SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
Happy Halloween to you as well! Great photo. The imagination of that little cowboy has brought a lot of joy to my life over the years. We just got back from trick or treating with my 2 year old and 3 month old - a cowgirl and a cowboy themselves!
Deep thanks for the kind words, Drew.Interesting that your children went for cowgirl and cowboy. When I was a kid, Westerns were everywhere. Not so today. What inspired them? Or did the idea come from you?
Rick, here. I think you could credibly tie them to Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows. Here's a link: http://centerofthewest.org/learn/western-essays/wild-west-shows/As the actual shows died out, the themes from the shows were transplanted to the theater, and then, TV. The plot lines still survive, by the way. In my view, the original Star Wars is just a western in outer space. Similarly, Avatar is like Kevin Costner's Dances With Wolves.
Absolutely. And don't forget that Gene Roddenberry pitched Star Trek as "Wagon Train to the stars"! I've got a Western project I've been nursing along for a few years now. I'd love to see it out in the world.
Woody, Jessie, and Bullseye from the Toy Story films are her favorite Disney characters. She is all about cowboys because of those characters.
I suspected as much! I LOVE those characters...and those movies. "Reach for the sky!"
Hey Dematteis, was Cloud from your Defenders run inspired by Left hand in Darkness by Ursala K. LeGuin?Jack
I loved that book when I read it thirty-something years ago, Jack—but there was no connection between LHOD and Cloud. Why do you ask? I don't remember the book clearly: are there similarities?
Both dealt with fluid genders, and their affect on those who aren't.Jack
Ah...I see. The "fluid gender" aspect of Cloud's character came after I left the book. That was Peter Gillis's work. It's possible I may have planted the seeds for that, but I suspect it was all, or mostly, Peter.
sigh. Must you make me look the fool Dematteis? I can't say that I approve.I'll leave you with this, I find it odd that the Lee-Kirby disputes draw so much ire, when the Golden Age of comics had far stranger things. The era of pure heroes was created by just the most fallible people. There is your movie. INteresting stuff behind those four-color curtains.Jack
Honestly, I'm no expert on the Golden Age...beyond the obvious: Eisner, Simon-Kirby, Siegel-Shuster. So I don't know about those "fallible people."
Well the Golden age was kooky. Honestly there are some interesting books on the subject. Here it goes, though...It starts with DC (then National) being started essentially by the mob. Now lets take a look at their big three:You mentioned Seigel and Shuster, well Jerry Siegel's tale begins as a pulp obsessed geek who's mother won't let him get a job, then a few years later he sort of abandoned his kid.Batman's Bob Kane's mother walked him top school everyday until he was 14 or 15, and a whole host of problems in school. The real fallibility comes from the fact that he copyrighted Batman before it even came out, which is just plain smart, except for the fact that he cut out Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson from the deal who where instrumental in the creation and early work.Wonder woman's creator was one of the inventors of the lie detector, and the inventor of fur-lined handcuff. HE lived with his wife and their two kids and a former student and their two kids.One of the early writers of Crime Does Not Pay (one of if not the first crime comic) got involved with a married socialite, and the affair actually ended with them dead.My favorite though is Bill Everett, who didn't really do anything wrong. He was just sort of an alcoholic with authority problems. He argued with editors and missed deadlines (in the early days mostly made them, but barely). The most famous of those wrong missed deadlines was Daredevil #1, which forced the Avengers to be created to fill the slot. The reason why he always had a home at Timely-Atlas-Marvel despite these issues was largely because they liked him.And that is just the tip of the iceberg.Jack
Guess I knew more than I realized, Jack, because most of those stories were familiar to me.I really should read Gerry Jones' book on the early days of the industry.
Another one is that Jack Cole shot himself. Come to think of it, Wally Wood eventually shot himself too.Gerard Jones' book is pretty good. There is also a book based around both Cole and Everett, well two books I guess, one a pieceI will say this though, Mart Nodell, as far as I know, was nothing but a class act.Jack.
Fascinating stuff. I'd love to see a definitive book about that era.
It would probably be a multi-volume set. In the 50s when comic artists started loosing jobs and winding up in homeless shelters, I mean where do you end? For that matter what about the Pulp era that proceeded it?Jack
I love the idea of a serious, in-depth, multi-volume history of comics, starting with our roots in the pulp era. You go write it and I'll see you back here in ten or fifteen years! : )
I'm surprised that Roy Thomas hasn't spearheaded this yet. Jack
Yeah. He's probably got most of the material already.
I also wish someone would do a book about the 70s in comics. It seems like such a unique time for the industry. I even have a title, "Bronze is Just a Darker Shade of Gold: How the the 70s in Comics Kept a Revolutiopn Burning, and Gave a Generation a Four Color Voice!"Jack
It is interesting, and actually sounds like fun or at least interesting.However my natural inclination is to say Don't Tell Me Wat To Do, Dematteis! It's a tough one, it's a tough one.Jack
It was meant as an enthusiastic suggestion, Jack, not an order. I think you'e got the passion and the ideas to tackle something like this.
