These are the manic ramblings that go through my head at all hours of the day or night.

 

I generally believe heroism is about sacrifice. If it doesn’t cost you anything, it might as well be holding the door open, and that’s not heroism; that’s politeness. Superman saving the world is basically politeness, as far as I can see. It doesn’t cost him anything. I know that’s the opposite of the Grant Morrison position, which — I guess — is the reason I’m writing X-Men. They’ve always meant more to me than Superman. You find character by their decisions in difficult situations, and that’s the energy that drives the X-Men. Plus the belief in a future worth fighting for… I think you can look at the enormous amount of post-apocalyptic futures [in fiction] at the moment, which are fundamentally throwing your hands up in the air and giving up, and it’s indulgent. There’s an indulgence in post-apocalyptic fiction.

Kieron Gillen with a pretty awesome assessment of the X-Men.

To those who only posted to bash Christians and people with opinions different from yours…grow up and get a life.

Jeff Lamb, owner of The Comic Conspiracy in Asheboro, North Carolina, responding to Grant Morrison’s statement defusing Lamb’s manufactured “GD” “controversy,” demonstrating near superhuman obliviousness to the irony of his own words and actions. (via deantrippe)

Why We Comic Book Fans are the Absolute WORST

I love comic books. More than that, I love SUPERHERO comics. You know, the arrested development stories where dudes in spandex beat the shit out of each other for 22 pages in an unending, pointless struggle with some bullshit or another. I honestly LOVE them. I’ll take Iron Man over fucking Blankets any day. There’s something invigorating about it. The violence, the high melodrama. 

But honestly, there’s a part of me that, were there to suddenly spring up a new reich and all us comic book fans were loaded into the trains and sent off for the work camps, I’d say to myself, “Yeah, we sort of had that coming.”

I finished “Supergods” by Grant Morrison a week or so ago. I liked it. I really like Morrison, not just his work but his perspective. I like where his head is at. He has a certain love and reverence for the Superhero that is exciting and charming. He is simultaneously an intellectual, psychedelic, messianic spaceman set on spiking everyone’s punch and a wide-eyed kid reading the latest issue of Green Lantern under his covers at night. He (very nearly) has the ambition and craft of Alan Moore, but without the almost compulsive need to gruffly dismiss the most popular genre as shite. He has a certain filter for pop culture that I like.

The book is a lovely read, even if its a bit light on substance and frequently new-agey nonsense. He can be occasionally too much of a smart-aleck apologist (a skill all us superhero nuts develop early and hone over the years), but he’s a creative and open minded one. 

Anyway, my favorite of his meditations was on the nature of fiction. His take (as far as I can understand it) is that nothing is real and that everything is real and that is FANTASTIC. Everything counts, even though none of it really matters, and that is EXACTLY why it is the most important thing.

He’s a metafiction guy, but not self-conciously so like Neil Gaiman (who seems obsessed with telling stories about telling stories and, at some point during the story, grabs you by the ears and goes, “HEY, DID YOU KNOW I’M TELLING YOU A STORY???”). He talks about characters as both unchanging and completely adaptable, utterly fluid. The ones that exist most sublimely in this state are the most enduring, the recognizable icons. And they cannot be broken or discarded so long as they have relevance and resonance with us as readers.

This is a really beautiful, lovely idea. It’s nuanced, encompassing, and its utterly benign. Morrison is doing God’s (himself a fictional construct) work by saying it.

But we comic book fans, the vocal majority of us, can’t seem to accept this. We can’t seem to accept and be comforted by the fact that these things we care about AREN’T REAL and THAT’S FINE. Seriously. Want an example? Bitches be tripping over the fact that Thor said “ass.” Or, even worse, how Morrison’s new, rebooted Superman said “GD” resulting in calls for boycotts.

