Robot 6

Neil Gaiman: ‘George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.’

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

Here’s the quote heard ’round the internet today, from comics writer/novelist Neil Gaiman. Specifically, he was responding to a fan of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, but just substitute Martin’s name with John Cassaday or J.G. Jones and Song of Ice and Fire with Planetary or Final Crisis, and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

The fan wanted to know if it was unrealistic “to think that by not writing the next chapter Martin is letting me down, even though if and when the book gets written is completely up to him?”

Gaiman sums it up pretty succinctly: “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch,” The Sandman creator said. “This is a useful thing to know, perhaps a useful thing to point out when you find yourself thinking that possibly George is, indeed, your bitch, and should be out there typing what you want to read right now.”

This reminded me of a post I did last year — it was a post about an upcoming comics convention, and one of the guests was Final Crisis artist J.G. Jones. One of the fine folks in the comments section pointed out that Final Crisis was late, and they were shocked Jones would take a weekend off to go to a convention instead of staying home to work on the book. Never mind that Jones going to a convention isn’t exactly him blowing off and screwing around; in his case, it’s actually work, and second, it’s the weekend, two days that many, many other people in the country don’t actually work.

Anyway, go check out Gaiman’s full post; sometimes it’s good to be reminded that comics, books and other forms of entertainment we all enjoy aren’t being created by machines.

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The “George R.R. Martin’s Fans Can Be Huge Asshats” thing is oftentimes quite disturbing, he’s got a vocal fanbase online, but many of them seem to feel entitled and the fact that he hasn’t finished the next book in A Song Of Ice And Fire and has actually worked on other things during this time seems to set them off. The vitriol aimed at him seems disproportionate.

I’m an odd Martin fan, I came into A Song of Ice And Fire last year, I knew him from his Wild Cards stuff, I didn’t want to get into a fantasy series when A Game of Thrones came out. I took the chance last winter and was enthralled, it’s exactly what I needed, and I find there’s actually others following that lead, it’s refreshing to see there’s fantasy that isn’t half assed re-writes of Lord Of The Rings and Arthurian legends.

But I digress…

I suppose the whiners would say I haven’t waited the four-five years they have.

But I was reading the Dark Tower books in the early 90s. There’s 2 six year gaps in that series. From the Waste Lands to Wizard and Glass and from Wizard and Glass to Wolves Of The Calla. I held out. And I didn’t even get bitter when the end revealed itself. I’m that guy who liked it. Me and some guy in Arkansas, I think.

I’m a fan of Busiek’s Astro City.

Worse, I’m still holding out for more Leave It To Chance(Hopeless I know, Robinson has pretty much said so) and I yearn for more Monkeyman and O’Brien. I have a long history of loving lost causes.

I think I’ve noticed a correlation between the length and breadth of the work and the ownership readers feel over it. If it’s LONG and takes time, they feel it’s theirs more and more as it goes on. King learned that with the Dark Tower, by the end some readers loudly questioned every choice he made, from including himself in his story, to his portrayal of the Crimson King as a mental case with flying hand grenades, to the ending that seemed to have been his plan all along to me.

Anyway, I can wait for A Dance With Dragons, just as I waited for new Dark Tower and Wild Cards books through most of the 90s.

Patience is my only virtue.

Just the same, fans aren’t the “bitches” of creators, either. After enough blown deadlines, a creator may just find himself without a readership.

The problem with Final Crisis was never that it was late or that it was too weird or too dense. The problem was that it should have been released on its own as an isolated piece and was instead promoted as a major cross-over event. As a piece of art, I think it was pretty brilliant. As an event book to bring readers in and spin out other books, I think it failed miserably.

But that is an editorial failing and not the fault of Morrison or Jones.

Neil Gaiman is officially My Boy.

The difference between Martin and the vast majority of comic book creators (specifically, super-hero comic book creators) isthat Martin is not tied to a monthly deadline.