"Not an order." Spoken like all tyrants. I suppose that 153 people who took cyanide pills in the L.E.S. were only responding to your enthusiastic suggestion and not a direct order from their overlord as well.Jack
Hey, I only do what MY Overlords tell me to do! : )
... fair enough.Jack
Did you ever notice that no one ever just asks super villains politely to stop? I mean a lot of them are crazy, right? Why not at least give it a try?jack
I bet there's at least one story out there where someone did just that. I'm wondering if I ever did? Sounds like something I'd do!
It is also strange that most Mad Scientist could probably make more money selling their inventions than robbing banks or holding cities for ransom. And if world Domination is the goal, well Apple and Google seem to racing to see which is the first real life super villain with such schemes.Jack
There's an interesting novel I read recently—THE CIRCLE by Dave Eggers—that explores the very theme you're talking about.
What? SUpervillains selling their inventions, or the fact certain tech corporations seeming a tad like renegades from an airport-spy-novel/comic-book?Jack
A little more realistic than that...which makes it more chilling. It's about a Google-like corporation that seems the soul of benevolence and, in the end, is far from it.
So its Google and Apple in 5 years.Jack
You should give it a read. I think you'd enjoy it.
Given the cultish nature of Apple, Google building buildings that no one out side of their top people know, and both collecting vast amounts of info on everyone, I feel like I am already living in this world.Jack
I thought it was a Silver Age requirement that all villains be given at least one chance to stop and all heroes at least one chance to join them. On the whole, I find it kind of sad that there are so very few tales of villains who turn their lives around and stay clean. Hawkeye would be a notable exception. I dug Sandman being a good guy, but that was reversed a few years back. --David
Well, off the top of my head, I reformed the Leap Frog, the Grizzly, the Gibbon. Kind of reformed Elektro (it didn't take). Had the (Harry) Green Goblin die saving Spidey. Had a Captain America story end with Cap kneeling to his opponent and the two of them embracing... But then I'm ALWAYS trying to redeem the (so-called) bad guys. I can't help myself!
Don't forget Vermin and showing a human side to Zemo. Jack
Like Judas? Rick
Loved writing both those characters. Vermin, especially, wasn't a villain—but a victim. Of course there was the small matter of him eating people—!In the end, the trick to writing a great villain is to NEVER see them as a villain. See them through their own eyes, their own motivations, their own wounds. Explore their psyches and ask WHY they do what they do. That makes for a far more interesting "bad guy" then someone who is purely evil.
There you go, Rick: the perfect example of a "villain" on a redemption arc.
Completely off topic; I just finished reading BLOOD last night. I might have questions, but I want to read it again before I ask any. I always miss things on a first reading.
BLOOD is a project near and dear to my heart. Working with Kent Williams, stretching myself as a writer, trying new things. That said, it's also a polarizing project: it seems people either love it or loathe it. And I understand both reactions. It's not an easily classifiable story. It's meant to push the boundaries.
Well, I'm not in the loathe camp I'm in the, need to read it again camp. I do get that it is hard to classify. Those are my favorite kind of stories. I have a quarterly zine I publish that I think I'm going to write it up in. I'll let it sit for a week before picking it up again. I had to do something similar with Stray Toasters which is one of my favorite books.
If you have any questions, Douglas, feel free to send 'em my way. And if you write about the book, I'd love to see the article.
I will do that, thank you.
Just out of curiosity, do writers ever include shout outs in their stories? I once wrote a manual involving a law I helped change, and I used the first names of everyone in the drafting group in my examples (as well as my two older children). Rick
Sure. I've slipped in names of friends and relatives over the years.Speaking of which: Just bought a new novel, THE BOOK OF STRANGE THINGS, and I noticed, in the back notes, that the author took many of the surnames from 1960's era members of the Marvel bullpen. Talk about cool shout outs!
One thing that I have noticed about comics in recent years, that has building for a decade and a half or so, is that there has been a shift from being largely about character to being about writer's voice. This isn't to say all are, or that past writers didn't have their voices present, I just noticed a shift more one way. I'm not saying this is good or bad, just something I noticed.Jack
Haven't noticed that...but I'll keep my eyes open from here on.Both, of course, are important. It's GOT to be about the characters, but the best writers have a distinctive voice and vision. Sometimes we do read writers more for their voice than for the story, just as we can enjoy a great story without a strong authorial voice, but, to me, you need a balance of both.
Agreed. It is important for an author to get his voice in, and it is one of the unique things about characters that have lasted for 70+ years. It leads to a complex character. However, with characters that old you have to realize that people already have a fondness for the character an there for they are often coming to see the character.I think a part of this change comes from Marvel and DC not bringing up their own talent as much anymore. With writers coming more from other media or indie comics, they already have a defined voice, which probably is a large part of what propelled them forward. However, starting at one of the big two allows you to discover your voice, while working on an old character under the guiding hands of editors. Of course another issue is since many of the indie guys still have their own books going, there is a question as to where to put a really good idea.Just observation and theory though.Jack
INTERESTING observation and theory.