Fraction (a disciple of Morrison) defends his right to, y’know, do his fucking job thusly:

I just did an interview on Fear Itself #5, and it’s gone from having questions to being told, now, that Thor wouldn’t say “ass.” Thor isn’t real. My Thor doesn’t talk like Stan [Lee]‘s Thor and his Thor didn’t talk like [J. Michael Straczynzki]‘s Thor, and his Thor didn’t talk like Walter [Simonson]‘s Thor. Everybody’s Thor talks differently. Also, being told that Spider-Man wouldn’t leave. Spider-Man, who has single-handedly kept the costume-shaped trash can industry afloat in the Marvel Universe. Spider-Man, who has quit numerous times. I’ve been accused of misspelling the name of a character I made up. I made it up; I can spell it however I want to. I can spell Odin with a “U” if I want to.

This is an utterly sensible response to utterly nonsensable criticism. He’s writing a character the way he sees fit. Obviously Marvel (and, a few notches up the totem pole, DISNEY) doesn’t have a problem with this or they would have shitcanned his ass. More than that, how these character would talk is a totally moot point since thy don’t talk unless WE (as creators/readers) have them say something. They are fiction.

Predictably, the comments that follow are shameful. Not shameful as much for their ignorance, but for their stubborn inability to let go. There are a few that hem and haw in the semblance of logic, usually to the effect of “I understand his logic, but he’s wrong,” but a choice bit of righteous indignation that sort of typifies the response is this:

  1. When Fraction was a kid, did he like it when other kids came to his house, broke his toys, made a giant mess and left? That is the equivalent of what he’s saying. These characters don’t belong to him. He is being given permission to play with them for a while. He needs to respect that they belong to other people.

You… You people don’t get it do you? THIS IS WHY PEOPLE THINK SUPERHEROES ARE FOR KIDS AND RETARDS. Because you stubborn fucks believe that they “belong” to anyone but the eons and that any interpretation that “rings false” can actually cheapen the stories you love and is worth getting mad about. THESE CHARACTERS AREN’T TOYS. They don’t “belong” to us, or Marvel, or Disney, or America, or ANYONE. They are sewn into the fabric of forever, always able to be thrown on in infinite iterations without ever expending their value.

STOP IT. You’re ruining it for the rest of us. Please, GROW UP. People see us obsessing over these arcane and inane “rules” and seeing profundity in the trivia and they lose respect for the genre. And frankly, THEY SHOULD. Not because the nerd archetype is innately “flawed” or because “geeking out” over something is wrong, but because we childishly believe that OUR fictional constructs somehow is exempt from the rules of popular interpretation. Being a canon aficionado isn’t a crime unless one loses track of the fact that canon exists within the endless continuum of reality and that just leads to better, more compelling art.

We are killing the thing we love by sheltering and doting on it. People see us toting around the bloated, drooling object of our affection, dressed in clothing too tight for it’s age, and they are disgusted and baffled by it. THAT is where the image of the overweight, nitpicky, slovenly nerd originates: it is potential gone stagnant. They see it reflected in the art we love and they shake their heads disapprovingly.

Please. This is a plea to any rational, reasonable people out there who love superheroes and wouldn’t mind seeing comics remain relevant: be generous and open-minded. These ideas are stronger and more pliant than you could ever imagine. Spiderman will survive being half black and half hispanic. Superman will still be superman despite utterly a polite curse-word. Thor will still be a BAMF with a hammer after saying “ass.”

Alan Moore kvetches, geeks heads explode worldwide

The Comics Reporter does a lovely dissection/defense of professional Gimli impersonator Alan Moore and his recent interview with Bleeding Cool. Having read the interview and the various reactions to it (which seem to find an average assertion of “OMG ALAN MOORE IS SO CRAZY, HE SHOULD STOP BEING SUCH A CRAZY BEARDMAN”), I present to you my thoughts on the matter:

