Okay, some might say I was commissioned. Others might say I offered. But here are my thoughts concering what went on at CrossGen and why the company ultimately failed.
Before I begin, however, I’d like to address a couple of preliminary matters. First, it seems like everyone is looking for that one single answer as to why CrossGen failed. The truth is very rarely that simple. The story behind CrossGen’s collapse reveals multiple answers and multiple reasons. I’ve seen dozens of theories forwarded as to why CrossGen failed and although none of those reasons is sufficient on its own, many of those reasons combine to play a part. That doesn’t mean that every theory I’ve read is accurate, but I’ll address those inaccuracies as I go along.
The second preliminary item I’d like to address is who I am, or rather who I’m not. I am no expert. I am no professional. Not in comics. Not in business. I have no inside information. So if you want to dismiss what I write as the ignorant ravings of a madman, I have no objection. What I have tried to do is to be aware of and study the facts as they are available. I have done my best to filter through the words of those who are professionals and who do possess inside information. That means that many of the theories and reasons you read here are not my own. I have been as much a compiler of the thoughts of others as a conjurer of theories of my own. It also means that if I have misreported any facts, I apologize. I have done my best with what was available.
So why did CrossGen fail? This company started with so much promise. In one year, CrossGen became the fifth largest comic book publisher in North America. After three years, it had progressed to fourth. And in the fourth year, the company collapsed. It’s still limping along and may survive a month or two into its fifth year but for all intents and purposes the dream and publishing company that was CrossGen is over.
Now that it’s over, many observers are belittling CrossGen as if it never had any promise. That’s not true. It may be true that the signs of trouble were evident much earlier than we had suspected. And it is definitely true that CrossGen was never as perfect as it claimed to be or as its supporters wanted to believe. But the promise was there. One only has to look at the list of those who chose to associate with it.
Mark Waid left JLA when it was DC’s highest profile book to join the staff at CrossGen. Even at the time, Waid admitted that he was taking a pay cut but he said he did so willingly because he believed in what the company was doing. George Perez followed up his highly successful run on Avengers, a top ten book while he was its penciller, to move to CrossGen. Perez could have had his pick of almost any job in the industry, but he chose CrossGen. Other creators may have joined the company because it was their best or even only opportunity. But some creators, particularly the two I mentioned, didn’t need CrossGen. For a time, they believed in it.
Those aren’t the only examples I can cite. Archangel Studios, the creators of “The Red Star,” joined the CrossGen fold. MV Studios, the license-holders to “Masters of the Universe” jumped off of Image and onto CrossGen. Bob Gale of “Back to the Future” and Chuck Russell of “The Mummy” became associated with CrossGen. They worked on developing CrossGen projects for film and agreed to provide new concepts for the comics themselves (one title was tentatively called “Illustrated Warriors”). WizKids games signed CrossGen as part of their Indy Clix expansion for their HeroClix game. CrossGen was the youngest company included and they represented the newest characters. Fast Forward games worked with CrossGen to create a role-playing game and a collectible card game. Those products haven’t and may never make it to market, but it does show that yet another company wanted to work with CrossGen comics.
None of these associations would have developed if CrossGen hadn’t shown promise. There are those who claim that the company was doomed from the beginning, but all of these associations demonstrate the opposite. People wanted to be a part of CrossGen.
The promise was there.
Today, the very promise that attracted so many to CrossGen in the first place works against the company. The greater the promise, the greater the tragedy. And what happened to this company, and to many of the people who were associated with it, is tragic.
and finally the conclusion: Why did Crossgen Fail?
Thanks to the amazing folks at archive.org for rescuing this post after it went down with the ship that was the old captaincomic.us site!