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Say Hello To Your Brother

What a week it’s been! The best ongoing comic series released a new issue, Dan Nadel was finally able to get people to read the Comics Journal, a bunch of people finally figured out why Chick-Fil-A restaurants are always closed on Sunday, I finally stopped reading Gantz…there’s no getting around it, things are starting to happen in comics. There’s no time for jokes about jet packs. Nathan Bulmer is setting the tone: this is a week for somber education.

First, let’s see what ABHAY KHOSLA has to say.

One of my favorite things is whiskers on kittens.  Another of my favorite things is the post-“controversy” interview with comic creators because the same thing happens every time, and it’s something I always enjoy.

A controversy has arisen.  The interview has to reference the controversy.  The comic creator being interviewed is in a tough place.  They can’t just say, “I don’t respect anything because I’m busy getting mine.”  But at the same, they totally 100% don’t respect anything because they’re busy getting theirs.  It’s a true Gordian Knot.  So, pop quiz, hotshot from the SPEED franchise: what do they do?  What they do, Speed 2: Cruise Control’s Officer Alex Shaw?

BZZZZZZT!  The correct answer is they don’t have to do anything because the interviewer is always going to jump on the grenade, distort the controversy, and try to convey to the comic creator that they’re not some icky, gross, disgusting comic fan—YUCK!  The interviewer is above the fray, floating in the clouds, breathing in the same rarefied air as the creator, looking down on those horrible ant-fans in their stupid ant-farms.

Then, all the comic creator has to do is agree they’re not a tremendous piece of shit, like those comic fans.  Flawless victory!

And so, for example, a year ago, there was the most heavily promoted issue of CATWOMAN possibly ever, which comic creators decided should feature a really poorly executed scene of Batman using his dick to have sex with Catwoman — bad art, bad writing, bad color, bad lettering.  Here’s the question that gets asked:  “But surely you’re aware of the negative feedback the first issue got from some bloggers, because it was so sexy?”  

Oh, right, bloggers (ugh!) hate things when they’re too sexy, everybody.  If Tumblr has taught the world anything, it’s that the internet HATES sexy images.  It’s a good thing comic creators didn’t have to talk to any of those sexiness-hating bloggers–  they got to talk to Newsarama, instead, which is a rama of News, a Rendevouz with Rama of news, sexy news for freaky people who like the nasty which is what they call sex because they’re dirty in their nether regions, and not because they don’t wash down there appropriately, like you might be thinking– Newsarama is dirty in their nether regions for sex reasons. Newsarama loves things when they’re randy and sexy, up and down, feeling so good, up and down, like a pony would, like a pony would.

Of course, this year’s big controversy has been Before Watchmen.  Here’s the first question Brian Azzarello was asked in one interview:  “Brian, I know this is a little weird. But I’m going to do a Before Watchmen interview without talking about the so-called ‘controversy,’ because I think we’ve covered that pretty well, don’t you?  Obviously, the project’s moving forward no matter where the discussion goes. So let’s talk about the project instead.”  

Those fans and their “so-called” controversy.  Why would anyone bother to care about anything when a corporation has already decided that a project should go forward?

 

 

 

 

 

It’s comics and the only thing anyone in comics cares about is self-promotion.  “If the reason you’re not buying my shitty comics is you’re pretending you care about something, prove it and give me money by buying my shitty comics.”  How can someone simultaneously care about Before Watchmen and not want to immediately rush out to buy more comics by the wretched people making it, if the Vertigo comic (an imprint that owes no debt to Alan Moore whatsoever) has a “Creator-owned” label slapped inside of it somewhere?  Does. not. compute.

Meanwhile, the AV Club asks Darwyn Cooke, “How did you brace yourself for the controversy that would come with the Before Watchmen announcement?”  (Cooke answers by pointing out that the Before Watchmen controversy doesn’t rise to the level of “whether we should be blocking the sun, so that Muslims don’t get any sun” because that’s apparently something him and the other B-Minus Bruce Timm’s argue about in his world.)  Apparently the AV Club thought the pertinent question in that whole mess was how he emotionally “braced himself” to deal with fans because we all know fans are all cray cray bad guys from Assault on Precinct 13. Comic fans are like the Titanic capsizing, and all comic creators can do is hang onto the railing just like Kate and Leo.

