Quote of the Day
It was jarring to me. I respected and loved the work of all of them. I also liked them all on a personal but individual basis. But when I saw what the comic book industry was doing to them, I think I liked it a little less. Those men all deserved better.
– Mark Evanier, commenting on the observation by Howard Chaykin that Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino and other DC artists “regarded each other with distaste, frequently bordering on genuine loathing.”
It’s stuff like this that brings home to me how screwed up the comics industry was for so many years. I understand on an intellectual level that things were bad, but hearing how it inspired jealousy and soured relationships puts it into an emotional context that I hadn’t felt before.
I’m not saying we have a utopia today, but creators do have more options if they want more than what they’re getting from work-for-hire. Creator-owned comics are not only more welcomed than ever by readers, but they’re also proving popular with people outside of comics, which can turn into real money. Again, I’m not saying we’ve reached the Promised Land yet, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve at least left Egypt.
I’m reading Glen Weldon‘s Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, and I’m still in the chapters on the Golden Age. What’s struck me was just how quickly Superman became a national phenomenon. Within a year of his first appearance in an anthology book (that he wouldn’t be on the cover of for another five issues after the first), there was a syndicated newspaper strip about him. According to Weldon, Time magazine called the character “the No. 1 juvenile vogue in the U.S.” Within two years, there was a radio show. Within three, Max Fleischer’s studio was making animated short films. And then there were all the dolls, games, puzzles, and coloring books. That was a stunning amount of success in a very short amount of time.
“They’re missing the full spectrum of these character’s emotional lives. The most important thing is the long, involved soap operas. It’s a type of narrative that you don’t get anywhere else except on very long-running soap operas, where characters can go into depth. 20 pages every month going into these characters lives over decades give you a lot more insight and a lot more involvement than say a two hour movie, even with Robert Downey Jr.”
“Yes he [Aquaman] talks to fish, but it’s more interesting to find out what drives him and motivates him. How are those powers a metaphor that we can relate to? [...] The best characters are relatable. They don’t have to be relatable in a literal sense where they have a problem with a job. The things that they experience and the things that they go up against have to reflect upon us emotionally. It doesn’t have to be timely. It’s nice when it’s timely, but it has to be emotional.”
– Geoff Johns, addressing his penchant for injecting new life into neglected characters, in an article that includes a rundown of DC and Vertigo titles that influenced him as a young fan
“… Since X-Men 1, frankly, where a photo was stolen off a wardrobe thing and it was the very first look of Hugh Jackman in costume as him under fluorescents … it looked awful. It was just like, ‘Oh, this is the world we are living in. This is the reality.’ So we’ve always just accepted it. Spy pictures will leak and we used to try to run ahead and put out a cool picture first and now if we have a cool picture we will put it out, but if we don’t, that’s OK. Misinformation … You know, it gets a little annoying when somebody is like, ‘This is what’s happening! This is what Kevin Feige is doing!’ It’s annoying when they are right and it’s equally annoying when they are wrong, because everybody passes it. ‘Planet Hulk is the next thing’ and everybody talks about it and you’re just like “OK, but you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting it.’”
– Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, discussing how the company deals with leaks and rumors
“Words like ‘realism’ and ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ get bandied about Hollywood as if the only merit a story can have is in its verisimilitude, but that’s a lie. Emotional honesty transcends reality; it’s what allows disbelief to be suspended, and yet what makes a story stay true. When Superman: The Movie was released, Richard Donner promised us we’d believe a man could fly. We did, but it wasn’t the wire-work alone.”
– comics writer and novelist Greg Rucka, voicing his misgivings about the PG-13 rating for director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel
“It just seemed like a good time. I introduced the ‘Hell on Earth War,’ which shook things up to such a degree that it seemed to me that I could not really top it. This series has been going for 10 years, and the sales were solid but not huge. It just somehow seemed a logical, dramatic climax to everything that I’ve been doing.”
“Once, many years ago, as a very young child, I was delighted to discover a pile of comics in an attic. They featured a blond, orange-shirted superhero who could speak to fish. ‘Ah,’ I thought, settling down to read. ‘This must be this “Superman” of whom I’ve heard so much.’ I was intrigued that so many of his adventures were maritime.
As the years passed, I got a bit more systematic, but I never lost the excitement at the sheer chaotic variety of costumes, monikers and powers I might find fighting for justice, every time I opened a comic. It was always a surprise. This addiction to the proliferation of the superheroic is something many of us never grow out of.
In fact, inventing superheroes is one of the basic games of childhood. Tie a towel around your neck and come up with a powerset, all the abilities you think you’ll need. Justify that hot mess as coherent by some ingenious, tendentious argument. Finally, give your wonder a name. (Electrical blast and tiger stripes? Electrotiger!) This is what we do. Like countless kids around the world, I was a martyr to superherogenesis.”
– acclaimed author China Mieville, discussing Dial H and his early exposure to DC Comics canon
“[Mort] Weisinger took all these things he didn’t care for because they weren’t his ideas and turned them to his advantage. Instead of resenting another character with a LL initial as a love interest for the character, he created three or four more and did the whole LL curse. He was really very good, as were his writers, of finding ways to ‘brand extend’ Superman. They expanded on little themes because he knew — and this is something we don’t see comics do anymore because we don’t perceive of them as being for kids — but he knew that one of the things that was really appealing for kids was a certain sense of repetition. He had a wonderful gift, along with his writers, for being able to balance repetition in theme or in ritualistic kinds of things with new invention. If you look at the DC stuff as opposed to the Marvel stuff, which was created with a different audience in mind, you see that ritual. You see that idea of consistency. Flash’s costume always came out of ring. There was the whole ‘In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night’ oath in Green Lantern. There were certain things in Batman, like the Bat Signal. They knew that those things not only created a comfort zone for the reader, they were things the kids looked forward to. ‘Let’s see how they do it this time!’ It was all about finding ways to do variations on those themes and depending on readers’ familiarity with them to create ideas that were new and exciting for kids…those ways of doing comics don’t really relate to today, and I don’t know if anyone wanted to go backwards, that they could do it.”
