Robot 6

Quote of the day | Tom Brevoort vs. Robert Kirkman

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Tom Brevoort

“I see Robert Kirkman has joined the Erik Larsen ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ club when it comes to the content in mainstream super hero comics. Guys, you’ve got all the freedom in the world to do whatever kinds of comics you want, and so do we. It’s unapologetically ironic that the guy publishing INVINCIBLE, probably the bloodiest, goriest super hero comics in years, is the one casting these stones. And yes, I know he tries to contextualize it, but it’s still ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ If you want those kinds of comics, MAKE THEM! I think it’s absurdly hypocritical to publish a violent book that looks like an issue of Teen Titans on the racks, then take this stance. And just to be clear: I like both Robert’s and Erik’s work. Never miss an issue of WALKING DEAD or INVINCIBLE.”

Marvel VP-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, responding to Robert Kirkman’s complaints about the violence in Big Two superhero comics

I have a few thoughts on this:

1) It pains the yellow journalist in me to have to include the conciliatory bit at the end there, but I’m all about ethics.

2) As I told Brevoort over Twitter, I think both the hyprocrisy angle and “If you want those kinds of comics, MAKE THEM!” is a bit unfair. Let’s say Jay-Z wants to hear a good country song every now and then — should he stop rapping? Kirkman seems much better suited to what he’s doing with Invincible and The Walking Dead than to traditional Big Two supercomics, but that doesn’t pre-invalidate his opinions on those comics, opinions that ought to be allowed to rise or fall on their own merits. Attack the idea he’s advancing, don’t go the pot/kettle route. Well, at least don’t do it over Invincible, which as a creator-owned book Kirkman made up from scratch is pretty different kettle of fish. But Marvel Zombies, on the other hand…

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57 Comments

I hate Tom Brevoort, but he makes an excellent point. Kirkman is a hypocrite, which to me, pre-invalidates his ideas.

…and let the irrational Kirkman bashing begin!

You HATE Tom Brevoort? Really? Like, not just dislike his work or policies, but outright HATE him? Wow…

It’s not hypocritical. Invincible has one tone, Teen Titans has (or should have) another. This was the lesson no-one seems to have learned from the 90′s: taking Comic A and warping it’s tone, concept and characters beyond recognition in hopes of attracting fans of Comic B does not work in the long term. You get a short uptick in sales, then they lag as the fans of Comic B realize they already have what they want in Comic B and stop buying Comic A. Meanwhile, you’ve poisoned the well of Comic A and it’s once-loyal fans have departed, leaving you with a net loss.

For example, I enjoy Ultimate X-Men and Ultimates. They sit in their own little sandbox and it doesn’t touch other aspects of the Marvel Universe. Even though I like them, it would disturb me greatly to open the pages of the regular Avengers book and see someone cannibalizing Wasp, for example. Such a thing would be jarring and out of place in the regular Avengers title whereas in its own little universe, it is not.

I’m usually not one to see eye to eye with Tom Breevort – his tendency to stir the pot when it comes to the competition gets real old – but I’ll have to side with him on this one. It’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black in Kirkman’s case, especially considering the work he’s done at Marvel. Granted, the man’s allowed to have an opinion, but it seems kind of an odd stance to take when you routinely write the goriest books on the market not under the MAX imprint at Marvel.

“Guys, you’ve got all the freedom in the world to do whatever kinds of comics you want, and so do we.”

Well, no, Tom, you don’t, and you know it. Kirkman does, though.

“I think it’s absurdly hypocritical to publish a violent book that looks like an issue of Teen Titans on the racks, then take this stance.”

It’s either idiotic or disingenuous to compare INVINCIBLE with TEEN TITANS, of all things, which has gone through, what, twelve different “regular” writers over the last few years until DC was suitably happy with the “tone” to let one do more than two issues in a row.

If that doesn’t support Kirkman’s point, nothing does; the point being, obviously, that INVINCIBLE is Kirkman’s comic, and no Tom Brevoort or Dan DiDio ever get to fuck with it.

Yes, Kirkman’s books are gory, but the characters within them are not relentlessly marketed to kids the way characters like Spider-Man and Batman are, though all the licensed product out there.

That said, I think the situation is actually a LOT better than it has been in the past. Yes, the main-line books are not appropriate for kids a lot of the time, but it’s not like Marvel and DC don’t each have a line of books targeted to kids featuring their characters (though DC’s just got a little smaller), not to mention TONS of affordable B&W reprints of older stuff. Each publisher also has a nice line of picture books for young readers, as well as kid-appropriate cartoons. So it’s totally possible for kids to enjoy the characters in an age-appropriate way.

Do I sometimes wish the main-line books weren’t so adult in places? Sure. But the companies are addressing it here and there with alternatives.

