Sunday, April 9, 2017

HEART AND SOUL

There’s been a lot of talk about diversity in comics lately. My feeling is, the more diversity the better. How best to do that is the question. An excellent example is the Berlanti/DCTV universe, which has done a superb job of bringing a broader cultural lens to these characters.

I think the key is remaining true to the essence of the the characters. Spider-Man could be black, white, Asian, Latino, as long as he's that same working class kid from Queens we’ve come to know and love. (As current Spider-writer Dan Slott once observed: "There's nothing inherently white about Peter Parker.") Superman could be any race (I mean, the guy’s an alien. Why can’t Kryptonians be black?) as long as he embodies the spirit—that magical balance of otherworldy power and simple human decency—that Kal-El has come to stand for.

In the end, it’s the heart and soul of the characters that matters. And heart and soul belong to all people, of all races. So, yes: The more diversity, the better.


©copyright 2017 J.M. DeMatteis

61 comments:

  1. I don't know, Pete Parker constantly complains about his life, despite having a better one than a lot of people... that seems pretty white to me.

    Seriously, though... when it comes to casting, live by the Ben Urich rule. In the Netflix Daredevil show, Ben Urich was Black despite 35 years of being white in thecomics.

    Now, Ben is my second favorite supporting character (narrowly beaten out by Mary Jane Watson-Parker), so I am protective. But I thought the character was spot on...except in the last few episodes of season one... but that has more to do with stupidity in society on whole, so I digress.

    They very well may have said "we have a lot of crackers, lets mix it up racially"for Ben, but for all I know they had an open casting call for him (white people included) and the most accurate portrayal won out.

    Meanwhile, people said Iron Fist should have been cast as an Asian guy, but an Asian Guy replacing a white guy whose whole thing is martial arts, and babbling about chi, would be a whole other typeof racial problems.

    When you you consider that he is best pals with Luke Cage (bordering on a heterosexual-homoromantic one) and a loving relationship with Misty Knight, both of whom are black, that is another can of worms. You ended two interracial relationships.

    Its complicated. But I think they should have just done a Shang Chi show... because he is a better character.

    As for the next part, I am a straight white guy, who is cool with the gender h was born with so, you know, grain of salt. Of course, I have been reading comics since the last century and NYC cop once told me being from Detroit made me Black by Association, and you are white, straight, and a dude as well, so... maybe less salt.

    My guess, is that this comes from recent statements from Marvel comics, and the fact is they buried the lead.

    Marvel said that fans didn't want diversity, but that isn't quite true. Diversity, like everything else, has a right and wrong way to be done.

    Marvel promoted diversity... sort of. It was sort of a superficial way of promoting it.

    A little known fact is that Shaft, was originally supposed to be white, then gave it a second pass and changed things. That is probably why it was so impactful, Black wasn't supposed to be the defining quality.

    You should always start with character, what goes inside side the head, not the skin color, gender, or who you are attracted to. Marvel started and ended with those concepts in recent years.

    When I think about non-white/male/straight characters I love (not like or am okay with, LOVE) Falcon, Shang Chi, Storm, Forge, Luke Cage, Cassandra Cain, (recently) Batwoman, Night Thrasher, Rage, Trubo, Silhouette, Connor Hawke, Kyle Ratner (half Hispanic), Typhoid Mary, Elektra, Mr. Terrific, John Stewart etc.. They are more than just that. They COULD be white and have the same level of interest for me. Using race, gender, or sexuality as a gimmick is a form of racist, sexism, or homophobia.

    continued...

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  2. I think if you have to replace Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson is the best choice... but you have to draw on that history. Yes, there was a pint in his early years where he often talked about what it was like to be black... in 1969. He is more than that now. More than that THEN, for that matter.

    While we are on the nature of diversity, diversity is more than sex, race, and sexuality. What about political, sociological, economic, ideological, or even geographic? Not everyone lives on a coast. As someone who is no fan of our current president, even I am getting sick of Trump swipes from Marvel.

    Or writing diversity? I am sure as shipping sick of every book I pick up being quirky or sarcastic.

    'The fact is, most writer at Marvel these days (including Dan Slott) are controvertial choices for books. No matter what... that Can... not does, but can... translate to sales problems.

    I remember a quote from All in teh Family "Black people have weather too." It was stated by Lionel Jefferson, who in the same scene said he was okay with Archie Bunker, because he didn't know any better, but found Mike Stivic aggravating at times cause he saw him only as a Black guy to sympathize with. Black people, Hispanic people, Asian People, gay people, and women people are in the end... well, people. And the old rule in journalism is that people like reading about people. People, not props.

