Saturday, October 23, 2004
Sometime soap actor Brandon Routh has been confirmed as the Man of Steel in the forthcoming Brian Singer-directed film. He looks the part, pretty much, and he's the same age Chris Reeve was when he was cast (24). The on-line campaign to put Smallville's Tom Welling in the role seems dead in the water.
Now, does he have Reeve's acting chops, to pull off the Kent/Superman dichotomy? Good question. But maybe he doesn't need them. George Reeves never did a whole lot to separate the two personas, but he was perfectly believable in both roles. To my mind, so was Dean Cain--you don't have to play Kent as a wimp to make it work.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Its picture of a faith-obsessed George Bush, a man who seems convinced that he is doing God's work, indeed that God is specifically telling him what to do, leads me to envision a paraphrase from Livingston and Lee's play Inherit the Wind:
Is that the way of it? God tells Dubya and Dubya tells the world? Is that the way of it? Then let us have a new book in the Bible...the Book of Dubya! We shall split the Pentateuch and slip you in neatly between Leviticus and Deuteronomy!
Dubya, Dubya, Dubya Almighty!
Apologies if that's not exactly what Henry Drummond says in the play...I'm working from memory.
Friday, October 15, 2004
I always thought Novick was the best of the post-Neal Adams Batman artists and the best of the post-Infantino Flash artists as well.
That the man could also handle war and romance merely indicates the breadth of his abilities, a breadth that most of the "hot" artists of the past two decades cannot match.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Through a tragic accident, and his dogged determination that it not rule his life, Christopher Reeve did just that.
For a generation of fans, Chris Reeve was the Man of Steel; for a generation that followed, he was the personification of heroism because he used his paralysis and his fame to advance a cause--finding a cure for spinal injuries like his, whether that was through new technology or new biological discoveries such as stem-cell research.
All those who play Superman in the future have an enormous legacy to live up to.
Monday, October 04, 2004
(John and I were once both active participants in the GEnie comics community. GEnie--how many of you remember that on-line service?)
Anyway, here are some of John's comments and questions:
I noticed that Marvel has gone through a major revision with the rise of JoeJohn doesn't mention the one Marvel policy--one they seemingly don't really admit to--that I detest: Planning everything to go into trade paperback, so that the monthly periodical versions seem long, drawn-out, slow to develop--in other words, simply paced very badly.
Quesada and (for a few years) Bill Jemas. I was wondering what you thought of
the various changes they made to how Marvel comics are created. I noticed they
are moving away from continuity-rich stories and reduced crossovers, so I think
that's a good idea. However, I've also been critical of some of the policies
they instituted--such as forcing all books to be silent a month, mandating
things like no footnotes and for a time all books having all lower case fonts,
and especially Jemas attacking retailers and the like. What are your thoughts of
the Ultimate Line? The Marvel Age "retelling" of stories? The various ways to
push more "manga-like" stuff? How about radical reboots like Silver Surfer,
To answer his questions, though: I think the Ultimate line is okay, for the most part, but it's a grimmer, dirtier, less upbeat look at superheroes than I'd like. That's an odd direction to take on a line of books that was originally intended to bring younger readers back into comics...but the plans for mainstream marketing of the Ultimate line seemed to fall apart within a year, so the line was forced to rely on the direct market after all...and the late-teen/early-twenties DM demographic wants down and dirty, so that's what they're getting.
Which may be why the Marvel Age line was developed--to try again to produce a series of titles that "restart" the Marvel Universe from the get-go but with a style and feel that pre-teens and young teens can get into. Once again, without mainstream marketing, I don't see how this can work.
Manga seems to be hot, so naturally Marvel is trying to use it (and use it and use it). But superheroes have never seemed like a natural for the manga look, to me. The stylistic conventions of manga always seem to work against the superhero motif as I see it. If the basic idea of the superhero is to place your costumed characters against a background of real-world events and elements, the manga look just makes everything look outsized and wild, not just the lead character.
I've never been opposed to reboots, radical or otherwise. I think comics always need to periodically reboot their major icons for the new generations of readers. Hell, Superman went through at least three, maybe four, stylistic versions in his first 30 years.
Why is the market so hostile to older writers and artists? I notice everybodyI don't think it's the market that's hostile to older creators; I think it's the editors. And I don't think it's a sales question, either. (The sales would follow if these projects were given the same promotional push the stuff by the new young turks is given.)
wants a "fresh take" on things. It seems like a once-popular writer is disliked
by fans now. Writers don't come with expiration dates, so I can't see why people
are so hostile to Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Peter David, etc. So too with
I suspect the editors are uncomfortable working with creators who are older and more experienced than they are, who have a track record and an institutional knowledge of what works and what doesn't. Plus, they feel out of synch with guys who have a cultural background that predates Quentin Tarantino and Survivor; who can quote (both literally and creatively) material as diverse as Casablanca, The Martian Chronicles, and Bewitched.
Do you think the Superhero as such will survive? I realize that the
companies have invested in the major ones as Icons, but I am concerned that it
doesn't have the same appeal anymore than it did in the 40's and 60's. Younger
people seem to focus on manga now, and I can't discount it as a fad, probably
because it might resonate more with the young audiences. I have to think younger
people find some aspects of the genre ridiculous--and I actually think the
audience for SH comics starts now in the teens rather than pre-teens, and wants
a little more realism. Some old icons end up losing their perpetual
status--nobody reads a modern comic of Buck Rogers.
I think a modern Buck Rogers comic could be a major hit--if the creative team knew what they were doing. (Personally, I'd take a hint from the recent Sky Captain movie and make it a period piece, entirely--complete with '30s style art along the lines of either Milt Caniff and Noel Sickles or Alex Raymond.)
I've already said my piece about manga. I think it resonates with younger people because it's theirs, in the same way that current rock resonates with them and classic stuff from the '60s and '70s doesn't. (There are exceptions to that, of course--the percussion line in my son's marching band are all major Billy Joel fans, for instance.)
The older teen audience wants more "realism" (although realism and superheroes are, to a large extent, contradictions in terms). But the industry can't survive on just the older audience; it has to have a breeding ground where younger readers are introduced to the form. Reading comics (both in the sense of liking them and in the sense of knowing how to follow the story on the page) doesn't necessarily come naturally to everyone. My wife, even after 23 years of marriage to me, still has difficulty tracking the story on a comics page sometimes. You have to start kids off with the "easy" stuff and then let them graduate to the more complicated layouts and designs.
That's what made the Weisinger Superman line such a success for young kids. As artist/writer Dan Jurgens once pointed out to me, every panel in a Weisinger story gave the reader the same info three times--
Caption: Superman lifts the ocean liner from the surface...This reinforced the idea that the story was told in words and pictures...so when the kid moved up to the somewhat more sophisticated Julie Schwartz-edited comics and later the Marvel line, he already had the idea of how it all worked together.
Dialogue: Must get the ship out of the sea!
Picture: Superman raising the ship above the water
What do you think of the whole rise of Manga in bookstores and in popularI think the American image of manga is like the American image of British TV...because only the best stuff gets translated, we get the idea that all of it is like that. But British TV is Benny Hill and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire alongside Monty Python and Hercule Poirot. Manga has its share of Kickers, Inc. and Brother Power the Geek, too.
media? Just a fad, or a new trend that will change things for the industry? I
think fans like this stuff because they are usually NOT trying to create a
perpetual franchise--when the story is over it ends and thus characters can die
within the storyline, something franchises don't have (don't kill the villain,
we need him for the toy line). Maybe they can also do more sophisticated stuff,
or maybe fans better identify with them. Or they represent more genres?