– former Superman writer Martin Pasko, in a wide-ranging interview with Comic Book Resources about the 75th anniversary of the man of Steel
“Copyright is fundamental to creative industries, those who believe it’s not relevant are mistaken”
I find that interesting on a few levels. And by “interesting” I mean “bullshit.”
Konrath is an author who escaped the midlist wilderness of traditional publishing to do extremely well for himself (to the tune of about $3,000 a day) by self-publishing on Amazon. As you may expect, he’s become an advocate for self-publishing and a strong critic of the traditional model and those who defend it. His quote above is in response to a tweet by the U.K’.s Publishers Association from the London Book Fair.
“Fiona and I could always edit the images in question, but everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate, so we’re not changing shit.”
– writer Brian K. Vaughan, responding to Apple’s rejection of this week’s Saga #12 because of two panels depicting pretty explicit, if relatively small, images of gay sex (they’re on Prince Robot IV’s head-monitor). There’s already debate online whether gay sex is Apple’s issue, or whether it’s explicit sex in general, but it’s worth noting that the company apparently had no problems with the comic’s previous obvious depictions of cunnilingus, and penetration (of the heterosexual variety, complete with erect penis), not to mention the assorted sex shots that left a little something to the imagination.
We’ll not talk about that giant’s pendulous scrotum, which has to be the most “explicit” thing to appear in Saga. Certainly the most disturbing.
“I don’t get to decide what gets made into a tv series or film. I cannot, I’m afraid, cause people to give me money for things by magic or force of will. Because, let’s face it, if I could, you’d be part of the slave army building my hundred-mile-high golden revolving statue right now.”
“I think fans of the comics recognize that this show is a different animal. There are big departures that have happened on the show before and it’s the show’s M.O. at this point. I think people are seeing that it doesn’t really preclude other big storylines from the comic book when we put a death in the show. We are still very much following the path of the comic book and you’ll see a lot of that in Season 4. There are going to be differences from time to time and some big differences. People know the comic still exists, and I want people to experience both and get a somewhat different experience. I think it’s cool that there are differences that are going to make the show as dramatic, startling and unpredictable as the comic book was the first time you read it. That’s really what we’re going after.”
– Robert Kirkman, responding to a question regarding potential concerns that a major development in last night’s Season 3 finale of The Walking Dead might alienate fans of the long-running comic series
“The health of the industry is based upon having good stories and good characters, and a wide customer base. If bringing some of these characters back to the fold in a meaningful way adds to that, then it just strengthens our industry. [...] “Good stories that entertain are something that we all should applaud on any level. Whether we’re doing it directly at Image Comics, or at our competition, it helps keep our industry that we love alive. I will sit back and be as interested as anyone else.”
– Todd McFarlane, who was embroiled in a nearly decade-long legal battle with Neil Gaiman over the rights to the characters they co-created in Spawn #9, responding to the announcement last week that the writer will introduce Angela into the Marvel Universe this summer. McFarlane also confirmed to Newsarama that as part of the 2012 resolution to their lawsuit, Gaiman owns the rights to Angela outright.
“We Acclaim creators signed contracts before we started working on our projects that had a clause saying we could buy the rights to the material back for half the profits the material made in the previous 3 years. Several years after Acclaim went under, Priest and Bright tried to get the Q/W rights and were told that the contracts we signed were never submitted to a different division of Acclaim and were thus considered invalid. Someone else came in and bought up all the Valiant/Acclaim leaving us with nothing. I’ve been following what Priest/Bright were doing because I wanted the rights to Trinity Angels back. But the legal fees it would cost to get it back would just be too much for us. I’m pretty sure Priest/Bright are not pleased with the new Q/W, but I don’t know that for a fact. As I said, I know if they went in and re-vamped Trinity Angels, I would be furious. There are only three properties that sprung completely from my imagination — Strikeback, Trinity Angels, and Tanga. I consider them my children and would not abide anyone else giving voice to those characters.”
– Kevin Maguire, creator of the 1997-’98 Acclaim series Trinity Angels, reacting to news that Valiant Entertainment is resurrecting Quantum and Woody, the mid-’90s brainchild of Christopher Priest and Mark Bright. “I will announce right now that if they have any intentions of re-vamping Trinity Angels without me, I will be 1000% against it,” he said. “I should have the rights to the material, just as Priest/Bright should have the rights to Quantum and Woody.”
In an interview today with Comic Book Resources, Valiant CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani said the company has spoken with Priest and Bright “about a bunch of different projects — most recently one that I’m super-excited about.” “We have a couple things up in the air with Chris, and we’re pulling to circle back and solidify them now that we have the new series up and running in a place we’re happy about.”
“I’m delighted to say that many more people paid us than didn’t. Those who opted to pay something paid at least 99 cents, and I don’t think too many people paid more than $5. Three bucks, the cost of most new paper comics, seemed to be a common payment.”
– writer Brian K. Vaughan, revealing to The New York Times the lowest and highest amounts paid for the first issue of The Private Eye, his digital collaboration with Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente. Readers were encouraged to name their own price, with 99 cents as the recommended amount.