Robot 6

Quotes of the day | J. Michael Straczynski vs. reviewer’s ‘cheap shot’

“The first issues of Before Watchmen will be published next month. Among the writers working on it is former He-Man scripter J. Michael Straczynski, who once penned a comic in which Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. (This is the rough equivalent of having Z-movie director Uwe Boll film a studio-funded prequel to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.)”

Tim Marchman, in a broadside to the superhero-comics industry that began as a nominal review for The Wall Street Journal of Leaping Tall Buildings. Straczynski wasn’t the only comics creator targeted, however: Marchman also took aim at Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Grant Morrison and Dan DiDio, characterizing them as “the men most responsible for the failure of the big publishers to take advantage of the public’s obvious fascination with men in capes.”

“Your behavior was dickish. I became a better writer after He-Man. You will always be a dick.”

J. Michael Straczynski, issuing his “final word” in the ensuing Twitter exchange with Marchman that began with JMS confronting the reviewer on  “a cheap shot.” “You had to go back to 1984 to insult me? Really?” Straczynski wrote. “And ['One More Day'] was Marvel’s decision not my call.”

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59 Comments

Darth Sarlacc

May 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm

This should be fun…

Good for JMS!

Who in their right mind reads a Murdoch rag, anyway?

In other news, Pot is under fire for racially insensitive Twitter comments about Kettle…

I’d read Marchman’s article this morning and thought immediately that it was a cheap shot. My first thought after reading it was that Marchman was out of his league when it came to the subject matter. There’s not a card-carrying geek on the planet who doesn’t know that JMS is a staple in modern, high-concept, sci-fi writing. To compare him to Boll isn’t just a low, it’s inaccurate.

Marchman made some excellent points; it’s a pity he buried them under obvious trolling and stupid cheap shots.

(You know who else worked on He-Man? Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. The live-action movie starred Frank Langella and a young Courtney Cox.)

Yeah, I would have cited JMS’s current shitty work instead of his past shitty work. You have to admit, the guy has made a career out of consistently being shitty. Have they announced who’s going to pick up his books this time after he walks away without finishing?

I’m all for anyone who alerts mainstream America to the rock-bottom stupidity of One More Day, but the He-Man shot was pretty cheap.

Also, I blame the executives more than the writers for Marvel and DC’s failure to bring wider audiences to their comics. And the distribution system.

Maybe it’s my deep-seated love of He-Man, but I figured the cheap shot was the OMD reference. And JMS is a colossal piece of shit to virtually everyone, so cheap or not, he has no right to complain

Perhaps JMS became a better writer after He-Man, but one can improve and still be just awful.

I also liked this tweet, from Marchman: “Along with works of Ellington, Keaton, the US put the comic where Green Goblin boned Gwen Stacy in time capsule”

“You have to admit, the guy has made a career out of consistently being shitty”

Uh, no I don’t. The guy won an Eisner award for his work on Spidey and Bradbury for Bablylon 5. I don’t think you get those by being a shitty writer.

Diarra Harris

May 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm

“One More Day” may have been Marvel’s decision but appartently what he had planned wasn’t that much better.

JMS also got nominated for a BAFTA Award for the screenplay of the film The Changeling. That was a very good film directed by Clint Eastwood.

Yeah, the new Watchmen books are a spectacularly bad idea but reducing the creator of Babylon 5 and writer of the excellent Clint Eastwood directed period drama Changeling as ‘former HeMan writer’ is unambiguously a cheap shot. Yes One More Day was an awesomely bad idea but JMS was quite vocal about it, and the equally bad Gwen Stacey shtupped Norman Osborne story being forced on him. The rest of his Spiderman run was excellent and the Aunt May finally finds out Peter is Spiderman issue was a masterpiece.

It was a dick move, but I think JMS is also a dick, so I still find it humorous.

Does that make me a dick too?