  1. A lot of what Moore says about DC going back to the well in terms of Watchmen and other older properties has some merit, especially given the sorry creative state of modern comics. Of course Moore has worked with older properties and had success, but he’s largely taken it upon himself to distance himself from non-creator owned work. He’s been one of the most outspoken critics of the assumed need to basically reinterpret the same handful of characters endlessly. When Moore is finished with a piece, he’s done with it, usually for good. A part of me understands this, even his hyperbolic need to distance himself from his prior work. I think every true artist likes to believe every thing they create is better than the thing before it, no matter how much it may mean to others. It’s tough having people pretty much non-stop trying to probe you about something you did a quarter century ago, and probably even worse having people who you considered your friends and collaborators pissing in your ear about what a great deal they’re going to offer you if they can just own everything related to it.
  2. I suspect Moore isn’t far off-base in terms of the scare-tactics and strong-arming that DC has done against him. Perhaps I’m just innately distrustful of authority, but it seems like a pretty simple proposition: he has something they want (the rights to his intellectual properties), and he’s too much of a market force to just ignore. They really can’t do anything to him to incentivize his selling out his share on these properties (since he’s a crazy old man who lives in the woods and does weird sex/snake magik), so the most they can do is punish his friends and make his life difficult. I’m not signing on for the conspiracy against Alan Moore pleasure cruise, but honestly, he’s worth too much to them for them to just ignore. 
  3. Moore can be a problematic figure in modern comics because, on some level, his genius casts such a immense shadow over what comics have become, a shadow larger than the man. Watchmen IS a seminal work, as with Swamp Thing, Promethia, and countless other books he’s done. On the other hand, he’s not exactly Syd Barret, producing a few really brilliant pieces of work and then disappearing to the bughouse. He maintains a pretty active in comics and media, giving interviews, and is willfully dismissive and ignorant to the every day goings on of mainstream comics, specifically the big two. This puts him in an awkward position: he couldn’t give two shits about the modern comic book industry, but it cares deeply about him.
  4. A lot of what he says is hyperbolic, whether he would want to admit it or not. Yeah yeah, no top, middle or lower tier talent. Lets get Grant Morrison and Moore in the same room to do a sex magik-off.
  5. I don’t think anyone is really upset about the prospect of Watchmen sequels, prequels, spin-offs, etc. I further doubt any reasonable person is exactly excited for it, but I guess I take a bit of exception to the idea of it innately “prostituting” the original work. One could easily swing the accusing finger at Moore in terms of bastardizing (or at least profiting off) someone else’s work, if not with his mainstream comics work on properties not his own (Swamp Thing, Miracle Man, Supreme) than with the hundreds of public domain characters in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Perhaps there is a bit of moral rectitude related to at least waiting until the respective authors are long dead before you use their characters, but it still feels like Moore sort of playing to the fanboy crowd when he talks about this. Fiction is of a  universal piece, belonging to the viewer moreso than the creator, and is self-regenerating. Whether something is “public domain” or a specific person’s (or corporation’s) “intellectual property,” one cannot control the way it is absorbed, interpreted, and reinterpreted into something new or of a different sensibility. I’d point out to Mr. Moore that all artists make their living doing just that, and that the value of subsequent reinterpretations of their work are not for them to say. Of course it seems crass for DC to zealously strive to bottle the lightning of Watchmen through spin-offs, but I’d argue that it serves the same function as fan-ficion which has existed since before time began. Still, I’d agree that Moore has a right to say whether or not someone (namely, the executives at DC) get to profit off his work through subsequent spin-offs etc. Perhaps they should have the good sense and decency to wait 115 years after you die.
  6. C’mon Alan. People want to read Miracleman because, frankly, its been a generation since it’s been in print. I’ve NEVER read it and am sick to death of old timers telling me how awesome it is. You can’t accuse people of going back to the well if it’s been dry for 20 years.

New Comic Book Day Reviews, THE NIGHT BEFORE! BWAHAHAHA!!!

After playing the Gulu, I stopped into Harrison’s Comics in Salem, MA. Since this week was all kindsa fucked up from the holiday, they were open late and had already set out tomorrow’s comics. I grabbed a few, in addition to some awesome and cheap classic LPs (will post about those on Sunday). Here are my reviews.