    Isn't the 90s sitcom view of gay people being proud of being gay, but also insanely flamboyant a little embarrassing now? Especially when the 70s and 80s only had gay people on to break stereotypes.

    Where are the middle aged or elderly superheroes? conservative? Devoutly religious? married? Mentally ill, without being over the top? At least four of which don't maybe more) don't describe me.

    To bring it back to Spider-Man, many people say he should be Jewish (mostly Jewish people), Bendis said he should have been Black, I personally see a a guy who never discusses his problems with loved ones and babbles about responsibility as incredibly WASPy. And in the end that is how it should be. You should see yourself in the icons of your culture.

    A Black or Latino, or gay, or female person should be no more turned off by Peter Parker as he is, than I am by any number of minority characters. Character is the key word. Of course, you also should not be turned off by ideological differences in a character if they are truly compelling.

    Of course, recent research has shown that the fall in Marvel comics sales is actually more related to their big Secret Wars event, which bragged about killing the Marvel Universe,so Diversity probably isn't the real culprit anyway. Sometimes bad is just bad. Sometimes a misstep is just a misstep, or the wrong idea at the wrong execution is just the wrong execution.

    What's more calling your primary source of income racist and misogynist is bad business, pure and simple.

    Thin of it this way, in the last election, people said racism was to blame, however many counties carried by Trump were also carried by Obama. You would have to assume that all the racists sat out the Black guy running for president.

    Diversity is good. All long as it is ALL diversity types, and it is done well.

    That was a long road to a short point.

    Jack

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    1. But a very good point, Jack. Thanks.

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    2. I wonder if part of the problem is that they are trying to start so many titles out as... well titles. Some ind of Tryout book might be a better idea. Kind of like Marvel SPotlight.

      If you only have two or three issues, you will make sure that character pops as best as they can. Perhaps teh belief you'll have forever pushes things to develop slower.

      Though, I do believe putting more emphasis on one inherently superficial trait over character is the real problem, and in reality that hurts there own cause.

      A lot of the problem is that these new character faults is that they don't know how great they really are. In the house Spider-Man built, that isn't a great idea. It bores people fast.

      What is lost sight of is that diversity isn't even just for the group it represents. it is for other people too. It makes the idea of other seem less alien.

      Joe Robertson may have been an editor and not a superhero, but he was fair (even scolding Peter when he deserved it), honest, and kind. He was also tough and got angry and Jonah.

      How many white teenagers in 1967 saw him and the first time a black man was in a position of authority?

      Lois Lane was a career woman. Gabe Jones was a brave soldier. And that isn't even counting the early superheroes.

      Arnie Roth was gay in the 80s...you know, when Gay cancer was freaking everyone out.

      That is why you have to make a character more interesting than anything. Even beyond what I said, you never know what person of any type will gravitate to a character, what will speak to them. There is no reason why a black lesbian wouldn't speak to a straight white guy. And that kids is why you shouldn't spend half a comic bad-mouthing a group, and certainly not make that the crux of the character.

      It also doesn't help that Marvel didn't transition great. In many cases, in many cases they dragged the original hero through the mud.

      Thor was declared unworthy. Which is weird since, as I have heard, JAne Foster is Thor and has cancer. You could have had a great torch bearing where he surrenders the powers to help keep her alive. it would be heroic.

      It just seems like a bad business move . You have decades of backstory, and more importantly fans. You'll be starting off on a bad foot.

      I was a never a fan of ANY of Marvel, but as I can tell Miles Morales is the most successful case of this. and yes Peter Parker died to make it happen (I believe)... but it was a heroic death. There were and are a lot of hardcore Ultimate Spider-man fan, and I guarantee they would not have been as on board if he became evil or went out in a demeaning way.







      Jack

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    3. I just want to add how bad of an idea it is to insult and accuse your fans of such things.

      A few years ago, Gerry Conway and Mark Waid were at a convention here, at the same time. They were very nice, and engaged fans with questions. Conway even forced me to take a picture with him. That was weird.

      Was that who they really are as people? I think they were being genuine, yes. But even if not they respected their fans enough to fake it. They understand that they are there brand.

      Years earlier a very popular artist came here. I won't give the name, I know you want all the juicy details, but quite honestly, this is not the appropriate forum.