I have a much bigger problem with, say, the way “Dark Knight” had tons of licensed toys for the kiddos, tied in to a movie there’s no way they should have been watching.

MAYBE, the solution is, if there IS a need for good all ages type comics that don’t SUCK, the companies should be RECRUITING TALENT WHO CAN AND WANT TO WRITE THOSE?

I’m in my 30s, and I read mostly adult audience comics, but I also LOVE and pick up Tiny Titans and Batman Brave religiously. No children in my life, they’re all for me alone.

If you find creators who can do the work, without it seeming like a chore, or who just don’t “get it” you’ll wind up w/ awesome comics that’ll get buzz and get people reading.

Chances are both Larsen & Kirkman could do all ages books if they wanted to, but because it’s not where their heart it, it would come out limping and lazy. That’s the thing w/ creator owned stuff, yer hearts got to be in it, cuz no one is cutting you a check at the end of the week.

There’s companies out there who spend a lot of time recruiting talent, maybe they should focus more on finding the next Baltazar and less on the next Johns clone (Krul?).

Any talent that the Big Two get to do all ages books will just be criticized by Kirkman for working for the Big Two. Just look at his most recent comments about talent going through a cycle of characters. The Big Two will always be wrong in his eyes, no matter what they do.

Brevoort is such a tool. Kirkman is not making similar comments to Larsen at all. Kirkman’s original comment ended with something to the effect that the big difference is that when he does bloody/gorey books they are creator owned and they have always been bloody/gorey. Spider-Man (Kirkman’s original example) has historically not been that type of book, yet all Marvel and DC books are slowly going that way which is completely contrary their original tone.

@Chad – I have to say that I completely disagree with your comment that in “no way” should children watch “Dark Knight.” I think a bigger problem in society is the babying of young kids and their only entertainment being complete mindless fluff (like Alvin and the Chipmunks or most other kid movies, with few exceptions). “The Dark Knight” provides the portrayal of a moral code that is honarable and should be strived for in their adulthood.

Folks, let’s see if we can talk about Tom and Robert without literally calling either of them names, as befits us all being grown-ups, not third-graders.

@comicsaredead Let me clarify — when I’m talking about kids not watching Dark Knight, I’m thinking about elementary schoolers like my son and his friends. Moral code or not, there is some violence in that movie that would give them nightmares for weeks.

And yet, while it was out, the toy aisles at Target were filled with figures from that movie.

I guess Kirkman would have a point if not for the fact that Marvel does currently publish several fantastic all-ages titles. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man & Superheroes are the best Spider-Man & Avengers books on the stands right now and they’re enjoyed by both me and my seven year-old every month. Along with that Marvel has an all-ages Thor book and several minis every month. Yes, Amazing Spider-Man is targeted at an older age group, but that’s part of publishing, you write to your demographic and most comic readers these days are decidedly over 18. However, for those young fans that love Super Hero Squad, there’s a comic for that. To say that a publisher should not create The Dark Knight Returns simply because it’s not for children is foolish. Batman, Spider-Man and Superman can all be used to tell a myriad of stories over all age groups and there are comics being published today, right now that play to each of them.

Whenever Brevoort has something to say I know it’s like whenever Larsen says something: Not well thought out, very general and is the equivalent of starting a flame war online. I’m not a fan.

I still think it’s ENDLESSLY easier to make something like Invincible where you don’t have to fit it into any shared universe or have any creative limits or have any content limits than something like, oh, Kirkman’s pretty poor Marvel Team-Up book (which is actually easier than writing, let’s say Cable or Captain American or something where you have even more limitations).

On the other hand, considering how wretched Teen Titans has been content and gore wise over the last few years, maybe that’s not the best example for Tom to bring up, unless it was ironic.

That said, I think the situation is actually a LOT better than it has been in the past. Yes, the main-line books are not appropriate for kids a lot of the time, but it’s not like Marvel and DC don’t each have a line of books targeted to kids featuring their characters (though DC’s just got a little smaller), not to mention TONS of affordable B&W reprints of older stuff. Each publisher also has a nice line of picture books for young readers, as well as kid-appropriate cartoons. So it’s totally possible for kids to enjoy the characters in an age-appropriate way.

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I disagree. The situation isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. When the Big 2 have to create a SMALL (more like microscopic) and separate imprint in order to tell new “all ages” stories featuring their heroes, then you know the problem is getting worse. Also, why should the only mainstream MU and DCU books young kids can have to be old reprint stories. 10+ years ago before Quesada became EIC, and 25+ years ago before DC fell in love with the asinine non CCA approved “mature” baxter paper format, MOST MU and DCU superhero comics were both suitable for and appealing to kids/all ages. Those books were written in a LAYERED all ages manner that appealed to readers of various ages on various different levels.

Man… that Robert Kirkman guy sure is a jerk!