Which brings us to this week, and a CBR interview with Grant Morrison.  In his previous CBR interview, Grant Morrison blamed the mistreatment of Siegel and Shuster on THEM for signing a bad contract, suggesting that they were just overly eager scamps– which apparently justifies everything else, somehow. (This is sort of like looking at a mass grave of Native Americans who died of small pox and blaming them for wanting blankets.)  So, a little tiny controversy ensued. Here’s how Morrison got asked about his previous answers:  “Last time you and I talked, we briefly spoke about those ideas as they relate to Superman and the history of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I think a lot of people then were discouraged that you didn’t take as strong a stand on the debate there as they thought you might had. I was wondering whether the discussion around this issue and your previous discussion of it has had an impact on the creation of this story.”

Fans were “discouraged” that Morrison didn’t take a stronger stand while he was attacking Siegel & Shuster…?  I guess fans were hoping Morrison would also create a magical sigil which they could masturbate to that would cause Siegel & Shuster’s family and well-wishers to vomit shit from their mouths.  How discouraging that there was no fecal-upchuck sigil!

The persistent message is always that only comic creators are the true grown-ups.  And sure, that’s why they always get the Kid Glove treatment in interviews.  After all, people only treat you with Kid Gloves when they respect that you as someone capable of being treated like an adult.  “Kid Gloves are for adults”– that’s a saying, right?  Are the interviewers asking these questions because they’re bad people or is the more likely explanation that they know if they ever ask a comic creator a real question that’s not on bended knee, the retaliation will be swift, certain and without remorse?

 

 

 

 
If only Brian Michael Bendis could interview himself!

The persistent message is always that comic fans are defective. Comic fans are always wrong.  Comic fans have controversies about silly old comics, which only creators are savvy enough to realize don’t actually matter because comics will never block Muslims from sunlight.  Comic fans wear weird costumes to comic conventions.  Comic fans live forever alone in basements, unemployable.  Comic fans smell up comic shops, with their human stinkiness. Comic fans are always the very, very worst thing to be.

Hopefully, comics can get rid of all of those awful fans as quickly as possible– better, shinier, sexiness-loving fans are just around the corner, moist and covered in money, in bookstores or over the internet or … maybe with… holograms. My modest proposal is that they raise prices to $10 for a 20 page comic, ship every comic five times a month, feature each of the characters that people like in at least 30 books a month, be late, ugly and stupid as often as possible, and only feature ideas stolen from other creators by people openly unappreciative of those creators.

Oh, there may be a “so-called controversy” about it all but I’m sure comic creators will bravely brace themselves for it. Like a pony would.

YES. That was just what the doctor ordered. NOW. REVIEWS PLEASE.

Hawkeye #1
By David Aja, Matt Fraction
Published by Marvel

This is the latest installment in a not-half-bad piece of super-hero entertainment soon to be crippled by the overpraise of the Internet. It focuses on the Hawkeye character, a character who wore maybe one of the dumbest super-hero costumes there was up until they decided to put him in the Marvel movie franchise, which is the point where somebody pointed out that there were probably some limitations on how far the American movie-going public was willing to go with this whole super-hero thing. There wasn’t much they could do about the fact that the character primarily uses a bow and arrow, though. Actually, he only uses the bow for a brief scene in the beginning of this comic (which is also the same time when he makes fun of himself for using a bow and arrow in a fashion that, if he weren’t a fictional character, would probably get a bunch of people so angry they wouldn’t be able to do much more than sputter out a red-faced “snark! snark!”), relying the rest of the time on the same tricks that Bullseye used in Frank Miller’s Daredevil comics, repurposed here as a vague sort of sleight of hand, possibly as a meta-nod from writer Matt Fraction to the idea of a “trick” arrow. (Maybe?) The Miller references don’t stop at playing cards in throats, either–David Aja lifts the entire look of David Mazzuchelli’s Batman Year One and Daredevil Born Again, working flat rectangles of traffic against busted up headshots, resulting in a comic that, at its best, works as homage. (At its worst, it’s a bunch of disjointed swiping, albeit one that feels well intentioned.) Fraction’s right there with him, too–if you remember Year One at all, it’s weirdly remarkable to witness how deftly Fraction replicates Batman’s internal monologue from that series, how the cadence of lines like “What kind man throws a dog into traffic–seriously I ask you–” mirrors so well the immortal “you’re the one who shot the cat”. But weird is the operative, and best, word: not “bad”, but not quite “good” either. Just strange, to see two men, neither of whom could be accused of lacking their own creative spark, working quite so diligently to recreate something that hasn’t even gone away. More, one hopes, is to come.