Okay Dematteis, What comic creators would you like to have a conversation with. Living ones.I feel the polite thing would be to ask you a question about you.Jack
Living ones? I'd love to have a lengthy, serious talk with Stan Lee. I think I've chatted with most other folks whose work I admire.
So, talking to Stan Lee is the only goal you have left. You have a wife, kids, work in a field you enjoy, played with some of the biggest icons in American culture, created your own, you've met me. Jack
Ah...but I met you and DIDN'T KNOW IT. Now we have to meet with full knowledge of our mutual identities!
I don't know, that doesn't sound like me.Jack
You're like a Ninja!
I think that a big question is, what do you think about DC's online-first comics nearing their end?Jack
This is the first I've heard of it and I think it's too bad. They were developing an interesting line.I suspect we'll be seeing more of these online first series from DC and Marvel in the future...
I think that it was just a quite dismissal. No real announcement, just books ending.I was really liking Batman Beyond Unlimited, an with it gone I'm down to 3 non-Vertigo DC books, JL 3000, JLD, and Trinity of Sin.... and maybe Constantine, I'm kind of on the fence about this one.I wonder if they weren't doing their job. If people were buying more of the physical issues, then the goal of increasing online reading is not coming to fruition.Jack
Well, I applaud your good taste in DC titles Jack! : )I really don't think this is the end of the online initiative. I suspect they're clearing the decks for new projects.
From a patron standpoint I can say this, while Legends of the Dark Knight and Superman Adventures (was that the title?) were hit and miss, everyone I know who read Batman Beyond Universe really liked it and considered it the best of the bat-books. The problem is that they were buying the physical copies. The comic was also hardly wrapping everything up, there were plenty of of stories they could do, and that I think they were setting up for. The thing is that it seems online first just works better for mini-series and one shots, if even it does there. Really, I just want to know why I comic that I, and everybody I knew who read it, really like is ending. With the first 5 issues going for $10.00 online I can't think that it is lack of interest.There is some whacky stuff going on in that industry these days.Jack
From the perspective of someone who's been doing this a long time, Jack, it's no wackier than it ever was!
Is the wackiness at least moving around?Jack
The only three DC books I buy are Justice League Dark, Trinity of Sin and Sensation Comics.
What? No JUSTICE LEAGUE 3000?! (Sorry...couldn't resist the plug.) : )I sincerely appreciate the support, Douglas. Thanks!
I wonder if Marvel will ever delve into their horror titles, and adapt their Frankenstein Monster, Tomb of Dracula, Man-thing, Tales of the Zombie, or Werewolf by Night for the big screen. Especially since the path they are currently on seems to have a ending.Jack
If they can make a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie a mainstream hit, Jack, these guys can do pretty much anything. And it would certainly widen their cinematic universe.The Doctor Strange movie could easily open the door on the supernatural corners of the MUC.
I actually wasn't surprised Guardians became a hit. People already loved Star Wars. If they made a straight up adaption of Starlin's Warlock, and that was a hit, then that would be a very pleasant surprise.As for Doc Strange, it is till a very different style than say a Tomb of Dracula or Tales of the Zombie. The thing that really bugs me is that yet again a Brit is cast as an American superhero. I hope that the next Doctor on Dr. Who is an American with a very forced cockney accent, that is better than Doctor yet, just for some vengeance. Jack
I think Cumberbatch is perfect casting for Doc Strange.And let's not forget Keanu as Constantine or Robert Downey as Sherlock or Dick Van Dyke as Bert the Chimney Sweep. (All that said, it is just a tiny bit irksome that All-American Icons like Superman, Batman and Spider-Man have all recently been played by Brits.)
To be fair Constantine is owned by an American company. I will give you that Bert was a huge caricature. Despite being my least favorite of them, Superman cast by a Brit was the one that really irked me.Interesting side note, during Hellblazer an American writer was on it, most people I know liked the run, but it is somewhat looked down on, despite quite a bit of love for the writer. One theory about this is that it is because he was the only American to write the series.As for Mr. Cumberbatch himself, I have no idea who he is. Might be a good idea, might not, only time can tell for me. I will say this, Doc is a tough character to act since you have to play too characters if it is an origin (which I actually hope is just a flashback) since the Doc we love is a fairly enlightened guy, while the pre-mystic doc needs to be a jackass of the highest order. It is not easy.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK7E2M4IfU4hope you enjoyJack
Nice song. It's interesting, 'cause there's a song I've written called "Red Bird," with a (slightly) similar theme, but otherwise very different. If you have a chance to see SHERLOCK—it's on both Netflix and Amazon streaming—check it out. An amazing show...and you'll get a sense of Cumberbatch's range as an actor. He's brilliant.