Jones or Morrison, or Johns or Busiek, when they have a contract to turn in their projects on a regular deadline, should honor that deadline. I’ll even give creator-owned projects a pass because the creators are totally banking on themselves. But if you’re working for someone else, then, yeah, you should make all your deadlines, or at the very least let your boss know as soon as you do that it’s not going to happen so he can get someone else to fill in.

Yeah, I bitched about Final Crisis and before that Infinite Crisis, but the blame lays on Dan DiDio’s head, he knew, or should’ve known, these artists were notoriously slow. I’m not a big fan of JG Jones, but I dig Phil Jimenez and I know the guy can’t do monthly comics.

I knew it, and I’m not in the business. Why didn’t DiDio know and why didn’t he give them more lead time?

And honestly, I tend to agree with Marvel when it comes to the ‘late or half assed’ question, DC seems to think promptness covers up for mediocrity. It doesn’t. I’d rather wait for Phil Jimenez than get Joe Bennett and Ivan Reis hacking away.

And fans are the bitches of creators. They may pay the bills, but they should never have any control over the creative process because 99% of them don’t know jack about it.

You like it? Cool. You don’t? Tough titty, better luck next time.

Sorry to disagree, J.K., because I think you’re usually dead-on, but there’s enough differences between an author writing the next book in his own series and an artist working on the next issue of a company owned event series (that retailers have to order in advance on a non-returnable basis) as to not be an oranges=oranges situation.

(In fact, there’s probably more to be gained by studying the differences than the similarities, but that’s not really germane to the issue at hand.)

It’s a great quote, though, I’ll give you that.

I disagree with the comparison too. In the case of Planetary #27, 3 years IS NOT A REASONABLE TIME-FRAME to produce a SINGLE ISSUE. That is merely outrageous.

Also, 1-year between LOEG: Century issues is also unreasonable – I mean, really, what the hell is Kevin O’Neill doing with all that time? (btw, I really didn’t like Issue 1)

One can kill someone with one of the Songs of Ice and Fire books. It’s expected to take a really long time to write such a book.

I thought that this issue was gone over and thoroughly talked out a couple of months ago.

Jack Norris–No time like the present to once again go over tired old arguments and piss and moan about the same old subject. It’s what the internet is for. ;)

I think Neil Gaiman has created a new signature line for many people.

“George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.”

Jeff said: “Sorry to disagree, J.K., because I think you’re usually dead-on, but there’s enough differences between an author writing the next book in his own series and an artist working on the next issue of a company owned event series (that retailers have to order in advance on a non-returnable basis) as to not be an oranges=oranges situation.”

and Mr. Wesley said: “Jones or Morrison, or Johns or Busiek, when they have a contract to turn in their projects on a regular deadline, should honor that deadline. I’ll even give creator-owned projects a pass because the creators are totally banking on themselves. But if you’re working for someone else, then, yeah, you should make all your deadlines, or at the very least let your boss know as soon as you do that it’s not going to happen so he can get someone else to fill in.”

Jeff, Mr. Wesley — sorry for not addressing these both individually, but it seems like you’re both talking more about the publisher/creator relationship and the retailer/creator relationship, versus the fan/creator relationship, which is what Gaiman was talking about in his post and what I was getting at with my J.G. Jones example. Yeah, absolutely, people should honor their contracts, deadlines, etc. and expect the companies they work for to react when they don’t. That’s certainly not unreasonable. And retailers whose livelihoods are on the line when they order a certain amount of a certain book because they know it will sell really well for them, only to have the book not show up for six months … yeah, I’d say they’re entitled to an explanation and some anger, because it affects their bottom line, keeps food off the table, etc.

But I can’t think of an example where fans have that same level of entitlement, where they can dictate whether J.G. Jones can go to a convention or George R.R. Martin can spend time blogging instead of writing a book. (Actually, I’m not sure if retailers or publishers have that right either, no matter how late a book is, but as I said, I think that’s a totally different relationship and discussion than fan entitlement).

“I yearn for more Monkeyman and O’Brien”

That makes at least two of us, DrunkJack.

I don’t care how long it takes Martin, if the books keep their (real high!) quality.

But I can understand people are afraid he pulls a Robert Jordan on them. That would be quite frustrating.