      I met him and he was a dick to me, and to the other people around me. Now, maybe he just had a headache, or a bad week or whatever. Creators aren't people, they can have emotions like everyone else. However, I talked to other people about it over the years, and they told similar stories about his disinterest in fans.

      This guy had been doing this since the 70s (I will give a hint that it was NOT a member of the old Detroit mob... crap, now you'll definitely know who)he should know better.

      Now, I didn't completely walk away from his work, he is very talented. However, the day came where I was reading a comic, and I was on the bubble of dropping it, trying to figure out what to do. I saw his name, and it was a contributing factor in dropping a book or giving it another few issues to see if it sussed out.

      Contrast that to Mart Nodell, creator of the original Green Lantern, who came here every year, loved talking to fans, and remembered people. He was one of the few people I bought a print from. Still have it.

      I wouldn't have bought it if I didn't want it, but I was a teenager and short on money. Wanting to help a nice old man make some bucks certainly was not a strike against it.

      What was the point of all this? From strictly a dollars and scents approach, it is never a good idea to give people reasons to not pay for your product. That includes how you treat them.


      Jack

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    4. All I know about the current Marvel stories is what I read in the press, i haven't read the actual stories themselves so I can't comment on them. I'm just trying to make a point about the issue in general.

      Your point about Joe Robertson and the others is a great one: "Diversity isn't just for the group it represents." It's been pointed out that portrayals of gay couples on television helped ease (most of) straight America into the idea of gay marriage. You can't underestimate the power of these portrayals. And it's all about saying. "Hey, look, we're human beings just like you. What unites us is far greater than what separates us."

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    5. You're right that creators are human beings (at least I think we are!) and we're more than capable of having a bad day and saying/doing the wrong thing at a con; but treating the fans with respect is important on a simple human level. These are folks that read, and appreciate, our work. They want to talk, have a book signed, and that's a wonderful thing. And it should be honored.

      Fans, too, are human and capable of saying/doing the wrong thing but I'm happy to say that the vast majority of my experiences with my fans have been wonderful.

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    6. And I'm proud to be one of those fan experience exceptions for you.

      As for the rest, you don't have to read the current comics to get my meaning on the occasions when diversity is more important than character.

      That idea has plagued fiction across all media and genres since the 70s. When the goal is just to have a black/asian/hispanic/gay/female/martian green, it becomes too enticing to some people to be lazy and end it right there.

      It isn't new, and it isn't just comics. If you stop and think for a minute you can probably vaguely remember one, but not for long since a one note character isn't very distinctive.

      As you said "What unites us is far greater than what separates us." So, why focus on the separation when appealing to a mass audience?

      as far as the well documented Marvel implying fans are racist or misogynistic (which they have done multiple times since they started replacing so many characters) it just isn't good business. Why would you blame fans for low sales, then expect them to but more?

      There are a lot of strange things in the world when it comes to race. It is a very hard thing for society to overlook at times. People think the problems in Detroit were caused by racial strife, when really it was economic (people white AND Black who could afford to leave started to leave diminishing the tax base and causing more flight).

      IN the end of the day, I think that when things are done wrong, it only exacerbates a problem. Lets be honest, racism still exists, but it is so much better than it was even 30 years ago, and certainly 50. And now that I have every liberal and conservative angry wit me, I will continue...

      But the more you stoke a flame of difference the harder it is to have people who are different help you when you need it. Everyone is so suspicious of everyone different fro us, no matter how we view that whether racial, gender based, or ideological. A lot of that is portrayal.

      Look at gay folk, if you don't know any gay people, and the media tries to be inclusive and hows but only has gay as the character,what happens?

      Well, that means that wanting to sleep with guys is all they think abut, so it could, COULD reinforce the idea of them being deviants in some people's minds. AS I said that is COULD, ,not would.

      Or you could look at feminism. If all you ever see are people who talk about how terrible men are... well, it is a tad hard to get allies who might agree with you.

      But the biggest sin, a one note character is just bad writing.


      Jack

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  3. That admittedly may have gotten a bit heavy, so to lighten the mood, I will tell you my problem with the animated Beauty and the Beast.

    It isn't the Stockholm syndrome argument, which is ridiculous. Nor the argued fact that the beast was only 10 when cursed, he was a parentless monarch in 1700s France. He would be far more worldly than any fourth grader you'll meet, and much more commanding and knowledgeable about his responsibilities. It is connected to that one though.

