Explain me CrossGen

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The whole CrossGen thing happened during my 'missing years' when I paid no real attention to comics. Who were they? Were they successful? What went wrong? And were any of the comics good?

Tom (Groke), Monday, 14 March 2005 23:51 (fifteen years ago) link

Totally incomplete stuff:

Shared-universe comics by business guru type who required all creatives to a) sign an exclusive contract (a few were allowed special exceptions -- Waid on FF, I think, and Perez on Avengers/JLA), and b) move to Florida, where CG was based.

Accused by industry people and exiting employees as being creepy and cult-like.

Offered substantial number of comics to read for free on their site, as way to try to get people into the series.

Comics were all genre type comics but not superheroes as such -- the way Green Lantern isn't quite a superhero, in a lot of his comics, and neither is the Silver Surfer, but they obviously appeal to superhero fans.

In most of the books, plots developed VERY slowly -- you were looking at three, four issues before you even knew what the comic was going to be about and who the characters were going to be, something I thought would kill them dead quickly, but didn't.

There was some kind of metaplot tying a bunch of the books together, but I have no idea what it was.

The one comic I really liked: RUSE, by Waid, not one of the launch books but one brought in later -- imagine Holmesian detective (not named Ruse, don't worry) on strange planets, more than a little bit of an asshole, Watson is more like Irene Adler by virtue of being a hot chick who the detecive might have a thing for, and has secrets she's hiding to boot (the series was more or less from her perspective). Genuinely good, and if it was tied to the CrossGen universe in any significant way, I didn't notice -- it certainly didn't depend on reading any of the other books or caring what the conceits of the setting were, things that hamstring so many other start-up comics universes.

Tep (ktepi), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 00:18 (fifteen years ago) link

[x-Tep, but will post anyway]

Here's an old 4-post long C/D thread about CG:

CrossGen: C/D, S/D

And here's a thread briefly expounding on the shitstorm (that no one responded to) (SHAME):

Crossgen: Chapter 11

The biggest problem, from what I can tell, is that they grew too fast too soon, & didn't really do much to separate themselves from the other comic companies - supposedly, they were going to be different in that their books were going to be linked, yet not be bogged down w/ continuity issues (unlike DC or Marvel). Gong to that - the overarcing "sigil" aspect of the line (from what I heard) was a huge stumbling block for some folk, & only served to muddy waters. And, of course, their biggest hook - the lack of spandex in their books, & their exploration of genres (mystery, fantasy) not often explored in & of themselves in comics - didn't amount to all that, esp. since that premise ("no one does mystery / fantasy") is superbunk.

Tep is very OTM re: Ruse (but if you checked out one of those links at the top of my post, you'd already know I'd agree).

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 00:36 (fifteen years ago) link

Oh yeah, the sigil thing -- that showed up in Mystic and whatever the other one was I picked up when they launched (started with an S, had a blonde chick in it, not Sojourn).

Setting-wise, we should explain, too, that the CrossGen universe is just that -- a universe, with lots of planets, so the more fantasy-ish stories took place on different worlds than the more science fictiony ones. Kind of like on Star Trek, where you had a wide variety of analogous-to-periods-of-Earth-history worlds despite the metaculture of the Federation.

Tep (ktepi), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 00:41 (fifteen years ago) link

I had a friend who was going to submit a proposal to CrossGen but the Chapter 11 happened before he could get around to it.

The Ghost of Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 14:33 (fifteen years ago) link

How successful were they? Was there ever a sense that they would survive and prosper? (I guess what I'm asking is - was the reason for their downfall unpopularity or creepiness?)

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 14:34 (fifteen years ago) link

There was a definite sense they'd prosper, at least from CrossGen's end (surprise surprise). I guess a lot of the problems, in terms of PR, stemmed from Alessi - he'd publically claim that CrossGen would turn comicdom on its ears, and (according to reports I've read from other creators) would crack the whip & interfere w/ the goings-on of a title. (I think Mark Alessi's buttinski tendencies lead Waid - writer of at least two CG titles, including Ruse - to jump ship.)

On the interweb, during CG's heyday, whenever a CG news item was posted (to either Newsarama or The Pulse), a contingent of fans would always post, praising CG for their diversity and (most importantly) their timely shipping, & offering paradigm-shifting rhetoric not dissimilar from the line Alessi spun. The first chink in the armor came, actually, when it was reported that some CG books would be late. It turned out that these books were being held up by the printer becasue CG was delinquent in paying their printing bills. And then news bubbled up that various freelance creators were getting the shaft pay-wise (w/ CG just transferring the work to other creators on CG's payroll w/out settling debts first). And then word leaked about the SALARIED creators getting the shaft. And then various re-orgs (personnel-wise, and line-wise) took place. They went from approximately 15 books to 4 in the span of 6 months (if that), and things were so dire that some of the solicited books (that were scheduled to be cancelled after issue #XX) were axed ahead of schedule - the script of one title's final issue (Siege?) was actually posted online (for the fans) (yay) in lieu of actually putting the book out or even paying for an artist to draw the pages.