Marchman comes off as someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, however, when he slams Bendis, Quesada, and Morrison. While Bendis and Quesada have made their fair shares of astonishingly bad story ideas, they are also responsible for the original Ultimate line, which is probably the best point of entry for the “common man” who likes superhero movies to get into comics. Morrison can also be head-scratching, but he is relentlessly innovative and fresh.

Warren Newsom

May 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm

It was a cheap shot. I’m not JMS’s biggest fan (never did much like Babylon 5), but he’s not the worst writer around and his super-hero comic work has been at least as good as Alan Moore (who is over-rated, imo). Every story ever told eventually gets retold. Let DC do their Before Watchmen. It’ll either be good or it’ll be so-so. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

Darth Sarlacc

May 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm

The people who ignore Marchman’s entire article and focus just on the He-Man comment are the same folks who keep apologizing for a dying industry. They’d rather staunchly defend their waning hobby and close their eyes to the deficiencies that have driven readers away from comics in huge numbers

Darth Sarlacc

May 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm

@Peter

In other words, Marchman criticized guys you like – so he is wrong

Lol – he shows more knowledge about comics in a few tweets than I’ve seen by fanboys on message boards in months

@ Darth:

He is knowledgable of the comics industry, but I don’t think he is knowledgable about their content. And I don’t even LIKE Bendis or Quesada, I just think that the numbers disprove his claim that they are responsible for holding the industry back.

I will admit, however, a fanboyish knee-jerk reaction regarding my defense of Morrison.

Darth Sarlacc

May 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I think his point about Joe Q and Bendis catering to a fetish audience, instead of trying to appeal to a wider audience (which obviously exists if you look at the Avengers movie gross) is a pretty salient one

The Big 2 have given us more of the same for the last 10 years or so. And the result has been a few sales spikes and lulls, and no growth of the industry at all

As Marchman said, if publishers are happy selling 100,000 issues of a comic a month, when an audience for a million a month exists – then I guess they are achieving their goal

As others have said, the article does reach some accurate conclusions about the comic industry. However, the cheap shots, lack of substantial research in the article, and the overall tone sour me to his viewpoint.

As for JMS, not a huge fan of his comics work but he is not awful. Read Paul Verhoeven. That’s awful.

And yes, anyone who criticizes Morrison or Rucka or PD risks my wrath. Unless of course when I’m ripping them apart for doing half-assed or mental masturbation tripe then it’s OK.

The article here wasn’t about the entire story at WSJ, but whether or not he took a cheap shot. He did.

Rollo Tomassi

May 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

March man should’ve written “JMS is slated to do four issues of Before Watchmen, but will most likely only finish one issue, two at the most, before becoming bored with it and moving on to his next unfinished project.”

That’s nothing. You should read the exchange between Cosmic Book News and JMS on Superman, lol

Darth:

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with 85% of his points. I just think some of his blame is misplaced.

He-Man was one of the highest points of his career…

Andrew Salmon

May 29, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Cheap shot? Maybe. But JMS has it coming for being part of this Before Watchmen utter shit! And, as others have mentioned, JMS has so much crap comic work under his belt that there’s no reason to go to a He-Man reference. I love B5 and always will. That said, JMS’s particpation in the prequel garbage has put him on my Shit List. I will never buy or read ANYTHING by anyone associated with this steaming pile of shit ever again. I can’t stop this abomination from taking place but I can keep my wallet tucked away in my back pocket while it happens. DC can steal someone else’s money. As for JMS, B5 was his masterpiece. The tank is running on empty.

@Sarlacc: “The people who ignore Marchman’s entire article and focus just on the He-Man comment are the same folks who keep apologizing for a dying industry.”

Maybe so. But he sure as fuck made it easy for them.

I’ve liked a lot of JMS’s work, actually — Thor and The Brave and the Bold were perfectly decent.

And hat’s the thing — Marchman’s got some legitimate points, but he’s clearly and obviously trolling. And it’s not just the He-Man comment, either.