So you're saying that you stole from Lisa Marr without even realizing it. I can't say I'm surprised. I always figured that spider-man: The Lost Years was precognitively inspired by her song "Carolina's Last Ride." Despite of course with the exception travel and dark secrets, and death there is very little in common.And let us not forget that song was ACTUALLY more notably of fo American Jitters... an alternate title for Life and Times of Savior 28 perhaps?Then again, maybe the idea of a flying bird (especially in an eye-catching color like red) and the idea of freedom and not being tied down isn't that radical of a connection to make, and is indeed is a comparison made more than once.Jack
I suspect it's been made many times...
What has been made many times, your attempts to steal or "borrow" from Lisa Marr. Yeah well, if they take away the right to steal ideas where are they going to come from?It was going a little far to completely head-to-toe rip-off the Denny O'Neil's Ra's al Ghul story to make Brooklyn Dreams though.Jack
Is this what they call a running gag?
I think it has to be used more than twice (and with a longer break in between) to qualify.One thought though. People talk about how it was amazing that Marvel could take an unknown comic and have huge success with Guardians of the Galaxy. Even the current version of the comics has a very Star Wars vibe, which people have been digging for over 30 years with very little drop in popularity. I feel Doc Strange is a bigger gamble, but he is essentially still a superhero. If Marvel really wants to gamble Man-Thing, Two-Gun Kid, Devil-Slayer, the original Guardians of the Galaxy, and Son of Satan, are movies that I would not only love to see, but would REALLY push the diversity of stories button.Jack
I can't imagine a MAN-THING movie...but I bet they could do a helluva TWO-GUN KID.
Strange, because man-Thing would be the easiest to make, or in this care remake well. just do a series of vignettes, strung together with Man-thing as the only common link between. Like an anthology were the gentleman (the term Jonathon Frakes told me was the accurate term for the host of such things) doesn't talk, but interacts at the end or as a secondary character. Of course it might be better as a tv or netflix type thing.I would have thought a Jonah Hex movie would be easy to do, but...Of course two-gun is closer to a more traditional comic mold.Jack
As much as I'd dig a Two-Gun movie, let's be honest they'd never allow a Jewish cowboy hero. They'd probably force him to be really stereotypical and even call himself a cow-oy-gevalt!Jack
Of course, if marvel really wanted to rock the boat, and show off its potential, the answer is clear... Ben Urich. Using Ben fighting the kingpin with the Daily Bugle (or what ever they have to substitute it with) with Daredevil being a minor side character. Exploring his life as Matt Murdock squared off against Wilson Fisk. Paranoid, afraid, abused buy henchmen, and facing his age and even own mortality as he is battered and even left in the hospital by way of sai.That movie could be truly great.Jack
Also, another potential classic would be a movie focusing on Namor, only it is when he was a wandering hobo. Give him only the briefest glimpses of his former life that ever increase as the film goes on. That could be entering Oscar territory. Jack
I did a Sub-Mariner mini-series years ago, Jack, and part of the story focused on those years; how they were so brutalizing, so humiliating that Namor repressed the full impact of the experience. And when the memories came roaring out, it wasn't pretty.It's a fascinating part of the character's mythology. I don't know if anyone's explored it since.
There was a comic in the 90s called "Tales of the Marvels: Inner Demons" in which a story is told by a fellow homeless man who was dealing with his own alcoholism, and had befriended Namor while he couldn't remember. Through the course of the story Namor helps him over come his drinking, but also is found out by the torch. He meets up with the now returned Namor who is a very different person who is angry at him for having an ancient Altalntean artifact, which he himself had given the man as a sign o friendship earlier. It is actually a very interesting story, that is often forgot.Jack
Never read that. Sounds like a good one.
It certainly is worth the read in my eyes. It was one of those comics marvel put out at the time to try and ride the trend of Busiek's Marvels. Here is a link to a better overview:http://marvel.wikia.com/Tales_of_the_Marvels:_Inner_Demons_Vol_1_1and this one just has a really good quote of the solicitation on the top of the page: http://www.comicvine.com/tales-of-the-marvels-inner-demons-1-inner-demons/4000-230170/Sort of like Namor himself the book became lost in the shuffle, as many great comics of the time did (am I the only one that remembers the ever underrated and forgotten Daily Bugle mini and Conspiracy?) only to slum it in the likes of dollar bins until fans can be reminded of how good it is. Fitting in its way.JackJack
huh, why did I type my name twice/Anyway, once again Creation point knows better than Marvel and DC of what to do with their characters these days. It's sad rally. I mean I know we're great, but still.jack
No worries, yeah I tried the JL 3000, just not my particular cup of tea.
And that's just fine, Douglas.
