny, independent publishers. Each of these publishers produces dozens of ongoing, monthly comics. Competition is rough for the consumer's dollar: only seven comics sold over 100,000 issues in June, and number 25 on the best-sellers list was sub-50,000.

In such a tight market, that's only getting tighter, why would anyone even bother trying to break in as an independent writer?

Geoffrey Hawley would probably answer, "Because you've got a great story to tell."

Hawley is the writer, artist, and storyteller behind Spleenland Productions. Perhaps he isn't the most astute businessman, starting a comic company in one of the industry's roughest periods. Time will tell. But certainly, he's a talented storyteller.

Nepotism is the title of Spleenland's debut comic, featuring three short tales by Hawley and various artistic collaborators. The stories, titled "The Question", "Fought Over", and "The Birthday Boy", vary widely in their tone and style.

Unlike Marvel and DC, Hawley's comics have no franchise characters. These aren't the kind of stories from which one builds a monthly series or wrangles a big movie deal. In Spider-Man's monthly adventures, the reader knows for the most part that despite the direst circumstances, that the webcrawler will emerge relatively unscathed. Even the most traumatic events in a monthly title can be "retconned" by future writers. Spider-Man will always be Spider-Man, and readers can always rely on that.

So, if readers can't keep coming back to read about their favorite hero's adventures, what does Hawley have to draw the readers in? Well, within a few pages, Hawley's comics are able to capture powerful universal human experiences, the kinds of experiences that are crucial moments in people's lives.

In "The Question", an amorphous, cuddly puffball creature searches for meaning in a surreal world. In "Fought Over", a primeval battle over mating turns into a post-colonial conflict over land rights. And in "The Birthday Boy", a neglected child crosses over into a nightmare-world that reveals the emotional trauma and angst of childhood.

Certainly all of us have at times felt like the world around was alien and bizarre, and that meaning and purpose in our lives seemed out of reach, unattainable, and a mystery. Conflict sometimes seems like it is the only constant in our lives, and we constantly struggle with our boss, our spouse, our family, arguing over every little, unimportant thing. And everyone has felt those truly deep, painful moments in childhood where we feel truly alone and empty. You may try to deny it as an adult, but those moments of heartache are as real as any suffering later in life.

Geoffrey Hawley is banking that readers don't need flashy costumes, out-of-this-world adventures, and recurring villains. He's banking that simple stories, stories about emotional truths and about characters first, are what people want to read. It's a tough market, and for the last 50 years, the superhero has reigned supreme. Is there room for someone who just wants to tell a good story? I hope so.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

This film suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image