Nowhere #3
By Debbie Drechsler
Published by Drawn & Quarterly, 1997

It’s difficult not to wax nostalgic for the 90’s when you’re looking at something like this. Drechsler’s work had its raw, pseudo confessional resonance in 1997, her work was a qualitative stand out–these accidental coquettes certainly pained every heart that dwelt amongst them–and the actual comic was one among many, another book from another art-first publisher swimming against the tide. Hell, you fill in the blank: when’s the last time you picked up a comic and there was an argument over the merits of its coloring, and the guy holding it down on the “it’s awesome” front was Gary Panter?

Love and Rockets New Stories #5
By The Hernandez Brothers
Published by Fantagraphics

There’s a lot to grapple with in the new Love and Rockets during the summer that the series is seen hitting the big 3-0, but it’s not that difficult to imagine Jaime himself having to grapple with it a lot more. Following the one-two punch of the 3rd and 4th issues, which provided the sort of conclusion that serial narratives never have–a great one–Hernandez opts to take a step back from the heavy drums of emotional extremes, focusing on some lesser used characters as they wander through some summer business. Gilbert takes a more direct approach to the spectacle, pouring a heavy mix of the snarling violence that’s laced so much of his recent work all over the streets of Palomar, the fictional village that so many of his critics clamor for him to return to. It’s a meaty read, and his statements on lives well lived (and possibly what he thinks of his critics) makes more than one repeat appearance, following last years delightful description of pop criticism as “low crawling self-important nerd’s purgings”. There will be more detailed discussion on this volume, and let a guess be wagered that there’s going to be comments on Jaime’s decision to give Maggie and Ray such a backseat after their spotlight performance of the last few years, but for now, the tang of newness is being savored. It’s the new Love and Rockets. What the fuck else did you have planned?

Cowboy Henk: King of Dental Floss
By Kamagurka & Herr Seele
Published by Scissors Books, 1994

To make things easy on internet reviewers, this collection of Cowboy Henk includes a dedication to Ernie Bushmiller, Bill Griffith and Basil Wolverton, so no time that could be spent marveling will be wasted checking off references, which is good for everybody, because this book has a lot to marvel at. It’s a zero-fat collection of comics that are pretty much as close to perfect as this art form is going to allow, a highlight reel of wiseass absurdism that makes the case–again–that long form narrative is just about the worst thing comics can do with themselves.

Daredevil #208
By Harlan Ellison, Arthur Byron Cover, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Bulanadi, Christie Scheele
Published by Marvel Comics, 1984

You have to tread really carefully around comics featuring this particular writer when you’re writing for the Comics Journal, so we’ll just be direct and say that we thought that Harlan Ellison wrote a pretty generic story for this comic. It was drawn by David Mazzuchelli, and while he did a good job, this comic’s primary visual appeal is in the “look at what he used to do” camp–there’s just not that much to remark upon here. At least when you look at that old Mazzuchelli Star Wars comic, you can get off on how he makes Chewbacca look like an angry houseplant.

Batman Gotham Adventures #33
By Ed Brubaker, Brad Rader, John Lowe, Lee Loughridge
Published by DC Comics, 2001

In this Batman comic, we see Bruce take the Phantom Stranger up on his offer to go all Wonderful Life on a no-Batman existence. As you can most certainly imagine, life for everyone besides Bruce pretty much tanks right into a pier, with Dick Grayson smoking (!) and Tim Grayson being ordered by the Joker (his surrogate father) to throw bombs made up to look like babies, one of which ends up annihilating Commissioner Gordon’s sweet, precious flesh and the whole thing concludes with Bruce staring out and saying “Someone should do something about it”. It’s a curiosity, but after it’s been satisfied, there’s not much else to say about it.

Hmm. This seems like a good time to turn things over to TIM O’NEIL and his update on DOONESBURY.