(For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Jordan was a fantasy writer who died before writing the final book on his EXTREMELY LONG “Wheel of Time” series.)

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Yeah, because Jordan is such a dick for getting sick and dying. What an asshole.

The idea that someone (I know it wasn’t you, Pedro) came up with the phrase “Pulling a Robert Jordan” is one of those things that makes me really hate people, fan types especially.

I’m a loser, a living with his parents inebriated whenever he can afford it cliche of a failure(I deliver papers to make ends meet, I’m beyond cliche), but even I could never consider what happened to Robert Jordan something bad that happened to me, that I was somehow robbed. I never read his stuff, so I can’t say directly, but I know if Stephen King had died before he finished the Dark Tower I wouldn’t be bothered that he didn’t finish the Dark Tower. At least not in the sense that I would think it was some sort of problem I had to deal with. No, he would have died, I would’ve felt for his family and friends, his not finishing something I enjoyed would never enter my mind.

I guess I’m just enough of a self centered douchebag to think that someone getting sick and dying is more about him not finishing something I enjoyed than him, y’know ceasing to be.

To be fair, if I read a series over 10 books long with each book as THICK as the Wheel of Time books are, I probably wouldn’t be expecting it to ever finish…

Of course, I never read (nor intend to) Wheel of Time. So I can’t say how close it was (or seemed to be) to the finish.

Going on to comics, I’m an european comics fan. Back here, it is normal to have an year (or more!) gap between books. But they are creator-owned and (usually) self-contained, there isn’t a big “comics universe” where every book is linked to another and where delays can screw up a whole line. So for US comics that kind of delay is unacceptable, but should be blamed on THE READERS, who are the guys who love that shared universe/crossover thing and make the publishers put out more and more megacrossovers.

I prefer to read the books on the “periphery” of those universes (Agenst of Atlas, Hercules, even current day Spider-Man). Much less frustrating.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

“I think Neil Gaiman has created a new signature line for many people.

“George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.” ”

It’s certainly made its way into mine! :)

Apart from their official works, I also get mad when people bitch at authors for not blogging. A couple of weeks ago some guy was telling Neil his new Twitter fascination was making him slack about blogging and I just thought ‘shut the f@#k up before you make him think that giving up blogging altogether is better than only blogging a little’. The guy has a life and we’re lucky he likes to blog. If some whiner spoils that for the rest of us, they should be strung up.

Uh guess what the Martin’s book is 4 years late. He has made more money off of a Song of Ice and Fire than the rest of his career put together due to his fans. He wanted to write a huge epic series. If you do so expectations need to be met. He signed a 6 book deal. It was supposed to be complete by 2007 totally. Now? We blab about a Dance when after that who knows when the next installment will be as well as how many more books the series will take.
Neil Gaimon is a dork from Minnesota. That’s the quote that should be used.

Neil Gaiman is, in fact, a dork from England.

Mr Wesley said…
“The difference between Martin and the vast majority of comic book creators (specifically, super-hero comic book creators) is that Martin is not tied to a monthly deadline.
Jones or Morrison, or Johns or Busiek, when they have a contract to turn in their projects on a regular deadline, should honor that deadline. I’ll even give creator-owned projects a pass because the creators are totally banking on themselves. But if you’re working for someone else, then, yeah, you should make all your deadlines, or at the very least let your boss know as soon as you do that it’s not going to happen so he can get someone else to fill in.”

Agreed!
Comics are periodicals.
Periodicals come out on a fixed schedule.
If you’re going to write for a periodical, be prepared to write to a schedule!
If you want to write a graphic novel, fine!
Make it the single greatest work of literature ever published!
But, don’t try to do chapters in periodical format unless you’re prepared to meet the scheduled deadlines for those chapters!
Just do the novel and release it when it’s finished!

Pros meet deadlines.
For example: Kurt Busiek meets deadlines unless something TRULY major (illness, disaster) prevents him from doing so, not because he’s sitting on his ass playing XBox360!

THAT’S a PRO!

How is the waiting going? Still think he is going to finish this book? Yeah I don’t think you do now.

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