Archive for February, 2007

WEEPY SUPERMAN is killing comics!

Found via Dirk, this outsider’s perspective on the superhero market by film critic Grady Hendrix is pretty dead-on accurate. Reedies, I like to think that this is what I’m protecting you from:

How do two companies control such an enormous slice of the pie? By bumming everyone out. In recent years, Spider-Man has killed Mary Jane with his carcinogenic spidersperm. Batman has become a single parent. Captain America and Iron Man are hashing out national security issues by hitting each other in the face while rounding up unregistered superheroes and sending them to a Gitmo-style prison camp after a superpowered September 11, 2001. The once cheerful Elongated Man saw his wife raped, then burned to death. And the new Batgirl [sic] is an evil, lesbian junkie. No wonder Superman has spent the past year with his forehead buried in his hands, weeping softly.

…With names like “Infinite Crisis,” “Identity Crisis,” “Secret Wars,” “Civil Wars,” “World War Hulk,” and “World War III” their comic series have become an inaccessible haze of wars and crises only a true believer can follow.

In order to shoehorn 70 years of comics into one universe, DC Comics has had to invent over 30 different Earths, causing so much confusion that they eventually destroyed them all in the 1980s (“Crisis on Infinite Earths“) and then recreated them all in 2005’s “Infinite Crisis,” which ended with Superboy punching reality so hard it broke. Fans love this kind of insular, self-referential story partly because familiarity with these details is what separates insiders from outsiders and insiders have their privileges.

Pretty trenchant analysis, for a short piece written for a general audience.

Luckily, “comics” as a field has completely outgrown such bullshit. We can quite easily spend thousands of dollars every semester on great comics that feature neither super-rape nor esoteric “continuity” handshakes.


Those Who Master This Language Will Have No Limits To The Riches Placed Before Them


I suppose it’s appropriate that the successor to Ernie Bushmiller, the man who gave us the most perfect panel in comics (above), should turn out to be the Gene Ray of comics. Guy Gilchrist, the current artist of Nancy, has written a delightfully insane essay titled ART IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE GLOBAL MARKETPLACE.The 21st Century will be the greatest era for the Storytelling Arts in the History Of Mankind, and Those Who Master This Language Will Have No Limits To The Riches Placed Before Them.

That’s right. You read that right.

“The 21st Century will be the greatest era for the Storytelling Arts in the History Of Mankind, and Those Who Master This Language Will Have No Limits To The Riches Placed Before Them!!”


One of these days I’ll write a real entry.

Exploitation now!

Eddie Campbell is pondering Lichtenstein, particularly the recent mini-furor over Lichtenstein’s use of comic book art without crediting or consulting the original creators, which is the entire source of his fame. Johnny Walker in the comments links to this piece, on general trends of plagiarism in fine art and how the situation is treated differently than in, say, pop music.

I respond:

This Lawrence Alloway comment from Johnny’s link is revealing: “Future research will no doubt come up with the names of the people who drew some of Lichtenstein’s originals, but so what? He was not engaged in mutual collaboration but acts of annexation.”

There was a time when a respected entity was considered perfectly within its rights to commandeer a foreign, “primitive” entity and either seize its assets or remake that entity in its own image, in the name of “ennobling” the “savage.” The White Man’s Burden and all that. Nowadays such imperialism is condemned, and we emphasize indigenous sovereignty. I’m not surprised that people are seeing elitism and exploitation in Lichtenstein’s work; I’m sort of surprised that it took this long.

Another metaphor: Lichtenstein as P.T. Barnum, putting the freaks and primitives on display for the amusement of the good white folks? Hmmm.

I’m writing a thesis this year on the translation of Greek poetry, so I’m quite interested in this topic of art, appropriation, and imperialism. In many respects I think a concern for faithfulness and authenticity has crippled classical translation for the last fifty years, and it’s time for the pendulum to swing back…

Obviously I’m still kind of ambivalent about all this.

Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).


Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.