Jack,I think your observation about writers' voices in mainstream comics is spot-on, Jack. The way the companies, the writers, and the readers look at comics has been inverted. Seriously, for an old school reader like me, it's Bizarro-world. I don't recall caring much who wrote the comics until the mid to late 90s. It's like when someone asked Mark Hamill's Joker if he wanted to know who Batman really was, and he replied, "I already know who he is. He's BATMAN." On some level, I believe writers were better at knowing when to lose their voice to find the character's. When I read a DeMatteis or Stern or DeFalco Spider-Man comic, it's like looking at the same character from a different angle, I don't always feel the same way about the writing these days (and maybe that's just because I'm more aware of the culture). Honestly, I've come to believe that comic runs are now largely viewed as self-contained novels, in which the writer changes everything and then puts it back into place for the next guy's future omnibus. The old school approach was more of a pass-the-baton thing. --David
I'll leave it to Jack to continue this discussion, David!
I think that is why things seem to static more static than before. The first 30-40 years of say, the Fantastic Four ended in a very different place than it started in, but it was all the same characters, they felt the same. Everyone built on what came before, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but it was moving forward. Now, as you say, it is always back to the start. However I do think that the idea of, "it has to be like when I was reading,"among some writers hurts the forward momentum.AS for noticing writers, I only noticed them if I really liked them, so I could check out other stuff the worked on, or if it was God Awful so I could avoid them. Either way, it was after I read the comic. It was always, I'm a Spider-man fan or a Silver Surfer fan, not oh, I'm a Jim Starlin fan. I mean I was a Starlin and still am, it was just a point of refrence as to someone who did the character really well and told good stories. Gerber, Englehart, Starlin, Moench, Stern, Dematteis, Ostrander, Robinson, and a dozen more certainly have their own unique voice, and you could definetly pick it out if need be, however to this day the character (even self created ones or comics you pick up because of the writer) are more ever-present. I rememvber not too long ago saying "God _____, has written a crappy story," Opposed to "that was an awful _____ issue." (Name of title and writer taken out so as not to give the idea I want to insult anyone flat out). It was however a newer writer, well newish.Jack
Well, at least for Marvel, a lot of the stories were all written by one man in the beginning so it made it consistent. I do feel that these long reaching story lines are nothing new. I can remember Gruenwald's Captain America run with The Serpent Society that went forever. I think it's the ones that attempt to impact the entire line of titles that seem a little cumbersome and nothing more than a vehicle to make lots of collected editions later down the road. One of my favorite things about the new Sensation Comics is the multiple one and done stories. It reminds me of the old days when sometimes a story can get told really well in eight pages. It doesn't all need to be epic.As far as writers go; I didn't always know it was a writer that drew me to a comic. I knew I loved Man-Thing before I knew it was Gerber. Same with Howard The Duck. When I did figure that out I went in search of more Gerber and was rewarded with some excellent comics. DeMatteis is the same way. Moonshadow is my favorite comic book, but I never connected that with my favorite run of Justice League also written by DeMatteis. Not sure why, but it just didn't click. I, of course, now know better and have been rewarded with things like Justice League Dark. I think as a comic book reader matures they go from, Hey! a new Spider-Man story to Hey! DeMatteis is doing a new comic and it has The Question in it. That's awesome!
The "done-in-one" story is something I love, Douglas. There's a great freedom to telling a single issue tale with a beginning, middle and end. When I started in the business, I learned my craft doing five to eight page stories and it's astonishing how much character and plot you can get into a story that short.
You make a great point, Douglas. And I suppose a lot it has to do with age. The younger you are, the easier it is to see a character as something (or yes, SOMEONE) who exists independently of an author's vision. You don't think of a bunch of guys sitting around in a room throwing out phrases like 'illusion of change.' All this said, I believe there's a balance to be had, and yes, characters do have a life of their own apart from their various authors, not the least of which is INSIDE MY HEAD. So, you know, there are plenty of brilliant stories to be had that just aren't for me because they don't fit with my vision of the character involved. Personally, I tend to gravitate toward authors who can find their own voice without losing that of their characters. I think that's true of DeMatteis, and Stern, and all the writers I look to as 'the greats,' a list which would be too long to go into detail over here. But I read KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT, for example, and I find it's the kind of Spider-Man story that only DeMatteis could have written...but it's still very recognizably Spider-Man. (KLH also provides an interesting bridge between serial storytelling and the graphic novel--its reads perfectly as BOTH.)All of which is probably a long-winded and pretenious way of saying I like what I like.--David
I'm having a great time just sitting back and watching this conversation unfold. Keep it going, guys.
I think that a writer that can take an established character, tell a great story and keep the character true to themselves and still impart their own voice to the proceedings are true professionals. There is nothing worse than a character being forced to act outside of it's established behavior patterns. Ruins it and I see that happening a lot more in recent times. The recent spate of multidimensional stories is a good example of that.Where the explanation is 'Well, it did happen, but it was over here in this little pocket universe where I can do whatever I want to those characters." It has become overwhelmingly annoying as of late. I remember when they did that annually with Justice League and Justice Society and it was cool and exciting because it was once a year, not every week. I think I mentioned my dismay at the huge influx of Avengers titles because the movie did so well. The only interesting one, in my opinion was Avengers A.I. and they cancelled that. It feels like the films are changing the landscape of comics and not always for the better. It kind of makes me happy that DC doesn't have such a huge movie presence. The comics coming out of there remind me of how comics used to be.