-Robert

@comicsaredead – Are you kidding me? There is no way a kid (say 9yrs old) should be watching “Dark Knight”. You don’t introduce ADULT concepts to Kids, they have to grow into it.

I think Kirkman is right, mainstream comics should’t be “dark”. Thats not what most comic characters are about. Keep the mainstream, mainstream a.k.a all ages. You can always publish darker comics under imprints like Marvel Knights, Vertigo, etc.

PS It is a bit disengenous of Kirman to have a teen hero in the mold of spiderman and have it be so graphically violent. If you walk into a comic store and look at the cover, most people would think Invincible is an all ages book.

Dammit, Robert, what did I JUST say??? :)

Steven R. Stahl

August 9, 2010 at 10:32 am

Perhaps the reason Brevoort responded to Kirkman’s comments was that Kirkman was criticizing Brevoort, specifically. From Kirkman’s quote:

You know, Marvel just did an intercompany crossover which was supposed to be something all of their readers can read, and it had guys ripping each other in half and intestines were flying all over the place.

I don’t want to see Spider-Man swinging around, tripping in intestines going, ‘Aw, crap! What a mess!’

But that’s what did happen in SIEGE #2. Would Brevoort argue that the “Ares is ripped apart” pages were just incidental, weren’t the highlight of the issue, and weren’t promoted as such? Some readers responded excitedly by speculating about who else the Sentry might rip apart; other readers were appalled.

If Brevoort had been able to promote SIEGE on the basis of its importance, its quality, or a number of other aspects, he might have done so. But it was crap, Brevoort undoubtedly knew it was crap, and the promotion of “The Heroic Age” rendered the outcome of SIEGE practically meaningless.So, he promoted what he could, which included having a guy ripped apart.

If Brevoort were in a job which required him to promote books mainly on the quality of the writing, I doubt that he’d know what to do.

SRS

@Blade X I’m not saying the current situation is ideal (I did mention that I wish the main lines weren’t as adult in spots), but I’m sorry, things ARE better than they were a few years back, and I say that as a dad. There are entire lines of comics and young-reader books featuring super-heroes available for kids, and that wasn’t the case a few years back, when Joe Q was claiming that kids didn’t read comics. What you call a microscopic line, I call PLENTY of monthlies that elementary schoolers can read, given that kids don’t have unlimited budgets and that they re-read their comics again and again.

And what’s wrong with reading older comics? That was a steady part of my diet when I was younger.

Do things still need to improve? Sure. I imagine the pre-teen years are a bit trickier when it comes to superhero comics, and I for one would love for there to be more kids’ superhero comics aimed at young girls and featuring female heroes. But things ARE better.

It sounds like you’re arguing a different issue — that the main-line books should never have gotten away from all-ages storytelling. That’s a different issue entirely, and no matter how much you and I might wish it could happen, I don’t think that genie is ever going back in the bottle.

And of course, there are TONS of kids’ comics these days that have nothing to do with superheroes, from Boom’s Disney comics to Owly, to Bone … and on and on.

While I agree with Kirkman’s sentiment, the thing is this: kids don’t want to read kids comics. The trick is to let kids think they’re reading a gown up book, when secretly it’s entirely all-age appropriate. Kids know when they’re getting watered down b.s.

“While I agree with Kirkman’s sentiment, the thing is this: kids don’t want to read kids comics.”

Not sure I agree with that. Depends on the kid, and depends on the comic. Also depends on what you mean by “kid,” age-wise.

It sounds like you’re arguing a different issue — that the main-line books should never have gotten away from all-ages storytelling. That’s a different issue entirely, and no matter how much you and I might wish it could happen, I don’t think that genie is ever going back in the bottle.

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Chad, that is exactly what I’m arguing. Up until Quesada became EIC, the over whelming majority of Marvel superhero titles LAYERED all ages comics. Once Quesada became EIC, the language,violence,and sexual content in those books suddenly got ratcheted up. Fast forward several years later, and Marvel now has to create a separate “all ages” line with a small number of books that are specifically aimed at kids (often times talking down to them). Now thereare exceptions, and some of Marvel’s recent all ages comics are not only pretty damn good, but are not labeled “all ages” and are written in a LAYERED manner so as not to talk down to the readers. These recent LAYERED all ages comics are SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL (and all of the other MC2 mini series),X-MEN FOREVER,X-FACTOR FOREVER,BIG HERO 6,X-MEN: FIRST CLASS,NEW EXILES,NEW MUTANTS FOREVER,WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS,WEAPON X: FIRST CLASS,and THOR: THE MIGHTY AVENGER.

I’m thinkin’ 6-up.

While I agree with Kirkman’s sentiment, the thing is this: kids don’t want to read kids comics. The trick is to let kids think they’re reading a gown up book, when secretly it’s entirely all-age appropriate. Kids know when they’re getting watered down b.s.