    To believe a 10 year old boy be turned into that kind of monster and not think it was the coolest thing ever? That is nonsense.

    There would not be hiding away, it would be reveling in it. 10 years old: loves it, 11: loves it, 12: loves it, 13: loves it... until a girl he digs turns away in disgust.

    That lack of understanding of the prepubescent male mind,
    is why the Disney owned Marvel has shooed the Thing away. Its a reminder of that failure.


    Jack

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    1. Fairy tales exist with their own logic and, for me, the internal logic of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST works just fine. In fact, it's one of my all-time favorite Disney movies.

      Still, a story about a kid who gets turned into a monster and loves it is a cool idea.

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    2. It was one of your favorite Disney films... until you realize tat is the reason for teh quite retirement of Ben Grimm. And of course the illogic I brought up.

      Fairy Tales may have their own rules and logic, but a 10 year old boy doesn't want to be that cool of a monster? That is just beyond redemption.

      Interestingly there was a mini series called Thing: Night Falls on Yancy Street. In which a a woman dates Ben Grimm (and has a thing for all the "freak" heroes and villains in the MArvel U) cause she saw Beauty and the Beast as a kid. Or at least it jump started it. It was the play where he has a boars head or a stags head, I don't remember. Either way,they make a point of saying not the cartoon.

      Jack

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    3. It is actually an underrated pretty underrated mini series, along with Fantastic Four: Unstable <Molecules. The latter of which is about the idea that Stan and Jack based the foursome on four real people. It takes place in the 50s, and has Sue as a adrift homemaker who watches over her younger brother, who resented the her despite having raised him herself since he was 8. Yet he had a crush on a comic character based off of her.

      Reed is the much older, and emotionally distant fiance... I believe, who views it all in terms of a lab experiment.

      Johnny has a fat friend who is seriou8sly depressed (moleman) and Sues high school boyfriend returns home as a beatnik around this time.

      And Ben... well Ben is just a mess, and there are feelings between he ad Sue. If you haven't read it you should.

      Anyway, my favorite Disney movie of the era was Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceDxO50GVes

      JAck

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    4. I loved ROGER RABBIT. As I recall, I saw it twice in the theaters.

      UNSTABLE MOLECULES sounds like something I'd really enjoy.

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    5. I didn't do a great job explaining it. Here is the Wikipedia synopsis.

      Read it, don't. I'm not your boss.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantastic_Four:_Unstable_Molecules

      Jack

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  4. This is a difficult discussion to have because anything short of “I totally agree” comes up as being racist, sexist, xenophobic, or prejudice. I do assume part of this topic has come up because of what was said by an executive at Marvel recently, yes? I wasn’t part of the two-day retailers meeting where they claimed to get their data. I’m just a random comic book reader who’s been reading regularly since 1983. If you ask me if I’ve had enough of the diversity at Marvel specifically, then I’d say “yes”. Why? Because Marvel isn’t creating great new characters with diverse backgrounds. They are altering characters I’ve loved for 30+ years, and that’s what I don’t like. Correct me if I’m wrong, but among the long-standing characters that have been altered recently we have the following:

    Captain America = African-American
    Thor = Female
    Hulk = Korean-American

    Diversity can be attained without modifying historically great characters. You said, “Superman could be any race (I mean, the guy’s an alien. Why can’t Kryptonians be black?)” You’re right, a Kryptonian can be black. But Clark Kent is white. If DC wants to create an Asian Superman, that’s fine…but don’t re-write history to eliminate Clark as Superman.
    When Jack Kirby wanted to appeal to his African-American readers he didn’t make Reed Richards black. He created an incredible African character, the Black Panther. That’s my point. Don’t alter what’s working. Create something new that works just as well...or better!
    The best example I can give is the Star Wars books that Marvel produces. I’ve read each and every Star Wars book that Marvel has created since they’ve re-acquired their publishing rights. They didn’t make Han black. They didn’t make Lando white. They didn’t make Chewbacca a woman. They didn’t make Leia a man. They kept the characters as is, and also created new great characters. Dr. Aphra is a fantastic character. She’s witty, bright, and brave. She’s also female! That’s diversity.
    You said “My feeling is, the more diversity the better.” I say that when the story is the diversity itself then it’s not enough. The story needs to be great, then the diversity can grow organically. Don’t make the focus of the story be “this character is now gay” or “this character is now female”. Make the story great and we as readers will accept and embrace the diversity. How do you do that? I have no idea. I’m not a writer. I’m just a guy who’s been reading comic books for over 30 years. I wish I knew how to write a good story. I know you know how to write a great one. You’ve written several. I hope you find a way to make readers like me embrace new diverse characters, while still preserving not only the heart and soul of the character, but the history of the character as well.