David...? Jack...? Anyone else who'd care to join in...?
Movies are changing the game, and in some odd ways. Nick Fury's son took over, fine. He also happens to be named Nick Fury. Fine. He is also the spitting image of Sam Jackson. That's a little off putting. Couldn't they at least give him some hair/Of course this is nothing new, Batman got the oval surrounding the bat to make him more resemble the Adam West show, which I consider the right look for him by the way. Great characters like Firestar, Harley Quinn, and Renee Montoya were put in the comics because they became popular.Of course there is a big difference between saying a character from one media now exists in the previous and bending over backwards to match another media. Marvel is certainly trying to match the movies, and I believe that if the next event is a reboot as many people think, the new universe will be very similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Most importantly, I think that I agree that it is possible to have a voice and still be true the character. I just wonder if it is becoming a lost art. Hopefully not.Now while I do believe that age plays a role in the creator v. character mindset, I would point out that older series that I got into when I was older seem to be easier to be lost in the character. I really do think that part of it does come from being honed at a company gives you a skill set different from being out in the wilds and becoming domesticated, if you'll pardon the lame wordplay.I think that the one undeniable thing is that comics are in a large place, largely because of the odd expansion. There are things it can learn from the past and should try to do more of and there are things that should be around sometimes, and there are things that should be abandoned. There are also new things to try and adapt to, and new things that could lead to ruin. So what is right? I don't know. Comics could go on forever, or they could last another 4 years then cease to be forever.One spot of hope as well as problem, is that comic fans and comic creators have a somewhat unique relationship in comparison to other media. It is best if both sides accept that and try to figure this out together.Jack
People have been saying that comics are dying as long as I've been in the business (and before!). They've staggered and fallen several times, but they always seem to get back up. What FORM they continue is up for debate, but they'll be here for the long run, I think.One correction: The yellow oval around the bat symbol on Batman's costume came BEFORE the TV show. It was part of the "new look" Julie Schwarz ushered in when he took over the bat-books in 1964.
Comics are in an interesting place right now, one I never would have anticipated as a young fan in the 80s. On the one hand, they have more cultural currency than they once did. When I was a kid, everyone knew Batman or Spider-Man, but not Iron-Man or the Avengers. I remember what a big kick it was when the little girl from John Hughes' ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING was a fan of Marvel's Thor. When you saw something like that, you knew someone involved was passionate about comics, because familiarity with Thor wasn't exactly a badge of honor at the time. Those were also the days when an interesting flashback or editorial note sent you on a treasure hunt to the back issue bins, and not wikipedia! I'd argue that these are all signs that fans 'won'--we proved to the world that our favorite concepts have broad appeal. But even though I don't want to go back to the way things were, I sometimes have a silly, nostalgic yearning for the days when knowing who Marvel's Thor was made you different!--David
I know what you mean, David. It's like belonging to a small club and then having the entire world join!
Getting from Stan Lee's revolution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is like a story with a Twilight Zone twist at the end. --David
Can you imagine how Stan feels? And what a shame that Kirby didn't live to see this.
I imagine there's an alternate universe where Stan Lee wrote a very respectable take on that 'great American novel' he'd always dreamed of--and fell into obscurity! As for Kirby, it is indeed a shame. At least he knew how deeply his fans and his fellow creators appreciated his work before he passed. He's probably working on a scale now that would make the Fantastic Four's adventures seem tame by comparison...--David
Re: Stan. He's living proof that we never know where life will take us.You're aiming for one destination and end up someplace else entirely...and it's the perfect place. Far better than where you were headed.Re: Jack. That's a lovely thought.
