No comix franchise editor ever suggested that the cartoony/neo-retro style wasn't "in," it just doesn't sell as well as the usual fare comics fans have been acclimated to since the mid-70s. The editor was bummed that more folks like me [and my cartoony/neo-retro style] weren't getting as much work because sales weren't up to snuff. I appreciate that cartoonists [who share the same realm as me] like Mike Allred, Javier Pulido, and Darwyn Cooke, are getting work but they have either proven themselves in the indie/alt scene [Allred's successful MAD MAN] and/or flew out the franchise gate w/a smash hit [Pullido's HUMAN TARGET, Cooke's BATMAN: EGO, CAT WOMAN: SELINA'S BIG SCORE] that allows them to snag more work, or, until the fans retaliate w/their wallets and pocket books [only time will tell]. Of course, there is no science to what I'm pontificating. As I said above, I'm merely waxing woes about my station in the franchise comic book making market coupled by the fact that most genre [i.e. superhero] comics have a certain traditional "look" that most genre [i.e. superhero] fans want. Which, in most cases, is NOT the cartoony/neo-retro style. Heck, Marvel publisher, Joe Quesada [a fan of OPPOSABLE THUMBS, and BILLY DOGMA], suggested the same notion to me a year ago when I was working on NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET. Quesada suggested I practice a more neo-realistic style for my Marvel work because that's what more superhero fans respond to. He said that a book like X-STATIX doesn't sell well and that Marvel can't afford to publish a proposed line of neo-retro style comix because weak sales don't justify the line. This, too, bummed Quesada out but he is a business man and has to publish comic books that sell.
Of course, when I write/draw my creator-owned fare, I don't consider the broad comic book fanbase yet I must for my franchise work in order to gain MORE franchise work. And, let's call a spade a spade, I don't have an indie/alt "hit" w/BILLY DOGMA nor OPPOSABLE THUMBS, and so, my particular brand of neo-retro style hasn't made the A-list. Ergo, I struggle.
Two years ago, "neo-retro" was how Marvel editor Axel Alonso described my style for the comic book market, comparing it to cartoonists like Mike Allred, Cameron Stewart, Darwyn Cooke, etc. It's a term that describes cartoonists who either have a history in animation or grew up on Silver Age comics. I adopted that fair term for my style and that is the station and critique I'm responding to. I can't scold Marvel and DC Comics for making sure they can sell their top franchises to a steady fanbase. They do explore other avenues w/their Max, Marvel Knights, Ultimate, Vertigo, and now, Focus imprints, and they do take the occasional risk [my and Dorkin's NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET, Peter Bagge's SWEAT SHOP, etc.], but I'm curious to see how well Cooke's THE NEW FRONTIER fares and if Pulido's HUMAN TARGET stand the test of time. I'm hoping the cartoonier style of Kyle Baker's PLASTIC MAN and Jeff Smith's upcoming CAPTAIN MARVEL mini-series smash down walls, cracking the mainstream door open for more neo-retro/cartoony style genre comics and allow me to work.
In the meanwhile, I'll have to add pointy ears and a black cape to BILLY DOGMA if I want it to sell more...