Sunday, September 23, 2012


Here's Abhay Khosla making fun of those comics creator interviews wehre the interviewer sucks up to the interviewee, as he has in the past.

This one's a little different than a lot of similar interviews in that it doesn't take place on a site devoted to mainstream comics coverage, but a mainstream, civilian newspaper.

The bit of the interview right before the bit Khosla quotes, by the way?

[Morrison's] words are pounced upon, dissected and recycled by fans and critics alike.


Morrison perhaps felt this most keenly when in Supergods, his history of superhero comics infused with his own autobiographical adventures, he discussed the always controversial case of Siegel and Schuster, the two men who created Superman and sold the character to DC Comics for a small sum. Superman went on to become a national sensation, with the creators left out of pocket and seeking legal recompense. Their names are now frequently invoked when fingers are pointed at the publishing giant. Morrison's take was more pragmatic: that the men had been pitching a product to sell, that this was business as usual, and that as creators they no doubt thought they would have better and brighter characters to come.
I disagree with Laura Sneddon's characterization of reaction to Morrison's retelling of comics' "original sin" in Supergods.

(I also disagree with the her story about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; it wasn't "DC Comics," it was "a publisher that would eventually become known as DC Comics," and it wasn't "a small sum," but "$130" dollars. I can see why she condensed the first bit down to "DC Comics," for brevity's sake, but why on earth use the vaguer, less-specific and loger "a small sum" for "130" dollars. Oh, and they didn't sell Superman for that amount, that's one of the things still being argued about. The company that would eventually become known as DC Comics bought a 13-page story from them for $10 a page. That wasn't the price they paid to own Superman; it was the price they paid to run that story. Who owns what wasn't decided upon until the various parties started going to court. But whatever, back to Morrison and "fans and critics alike" pouncing upon, dissecting and recycling that poor professional writer's words...)

Here, once again, is what Morrison said, in an interview with a national magazine promoting his own book, and then in his actual book, which he wrote and a publisher sold to people, presumably so the words he was saying could be read and discussed.

Keep in mind that Morrison has made an incredible amount of money off of Superman, continues to make money off Superman, and that Morrison even fucking used Siegel and Shuster as characters in one of his own goddam comic books about their creation and used their character's creation story on the cover of a book in which he went on to say...well, here it is one more time:
If you listen to the right voices, you’ll hear and believe what I heard and believed growing up in this business, and it won’t be long before a dark and evil fairy tale unfolds: the grim cautionary fable of two innocent seventeen-year-old boys seduced by the forked tongues of cartoon fat-cat capitalists and top-hatted bloodsuckers. In this Hollywood tragedy, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are depicted as doe-eyed ingénues in a world of razor-toothed predators.

The truth, as ever, is less dramatic. The deal was done in 1938, before Superman boomed. Siegel and Shuster were both twenty-three when they sold the copyright to Superman. They had worked together for several years in the cutthroat world of pulp periodical publishing, and, like so many artists, musicians, and entertainers, they were creating a product to sell. Superman was a foot in the door, a potential break that might put them in demand as big-time pop content providers. Superman was a sacrifice to the gods of commercial success. If my own understanding of the creative mind carries any weight, I’d suspect that both Siegel and Shuster imagined they’d create other, better characters.
Now, I just read yet another book about the creation of Superman, and author Larry Tye must have been one of those "right voices" (i.e. everyone I've heard tell the story save Morrison, so far), because that's pretty much what I hear. Well, maybe not the doe-eyed ingénues bit, but "capitalist" and "blooksuckers" sound about I mentioned above though, I don't remember them selling the copyright and/or ownership of Superman; they sold a story featuring Superman for a page rate, and that's why there's still a Superman-related legal fight.

Anyway, shame on Sneddon for defending from Morrison from all the people (Like me? I honestly don't remember much of a backlash at all, to be honest)pushing Morrison (One of my favorite superhero writers, regardless of what an asshole he presents himself as in interviews and in his own book about himself) out of superhero comics.

Instead of the characterization of Morrisons fans and critics as the bad guys and the writer as the good guy, why couldn't Sneddon just ask, "Hey man, why did you write that? Do you believe that? Why do you believe that?" You know—questions!

As to the economic issues Morrison discusses, I sure hope to God "class" means something totally different in the UK than it does in the USA, and that they're talking about lords and ladies and dukes and some medieval British shit, because do remember that, like Siegel and Shuster and Superman, Morrison himself brought up economics in an interview promoting his book, while attacking cartoonist Chris Ware/"Those Comics Journal Guys"/Everything That Isn't a DC or Marvel Superhero Comic as the work of Privileged College Kids and just don't get a working-class Scottish guy like himself (And, in his book, Morrison both trumpets his own incredible wealth while also dismissing the "fairy tale" of the actually poor young guys living in The Great Depression losing Superman due to their own negligence).

If you read Morrison's comics, he's a hard writer not to like. If you read interviews with Morrison, he's a hard person to like.


On the subject of Morrison and his latest infuriating interview, I thought David Brothers wrote a nice, concise and thorough take down of some of the sentiments Morrison expressed in this piece, noting the frustrating disconnect of a popular writer who attained his popularity by people reading and caring about and having opinions about his words now objecting to people reading and caring about and having opinions about his words.

If you can stand to read all of the many, many, many comics, interviewer Sneddon shows up in the comments to defend her work.


Wait, one more thing about that Sneddon/Morrison interview. Check out this part:

One disgruntled reader took it a step further.