There is a story I once read (I think it was in Gerard Jones' Men of Tomorrow) about the excitement Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster felt seeing Superman the motion picture on the big screen, especially since it was one of if not the first times in decades that something with Superman had read "created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster."As for going back... well, there are days I would gladly trade the days of having to defend reading comics to to people constantly bugging me if I've seen a movie and bugging me about Gotham or Arrow.I think comics destiny (whatever that may be) if it chugs along, then it is far more likely it will be like science fiction and fantasy as a whole. There are plenty people lining up for Sci-fi blockbusters, and its hip to love the Matrix and rag on the sequels, but with the exception of a few writers books don't fly off the shelf and Barnes and Noble and new issues of Fantasy and Science Fiction aren't on constant back order. These have always been the true peers of comics, fiction with a hardcore fanbase that is looked down on a bit for really only wanting fun escapism, perceived as nerdy or as a literary ghetto. I just don't get why this connection is so shocking to people. I stated my theory about people thinking Hollywood is taking crap and creating gold. And it was sort of confirmed. I want comics to stick around, I even want them to be big, however I think there are certain realities we all have to accept and progress from there, otherwise the risk of petering out increases.As for Jack Kirby, I would recommend not dwelling to long on it. As you said he was beloved by fans. He worked in comics. He was good in comics. He was beloved in comics. I think that is another issue, why can't that be enough. As far as I'm concerned movies don't legitimize comics, comics saved and legitimized movies for a decade. I do believe that. We all have to stop using other media as a measuring pole. Also, dwelling on Kirby too long, well... look stare at anything too long and you see the faults, failings and flaws. Just appreciate the work.Jack
I don't just look at Jack as a brilliant artist, Jack, I see him as a fellow freelancer, who struggled his whole life to take care of his family, was often treated badly, helped created a multi-billion dollar industry and, in his lifetime, didn't get to participate in any way. I have tremendous compassion for him and for his family...and I'm also delighted that Marvel has finally settled with the family and that Jack is getting credit in the books.If there had been no Jack Kirby, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.
Yeah, well... Jack Kirby had his own set of issues. Don't forget that, fair is fairt.But in a larger sense, yes it is great that his name has to be plastered on everything that he helped create. Credit were credit is do. Don't forget though that he is hardly the only one who worked hard to forge the industry and didn't live to see the massive success of, well... not comics, but comics inspired things. Imagine if Bill Finger could have seen Joker being nominated for an Oscar. And Bill Finger was treated far worse than Jack Kirby ever was. Of course it is not a competition, it is just important to remember that Kirby wasn't alone in that area. None of this should undercut the fact that I do think that it is great that he has to get credit.I always wondered though, if his history of freelance may have been a large part of the eventual split with. Lee, was, no disrespect intended here, a company man who never worked freelance a day in his life. The fact is, as someone who also does it, it does change your perspective from those who have only done the steady gig.Jack
I think there's some truth in that, Jack. It's another universe entirely in Freelance Land -- as I know from more than thirty years living here. Not a knock against Stan, as you say, just that he was working off a different set of experiences.
Oddly, I think that difference both ended the collaboration, but also fueled it. Having a stable job may have given given more courage to try something new and shoot for older crowds, which a freelancer might have gotten shot down for in 1961. Meanwhile, a freelancers ability to mesh, and add along to stories, probably aided with the Marvel method, as well as a freelancers fire and speed getting so many issues out.However, after a point those sensibilities may ware on each other, say about 7 years in. I think Kirby may have viewed some editorial positions Lee made, along with things handed down from above, as personal problems and trying to take control. Lee probably had issues with some of the need to real him in. The two did both act like kids when the split happen, Lee's reaction was probably also fueled with how Kirby left, having said that they thought they would go on a lot longer. This comes from a lack of understanding of the freelance way of thinking, if someone offers you a better deal, why not take it?Of course, I think both came around. People always focus on the negative, but they forget what happened next. Kirby returned to Marvel for a while. He and Lee did what their musical counterparts the Beatles never did, had a reunion album, by way of the Silver Surfer Graphic Novel. Peter David once said that he saw the two just chatting at a comic show, years after the collaboration ended. Stan Lee even took Roz Kirby out to lunch to catch up and give his condolences a week after Kirby died.I think I good example of realizing the difference comes from Steve Gerber, who as far as I know never bad-mouthed Lee once, and he too worked under him for a while as a freelancer, but when he left he sure as Hell wasn't thrilled by Marvel. It all comes down to realizing who you should be mad at, or if you even should be. Jack
Interesting thoughts, Jack. Thanks. By the way: if you've never read Mark Evanier's Kirby book, I highly recommend it. I've trumped this book here before, but it's worth repeating.