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    1. I totally get your perspective, and your frustration, George. But I don't see the problem as race, I see it—as I noted in the post—as staying true to the essence of the characters. There's a big difference between "Superman is now a Asian Jewish woman" (I'm, of course, exaggerating to make a point) and having a black Kid Flash and Iris West on THE FLASH. The former is replacing the character with something entirely different, the latter is remaining true to the character's roots but widening the cultural lens to reflect a more diverse America.

      Then you have a character like Captain America, who is supposed to represent the highest and best of the American Dream. Given that, a black Cap makes total sense to me. (It's one of the few "replacement" scenarios that does.) Back in the 80s, I had a big storyline (which was killed by the Powers That Be) that was going to end with Cap being assassinated. His replacement? Well, at first I considered Sam Wilson, then settled on a Native American character named Black Crow. I thought that having a first American as Captain America was a great idea, because the essence of Cap is the soul of America, not the skin of the man beneath the mask. Would Steve Rogers have come back? Probably. But I think it would have made for a great story.

      These aren't easy questions and there aren't always easy answers. The important thing is that creators are wrestling with these issues and doing our best to make a change. We're not always going to get it right, but, right now, the trying is what matters. Given time, it will all be second nature.

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    2. Historically, Marvel has more trouble establishing legacy characters than DC. It doesn't mean legacy characters don't work for them, it's just not an easy sale. DC characters slip comfortably into larger than life symbols, while Marvel's never quite get outside of their own head.

      Stan Lee's model is Hamlet, the guy who will not let you forget that his situation is the most unique in all the world. And like Hamlet, the Marvel universe is built around the concept that each hero is destined and cursed to perform the task that only he or she can.

      All that said, I think a lot of change has been good. It's not the 1960s anymore, which is why you've got heroes like The Champions, a younger set who focus more on responsibility to the communities they impact. Whether the concept will stick from a sales point, I have no idea, but the trying is indeed what matters. The community ethic will break through eventually in some form or another.

      We're going through the growing pains, but like you've said, it will all be second nature given time.

      In my opinion, Marvel and DC need to establish a model where character legacies can co-exist. There's no reason why Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers can't BOTH be Captain Americas at the same time.

      As humans, we seem stuck in this zero sum game where for someone to win at life someone else has to lose. Our fiction should provide a model to get out of that self-destructive pattern.

      Fortunately, I think comics are trending that direction, slowly but surely. Just look at THE FLASH, where a red-headed twenty-something and an African American teen share the name Wally West and their mentor Barry Allen.

      --David


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    3. You talk about characters co-existing, David, and I can't help think about Thor and Thunderstrike, Iron Man and War Machine and other 90s ear Marvel duplicates.

      Change is difficult, most people resist it, but (and I'll keep beating this drum) as long as the essence of the characters remains the same, I think the skin we wrap that character in is secondary. That said—and as others on this page have noted—there should be a real effort to create new, original characters of multiple ethnicity. Just slotting others in in place of already established characters isn't enough.

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  5. My biggest complaint about replacing Steve Rogers is that he has been Captain America for so long that is the actual character that defines who Captain America is. Because of that anyone stepping into those shoes will be, for lack of a better word, less. The only book in recent time that has done any justice to Steve Rogers has been Uncanny Avengers. It looks like a super hero book, but there is a magnificent horror comic lurking under the surface. And honestly? I have book comic books for decades. Race has never been a deciding factor. Neither has gender. Give me a good story anytime with great characters. The rest is kind of unimportant to me.

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    1. I'm not up on all the details, Douglas, but isn't Steve Rogers still out there appearing in his own book? I get the sense that, once the smoke clears, Steve will be "officially" Cap again and the Falcon will either go back to being the Falcon or assume a new Cap-ish identity.

      That said, "give me a good story anytime with great characters" is always the bottom line!

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    2. Steve Rogers is appearing in his own book, but he's currently a villain working for Hydra. So he's not really Steve in the sense that he's ever been understood up to this point.

      --David

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    3. RIght. And given the history of comics, we can safely assume that he's a villain...until he won't be anymore and the status quo is restored!