“[The] guy that ate Supergods!” Morrison laughs. “Cooked it and ate it on the basis that it was my fault that people couldn't find alternative comics in their local comics stores. And I was standing in the way, pretending to be the face of alternative comics, and how I actually stood for corporate this or corporate ... you know, I’m the man – again as I say, I’m a freelance writer, I'm not on staff at any company. But this guy ate the book!”

That's quite impressive.

“It certainly is! His shit must have looked like a William Burroughs cut-up!”
Who is this crazy "disgruntled reader" who "took it a step further"...?

You wouldn't know it from the article itself, but the "guy that ate Supergods!" is Matt Seneca, a cartoonist and comics critic who has written for Robot 6, ComicsAlliance and The Comics Journal, probably the best (or "only", in some circles) respected media source wholly devoted to comics. Seneca even interviews comics creators, just like Laura Sneddon does! (Only differently).

Dismissing Seneca like that is just...weird. It would be akin to calling Roger Ebert a "disgruntled viewer." Not exactly equivalent, because Seneca is not to comics as Ebert is to movies, but, like Ebert, he's a guy who writes professionally about them. He's not just a guy who read a fucking book and didn't like it.

It's a confounding omission on Sneddon's part; would it be that much more difficult to say "one critic" instead of "one disgruntled reader"...? To note that he at the book to take pictures to illustrate a review of the book, rather than just to, I don't know, eat a book...?


I thought the last panel in this Ty Templeton cartoon explaining the latest death of a major Marvel character in the climax of a crossover/event story was particularly funny. Is a publisher collecting all of Templeton's cartoons? Some publisher should collect all of Templeton's cartoons.


I have no idea what's going on in this comic, as I don't speak the language, but I sure would like to read it.


Greg Rucka becomes the latest big name comics creator to publicly express his dissatisfaction with the way Big Two comics are run. Good for Rucka. He's a decent-to-rather good super-comics scripter, but I don't think it's all that controversial a statement to say his very best comics work has been that which has been most divorced from the corporate-owned, mascot-type superheroes, anyway.

I was really surprised to hear this talk of Gotham Central as being somehow unimportant to DC, however it sold, especially now that we're in this weird new world where monthly super-comics exists mostly as IP farms for film, television and other licensing opportunities.

Of all of the many, many, many IPs DC owns, Gotham Central is probably the easiest one to adapt into a television show, and the one most likely to be a general, mass audience, major network or premium cable channel type hit, rather than a goofy CW fantasy soap opera thing like Smallville or Arrow.

It was, after all, a fucking cop show in a comic book, set in Gotham City. Law and Order + Nolan's Dark Knight seems like a pretty easy formula to turn into creative and financial popular success, doesn't it?


Have you been clicking on all week wondering where the hell my reviews of Marvel's December previews were...? Well, I was all set to do 'em Tuesday afternoon, but Marvel didn't release their solicits in a timely fashion, and then I got busy. I hope to get to 'em for tomorrow night's post. In the mean time, you can always check out Carla Hoffman's much more knowledgeable and organized thoughts on Marvel's publishing plans for December.


We started with Abhay this week, let's finish with him. Did you already read his column with Tucker Stone and Nate Bulmer at The Comics Journal...? No...? Well, you should.

Tucker's insults, whether I agree with them or not, seem particularly devastating this week. For example, "Patrick Gleason wouldn’t be anybody’s first choice for penciler even if you were restricting yourself to only hiring the people who live in Patrick Gleason’s house." Or "[Jonathan Hickman]'s not much of a writer, but for the right price, he’d probably make a great Dungeon Master."

Nate Bulmer's Eat More Bikes strip, entitled "French Garfield," was maybe the funniest one of his I've read so far. Or at least that I remember clearly. I really liked the one involving a ghost and a catheter too, but I don't remember the exact mechanics of the gag anymore.


Anonymous said...

I've been drifting on my comix news browsing-- comix reading entirely, truth be told; I'm mired in 'The Book of Disquiet' by Fernando Pessoa at present --so that Comics of the Weak link caught me enormously off-guard.

Jason Pearson was suicidal? Brett Ewins had a schizophrenic breakdown and assaulted an officer? Vasilios Lolos (whose work I know peripherally, but still) suffered two very personal losses, then got his chain crassly jerked by his publishers for deadlines? Ugh!

I'm glad Pearson is in a better state of mind and Lolos has recovered, but the news about Ewins knocks me back. I had no idea he was having trouble; I only knew I hadn't seen his work in print in a very long time. :(

david brothers said...

I felt really weird/terrible about the reaction to that post for days. It was so overwhelmingly negative, even from a couple of friends, that I felt like I'd stepped wrong and lost my focus or something. That sorta sucked. "Sorta sucked" "really, really sucked." It really, really bums me out that every time I disagree with someone, not even in a hateful or hit piece-y way, it turns into this whole big thing. But honestly, yo-- thanks for getting what I was stabbing at.

dcwomenkickingass said...

Honestly I wonder why there wasn't more push back around the section of the interview that deals with Wonder Woman? I know the interviewer has spoken to him before about his take on Wonder Woman but there's absolutely no probing or pushing back on why Morrison feels his take is necessary other than that he believes he Amazon's are "stifling and weird" I wish the writer had probed that a bit more but seems to just agree with Morrison and admits that she too "is unable to like the character" which may be true but kinda gives implicit support to his take. And when any potential criticism of the project is brought up is positioned as "feminist backlash". Good writer but frustrating to see this.

SallyP said...

But...but I LOVE Pat Gleason!

The Ty Templeton cartoon by the way WAS hilarious.