Great thoughts, Jack. I do think a lot of creative tensions come from a different way of approaching the work.There is, for instance, the question of how personally invested a creator is in their work. Stan Lee seems to take a pretty nonchalant attitude about some of the wilder changes that his characters have undergone throughout the years.I get the impression that for better and for worse, Jack couldn't achieve the same kind of distance. He felt strongly about who these characters were and where their journey was taking them. And it had to be a little grating that people were always asking Stan's blessing with regards to characters they co-created. --David
To be fair, Stan Lee did have more involvement with all of those characters. Along with co-creating them he was also editor, both at the time and years after, then became publisher. He worked with the new talent, and shepherded the characters past where he left them and into the future. It only makes since that more people would ask for his views. Is that fair? Well, that is sort of a grey area. Sure they co-creators, and their for would have an equal right to the core of the character, but the fact is these aren't Jack Kirby's characters OR Stan Lee's they are Marvels, and many hands have handled them. So logically the person with the most experience in guiding them would at the very least have more to say. At the most would see the characters from different angles.It also doesn't help that at a time when comics were centralized in New York, and you often times had to move there to make it in the biz, Jack Kirby up and moved to California taking himself out of the loop.I am not saying any of this is right or wrong only that logically it makes since.As I've said before Jack Kirby was never comfortable with the business side of comics, and also I think didn't understand it. This very likely could have embittered him. It also doesn't help that Stan Lee started making more money in the 70s. Of course this started with him becoming publisher and rising through the ranks... another perk of being a company man. Something tells me that Funky Flashman and his HouseRoy only deepened any divide. People tend to forget that little jab so early on.In the end though none of us will ever really know what happened. this was a spat between two people. A spat that had its points of getting quite juvenile. It is also a spat that only two people really have ever known the truth of. The rest is all rumors, emotion, spin, and politics. Each side has its dogmatic warriors that won't budge an inch and will bad mouth the other all over town, when they are just as in the dark as any of us.As for me, well if you really want my opinion, neither were saints, they were just as fallible as you or I. They both probably had their own fair share of jackassery , pig-headedness, and stupidity that caused the split. It's like the Beatles, they both thought they were the magic, and for all the quality they put out without the other, it was never quite as good as the two together.The thing everyone forgets, that everyone ignores because it isn't as good of a story, is that they moved past it. To what degree? Who knows, but it was enough to at least be able to talk to each other and even work together.Jack
All the changes and multi dimensional whatchmacallits reminds me of a quote from Stephen King when someone asked him if he thought the movies were ruining his books. He replied that they were still on the bookshelf and doing fine. I feel the same way they reboot a universe. All my old comics have not been reduced to blank pages.
Keith Giffen always used to invoke that wonderful King quote when people asked us about our old JLI stories being invalidated by the changes in the DCU—and you're right, Douglas, it applies across the board. They're STORIES. Each one exists in its own authentic universe and nothing that comes after can change that.
I just saw that Jim Corrigan will be in the new Constantine show. See, now I might have to watch.
I missed it. How was it?
No idea, will catch it this weekend after work. I will report back later.
The Constantine show gets better every episode. Corrigan has been transplanted from NY to New Orleans but is basically the same guy internally. His destiny was effectively foreshadowed and Jerry Siegel was credited as his creator. The show is positively eerie in how it captures John and the atmosphere which surrounds him. It is now my favorite of all the new DC shows- beating Gotham which had been in the lead up til now. I still like Gotham very much, though. i am eager to experience your take on JC but am waiting until June when I turn 52 to delve into the New 52 Universe (weird, but what can I say). I will have a nice pile of JMD JLDs to enjoy by that time and will surely give them all a thumbs up when I'm done. So great to have you back on some monthlies after a bit of a hiatus. Anything you are doing in the near future in addition to JL3000, Trinity of Sin and JLD that you can talk about?
Hi, Jeff: great to hear from you!I've missed the past couple of CONSTANTINE episodes: glad to hear it's thrumming along. Hope we see Zatanna sometime soon.Waiting till 52 to read the New 52? Sounds like a fun idea. (But didn't you give me some New 52 books to read back at our first workshop?)As for other projects: I've got two DCU-related direct-to-DVD animated features waiting for release (sorry, can't share details) and I'm just starting work on a third. Also, doing some work for a new Cartoon Network series (non-DCU) that will debut next year. Comics? The AUGUSTA WIND sequel will be out next year from IDW and I might have another creator-owned project out, as well. Waiting on official word on that.And more stuff brewing behind the scenes!Hope all's very well with you and yours, Jeff.
I did read the first storylines of Batman (love Scott Snyder), Action and Justice League before the 52 idea dawned on me. It may have been some of those which I brought with me - just now realized that was 3 YEARS AGO!! It occurs to me that now that the DC and Marvel Universes have effectively "graduated" to the mainstream realms of tv and movies, the realm of comics seems riper than ever for new concepts, explorations and characters. Sales of comics haven't markedly grown too much because the "fix" for those characters is being satisfied with how they are presented elsewhere. It seems that now is the best time for new creator-owned stuff to catch on. This may be why writers such as Brubaker, Fraction, Vaughn and Rucka seem to have broken with DC and Marvel and have met with a bit of success with their Image offerings likes Fatale, Lazarus, Sex Criminals and Saga. I have a strong sense that the man who brought us Moonshadow when those guys were just babies (figuratively) might break through himself in that area sooner or later. There is a real crackle of creative energy brewing which is awesome to watch happen. Just a thought.
As noted in the previous reply, Jeff, I've got a couple of creator-owned projects brewing...we'll see how things turn out!Yeah, three years ago. Amazing. "Time is a jet plane," as Bob Dylan says. (I think I quote that more than any song lyric ever...because it's so damn true.)
Recently re-read Moench/Jones' Deadman three-parter from their BATMAN run. Worth checking out...and it certainly could make for a fun follow-up tale in JLD (and a great excuse to bring in Batman). --David
Batman in JLD is a great idea!
Alternate Universe Vampire Batman would be cooler!
Vampire Batman is always cool.