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    4. Yeah, they have already shown a cover where Sam Wilson doesn't wear the Captain America costume anymore and has a new costume similar to the one in the films. Marvel has also stated that Secret Empire is their last event for the next 18 months. It sounds like they may embrace DCs stance about returning their core heroes to their classic incarnations. We shall see. And, yes, Steve Rogers has his own book, but it's not my Steve Rogers. It's a cosmic cube altered one.

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    5. And that which has been altered can be altered again! : )

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    6. Your theory about Steve Rogers is so crazy, JMD, that it just might work! :)

      BTW, in my opinion I think diversity has never been the problem at Marvel, but more that all the core concepts have been in flux the past decade.

      The X-Men went from a powerful minority fighting to protect a world that hates and fears them to a dwindling species fighting extinction.

      The heroes have been fighting each other off and on since CIVIL WAR.

      The FF have split up with Reed and Sue nowhere in sight.

      Steve Rogers is Hydra!

      So I think there is something to be said for going back to basics, at least enough that you have a solid foundation to work from. It feels like some of the core concepts have been jettisoned in the past decade but they're gradually coming back.

      --David



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    7. And I'm sure those core concepts will come back deepened and expanded. Experimentation like this, even if it fails (and, not having read the material, I can't pass judgement), usually leads to artistic growth. So can we hope that all of this will make the Marvel Universe even stronger?

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    8. And while they are at it they need to bring back Sleepwalker...just saying.

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    9. Oh, definitely. I think Marvel will find a way to return to core concepts without losing what's been gained through more experimental approaches.

      --David

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    10. Maybe I have just been reading comics too long, and have grown cynical, but I just assumed they were planning to eventually return the classic characters and spin the new off into new series.

      But as far as Falcon goes, I love Sam, and again,if there HAS to be a replacement it should be him. However, the Falcon is his own symbology unique to Sam. So everything becomes complicated. Does that mean the Falcon is less important n what HE stood for than Cap?

      Marvel has historically had problems with legacy because they focused on the man beneath, who gave meaning to the symbol. That makes it hard.

      As for back to basics, the back to basics approach I crave is good character driven stories that don't have to be epic. As it ha been danced around here. That is what is missing.

      Jack

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    11. In the end, it always comes down to strong characters in strong stories.

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    12. In the end, but a lot can happen in the middle.


      Jack

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  6. Scoobs Apocs (DC's best book):

    HMM... a guy with his name plastered on a tower, in gold? Where do you get your crazy ideas?

    Please tell me that Dr. Krebs is a reference to Maynard G..



    Jack

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    1. Of course! As you clearly know, the Scooby Crew was based on the cast of the old DOBIE GILLIS TV series (a show I have ridiculous amounts of love for): Shaggy is Maynard, Fred is Dobie, Velma is Thelma (they worked hard on that one) and Daphne is Thalia (who only appeared on the first season). I've slipped other Dobie references into SA, but they escape me at the moment.

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    2. That comma probably doesn't need to be after tower, I swear, one day I WILL start proof reading.

      Wasn't the character Zelda not Thelma? Or am I kooked up in the head... as the kids say?

      I'm holding out hope that the Scoobs-crew winds up on Gilligan's Island at some point. It doesn't make sense though, given that Maynard G., Gilligan, And Shaggy are all the same person.


      Jack

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    3. Yep. Zelda Gilroy, played by Sheila James. I knew that, but my fingers clearly forgot as they typed.

      DOBIE was on Hulu for a while and I blitzed through a bunch of them. Could be my love for that show is why I'm enjoying SCOBBY so much.

      "Work? Work!"

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    4. You don't meet very many Zeldas anymore. Too bad, its a pretty name.


      Jack

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    5. I'm the only one who thinks its pretty? Whatever.

      Did Warner Brothers produce Dobie Gillis? Maybe you could talk them into a comic called Dawn of Dobie, where Dobie Gillis was made by his Depression raised, WWII vet father, who is now also a scientist, to be the ideal American Youth.

      However, Maynard teaches him more about life outside the strict guid lines he was given, and the girls awaken another part of him.

      And of course, killer robots and space invaders. It could be a prequel to Scoobs Apocs, with the tech that made Dobie responsible for the nanites.


      Jack

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    6. There actually was a Dobie comic from DC:

      https://comicvine.gamespot.com/many-loves-of-dobie-gillis/4050-2015/

      I think Fred's mother's name was Gillis and she's Dobie's daughter.
      And the mysterious Dr. Krebs is Shaggy's grandfather on his mother's side, so...