So the big story in comics this week was the shocking upset in this year’s Sight & Sound movie poll wherein Hitchcock’s Vertigo unseated Welles’ Citizen Kane as the number one movie of all time. Inasmuch as these lists have any significance at all, the fact that this one has been going since 1952 gives it slightly more credibility than, say, this Newsarama list that says that Christopher Reeve as Superman gave a worse performance than January Jones as Emma Frost. But still, it must be said: Vertigo may or may not be the best Hitchcock, depending on what day of the week it is, but it’s hardly the best movie ever made, and certainly no better than Superman III with the aforementioned Christopher Reeve and a young Richard Pryor at the height of his comedic powers.

But wait, you say, that has nothing to do with comics? Oh dear. The biggest news in comics this week was probably Garry Trudeau’s decision to officially transfer “controlling authority” of Doonesbury from that strip’s ostensible title character, Mike, to his daughter, Alex. The announcement sent a ripple of shock throughout the comics world, not so much at the announcement itself but at the fact that apparently they still make Doonesbury. I know that’s an old joke, but give me a break, it’s been in my family for a long time. Anyway: for those of you who were born after the Nixon administration, Doonesbury is this strip that used to be important because it was like The Big Chill in your newspaper, only with more talking inanimate objects. Really, unless you’re old enough to remember who Joanie Caucus is, chances are good that your memories of Doonesbury consist of three (3) things: 1) Zonker Harris, 2) Uncle Duke, and 3) whatever “funny” visual pun Trudeau decides to use as a metaphor for any given prominent politician.

In the first case, Zonker is one of those strange secondary characters whose popularity and recognition so far outstrip that of the ostensible “main” characters (see also, Snoopy, Wolverine), to the point that a generation of casual readers might not even realize that Zonker isn’t supposed to be the main character. I clearly remember not actually learning who Mike Doonesbury was until I was old enough to vote, but I could identify Zonker as soon as I could read the funnies. In the second case, Uncle Duke is an remnant of another strange time, back before Hunter S. Thompson and Rolling Stone magazine were self-parodies, and the idea of “gonzo” journalism made just slightly more sense than gonzo pornography (in case you were wondering, those rules have changed). High school kids of a certain age and a certain mindset will always gravitate towards Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but the fact that there is now a decent film adaptation of the book should make this inevitable phase as painless a rite as possible for future generations. In the third case, this was the fatal symptom of the disease that killed Trudeau as a cartoonist: so very much terrible, terrible political cartooning. Depicting then-President Bill Clinton as a waffle – oh my goodness! It’s a veritable tsunami of pith! How many sequences of word balloons floating above static depictions of the White House? That is some high-wire cartooning there, I think there’s a new star in the Fort Thunder firmament tonight!

The best that can be said about Trudeau is that for a brief period of time he was an important cartoonist, and the worst that can be said is that he contributed materially to the development of his generation’s completely unironic self-fixation. Alex Doonesbury alludes to this fact in the 07/30 strip when she refers to the “aging hippie vibe” that permeates the proceedings. It should go without saying that the hippies are no longer “aging,” the hippies are officially “aged,” and the very idea that they get to officially “pass the torch” to succeeding generations is laughable. I would say that Doonesbury exists to cater to the self-regard of its audience, but I don’t really feel comfortable making any kind of pronouncements about the kind of people who follow the strip, if such people actually exist. The only people who pay attention to Doonesbury with any consistency are the newspaper editors who have to read it in order to make sure that this week’s sequence doesn’t offend the 70-year old Tea Partiers who comprise the main audience for all printed media these days.

I don’t need Doonesbury to tell me that my demographic is important now. All I really care about is that Garfield never changes. It is comforting to me that Garfield remains substantively the same now as he was back in 1978, in much the same way as a Big Mac purchased in Jakarta will taste the same as a Big Mac purchased down the road from my apartment building. I still care more about Garfield – big, fat Garfield with his pathological love of lasagna and equally pathological hatred of Mondays – than I ever have cared about Doonesbury, for the simple reason that if Garfield is stupid then at least Jim Davis has never thrown out his shoulder from patting himself on the back so hard.