Batman and Robin #13 - I think I’d be happy if all books were Grant Morrison writing about Batman. The thing I like best about Morrison is that (unlike, well EVERY OTHER CURRENT BATMAN WRITER) he gets the difference between Bruce and Dick in terms of characterization. Most writers tend to write Dick Grayson Batman like Bruce Wayne Batman; grim, gritty, Dark Knight yadda yadda. Morrison writes Dick as someone playing the part of Batman (as he says in this issue, “keeping the costume warm”), but making it his own, making jokes and using his unique skills. Insisting on calling Jim Gordon “Commissioner Gordon” was a really nice, subtle touch. It’s actually a rather skillful way to brig back the more campy, hammy Batman of the Silver Age without basically neutering two decades of Batman stories. 

The wring in the issue is superb, which is beginning to go without saying. I wasn’t sold on Frazer Irving’s art when I saw the preview (plus Simon Hurt seems to have a really racists chinese caricature for a lawyer) but pages like this (forgive the shitty pics):

sold me. Plus this:

Hurt may or may not be Thomas Wayne, but he is certainly a PIIIIIIIIIIIIMP.

Shadowland #1 - The more I read about this, the more interested I am. I like the idea of a sort of localized crossover, a street-level event. I’m genuinely excited about the concept of actually having the Osborn administration be held culpable (if only in this book) for the batshit crazy stuff they did. I’m just not exactly sure how it’ll be pulled off, even after reading this issue. 

The Marvel universe (like all comic book universes populated by supertypes) can be hard to navigate when it comes to events. The fact is, you’ve got a world where Gods and demons and Hulks and aliens walk around doing feats of daring-do, often fighting alongside street-level guys like Spiderman and Daredevil. This means that, when shit goes down company-wide, you need something that’ll keep everybody busy. And when I say everybody, I mean EVERYONE, including the Big Guns. Big alien threats work well for this, big Hulk smackdowns, also having the heroes fight each other is nice. You just need something. Otherwise, you’ve got an event where Daredevil starts running a street-gang made of ninjas and everyone’s bitching about it and the Avengers looks like they don’t give a shit when they could probably slap the whole thing down over the course of a long weekend.

They try to hang a lantern on the issue by having a scene where the big three (Iron Man, Thor, Cap) make Iron Fist and Luke Cage be their bitch errand boys, implying that if DD doesn’t play nice they’re going to gangbang his candy ass, but it doesn’t quite read right. DD was almost in the Avengers, fer realz yo (remember back at the beginning of Bendis’ run? He got a formal invite!). Not to mention the fact that they last time they thought DD was in trouble, the whole crew of them piled in a jet and flew to Japan to help a brother out. Now they wont even take the C train to Hell’s Kitchen to talk to the dude? THOR CAN FUCKING SEE SHADOWLAND FROM AVENGERS TOWER, AND THAT NIGGA CAN FLY!!!

We’ll see how the rest of it pans out. Art is OK. Little sketchy for my taste, but whatever. 

The Boys # 44 - Not entirely sure why I picked this up because I haven’t been following the book that closely, but still great stuff from Ennis. Pretty easily accessible, less cringeworthy than usual. Russ Braun is a stellar artist and really really good addition to the book, so I hope he sticks around. Given how Robinson seems unable to make deadlines on the book (a fact I don’t begrudge him, just stating the obvious) and, frankly, I don’t think this has been his best work. He set the bar high with Transmet, and I’ve been a little underwhelmed with his pages. Braun, on the other hand, has a style that’s almost identical to Robinson, but more dynamic and I really can’t get sick of it. He’s a much better fill in than the incredibly talented McCrea and Snej (who are both artists I love to read drawing to Ennis but never really jived with here).

 

That’s all she wrote for now. Might check out a few more tomorrow ad letcha know what I think.