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  7. Hi JM,

    Just thought I would drop by after a while. I'm the old Phantom Stranger fan, you may recall. I guess I will finally get to meet you at the East Coast Comic Convention at the end of April.

    Regarding this whole discussion about changing heroes, it ignores a different marketing point--people like to be in their comfort zones. People are creatures of habit, we mostly sit still for the next helping. Glaring change, without a darn good reason, results in the reevaluation of the product. Look at how DC's New 52 fared as compared to their retro Rebirth. Rick

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    1. Hey, Rick. Great to hear from you!

      It's a complex issue and you're right when you say that people can sometimes be resistant to change. (The one exception may be with our technology. I'm always amazed at how quickly we adjust to each groundbreaking piece of new tech.)

      Looking forward to meeting you at East Coast Comic Con. See you soon!

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  8. Saw your tweet about Easter Parade... the film.

    Personally, this is the song I enjoy the most from it. Even if it is a tad insulting. Not that much though.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDt1qF0On0Y


    Jack

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    1. I'm a big fan of Fred A strutting down the street singing "Happy Easter" to everyone at the beginning of the movie.

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  9. Since we are now in ANOTHER event, we were just talking about replacing characters, and my guess is that Captain America will be not Steve Rogers when the dust clears, I would like to say a view that often gets overlooked.

    If you have to replace a character, can we please stop killing them? It isn't even for the reason you may think.

    We all know the character will be back. Almost whomever it is. It just might be better if we could start avoid the whole return to life song and dance.

    Much like big events, I am not against the idea of replacing characters temporarily, but would like more creative choices.

    Do heroes always have to wail on each other,or a big villain to keep summer pockets light? Can heroes only be replaced with death?

    I don't know... probably.

    Jack

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    1. Takes me back to the "Death of Superman" story, when the whole (non-comics) world was going nuts because they actually believed DC had the temerity to kill Supes. Those of us in the comics world knew he'd be back.

      For the record: When I killed Aunt May, Kraven and Harry Osborn, the plan was for them to stay dead. I knew, in the back of my mind, that somewhere down the line some writer might resurrect them, but that certainly wasn't my intention.

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    2. By the way, the above comment wasn't meant as a knock on the current Cap storyline. Haven't read it and, from all I've heard, Nick Spencer is a terrific writer and it's a very engaging story.

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    3. There was a time period that Steve Rogers was too old to be Captain America so it went to Sam Wilson.

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  10. By the way Dematteis, did you ever end up seeing Captain America Civil War?

    J...a...c...k

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    1. Yes. Enjoyed it. But the first Cap movie is still my favorite. LOVE that one.

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  11. I read a Howard the Duck comic yesterday from 1976. In it a Canadian manipulated the election for president, and prevented Howard from winning.

    Now, I won't get into my views on it, but there is a lot of Talk about Russia and our election. Now, fact OR ficion, I think we can all agree this 40 year old comic was teh origin of it.

    Some one somewhere for some reason was like, "look I have an idea. Don't worry it worked on a duck. No... I don''t think it matters where I got the idea."

    Come on in these intense political times, we need some of this.

    Jack

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    1. We all knew Steve Gerber was a prophet.

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    2. By the way, Jack: I read your other two comments and felt they weren't appropriate for a public discussion here because they discussed specific creators in a less-than flattering way. (Perfectly fine for a private conversation.)

      In regards to that one statement, I didn't mean that I've only heard good things about the story: I know there are folks who don't like it.

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    3. Gerber was a prophet... we have entered into an era where tales about talking ducks seems plausible thus ushering in the end of western civilization... its something. God I'm depressed.

      Now...

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't say anything bad about Mark Millar. While there are certainly some issues I take with some of his works (His Marvel Knights Spider-man however is very good), I said nothing about his skills as a writer.

      I pointed out the fact that it is hard to give a fair amount of time to everyone when you have a universe full of characters. It is the fatal flaw in event stories.

      It was true for Wolfman on Crisis, Geoff Johns on Infinite Crisis, Jurgens on Zero Hour, and whomever you want to name. Those are all great writers, but there is a huge struggle when it comes to event comics. In my personal opinion, Starlin is the only one that can really do it, and even he is far better when he can focus on a singular character.

      And I stand by the fact that sometimes no matter what the message is, it can have the wrong spokesman.

