So here's what I'm thinking about today. At lot of the people who work for the Big Two American comic companies are locked into exclusive deals, or if they aren't locked in contractually, are choosing to only work for one company right now. What I want to know is whether you think this is a good thing or not.
On the one hand, it could be argued the exclusive contracts are a sign of heightened competition between the two, and that should lead to better results. In biology, competition usually leads to the elimination of the weaker members, or - when considering multiple species - to the species divvying up the resources in manner most advantageous to them. So you could argue that Marvel has the capes sect locked down (they don't really, despite their recent sales advantage, this is just for sake of argument), but DC has made more advances into other areas, with the Minx line, Vertigo, Jonah Hex, and so on, thus they have the sales edge there. I don't know whether that's an accurate assessment or not (I doubt it), but it was a thought.
There's also the possibility that creators are willing to sign exclusive contracts because it gives them the opportunity to write the characters and stories they really want. Creators are people like us, and just as some of us have distinct preferences for one set of characters or the other, it stands to reason they would as well. And of course I'd be remiss if I didn't theorize that exclusive contracts probably pay better, to provide added encouragement to sign on the dotted line. I don't have any actual evidence of that, but it would seem to make sense.
On the negative side, I wonder if the companies don't overtax the creators, based on the delays we've seen the last few years. I know, some of those delays are by people who spend most of their time working in TV or movies, but not all of them are. I have no idea the process that leads to a project being greenlit, or to a creative team being assigned, but I could see DC or Marvel wanting to put a writer or artistic talent on as many projects as they could, especially if it's a creator with their own legion of fans like a Morrison, to enhance sales. This leads to overwork, which leads to the dreaded delays and/or fill-in teams, depending on the companies' preference (Marvel seeming to vote for the former, DC the latter).
But on a more personal note, I think fans miss out when creators can only work for one company. Think of it this way, if Keith Giffen had an exclusive contract we either would have been without his influence on 52, or we wouldn't have gotten Annihilation (or it likely wouldn't have been as good). While others might disagree about Annihilation, I think the comics world would be poorer for that scenario.
Do you like the exclusive contracts? Think they're a problem? Good for creativity? Bad for creativity? Completely irrelevant even within the limited confines of the comic book industry?