It’s perfectly reasonable to complain that people are falling into his obvious traps instead of paying attention to the overall point of the piece. But maybe you could reserve some ire for him for setting those traps out in the first damn place.

I miss the old days (before the internet) when books were judged shitty (or cool) once they were actually released and read.

Darth Sarlacc

May 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm

@Thad

What other of Marchman’s points do you disagree with?? And it’s not enough to repeat what he said, you need to show, using your own words, why his points are wrong

@Pedro

Lol

The JMS run on Spider-man was complete shit, all that stupid totem bullshit. Way to ruin Spider-man. Although I did like Babylon 5

Well, he wrote He-Man, didn’t he?

Just sayin’.

Ha ha, Pedro. Maybe he was trying to be generous by calling him a He-Man writer…

@Darth

“As Marchman said, if publishers are happy selling 100,000 issues of a comic a month, when an audience for a million a month exists – then I guess they are achieving their goal”

I see this argument being made often, and I don’t know if it makes much sense. An audience for these CHARACTERS exists – true. Does that audience want to shell out $4 on a single issue, worth about 5-10 minutes of entertainment? The average movie ticket costs about $8 now. And you get how much more value out of that?

I don’t think there’s ANY correlation between superhero movies being popular, and comics. It’s not like the movie audience isn’t aware of the comics. And it’s not like Marvel (or DC, for that matter) haven’t put out tons of back-trades from before this era that you seem to despise so much, everytime a movie comes out.

The content is there if people want to get into it. I think year after year, the only conclusion that can be drawn by the lack of major interest from the movie audience in comics is… well, who the hell wants to pay so much for so little entertainment? And that’s a question even most comic fans seem to be asking themselves these days.

I think selling between 20,000 to 100,000 copies of a comic that sells for $4 – $5, every month is pretty good when put in the context of having to survive in an entertainment industry that is populated with DVDs,blurays, x-boxs, movies, music, computer aps, toys, and so on, and so on. The glory days of comics selling millions of units is long gone. It`s no one`s fault at all. There is just a lot more competition for consumer dollars today. Blaming comic creator`s for the evolution of the ent entertainment industry is silly.

Yeah, I was immediately struck by the BS cheap shot aspects of his comments on JMS. I’m not a fan of his most recent work, but it did really come off like trolling, made it clear I couldn’t largely trust the accuracy of anything said and new it was going to be filled with bias and invective. Of course, JMS resorting to childish insults (with or without provocation) makes me regret that I ever bothered to object.

Straczynski’s career is substantial enough that you can’t just take a random shot at him and expect it to hit… but there are still plenty of targets. Marchman wasn’t aiming carefully enough, but I think his overall point still stands anyway.

Duff McWhalen

May 30, 2012 at 6:40 am

Trolling, or mean? I don’t think Marchman was saying any of that just to provoke anyone. Look at JMS’ track record with comics, he didn’t make that up. Look how we get crap like AvX in 2012.

Obviously I’m here because I read comics, so there are a lot of issues and individuals I wouldn’t slam. But JMS is Mr. “write two (horrible) stories, abandon four others” and he’s writing a prequel to Watchmen. The industry in general can afford a little better.

Why is the He-Man line from the article considered a “cheap shot?” Is He-Man now on the same hate list as Rob Liefeld and other stuff from hipsters’ childhoods that they’re now embarrassed they liked?

JMS has written some good stuff every now and then, but he’s really not that great a writer overall. Everyone who is upset about this article comes from the superhero fanbase he says that the Big Two cater to. Those of us who are mystified that guys like JMS are idolized and given more prominence than truly innovative and creative writers and artists working in indie comics found ourselves nodding our heads to most of this article.