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You hit the nail right on the head. That is why pre Quesada Marvel books were such a huge success with people of all ages. Those books were written in a LAYERED all ages manner that did not talk down to the readers and handled mature subject matter in a tasteful and subtle manner.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again, pre Quesada Marvel comics is how to do a true LAYERED all ages comic.

Marvel Zombies is a different story since it was an off-shoot of an Ultimate universe story and was kinda intended to be out-of-continuity. As far as I know, Kirkman’s in-continuity Marvel work doesn’t go nearly as far as his creator-owned work, so Brevoort’s comments seem out-of-turn to me.

Marvel Zombies is a different story since it was an off-shoot of an Ultimate universe story and was kinda intended to be out-of-continuity. As far as I know, Kirkman’s in-continuity Marvel work doesn’t go nearly as far as his creator-owned work, so Brevoort’s comments seem out-of-turn to me.

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You are absolutely right. His MARVEL TEAM UP book was, for the most part, suitable for all ages.

he said if you want violent comics than DO WHAT HE DID and make them as a seperate title, don’t bring them into mainstream superhero comics. Kirkman is only a hipocrite if he get assigned The Avengers and has Thor uses his hammer to bust through the guts of a villian. It’s not about one type of comic vs the other, it’s about WHEN to do one type over the other. For mainstream superheroes, keep the blood out. You want blood, start your own title, don’t bring it a franchise that’s been around for decades. People really lack the ability to read closely. If you are going to make a comment on what someone says, read the damn details, don’t just get the gist.

>Man… that Robert Kirkman guy sure is a jerk!

-Robert>

Yeah, that’s what I said.

Tom B

Cole Moore Odell

August 9, 2010 at 9:19 pm

“Kids don’t want to read kids’ comics” is the kind of thing said by people who don’t have any kids. My 11- and 7-year-old sons *love* Little Lulu, Plastic Man, Captain Marvel, Tiny Titans, Jeff Parker’s Marvel Adventures books, Bone, 60′s Marvel and classic comic strip reprints, among other age-appropriate material. They never ask for comics with more intestines. Like any reasonable reader, they want *good* comics.

Here’s more of Tom B’s comments on this subject from his twitter page. I hope Tom and the poster who asked him the question mind me pasting there comments here on this thread.

“I asked about Kirkman’s comments. Not saying you should make comics just for kids, but shouldn’t you make them for the widest audience possible? Was a time when adults and kids could enjoy the same comics. I can’t see kids enjoying most modern comics.
________

Depends on the kids, I think. It seems to me that most people who make this argument are really pining for the kinds of comics that they loved when they were young (and often for the kinds of comics that they themselves would never buy.) Nostalgia for the past is nice, but we need to sell comics in the present, to a 21st Century audience, not to somebody’s rose-colored-glasses version of what they think might work. For all that, though, Marvel publishes a whole line of age-appropriate super hero material in what was once called the Marvel Adventures line, books that should be enjoyable for both kids and parents. But not every comic book is for every reader–can’t be. We try to make books for the widest possible audience, sure, but that doesn’t mean that every release can be targeted that way, because people don’t all like or want the same thing.”

There a huge difference between the pre Quesada “layered all ages” CCA approved Marvel comics from the past and the current all ages MARVEL ADVENTURES books. What Tom B and many of the pros currently working for Marvel (and DC) either don’t seem to realize or want to admit, is that unlike the MA books, those past pre Quesada Marvel comics were able to deal with a wide range of subject matter (and tones) and still remain both suitable for and/or appealing to people of ALL AGES (young kids,tweens,teens,and adults).

What I have enjoyed since Kirkman’s initial remarks and now Brevoort’s response is that I’m actually seeing some folks speak up about the fact that super-hero comics by the big two really have hit some serious low points these days. And here I thought I was the only one! :)

I’m not advocating that Marvel and DC turn all their book s into Super Friends or Marvel Adventures type books. But I do wish more superhero comics felt a lot more super these days and less vile and grotesque. The sense of wonder and adventure that these types of comics had before is missing now and I think readers young and old alike are losing out. I understand that as a generation or two hung onto to the notion of reading the comics they grew up with that more progressive storytelling was called upon to keep that audience, but I often feel let down that “progressive” or “mature” storytelling merely amounts to more violence, more depravity, more twisting these characters from the spirit they were created in, and no one seems to see that that is a dead end for these books. The race to the bottom of the barrel has been on for decades, and I fear as the downward spiral continues readers won’t be able to tell a mainstream superhero book from the new issue of The Boys.

