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Last month, Tim Marchman let loose with a scathing article in The Wall Street Journal criticizing the superhero-comics industry that was the talk of the internet for a couple of days and kicked up a few Twitterstorms, most notably with writer J. Michael Straczynski. But then people pretty much moved on.
The thing is, Marchman was supposed to be writing a review of Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner’s book Leaping Tall Buildings, a collection of interviews with, and photographs of, famous comics creators. You can get a taste of their work on their Graphic NYC blog, and as one who has been following them for a while, I can tell you, it’s awesome.
Although Marchman’s article appeared in the Bookshelf section of the Journal, he mentioned the book only in passing — and while his comments were positive, he billed Irving as the editor, not the writer, and skipped Kushner altogether. Now Kushner has posted a response to the piece, titled Who Reviews the Reviewer? at the Trip City site. Actually, Kushner says straight out that he isn’t reviewing the reviewer, but he does have some things to say about the article:
I do agree with some things Marchman says but he often doesn’t make his points well. For example, I agree wholeheartedly there are not enough new ideas in superhero comics these days. We live in tough times and the “big two” [Marvel & DC Comics] produce only what sells. Period. In my lifetime, there have been very few new creations that have become part of the pop-culture lexicon…very few Supermen, Batmen and Spidermen. But, a few smart creators have managed to independently create a handful of characters who’ve made it past comics and onto t-shirts, toy aisles and movie screens. Mike Mignola did it with Hellboy, Frank Miller with Sin City’s Marv, Mike Allred with Madman and there are others.
He also points out that yes, there are some terribly written and drawn comics, but the mix of bad and good is about the same as in any other medium — and the folks Marchman singled out for scorn are not really responsible for the problems, and may be part of the solution.
Still, in the end he is philosophical about the whole thing:
The saying, “any press is good press,” applies here in relation to my book. In the end, Marchman’s controversial article got people talking, which is always a good thing, and though it barely mentions the book, we seem to have benefited from all the chatter. Leaping Tall Buildings jumped approximately 20,000 places on Amazon after the article ran and several stores reported selling out of their copies.