Fandom By The Numbers, Part 1

By | Wednesday, June 13, 2007 2 comments
I got to thinking about comic book fandom (again) and, while I was walking the dog, started rolling around some ideas in my head about trying to explain comic book capital in mathematical terms. Let me start with some basics.

Being a comic book professional carries some social clout in comic book circles. How does that translate? The key variables, with regard to comic creators, seem to be: number of years as a comic professional, which publisher(s) they've worked with, and what their role/s is/are in creating a comic. So you might have something like...

Y = Number of years working for any given publisher
P = 1 for DC, Image or Marvel work; 1.5 for Dark Horse work; 2 for other publishers; 3 for other publishers defunct for more than five years; 4 for self-publishing
C = 1 for writer and/or penciller; 2 for inker; 3 for colorist or letterer; 4 for editor. For multiple roles, divide the lowest number by the second lowest. A writer/artist would therefore be 1/2, but a writer/artist/inker would be (1/2)/3 or 1/6.

And then your equation might look something like...


... for each publisher someone worked for.

As an example, let's look at me. (Since I know my own career pretty well.) My first official published piece was in 2003 for TwoMorrows; I've been writing for them since that time. I also did a couple of short pieces for Marvel in 2003 and again in 2006, but those were almost more editorial in nature. So my equation would be something like...

[(4/2)/1] + [(2/1)/4] = 2.5

Not very high. Let's compare that against, say, Stan Lee...

[66/1)/1] + [(9/2)/1] + [(2/1)/1] = 72.5

It's not a terribly precise set of equations since it puts equal weight on one story written in one year against 12 stories written in one year. And my calculations don't include a lot of the overlap work either, if you worked on multiple titles for the same publisher. Stan was writing and editting titles simultaneously, so that should theoretically count more, right?

Obviously, I haven't worked out all the details here -- and I haven't even started on fanac stuff! -- but it's an interesting notion to give one a sense of how much comic book capital any one person has against any other person.
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Anonymous said...

Wow, Sean -- that's an absolutely crazy idea you've come up with, there.

I think I like it!

I'm just getting warmed up!