At this point you’re probably thinking one of two things: either that Doonesbury is such an easy target at this point that criticizing Trudeau for being a complacent self-important boomer is about as shocking as the assertion that Orson Welles put on a little bit of weight towards the end of his life; or, that I’m a callow stripling whose disdain for Doonesbury is a direct function of a deep and abiding moral bankruptcy. To these hypothetical criticisms I will say that there is probably a grain of truth in both of these statements. On the one hand, I do not believe it is at all controversial to assert that it has been a long, long time since anyone in the world of cartooning actually cared about Doonesbury as an actual cartooning artifact. By far the most interesting thing about the strip is how generations of successive ghost artists have interpreted Trudeau’s, shall we say, strange anatomical proclivities. Seeing any of his characters’ noses drawn in 3D is about as terrifying a spectacle as the modern comic strip has to offer:

But on the other hand, it should also be said that Doonesbury has been around and been so consistently terrible for so long that it’s probably impossible for anyone who came of age after the strip’s heyday to really understand why the strip was so important in the first place. Doonesbury is 42 years old this October. It’s rare for any strip to last five decades with its original creator[s], let alone to remain interesting – in fact, there’s only one that ever did, and it rhymes with Peanuts. I know comparing anyone to Schulz is pretty much the definition of an unfair contest, but still: it wasn’t hard for any kid coming up in the 90s – or even the supposedly sub-par 80s – to be able to read any stretch of daily Peanuts and see why this Schulz guy was a talent for the ages, even if they were never exposed to the supposed peak-era 60s material. Now any kid who encounters Doonesbury in the paper – and let’s just pretend for a minute that there are still people of child-bearing age who buy physical newspapers – will probably ignore Doonesbury entirely because it fails on the most basic level at which any comic strip can possibly fail: it’s not funny. You don’t have to be Richard Pryor ca. 1983 to know that “What Up, Alex?” is perhaps the worst punchline ever in the history of mankind, second only to “because I like to douse myself in high-proof rum and freebase cocaine at the same time, and that’s not really a safe mixture.”


69 Responses to Say Hello To Your Brother

  1. Robin Margolis says:

    Yes Doonesbury relies on so much backstory that I’ve never been able to get that into as someone born far into its run. Still, I think you are wrong when you say it’s terrible, terrible political cartooning. Maybe if we had more examples of people taking political risks from younger generations AS ARTISTS than the old boomers like Trudeau and Neil Young would deserve flack about still doing this shit. As it stands, Doonesbury still takes on relevant political issues in decent to excellent ways. Like his comics regarding the attack on women’s reproductive rights, like putting Iraq war veterans into the funny pages. I don’t really have undying respect for the TCJ’s gender politics or politics in general, so make your easy shot about the lazy waffle depiction because in the post-clinton years, which are many now, there’s been some good moments. Sandwiched in a lot of boring back story and continuity with characters I dont recognize. That point is totally dead on as is the point about Zonker.

  2. matthew says:

    prince references win you a fan for life. there is now nothing that you can say, do or write that i will not defend as righteous.

  3. Jesse Post says:

    That’s amazingly true about “professional” opinions about fans. You can see it in Steve Wacker’s occasional punches thrown in blog comments, where he delights in “teasing people on the internet” (his words), therefore implying that he, in his finally-thank-god-I’ve-arrived official place of employment, is smarter, more reasonable, and less of a jerk, even though he, of course, is the one teasing those beneath him on the internet. The problem, to me, isn’t any kind of insult thrown at comics fans, but more in the really sad-to-watch revenge of the nerds thing that happens when any one of those fans grows up to officially join the ranks of the comics professional class. You see the same thing happen in those interviewer questions. “Not me — I’m up here in the INDUSTRY!”

  4. Ayo says:

    I would prefer if Hawkeye was smothered in its crib. You make a good point about it cribbing heavily from
    Year One, but hey. It’s far better than other Marvel superhero comics in terms of pure accessibility on the page (talking babble now). What I’m saying is that i’d rather talk Hawkeye to death than watch it live long enough to become Uncanny X-Force.

    ++++

    On Azzarello: dude’s a clown. Straight up clownshoes. I love Abhay’s comment: “it’s comics and the only thing anybody cares about is self-promotion.” Absolutely, 100%

    ++++

    Doonesbury. I have a hundred thoughts about why Doonesbury is good but 99 of them hinge on anybody agreeing in the first place that newspapers themselves are good. I live in NYC and I assure you, people read newspapers. But hey.

  5. Kit says:

    Steve Wacker used to plug his superhero-themed improv comedy show on rec.arts.comics groups on Usenet. True story.