      If Stan Lee came out and said ,"The current problem with black kids today is..." it wouldn't matter what he said. Even if he said what every black person you know has said, he is still probably not the best person to say it.

      To drive it closer to home, you are Italian. If someone who was not pointed that a reason why the Italian mob rose to prominence was because many Italian Americans saw an us vs. them mentality and were more Italian than American in their minds, and there for looked the other way, wouldn't you view it as confrontational to some extent?

      It is historically accurate. But it would still seem confrontational and accusatory if some one named Philip Worthington III said it. It isn't about logic, its about PR.

      As for Nick Spencer. There was a reason I said I would understand if you didn't publish it. I tried to keep it closely tied to the controversy, but I knew it might not be possible.

      It is hard to keep motions in check when you talk about your passions, and comics are a passion of mine... or at least they used to be, I don't know any more... and that is true for my views on Nick Spencer' writing, which is passionate, albeit in the negative.

      It is important to pick your words carefully on the internet, like when you say that ALL you heard were the positives, and I wasn't sure that I could.

      While I don't remember saying anything about Spencer that was directly negative, I can't be sure without it in front of me, and it certainly is possible.

      I do think that the current relationship between fans and creators is something that should be discussed and analyzed, but it is again to push down ones passions. Especially since you have passed from hot shot kid to respected member of the field a while ago, there is authority on both sides... at least to some degree.

      To close out I will put it bluntly and short...
      it isn't the best time. for that particular relationship.


      Jack

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    4. I wonder if others feel the way you do about the fan-creator relationship. Anyone else care to chime in—without knocking any particular creators along the way?

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    5. I have quite a bit to say about this, but I am very tired and want to go to bed. So I will have to get to it later.

      I will just say, that when a creator has a habit of going to internet comic forums to antagonize, insult, and demoralize fans, especially on topics that they was not mentioned in, and no one is shocked, there is a fundamental breakdown in the contract between creator and fan.

      It is like searching out a reason to lash out.

      I WILL add, that it is a time issue. Creators who started in the 80s or before almost never antagonize fans in my experience. And fans are rarely aggressive there.

      I have theories, and I don't believe either side is blameless, and it is certainly a codependent contempt.


      Jack

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    6. JMD,

      I'm curious what it was like on your side of things when the primary form of communication between fans and creators was the letters column.

      Did editors show you most of the mail, or did they give you a general impression of what fans were responding to (and what they weren't)?

      --David

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    7. In my early days at Marvel, I would take care of the letters pages myself, so I'd plow through all the mail (sometimes a lot, sometimes not) and get a general sense. As time went on, I just couldn't do that anymore.

      I often had no idea how a book was being received. In the letters weren't a representative sampling of the audience. Conventions gave me some sort of feedback, sales gives you another, but, in the end, I just had to concentrate on writing the best stories I could.

      Even today, with more conventions and the instant feedback of the internet, I wonder how representative that feedback is.

      All that said, there's nothing better than being contacted by a fan who's been genuinely touched by my work, who gets it in a deep way, and wants to share that enthusiasm with me. Makes me VERY happy.

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    8. Before I spill my guts, I just want to make syre I'm not fighting ghosts.

      That's weird right?

      A creator going to a forum online, where fans haven't mentioned you and are talking about things they want to happen, and then writing paragraphs about why you are stupid top want that... it's off right?

      That isn't something that you guys love, right? Am I wrong to think that's a bad idea?

      I just don't want to spend a lot of time and thought, just for like you to give a, "its just what we do." Then stop, with me feeling the fool.


      JAck

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    9. Not having seen the exchange, Jack, I can't really comment on it; but, as I think you know, I'm not one for engaging in negative exchanges with the fans.

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  12. But, you did gloss over my question. What DID you think of Civil War Spidey.

    Personally, the Aunt May seemed odd, and I am SO sick of PArker always being a teenager (he was in High school for 3 of his 55 years).

    Put in general, I'd say best written Spider-Man on the silver screen. I liked Raimi's, and never saw the Amazing films. It definitely felt like Spidey to me.


    And, I don't know if you are a big Stephen King fan, but have you seen the trailer for IT/ Thoughts?

    It can sometimes be a normal conversation, it doesn't always have to get weird here.

    Watch, it gets the weirdest of all now.

    JAck

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    1. I enjoyed Civil War Spidey. I'll hold off final judgement till I see the new movie, though.

      And, as you know, I'm a big fan of the first two Raimi movies, especially the second one. Now...back to convention fun!

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