If you snoop around the web, you can probably find a bunch of CG TPBs on sale for cheap, if you want to give various titles a shot.

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 14:57 (fifteen years ago) link

The commune aspect on this whole boondoggle was key - I think Alessi was aiming for a synthesis of the Marvel Bullpen w/ the modern-day cubicle maze (mixed w/ a little Big Brother cattleprodding thrown in for good measure), w/ the hopes being that a unified workforce (under one roof) meant a more cohesive universe AND an endless fount of creativity.

Also key in all of this - Alessi's goal (and he wasn't shy about announcing it, in so many words) was to leapfrog at least one of the Big Two, which is probably where all of this really went wrong .

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:03 (fifteen years ago) link

My googling turned up this, which seems comprehensive and fair minded


Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:17 (fifteen years ago) link

BTW, I think the title Tep's talking about ("starts w/ an S") is Solus, the big fancy title they launched to herald George Perez's entrance into the CrossGen fold. GP was also supposed to be the artist for this 4-issue x-over (THE WAR) that would supposedly cause great upheaval within the CG universe. Dunno if THE WAR was supposed to be part of CG's downsizing & re-org efforts, or if this was planned prior to the serious money problems happening. As it stood, Perez left before working on THE WAR, and only 2 (or maybe 1) of the books actually came out.

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:21 (fifteen years ago) link

the way Green Lantern isn't quite a superhero, in a lot of his comics

you lost me.

Huk-L, Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:25 (fifteen years ago) link

The idea being that he's a space policeman?

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:33 (fifteen years ago) link

I think Tep's getting @ that GL's used a lot like a space adventurer (cf. Adam Strange, Jon Carter, Han Solo) than an actual super-hero at times, & that his adventures are more like soft sci-fi than superhero tales. Except that he can make neat stuff w/ his ring. (Or what Tom said.)

That's what I was getting @ with CG's supposed claim (& I don't know if it's a claim their press materials actually made, or what pro-CG folks said when praising CG) - superhero books already use a lot of the supposedly neglected fiction dramas within their framework (cf. Batman & Daredevil as crime fiction, cosmic DC stories as sci-fi, time travel adventures into the Wild West, jungle adventures w/ Ka-Zar and the X-Savages w/ DINO-RACHEL). And, of course, these genres were usually blended together in one story, like almost any Savage Land or Wakanda story in the Marvelverse, where JUNGLE ADVENTURE meets SCIENCE FICTION.

To sell fans already kneedeep in X-books and Crises on a group of books that tells similar types of pulpy stories in a similar pulpy publishing format in a similar type of creative framework (the shared universe, w/ continuity & all of that) but excluding the sugared pill (the superhero!) that made such stories easy to swallow for folks not looking for just straight up sci-fi / westerns / fantasy in their graphically sequential narratives is a hard sell, unless the creators are top-notch and the hook is irresistable. Probably the most damning praise that can be offered re: CG's output is that it was consistently solid, and the majority of folks CG hired to write their books (vets like Barbara Kesel, Ron Marz, Chuck Dixon) are those types of "consistently solid" writers - not spectacular, not godawful, just servicable & (again) consistent. They punch the clock, they meet their deadlines, they know their stuff, and that's that. Not a bad thing, but not an awe-inspiring thing, either.

David R. (popshots75`), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:40 (fifteen years ago) link

Okay, that's what I thought.

Huk-L, Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:44 (fifteen years ago) link

And while that may be true of the concept, GL, has far more often been played as a superhero, while Hawkman actually has been used as space cop way more often.

Huk-L, Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:45 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, "a lot of his comics" there = "the Green Lantern Corps mostly." Green Lantern's a superhero largely because he's in a superhero world -- the costume's a uniform, the secret identity's not very important, etc. Or maybe "he's only a superhero when he's on Earth."

A lot of CrossGen's launch stuff was much closer to that -- power as something granted/inherited, with responsibilities attached, not as a product of accident or personal design, with the conflicts closer to the GL scale than matters of vigilantism (some of this is because -- or why -- Ron Marz wrote at least one of the launch books).

Tep (ktepi), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 15:56 (fifteen years ago) link

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