I’m not saying the Big Two are incapable of putting out innovative and quality work, it’s just that there isn’t much incentive to publish your pet projects with companies that have a reputation for taking advantage of the best creators comics has ever known, especially when great alternatives like Image and Dark House exist. Just look at all the guys like Brubaker, Hickman, Brian Wood, and now Morrison himself all taking their new ideas to Image. They see Kirkman’s runaway success with the Walking Dead actually making Kirkman himself a success story, while all the greats from DC and Marvel die in poverty. It’s a no-brainer for them, and pretty soon you guys will come around, too.

*Dark Horse, stupid phone…

Ned: Only problem is, the creators and fans can save themselves from DC and Marvel, but the characters are stuck where they are. Now, they aren’t real, so they aren’t suffering, but it’s still unsatisfactory.

talmidge mcgulliger

May 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

the heat for One More Day kind of blows my mind. I didn’t think anything that they did in that story was any dumber than what they did in Flashpoint. Hell, in infinite crisis they brought characters back from the dead because Superboy punched a hole in the time space continuum and some fanboys are hung up because Spiderman got help from Mephisto. ye

@Matthew: So what? You already have decades of stories to read about those characters. A lot of those are much better than most of what’s being written about them today. At some point, you have to move on. There are round of characters out there who could be just as entertainin, but until you give them a chance, you’ll never realize that.

Straczynski and Loeb are great at coming up with story concepts in comics, but horrible at bringing said train into the station on time, if at all. They should both stick to the television format to which they are better suited. Or go for a long pointless walk…

@Ned: So what is, what if I want a new story featuring my favourite Marvel or DC characters? Then I have to make a choice: do without, or support a crumbling and reprehensible institution. I have actually made that choice, after considerable thought, and I’m comfortable with my decision, but I’d much rather not have had to make it.

@Darth Sarlacc: “What other of Marchman’s points do you disagree with??”

Again, I don’t disagree with his major points about the industry, I just think he’s burying them under a distractingly thick layer of smug dickishness.

First of all, “clumsily drawn, poorly written” is an ad hominem which he doesn’t bother to support.

“the ablest creators have abandoned mainline superhero comics to mediocrity” — okay, he doesn’t say anything to support that, either.

The He-Man potshot is followed by a comparison to Uwe Boll.

And this bit here: “The most telling sections in “Leaping Tall Buildings” are thus those written about industry powers like Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Grant Morrison and Dan DiDio. These are the men most responsible for the failure of the big publishers to take advantage of the public’s obvious fascination with men in capes.”

Okay. Well, he doesn’t actually describe the sections of the book he’s talking about, but I sure wouldn’t pin DC and Marvel’s current failures on Bendis or Morrison. Bendis has got to be making Marvel more money than any other creator right now, and the Ultimate line, Marvel’s BEST move toward attracting a mainstream audience (including, yes, a bunch of character designs that made it into the Avengers movie), is his baby. Marchman even conceded this much in a later tweet.

And Morrison — All-Star Superman may be the best Superman story ever, and he’s written some very good Batman comics that seem to be selling quite well despite his obsession with decades-old continuity.

“pretentious autodidacts or failed cult leaders” — yeah, those’d be more ad hominems with nothing to back them up.

“And it’s not enough to repeat what he said, you need to show, using your own words, why his points are wrong”

So you don’t have to defend your position but I have to defend mine?

Cute, but we actually agree on the crux of Marchman’s argument, dude. My point isn’t that he’s wrong, it’s that he may be the world’s greatest Internet troll.

I think he’s right about the insular mess that is the current American comics industry. I just wish he were more interested in actually discussing it than in pissing off comic book nerds for its own sake.

Darth Sarlacc

May 30, 2012 at 10:38 am

Lost in the He-Man discussion and reaction is the fact that Marchman also noted JMS’ horrible Green Goblin shtups Gwen Stacy storyline. So no, JMS, Marchman did not have to go all the way back to 1984 to find bad work that you have done

Darth Sarlacc

May 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

@Thad – I hear you, but I have felt for years that Bendis, Morrison, and other “hot” writers are driving the industry into the ground. Or at the very least, contributing to a status quo that is keeping new fans out, and driving away some existing fans. I for one have dropped all Marvel books except for Deadpool Max because of the ridiculous crossovers – and the utter lack of originality at Marvel (Bendis) and DC (Johns). It’s been more of the same at those 2 publishers for 10 years now.

