Sunday, October 16, 2011

Labors of Love

I have nothing against the big comic characters, such as Spider-Man and Superman.  I’ve enjoyed many a story in such comics.  However, there is something special about what I would call a ‘labor of love’.  That is, a creation that is close and personal to the creator.  For example, John Byrne has long been my favorite comic artist/writer.  He became a fan favorite on titles such as X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Superman.  But his recently completed Next Men (Currently published by IDW is a treat of a different sort.  It is a creator-owned title.  That is, all the characters are Mr. Byrne’s to do with as he thinks is best. I think this is why Next Men is my favorite Byrne work.  It isn’t just that you wonder in anticipation as to what happens next, but also that it reads like you’re seeing a piece of work that shows best John’s creativity, unburdened by editorial fiat. My all-time favorite creator-owned title is Paul Chadwick’s Concrete (Currently a part of Dark Horse Presents  Paul does an excellent job weaving a character-driven tale that also confronts some of the challenges of our society.  Concrete reads as a true labor of love.

Not all creator-owned comics are made for large publishers.  Small-Press and Independent comics are most often created by people who have a story they want to tell, rather than something they know they will find commercially successful.  The list of exhibitors at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Exposition (SPACE is an example of creators who are making something primarily out of the love of their creations.  There you see personal projects that reflect the passions of those creating them.  No matter what the comics are-adventurous, comical, personal, or whatever- they are labors of love from their creators.

 Labors of love are not limited to comics and printed media.  Out with Dad (  is a webseries that recently got me thinking about this topic.  If you don’t know the term, a webseries is like a television series that is released on the Internet, via one or more websites.  Out with Dad isn’t made for profit but rather made because the show’s creator, Jason Leaver, wants to tell the story.  Out with Dad is an excellently written series about a single father raising a teenage daughter who is a lesbian.  It deals with the topic of teenage homosexuality in a sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, and often thought-provoking manner.  The series is produced, written and directed by Jason.  Everyone else involved, including cast, crew, and owners of locations, are volunteering their time and space.  When you don’t consider these factors, the series is an excellent production.  After taking into account the lack of financial incentive in creating the series, it shines as a great example of a labor of love.

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