In any case, the general perception I get from reading the responses here is that using using market analysis to construct a concept is bad and that a comic book pitch should be something that is personal and heartfelt; something that I would personally like to see in the market.
This thread began with doctorfunk (Jimmy V.) talking about Bone, which is a great book that was a success both creatively and commercial, I believe it's Scholastic print run has even dwarfed its earlier incarnations. So why don't we see more work of that nature in the market? I think that it's in large part because material of that nature won't get the support from publishers, that the market can't sustain a book of that nature in today's market.
A small point, but doctorfunk isn't Jimmy V (unless I missed something somewhere!). Doctorfunk was reposting a blog post from Eric Stephenson, publisher of Image. The thoughts on Bone, etc., were Eric's.
As for why we don't see more books like Bone, I don't know -- it could be that people aren't pitching books like that. I'm not familiar with Bone (I know of it, but I've never read it) so I'm not knowledgeable enough to point out which books out there are similar enough to it to counter your statement. There may very well be books out there that ARE similar to it that I haven't heard of. Image doesn't really publish any, but that doesn't mean other companies don't.
One of the rejections I received from my last project pitch was, "We like your work, it's clear you can draw. It's just that we don't feel that this is the type of material that's going to put you on the map in this market." I'm determined to succeed, whatever it takes. So it behooves me to pitch a project that will better reflect what's moving in this market, right? I don't think studying markets is over-thinking or over-analyzing, especially when I've failed to resolve the problem...
Jay, I would characterize your work as the prototype of the types of comics concepts I should be pitching. The success you've had with Noble Causes is exactly what I'm after, yet you're clearly don't support my development model. Why is that?
Maybe you didn't need to do any market research before hand, you've got better instincts for this business than I do; but if the ultimate end is the same how can you object so fiercely to the path I'm taking to get there?
I guess I just think creative enthusiasm will trump market research every time. I think there's a difference between ensuring a book is commercial and carefully analyzing how books sell over a set period of time, etc. NOBLE CAUSES was my first creator-owned project, and I didn't do any market research whatsoever. I just combined two genres I was passionate about -- super-heroes and soap operas -- and put together the kind of book I wanted to read.
I believe R. Kirkman did Battle Pope before TWD or Invincible. I've never read the book, but I believe it was a fun spoof, playing on a couple of popular themes. Within the framework of a book called Battle Pope (or even Super Dinosaur) there can still be well crafted and well-executed stories. (imo) So if I pitch a booked called "Super-Battle Zombies" and it gets a greenlight; I believe I can still do a solid, entertaining story.
I'm not sure what the point of bringing up BATTLE POPE is. You're right, that was Robert's first book and he published it himself. It didn't sell anywhere near what TWD or INVINCIBLE sells. It sold a tiny fraction of what his other books sell.
Finally, there are two components to a successful venture, the creative end and the business end. I don't think it's an either/or proposition-- but if the two aspects of development come into conflict I think it's better to err on the side of what the data suggests the market is most receptive to, I'll let market data trump creative instincts.
And I guess I feel the exact opposite. I feel like I can smell a book that has been "market researched" to death because it's going to feel too cold and stale and calculating. It's going to smack of a book designed to cash in on whatever's selling at the moment, rather than a book with a story a creator was dying to tell.
I mean, look at SAGA. It's a HUGE success for Image so far. Does its success suggest there should be more sci-fi/fantasy mash-ups featuring star-crossed lovers? No -- I think its success suggests creators should follow their hearts and create something they're passionate about ... which is exactly what Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples did.