Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Points of Departure (* extra credit if you get the reference)

Friends, please pardon my "french" during this ranting editorial post!

I should already be hip to the conceit behind this concept, but proving that once you perform your blog posting duties for the day, you should really log off and not seek out interesting comic book news.

I just read that J. Michael Straczynski is leaving his monthly writing gig on both Superman and Wonder Woman to work on a sequel to the recently released, Superman: Earth One graphic novel. Straczynski (and DC Comics) just made a very big deal out of these relaunches during the summer of 2010 (June/?), so WTF? J. Michael further states that he will also be taking a "one to five year" sabbatical from writing any additional monthlies. They do say that miracles come in small packages. I for one, hope to god that the industry moves on and leaves this well-heeled & perpetually waffling bozo behind during his timely absence. I may celebrate the holidays early!

I've said it before and I'm going to say it again, I loved, loved, LOVED Straczynski's Babylon 5 television series, and still believe that it was one of the best sci-fi series of all time, but he has been an absolute clusterfuck of a comic book writer over the last decade. Straczynski may not be completely to blame for much of the mature subject matter of his mainstream comics work, certainly editors had a hand in many of the storylines that he scripted. Still, no matter where fans fall on that debatable subject, Straczynski walked away without completing "The Twelve" mini-series for Marvel in 2008 and somebody who gets paid too much money at DC foolishly hired him. Chris Weston was left in a situation of real hardship following Straczynski's exit from The Twelve, and had to accept non-comics assignments in order to make ends meet. I doubt that many fans realize this, because Weston took some heat over "The Twelve" too. Subsequent DC series featuring Straczynski were announced, solicited, then changed, cancelled or delayed, and then he was still rewarded with the high profile Superman/Wonder Woman writing assignments. Can you spell prima donna?

The big wigs at DC deserve every ounce of egg on their faces over this crummy situation and before they start crowing too loudly about Superman: Earth One, look here dumbasses, we get it; you want to increasingly appear to be book publishers while you're kissing the corporate asses of Hollywood, rather than the comic book publishers you've actually been for seven decades. GRAPHIC NOVEL sounds more highbrow & elitist than "comic book" does, at least to pinheads like you, but at some point your mothers really should have taught you geeks that when you play with fire - you often get burned.

[As a courtesy, to the balding contingent that runs DC, I would also add that while you are busy lathering some executive-sized rump with your tongues, it will still probably taste like sh*t!]


cash_gorman said...

I agree with you. Part of this is DC Editorial's fault. They put out all this hubaloo regarding JMS, such as his plans for the Red Circle Heroes and the revised plans, but it turns out all he's writing is the first issue. They pull out the stops promoting his taking over the Superman and Wonder Woman monthlies and then they pull him from those titles barely three months later so he can write a sequel to Earth One.

As this was supposed to be a bunch of different Graphic Novels, why does the next one have to be a direct follow-up by JMS concerning Superman anyways? Have the next one be Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, etc by another team and have the deadline for the Superman sequel adjusted for his current schedule.

But, this doesn't let JMS off the hook. He's known for delays and aborted storylines such as The Twelve, and Squadron Supreme. I'm not a fan of Bendis or Brubaker but why Marvel hasn't hired one of them to finish The Twelve and void the contract with JMS as his failure to live up to the end of the deal is beyond me. And, no mention was made concerning The Brave and The Bold which is over three months late. Why give him more projects when he's terminally late on two different ones, one of which is for another company? Madness!

Mykal Banta said...

A rightious rant. There isn't a current DC comic worth buying, and considering there magnificent heritage - that's enough to make a boy weep. I keep thinking back to what Darwyn Cooke said recently about the current trend in comics to appeal to the perverted fantasies of 45 year old men (or something very close to that). That's DC in a nutshell. Stupid, poorly written stories full of third rate, scummy concepts and ideas. And, of course, the generic, dull, art without a hint of style.

Chuck Wells said...

Guys, Brian Hibbs "Tilting At Windmills" column reveals that the DiDio's & Straczynski's of the world may be way off base in their opinion that OGN's are going to completely supplant monthly periodical comics.

It also amused me to read JMS comments today that tried to explain away the earlier "misconceptions" about all of those solicited series from DC that didn't quite come to fruition. Apparently the oxygen he's breathing is filled with marijuana from the gods.

I mean, Joe, the fantasy that you are weaving over this situation can only be explained by egotism. It's either that, or the guy is simply a headline hunter!

Pappy said...

Thanks, have just reinforced my decision over a decade ago to stop reading new comic books with old characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, et al.

Apparently I haven't missed a thing, and I've saved a lot of money.

joe ackerman said...

well said, Chuck, mate. although I'm wondering if it's not so much Straczynski's fault as that of the bods at DC. without the benefit of the little old man whispering " you are not a God " at your shoulder, how long would it be before you began to think of yourself as untouchable?

that said, Straczynski's treatment of fans, and his treatment of Chris Weston in particular, is deplorable, and for THAT he shoulders the blame entirely. Superman: Earth One is shit, pure and simple ( a commentor on my own site called it Twilightesque, and I think that pretty much sums up everything that's wrong with it ). has it really sold well enough that it warrants a sequel? really? because everyone I know who's read it downloaded it, and thought it was crap.

if you really want to draw in new readers, start producing all-ages comics that don't treat kids like idiots and sell them everywhere, not just in specialist outlets. that's how I got into comics, as a kid, by buying them off a spinner rack at me local sweetshop/newsagents, and that's how everyone I knew as a kid got into comics. and here's a curveball for you: bring back the Comics Code.

Mykal Banta said...

I agree with Joe. All ages comics and the Comics Code is the way to go. The Comics Code reminds me of the Studio System in Hollywood. It seems nutty, but when artists have to work in a well-defined box, it seems to spur the imagination to find creative ways to work within the confines rather than stifle creativity, as would seem logical. When artists are given free reign in any medium – the art gets incestuous and very, very narrow in appeal (artists begin to produce art for themselves and their buds only).

One would think that comic producers - DC specifically - would begin to get the message with the state of comic sales today, which have fallen to dreadful low. The reason is they have appealed over the years to a smaller, tighter, more specific audience (again Cooke's "perverted fantasies of 45 year old men"). It's time to get back to the basics and produce comics on cheap pulp paper, sell them for cheaply as possible, produce them for children with sophisticated artists at the helm (Barks, Stanley, Harvey Eisenbrg, Milt Stein, Dan Gordon, Jack Bradbury, etc.; and (as Joe Bloke has noted) sell them in spinner racks at drug stores and supermarkets.

DC, Marvel, whoever: Stop trying with to produce “art.” Concentrate more on producing good comics.

Chuck Wells said...

joe, Mykal, the best thing that could possibly happen to comics in the format that we all appreciate, would be for Marvel & DC to continue in the mold that they are locked into. Inevitably, those publishers will cease serial format comics and focus solely on OGN's and trades, etc.

Someone will then pick up the gauntlet and proceed just as you've described Mykal. Cheap format & pricing, general audience material and wider availability. It will happen, even if only as a nostalgic thing one day!

Cooke's widely reported remarks are spot on, but in my opinion and despite the obvious aging of the comic book fanbase; the 45 year old men are predominantly the ones "creating" the perverted fantasies. Like-minded fans are just purchasing that crap!

And joe, read the "Tilting at Windmills" column (regularly) as Brian reports on the sales figures and you will know that the answer to your query is "no".