I am not someone who is squimish about violence, I have spent a lot of my life trying to understand violence and the effects of violence. My problem is it’s damn easy to show violence in comics, but why don’t we see the consequences of that violence more often? Well, that’s something else these days. I remember when I was a kid and Colossus snapped the neck of Riptide during the events of the Mutant Massacre it effected him. It stuck with him, haunted him. It’s what I have seen my father suffer with his entire adult life after his experiences during the Vietnam War. We’ve seen in every DC event heroes of ordinary people just torn apart or butchered and it ends there. We get the gore, the crime scene as it comes to life, but rarely the aftermath. Murder destroys lives, rape has a permanent and terrible impact on victims, genocide ruins generations, war devastates and demoralises the psyche of the fighting man… so if we’re going to see these things in comics, especially our superhero comics, then treat us truly like adults and show the consequences. If you want to tell adult stories, then be adults about it. Make it real.

Superheroes shouldn’t be tramping through intestines and saying “What the &*%^?” I think Siege was massively disappointing on these fronts. I just don’t understand why the style of storytelling that Marvel once employed to tell the Kree/Skrull War couldn’t be used today? Is the audience today really so different? Is there no interest in having some sense of wonder and adventure be at work in superhero comics today? And honestly if the villains get any worse in these books while the heroes are looking more and more useless, I fear we will eventually have every one taking a page out of Daredevil’s playbook to deal with their adversaries. When villains are killing the entire population of a city neighbourhood, super or not, who’s going to want to see a heroic response to that kind of act?

I think Kirkman’s right in that he created NEW CHARACTERS to do the type of stories he wanted that weren’t recognisable to comics readers young and old, but honestly Kirkman’s Marvel Zombies is something that I think never should have been published if Marvel had any real sense of maintaining the image of their characters or properties as they see them, so he’s just as guilty of poisoning the well.

I think this is why as I get older I appreciate creator-owned properties more and more because there is a consistency to not only keep the character selling but to keep them true to the spirit they were created in, and that is something Marvel and DC have traded in over and over and over and over again throughout the years for the quick cash of short term sales spikes, capturing that elusive new reader who comes for the shocks and awe of this hot comic or that twisted extreme relaunch that eventually falls flat. Even a guy like George Lucas, who many people think is all business man, would never sell out and force Star Wars Zombies upon the world.

I need to stop this rant now. I just wanted to contribute my two cents for what it’s worth.

Cole Moore Odell

August 9, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Kirkman may be self-serving (he did, after all, have a column called “Buy My Books”, so that shouldn’t be a shock to anyone) but his point is crystal clear, right or wrong, and Brevoort in the above argument is being willfully obtuse. Then again, as the old saying goes, you can’t make a man understand what he’s paid not to understand. It’s too bad, because there are better arguments against Kirkman.

For me it boils down to a fundamental difference of opinion over the basic nature of the marquee Marvel and DC superhero properties. Marvel and DC, as arms of global multimedia companies, obviously see them as malleable concepts they can tonally readjust to fit all kinds of audiences, be it sunshine and corny jokes for kids in their TV cartoons and under-supported kids comics lines, and all rapey-arm-rip-offy for the jaded, adult direct market audience that Brevoort is chasing. A different Spider-man for everyone, hands in your wallet from cradle to grave. Conversely, Kirkman seems to believe that the characters only really work as they were originally constructed–power fantasies for 5-12 year-olds. In my experience, this traditionalist attitude is especially prevalent among people who grew up reading Code-approved books. I’m in that cohort.

While talented creators can make anything sing (I love me some Brubaker Captain America, Pak/Van Lente Hercules, etc,, and I wouldn’t let my kids near ‘em) I think Kirkman is generally correct. All these years, hype, mega-events and desperate idol chasing later the defining quality of all the Millars, Johns, et al, is that They Ain’t No Miller or Moore. And tellingly, the old guys did their relatively experimental, edgy “adult” superheroes pretty far out on the fringes–Swamp Thing and Daredevil were C-list cancelbait, not in-continuity Superman and Spidey.

Looking at the silly horror movie carnage in a typical current month’s worth of books starring former Super Friends and their boy sidekicks, I personally think we’ve lost more than we’ve gained, but given how the currents of superhero comics and their market have developed/withered over the past 30 years, you are *never* going to get a Brevoort to concede that. The man’s job is premised on the opposite proposition. Of course he’s going to argue for maximum flexibility to maximize sales on the properties he’s running fort he direct market audience as it is now, and against some Silver Age ideal, in the name of a general audience whose disappearance (and there’s more than enough blame to go around) chased comics from the newsstands to begin with.

Cole Moore Odell

August 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm

…and I see that someone has posted an except of Tom B. on Twitter making exactly the argument I just posited. Sorry.