And yes, this is what is stagnating and killing the industry – trying to produce a “hot” book or an “event” that the mainstream press will grab hold of – to get a sales spike. If DC and Marvel are rewarding people like Bendis and Johns for doing this, then it shows that they are indeed contributing to the current unreadable state of most of the Big 2 books

Heck, look at how Marvel took an indy writer like Jason Aaron and totally co-opted him and turned him into a Bendis clone. Nope, I’m not gonna call Marchman a troll for pointing out the flaws in current comics. I am bewildered by anyone who is happy to see their hobby dying, and who attack anyone who says otherwise as being a “troll”

@Darth: He doesn’t mention that storyline anywhere in the article. In the article, he mentions He-Man and One More Day.

That’s exactly my POINT. He could and SHOULD have used that arc as an example of something bad that JMS wrote. He DIDN’T. He made fun of him for He-Man instead.

That is my complaint: that Marchman is more interested in making petty little potshots than in actually backing up the VERY GOOD POINTS he raises throughout the article.

@Darth: There’s a lot of merit to your points about Bendis, Johns, events, and the industry as a whole.

This bit, though: “Nope, I’m not gonna call Marchman a troll for pointing out the flaws in current comics. I am bewildered by anyone who is happy to see their hobby dying, and who attack anyone who says otherwise as being a “troll””

That’s just an obnoxious, cliche strawman.

I’m not calling Marchman a troll for pointing out the flaws in current comics, and you know it. I just spent an entire post citing his various petty insults and ad hominem attacks, and explaining how those are DISTRACTIONS from his accurate criticisms of the problems with the medium.

I’ve explained the difference at length, and I’m going to have to insist that you stop pretending you don’t understand it.

Darth Sarlacc

May 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I think when so many come out in favor of JMS, a guy who is generally criticized by comic fans, then the reaction is a circling of the wagons against somebody who dared speak out against the status quo in comics. But if we want to blame it on Marchman’s harsh tone, fair enough

Reading that review, I thought Marchman came off badly. But then, reading the stuff on Twitter, it looks like JMS comes off worse. I mean, he tweets at the guy and says something about winning awards, and the guy fires back “Whatever, the actual comics are bad” and then JMS writes, like, four responses, including a “final response”, and then blocks the guy so he can’t read anything else by him — but not before having sicced his own Twitter fanbase on him [albeit, I don't think he told them to do this, he just directed their attention].

so, since they both come off badly, who won? Marchman, because of the line about “Along with works of Ellington, Keaton, the US put the comic where Green Goblin boned Gwen Stacy in time capsule”. That’s the only good burn either one of them got in.

“then the reaction is a circling of the wagons against somebody who dared speak out against the status quo in comics.”

What about people who don’t like JMS or the comics status quo who also think Marchman did an incredibly sloppy job on the article?

jms hates hearing the truth if they wanted to insult him going back to 1984 wasnt neccesary they could have gone to any part of his asm run. gwen stacy and norman ,spider god and a milion other things.his tendancies towards cheesy writting( a sci magazine i used to read had a stinking cheese slice appear whenever the B5 creator was mentioned)his complete inabilty to walk away from any aurguement and show any kind of humilityespecaily when he thinks htey may have a point .has always vocally and publicly prided himself on his courage to just walk off any project that felt too comercail or interfered with and now hypocritically he is hte shining champion of before watchmen .

some of his stuff is okay
i liked b5
but as for the person
he does seem to generally be an argumentative asshole
starting fights with who ever dares get in “king joe’s” cross hairs
the attack on the spidey comic team after he left,alan moore,now this.
even some of his old b5 related responses to fan questions were unnecessarily confrontational
so what’s his problem ?

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