Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
“[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
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Trying his luck today is comic writer, guest lecturer and sometimes keynote speaker Mark Waid. He’s the man behind Thrillbent.com and the writer of such comics as Indestructible Hulk, Daredevil, Insufferable, Steed and Mrs. Peel, Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom, Kingdom Come, The Flash, Captain America, Legion of Superheroes, Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable, Fantastic Four and many more.
Now let’s get to it …
DC’s superhero comics of the ‘70s and ‘80s will always fascinate me — not just because I grew up on them, but because they represented the first steps past the Silver Age. While the latest members of Marvel’s Bullpen sought to maintain the momentum Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko brought to their creations, DC’s writers, artists, and editors took their iconic charges in new directions. We all know what Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams did for Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow. We can see some of what Kirby wanted to do for Superman, and we know what writers like O’Neil, Elliott S! Maggin, Cary Bates, Martin Pasko, and Marv Wolfman ended up doing. Of course, the period brought two revamps (and a revival) for Teen Titans, the first making them into an un-costumed youth group, and the second involving Wolfman and George Pérez….
… and at this point the post threatens to turn into another Tom Goes Down The Old-Comics Rabbit Hole extravaganza. Haven’t we had enough of these indulgences?
Well … yes and no. I bring it up (again) on account of the Retro-Active books, and specifically Retro-Active ‘70s-style Superman. I talked about the book’s merits in our last What Are You Reading? roundup, so today let’s look at the nuts and bolts of Superman in the Bronze Age.
To see what Daniel and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
For most of us, it’s getting to be the middle of April. Everything is blooming and getting greener. Our thoughts turn to familiar rites of spring like baseball, taxes, and that new Green Lantern preview.
On Earth-Solicits, of course, it’s July. The greenery is withering in the heat, the tax refund is spent, and half the Reds are sick thanks to being downwind from the Proctor & Gamble plant. Nevertheless, the residents of Earth-Solicits are just bursting at the seams, excited to tell you all that’s been happening in their world …
… but they can’t tell you everything, because then you’d have no reason to visit.
This sort of fan dance is especially pronounced in the current crop of solicitations. When something like a third of DC’s superhero line is taken up with titles like War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath, Brightest Day Aftermath, and especially the cottage industry which is Flashpoint — titles which jump off from endings readers have yet to see, and/or which go deeper into books yet to begin — it’s hard to get excited, because right now it’s all hype for hype’s sake.
Thankfully, that’s not all there is to the July solicitations, so let’s cruise on….