Cole Moore Odell

August 9, 2010 at 10:36 pm

One last thing in defense of Kirkman’s argument: The Big Two strategy to create kids, all-ages and mature audiences versions of their characters does raise real issues, whether those companies’ editors have any incentive to acknowledge them or not. The willingness to publish hyper-violent, her-entrails-taste-like-chicken comics for teens and adults featuring characters created, historically published, and still pushed on TV for children does not automatically justify itself, simply because 20,000 adults are standing in a line with money in their hands, and you go to the direct market with the emotionally retarded readership you have, not the one you want. Smoke up, Johnny! Disney would be hard-pressed to justify a line of cartoons featuring barely legal versions of Ariel, Jasmine and Belle experiencing the Disney version of getting raped on the Justice League satellite, or dying from radioactive Spider-sperm.

More important issue: In that stock photo of Tom Brevoort, I always imagine that’s a guitar strap. It really does look like a guitar strap. Is Tom wailing away on some sweet Van Halen solo in that particular shot? Because that would be SO boss.

Here’s a question I would like to see Quesada,Brevoort,and the other Marvel editors answer.

Why is it OK to show on panel bloody and gory violent scenes,having cuss words (ass,bitch,and bastard),and some strong sexual innuendos in all of your A,T+,and PARENTAL ADVISORY books, but it’s not OK to show your heroes or supporting cast smoking?

Pretty well-trod at this point, I guess, but…yeah, you can oppose violence in some superhero comics and applaud it in others. It’s pretty cliche to go straight to Watchmen, but it IS a bit of an obvious example — and would it really have been a better book if it had used the Charlton characters instead of creating analogues?

If I pick up Punisher or Wolverine, I expect to see people getting shot or cut up — that’s okay, it’s what those characters are about. But a Spider-Man comic where the Lizard eats his son? Thaaaat’s kind of another story. What’s so hard to understand about “It’s okay if that happens in Invincible, but not in Spider-Man”? It’s a pretty clear distinction.

I’ve seen some good recommendations in the thread for all-ages superhero books; I haven’t picked up much in the way of Marvel Adventures but have liked what I’ve read, and I haven’t bought Batman: The Brave and the Bold but I love the cartoon. The Muppet Show is my current favorite all-ages book, and I think I might have to check out Langridge’s work on Thor (though I’m more interested in his art than his writing).

PS: Hi Kirkman & Brevoort.

Cole Moore Odell

August 10, 2010 at 9:19 am

Thor is good so far, and Samnee’s art is its own kind of fantastic, but if you’re looking for more great Langridge art, his Fred the Clown, collected by Fantagraphics, will knock your socks off.

Steven R. Stahl

August 10, 2010 at 9:28 am

Brevoort shouldn’t assume that readers complaining about current comics are driven by nostalgic memories of what they read as youths. If he does some research on writing, he’ll find that stories written for young adults must meet the same quality standards as those written for adults. The differences lie in the subject matter, the ages of the characters, the grade level of the text, the sophistication of the themes, etc.

As Blade X has pointed out, Marvel’s comics in past decades were suited for all ages. Preteens could be entertained by the artwork and the action; YAs and adults could be entertained by the storylines, the artwork, and the craftsmanship displayed by the creators.

None of the changes made in the superhero comics by Marvel in the past several years, such as masked curses, sexual innuendos, decompression, or reclassifying supervillains as terrorists, has actually improved the storytelling. The changes seem to be aimed at ignorant readers who are embarrassed at the thought of reading “kiddie books,” Pandering to the lowest tastes out there risks alienating the long-time readers while failing to retain the ignorant ones.

SRS

Cole Moore Odell

August 10, 2010 at 10:04 am

SRS, I think the Comics Code, a 30-year aberration in which modern Marvel was born and initially flourished, has really colored perceptions of what mainstream comics “should” be. To some extent, the comics you describe were that way because they *had* to be. Before the code, there was a lot more nakedly exploitative sensationalism, albeit in a somewhat more culturally restrained environment. From the earliest comics which were the stepchildren of tawdry Spicy Detective style pulps, to the gory excess of Crime Does Not Pay, the EC line and their many lesser imitators, there has been a deep, serious strain of comics as pretty purile (and in many cases, pretty awesome) entertainments.The first criticism I ever read, at age five, was Jules Feiffer’s essay in The Great Comic Book Heroes where he explains that *of course* comics were junk–that’s why kids liked them so much.

Where this gets tricky for me is that I think too often the Big Two today implicitly embrace the sleazy pre-code roots of comics as a rationalization for the entrail-fests. The editors of supermarket tabloids probably don’t spend a lot of time beating themselves up over how they’re contributing to a coarsening of the culture–they’re just stoking and filling a demand for celebrity gossip.

