Those of you who are friends with Bart on Facebook will know that Bart is going to be announcing something big in the near future. For those of you that aren't his friend, he called it an "Ominous Announcement!"
Speculation instantly turned to the prospect of Bart returning to the Ominous Press Universe, after an agonising 16 years away from it. Whilst I DO know what Bart has got planned for the immediate future, I'm not about to let that Genie out of the bottle before Bart does. But I am very excited about it.
Bart informed myself and a select few other close friends and family that something big was in the offing about a month ago. My initial impression was that Bart and his wife Michelle were going to try and set about marketing Bart better as a brand, rather than just some ex-comic artist. Which would certainly be welcome and perhaps long overdue. I have watched for years as Bart has taken on jobs that probably weren't worthy of his skill, though he has made the best of each project he has gotten. But I've long thought that Bart was in dire need of somebody akin to an agent. Somebody that can acquire for him the more plum and suitable jobs.
Look at it this way- How many times have you thought that Bart should be drawing such-and-such's title, be it Conan, Wolverine, Hulk, Batman, etc. but have had to watch him draw Spider-Woman, The Scream or even Ramayan instead?
Bart Sears should, after nearly a quarter of a century in the comics industry, command far more respect and be given much better projects, than he has for the last 10-15 years of his career.
Now, you may say that I am biased towards Bart and maybe I give him more credit than he is due? Sure, Bart has made some mistakes, there's no denying that. But Bart is also responsible for some of the most well-known comics of the last 25 years. Invasion! was a big hit, Justice League Europe was acclaimed everywhere, Eclipso was ground-breaking, his run on X-O and Turok was very popular, Violator was a massive success, not to mention Bart's tutorials in Wizard being many people's favourite sections of those early Wizards. And Bart was a Top 10 artist for years. And if you look the artists he shared that distinction with, be they Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Joe Quesada, J. Scott Campbell, Marc Silvestri and all of the rest, the vast majority of them were and still are hugely successful, well beyond anything Bart has known.
There are possibly a few reasons for Bart's career not being what it should be. I think that the most likely reason is Bart's chameleon-like artistic style. Whilst it is amazing to see the incredible variety of styles Bart has produced over the years, I think it has been to the detriment of his career. Look at the big artists of the last 50 years- Neal Adams, Jim Lee, Michael Turner, etc. Many of them have barely altered the way they draw a page. There are a few modern artists who have shown a diversity of style, namely Leinil Yu and Steve McNiven, but a lot of that can be put down to the fruition of their style. Leinil Yu began as something of a Whilce Portacio clone, then he added elements of Mike Mignola and (seeminly every new artist's go to influence) Travis Charest. It was probably only with New Avengers and onwards that you could say he had a natural and distinct style of his own.
But Bart has had his own style since a comparitively much earlier time in his career. I would put the latter half of Justice League Europe as the style defining moment for Bart. Only a a dozen or so issues into his career. Since then he has altered and manipulated that style on an aesthetic level, whilst retaining the core structure. Look at Warlord, which is by far the most loose Bart's work has ever been. But you can still see the underlying structure that is clearly Bart's own.
I think that whilst Bart has exhibited a never before seen skill at stylistic adaptation, it has detracted and drawn attention away from both his wonderful storytelling ability, as well as his core style that can be very popular and career-sustaining.
My point is, would the comic career of Bart Sears be any different if he followed Jim Lee's footsteps and retained his style consistently and constantly? And what the heck does that have to do with Bart's impending big announcement? Admitedly, not a whole lot.
But I think that Bart is at a point now that he knows what works and what doesn't, and whilst he may enjoy keeping things fresh, comics are a business like any other, and to survive in it, one simply must make themselves a marketable commodity.
So I think the future is looking brighter for Bart than it has for many years. We may indeed be entering a new golden era for the career of Bart Sears, be it in comics, gaming or whatever.
And, obviously, as soon as Bart makes his big announcement, I'll be forwarding it on here, with some extra, fan-based, thoguths, thrown in for good measure.
These are exciting times to be a Searsian, folks!