  6. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    I agree that the recent strips dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers/veterans have been excellent, and the new characters introduced for these sequences (Toggle and Melissa) are some of Trudeau’s best.

    In contrast to the sensitivity of the Toggle/Melissa sequences, the strips with Jeff Redfern as “The Red Rascal” have been hilarious, with Trudeau engaging in Snoopy-vs-the-Red-Baron-type flights of fantasy while also offering some pointed commentary about the arrogance and cluelessness of American intelligence operatives.

    I’ve never understood the widespread Trudeau-hate among certain comics snobs. Like any strip that’s run as long as it has, it has had some ups and downs and not all of the characters and situations have worked well (one of these days I’m going to write something about Trudeau’s tendency to write very unlikable female characters, Alex Doonesbury being a prime example) but overall, I’d rank Doonesbury as one of my favorite newspaper strips of all time and one of the few that I actively seek out online on a day-to-day basis now that I rarely read a daily newspaper any more.

  7. Chris Mautner says:

    My understanding is Trudeau still draws the lion’s share of the art himself and always has. He has an assistant that inks, but his pencils are very tight. I think R.C. Harvey did a column about this in the Journal way back when.

  8. Kiel Phegley says:

    Hey Abhay, Thanks as always for the honest feedback. I sincerely appreciate people critiquing how I do my job. It’s how I (hope I) get better at it.

    Though I’m confused as to how my Morrison interview synchs up with your “reporters paint the readership as less than adult” premise. That question was specifically in reference to posts about the first interview I did with Morrison discussing Siegel and Shuster written by the guys at The Mindless Ones or by Sean T. Collins. Those are some supporters of Morrison’s work who wished he would be more actively supportive of the families of Siegel and Shuster rather than disengaged from it. I thought “discouraged” was a word that fit their ideas well, though Sean recently used “dispiriting” to describe how he felt about Morrison’s positions if that’s more to your taste. In either event, I don’t see how that kind of language mocks the reader or treats them as less adult than the creator.

    As for the rest of it, I think you’re right that “treating creators like adults” – particularly adults who should be able to respond to legit criticisms and questions about their work in civil fashion – is where my head is at going into these things. If my question is as pointed or angry or accusatory as you’d like it to be (to be honest, I’m not sure what you’d like it to be), it’s not because I fear reprisal. It’s because if I conducted my questions like you write your blog posts, no one who works at DC would EVER make comment on these issues. I think it’s better to have discussion out, particularly because I don’t find a lot of interest, personally as a writer, in lobbing angry screeds at corporate publishers about stupid shit they do. I understand the place such writing has in the discussion surrounding things like Before Watchmen, but I honestly don’t think that’s the only way to engage people who work for DC and Marvel in general or as it relates to this specifically.

    Thanks as always for the thoughtful response.

  9. I don’t feel infantilized by the word “discouraged,” for what that’s worth, which I’m guessing isn’t much.

  10. Kiel’s a pretty bad person, though, so your first guess on that score was correct.

  11. Jayhawh says:

    Oh no you’re gonna miss the part in Gantz where they like………. run around, and argue about how they need to live to survive and they will live.

  12. Duncan says:

    “This is sort of like looking at a mass grave of Native Americans who died of small pox and blaming them for wanting blankets”

    It isn’t, obviously, and an uncharacteristic Abhay rhetoric-slip, given we’d just covered how blocking the sun from Muslims was not at all much like doing Watchmen prequels. Or is it – if you compare a bad thing to an unbelievably bad thing, is that right, but if you say a somewhat bad thing (in comics) is NOT like a genocide, that is incorrect? Is the difference between real and imagined purges of one type of brown-skinned person important? I lose track.

    Kiel’s comment has gone for some reason, but as an unimportant Mindless One I’d say, I find Morrison’s attitude… “disheartening”? “disappointing”? But – unlike yr man Sean Rogers – also not able to unwrite 25 or so years of wonderful and engaging comics.

  13. Antek says:

    Could some kind soul please clarify the review of Daredevil 208 for me?

  14. Abhay says:

    Thanks for the kind response, though apparently I failed to make my point clearly, as is constantly the case. My point was that for “controversial” questions, comic interviewers always insert editorializations , and that those editorializations distort the discussion in a way that’s unhelpful to the reader, oblivious and/or dismissive of what people who care about the controversy were actually upset about, and usually to the benefit of the interviewee in allowing them to avoid talking about the part that was actually upsetting.