The problem for the Big Two is that their overall business model depends on them having their entrails and eating them–they want to exploit Batman–inescapably conceived as a character intended for kids–as a property for 5-year-olds and for modern, violence-saturated 35-year-olds. And while, as Grant Morrison says today in his LA Times interview, that kind of conceptual flexibility is amazing (not to mention exciting for marketers), it’s also potentially problematic. Like Kirkman said, while his books are violent, they are his own characters, and he doesn’t market the books to children–there’s no history of Walking Dead Jr. or Lil’ Invincible. DC and Marvel can’t say that, and it’s not enough for them to brush it off. Although at this point it’s clear they won’t address it.

Didnt Kirkman say dont make mainstream comics, i.e. Supes, Bats, Spidey, gory and violent ripping dudes in half business? He didnt say dont make gory superhero comics, he said if you wanna make em gory then create your own superhero to do that. Breevort is a moron and I dont understand how he, or anyone else who doesnt actually READ statements made about comics on the internet, could possibly is such a douce.

Sean T. Collins

August 10, 2010 at 11:01 am

Again, and I’m directing this to Lloyd but it applies to everyone, calling people names instead of simply addressing their arguments makes you, the namecaller, look so much worse than the namecall-ee. Why should I take you seriously if you can’t behave better than a kid at recess? Please take the five extra seconds necessary to compose a post that isn’t childishly belligerent.

None of the changes made in the superhero comics by Marvel in the past several years, such as masked curses, sexual innuendos, decompression, or reclassifying supervillains as terrorists, has actually improved the storytelling. The changes seem to be aimed at ignorant readers who are embarrassed at the thought of reading “kiddie books,” Pandering to the lowest tastes out there risks alienating the long-time readers while failing to retain the ignorant ones.

SRS

___________________________________

You hit the nail right on the head.

SRS, I think the Comics Code, a 30-year aberration in which modern Marvel was born and initially flourished, has really colored perceptions of what mainstream comics “should” be. To some extent, the comics you describe were that way because they *had* to be.

_________________________________________

That may have been true in the early years of the CCA, but by the late 70′[s early 80′s Marvel (who at that time, had a line of non CCA approved magazines that were aimed at teens and adults) did not have to follow the rules of the CCA if they didn’t want to.

Cole Moore Odell

August 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm

@ BladeX –point taken, but the adoption of the comics code was like a big rock dropped in a pond; the further out you get from the center, the weaker the waves, but those ripples determined the flow even as they slowed down and eddies formed–well into the early 1980s. While the code became far less restrictive over time, the mores it advocated, and the potential story elements it curtailed, shaped mainstream (and the reaction of the underground) comics even after the companies no longer had to stick to the letter of the original code in order to get distributed.

You know, the main thing I’m getting from all of this is a lot of people’s opinions on what comics SHOULD or SHOULD NOT contain, mainstream or otherwise. These are personal opinions, of course, but I’m starting to see a few too many cries for censorship within the mix, and that’s rather unsettling.

Look…comics are such a wonderful media, in which you can have whomever or whatever in any setting imaginable doing whatever else the creative team wants to depict. There are ranges and choices for anyone out there that wants to bother reading something amazing, or looking at something great, or both. There’s room for everyone at the table, here.

Mr. Kirkman and Mr. Brevoort are only doing what we do here on the silly internet: voicing their opinions. Obviously, Mr. Kirkman wasn’t pleased with being looped into a constant corporate circle, being told what to write and who he could use and whathaveyou. He made the descision to move on, and do his own awesome thing with WALKING DEAD and INVINCIBLE, and is obviously really, really successful with it (that whole TV show deal…). But the fact is he does indeed create what appears to be a bright, colorful Superhero book which is, as has been said, “What if Spider-Man was Superman’s son?”, and such a book might catch a few people offguard when suddenly there’s a super-person flying literally through another person, blood-n-guts abound. However, in Kirkman’s defense, INVINCIBLE, while being a wonderful book and deserving of all the high praise it gets, is most certainly not a mainstream, major inter-promotional, company-wide crossover, and the closest it’s come to even pretending to be so was with its “Guardians Of The Globe” promo images. Kirkman’s corner of the comic book industry is what it is, an amazing thing, but of course he isn’t as big as Marvel or DC.

Marvel’s SIEGE, on the other hand, was indeed promoted all-over the place as a game-changer in Marvel, that shouldn’t be missed by anyone that’s even slightly a fan of Marvel comics and characters; and in the second issue a lead character tore another lead character in half, blood and intestines everywhere. The mistake in this case, was that Marvel chose to have this be a total surprise, in that the book wasn’t labled “Mature Readers”, or had a “Parental Advisory”, or anything like that. They went for shock, and they got it, but at the expense of many a jaded, head-shaking reader who was tired of seeing ultra-violence leak into their comfortable, superhero world. Right or wrong, had Marvel at least warned the masses ahead of time that something brutal may happen within the pages of SIEGE, the backlash against might not have been so bad, and at the very least they couldn’t be totally blamed for promoting such things to children, even though I seriously 100% doubt that was their intention.