    Your response seems to be that yes, you included editorializations, but that they were based on a sample size of two other people, two people– but you arguably nailed it in characterizing those two, if not successfully managed to link to them to provide context to “some people”– and to suggest that I’d prefer that the editorializations be in Crazy Clown Town where I admittedly reside 24-7-365, that I want interview questions to be how I write blog posts (to be fair, more animated gifs of kittens would improve all of these interviews immeasurably), and that I want you to be “pointed” or “accusatory”.

    That response so completely doesn’t match what I thought I was saying that I have to chalk that up as a failing on my part to have what I wrote match what was in my head, especially if the concept of maybe “not adding editorial asides about what you think the controversy was about according to two Grant Morrison fans” never occurred. It’s always hard (at least for me) to get the right level of clarity on these things. Thanks for being understanding.

  15. Shady McShade says:

    I’m going to dedicate my next fecal-upchuck sigil to Abhay as a reward for awesomeness this week.

    When comics journalists (possibly “journalists”) interview the makers of ethically and creatively bankrupt comics, the mistake they make is wanting to be liked. I suspect a desire on their part to one day write comics themselves or, failing that, just a worry that since this industry is so super tiny and full of bitter men with enormous, easily-gouged egos, they have to make sure the interviewee doesn’t get butthurt and that’s TOP priority.

    Everyone knows the most direct, least circuitous path to the truth is when a person who doesn’t give a fuck whether you like him or not asks and when a second person who doesn’t give a fuck whether you like him or not answers. Apathy towards the other’s feelings is great when you want to talk turkey but these comics sites want to make friends.

    What we need in comics journalism: MORE SOCIOPATHS. If you can look a man in the eye and call him a disgusting charlatan and not be bothered that he becomes terribly upset and visibly hurt, I will read your blog! It will be great! There will even be crying sometimes! We need to train comics interviewers to detach from their empathy, like a US Marine learns to kill without lingering guilt.

    PS – Doonesbury is fucking boring and commentary about Doonesbury is somehow moreso. Is this what art comics/indie dorks are thinking about while all the real men are deciding whether or not to block the sun from Muslims?

  16. Shady McShade says:

    I was so busy reading the capsule, I didn’t notice that Daredevil straight-up violently hurled that little girl off panel. That’s not “generic” at all… I give him points for that.

  17. R. Fiore says:

    Ernie Bushmiller did Nancy for over 50 years, Chester Gould did Dick Tracy for 46 years, Chic Young did Blondie for 43, Al Capp did Li’l Abner for 43 as well, George McManus did Bringing Up Father for 41, Frank King did Gasoline Alley for 40 – Trudeau’s longevity is hardly unprecedented. The reason he might even outdo Bushmiller is that he had a nationally syndicated strip while he was still in college. Doonesbury is an easy strip to underrate. It is easy to grow tired of. Unlike Nancy, which was said to be harder not to read than to read, reading Doonesbury can seem like a chore even when it’s good. It is not, as Bulgakov might say, of the first degree of freshness. Trudeau was never a visual artist of any distinction. His reach often exceeds his grasp, as when he tries to capture the argot of the young. But to allow his tics and mannerisms to blind you to the enduring quality of the work is a failure of the critical faculty. To pick one example, to remark on the truly wrongheaded affectation of using icons for public figures without also noting the sharpness of the substance of his depiction of these figures is a kind of willful blindness. By now Doonesbury is without a doubt the greatest of all topical strips. It has the breadth and depth of a social novel, and a cast of characters that can encompass any subject he cares to address. To say that he created the self-absorption of the Baby Boom generation is ridiculous, though it is perfectly just to call him an exemplar of it. He retains far more of his original creative force at this stage of his career than Schulz did.

  18. Inkstuds says:

    I always feel dissapointed with myself if i give someone a pass on a topic in an interview. It’s important to have these uncomfortable discussions about important issues. If the creator wants to do the interview, then ask them the tough questions, if they or a publicist dictate what can be discussed, turn the opportunity down.

    we can do better and have higher standards.

  19. Briany Najar says:

    … Reg Smythe did Andy Capp for 41 years.