My opinion is, there’s room enough for everyone and everything in this industry, and both Kirkman and Brevoort should both realize that and I’m sure they do. As far as responsible publishing practises, I’m not a corporate mucky-muck, I’m not “in the business” outside of being a fan, I’m not really in a place to make these judgments. However, appropriate labeling and cautions, while just saying such things will no doubt raise hell with the Trust Fund Anarchists out there, can be helpful and in some cases just should be in place. Acting responsibly and for the greater good can only help the comic book business as a whole, and there’s never anything wrong with that.

Good day to you all…

I think Robert’s point has been missed in pretty spectacular fashion, by everyone from Tom Brevoort on down. All he’s saying is that books like Spider-Man and Superman shouldn’t focus as much on adult themes, but that writers seems intent on doing, because of their own interests.

Robert’s suggestion (going back to his “manifesto”) is that “mainstream” Marvel and DC titles should be suitable for a general readership and that if a writer wants to deal with more mature themes, do that in his/her own work. As he has done in The Walking Dead and Invincible.

Books like Frank Miller’s Daredevil or Walt Simonson’s Thor weren’t necessarily “kids books,” but they certainly weren’t so adult that parents would think twice about letting their teens or tweens read them. Today’s comics seem geared almost solely toward an older audience.

Or as Matt Fraction’s Casanova once put it: “The last comic I read, there was a lot of rape and crying. Kinda harshed my boner for fun, you know?”

Kirkman is criticizing MAINSTREAM superheroes dealing with rape and violence and such. He doesn’t want to see SUPERMAN dealing with rape, or SPIDER-MAN tripping over guts.
Why you may ask? Because those guys have mass appeal to children who may pick up their comics on a whim. Kirkman admitted that invincible is violent and that he doesn’t have a problem with “superheroes” dealing with violence. It’s the fact that invincible is not a book that would have any appeal to children, like a Spider-man or Superman book would have, that makes it ok.
In conclusion, Mainstream Superhero comics and gratuitous violence not ok, non mainstream comics and violence ok
Seriously Breevort and like half the commenters on this site have not read Kirkman’s original quote. There should be no argument here.

I agree wholeheartedly with Eric Stephenson. I don’t want to see any type or storytelling disappear from comics, whether, I like it or not, because there are others out there that do. I just wish that Marvel and DC could have maintained a code to treat their mainstream super-heroes in a consistent manner and if they want to have books that are full of more mature content have it take place in lines like Vertigo or Icon. A perfect example of this is Watchmen. I am glad DC didn’t have Moore use the Charlton characters, and ultimately I think the tale is better for it!

I guess I get hot over this topic because of trying to sell comics each week because (thankfully!!!) we are seeing more and more families coming into the shop. But it’s rough trying to find a Ghost Rider comic safe for a kid, or trying to explain why parents should buy these comics and stay away from these comics when both have the same characters plastered across the cover. For my own tastes, I love reading the new Superman, but I look forward to books like Criminal too. And fortunately, I don’t have to worry about a parent picking up Criminal at the shop and ever mistaking it for something appropriate for their 10 year old. I do have to worry about them picking up a comic like Ultimatum though.

Someone needs to ask Tom Brevoort what all ages past comics from which past era are we seeing through “rose tinted glasses”.

yes, kirkman et al are absolutely right. we should totally go back to the 80′s and marvel and dc should publish awesome all-ages comics that everyone loved. then all the kids AND adults will buy them, doubling all their circulation numbers. its so simple it’s mindboggling why it hasnt been done before. i mean, besides the fact that now you have cable tv, and xbox, and the internet, and that no kid is ever going to purposely by a floppy comic book book with his or her own money ever again, but other than that, its TOTALLY a sweet strategy.

Ok. For me, here’s the difference in the usage of gore in the two examples (Seige and Invincible). In the former, you don’t expect it so it’s a much much bigger deal. It’s only in one scene in one issue but becomes a massive talking (and selling point) because it’s left in. This is not the creators straying from the path the book should be-it’s a one off moment. With Invincible however, it’s a little gratuitous as it happens every other issue. Don’t get me wrong, I love Invincible-but the gore in Seige was a lot more unexpected and shocking as a result-which leads me to less is more, not the grass is always greener..

Anybody with me here??

“PS It is a bit disengenous of Kirman to have a teen hero in the mold of spiderman and have it be so graphically violent. If you walk into a comic store and look at the cover, most people would think Invincible is an all ages book.”

But that’s the point. Somebody can simply flip through Invincible off the shelf and tell that it isn’t meant for kids . . . unfortunately, that same person would flip through an issue of Spiderman and come away with the same impression.

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