  20. Jesse Post says:

    Oh, and one other point to clarify in case it wasn’t obvious — not every comics pro or journalist suffers from that revenge of the nerds thing (otherwise that would be condemning half of us posting in the comments and both authors of the column). But I’ve seen it enough that it’s really unsettling.

    On the journalism specifically, I think another shade to it is that not every interview has to be THE interview. In reading the second interview with Morrison, it seemed to me that Kiel was trying to circle back to some of the issues raised the first time and nail Morrison down to a real answer, but then move on. Interviews are tough — a subject dodges you or gets hostile enough times and you kind of throw your hands up. I think the better journalists know enough about their subjects to know when they’re going to get a good interview out of them. And I don’t think hammering them on a point of controversy is usually one of those tactics. You might get one amazing Frost/Nixon type moment and then you’re done, never to interview that guy again. It’s harder than it looks.

    I’ve always liked Kiel’s interviews specifically because he seems to execute that balancing act very well — insightful, possibly uncomfortable questions balanced with straightforward stuff that the subject will want to talk about = interesting reading.

  21. Briany Najar says:

    “By now Doonesbury is without a doubt the greatest of all topical strips.”

    Hmmm, ‘zatso?
    Have you seen much of Steve Bell’s “If…”?
    http://www.belltoons.co.uk/bellworks/index.php/if

  22. “When comics journalists (possibly “journalists”) ”

    I see what you did there.

  23. Jesse Post says:

    I think I missed that as being the main point, as well, but because of my early morning failed reading comprehension, not your lack of clarity.

    Another thought on those editorial asides is that they may seem worse in print than in conversation, where they are used as a kind of social lubricant to get the job done. Everyone does this in real life; the “hey, I’m on your side / I know where you’re coming from / you couldn’t have meant it THAT way, right?” tactic is used in almost every conversation that has the potential to turn hostile or confrontational. It’s a little way to disarm the interviewee and get them talking generally about the subject, maybe instead of directly answering a question, because the former means they’ll talk and the latter means they’ll clam up and get defensive. If your job is to talk to people and get them to talk more than they usually do, you’ve probably internalized that skill to such a degree that you don’t even notice it.

    But then, when those asides are seen in print as part of the interview it comes off as . . . well, it comes off the way you took them.

  24. Ahhhh, I get it—the idea is to eschew discussion of the surrounding debate entirely, even if it’s phrased reasonably (obviously one’s mmv; I think you’re being uncharitable in this case but that’s immaterial), in favor of reiterating the underlying facts and asking about them directly. (Right?) I like that idea.

  25. livingplanet says:

    Cowboy Henk is humanity’s greatest achievment

  26. Abhay says:

    Oh, you’re right– that’s a good point. Thanks.

  27. R. Fiore says:

    There’s nothing you’d rather see when opening TCJ.com at work than Cowboy Henk’s bare ass.

  28. Kiel Phegley says:

    Yes, I get this! I’m not sure I agree in all cases, though. In the specific one we’re talking about here, I was a bit floored when I saw that Morrison had written the Action Comics issue that was a not-so-subtle metaphor for the Siegel/Shuster situation considering he’d told me in the first interview (and written in Super Gods) that he had no opinion or no care to engage with that aside from some general armchair quarterbacking.

    So when I brought up the response from his readership – specifically thinking of those two examples because I know he’s read both the Mindless Ones and Sean’s stuff, though I think there are others who expressed a similar dissatisfaction with his comments – I very specifically wanted to know whether that talk had influenced his thinking seeing as Morrison is a writer who largely ignores the comics internet.

    But no, I don’t think that every conversation needs to be curbed in terms of how the internet or other editorializing frames the conversations. Yes, some conversations are more black and white and the point should be gotten to. I’ll admit I’m not always the best at getting right to the point on anything (can’t you tell from my posts here?), so my track record on confronting people may not always be the best. I just brought up the angle of angry screeds because I often feel that the common criticism of what people like me do in general is that we don’t start arguments on these things with interview subjects because we fear some kind of reprisal from their publishers. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s never been how CBR operates. So if my questions suck, it’s just because I’m bad at my job and not a paid shill.

    But yes, your point is taken well and thanks again for always being a class act whenever we end up beating this ball around in comment threads.

  29. Paul Slade says:

    Funny you should mention Andy Capp. I’ve just posted a massive essay about the strip, and I’d love to hear what some Journal readers make of it.

    http://www.planetslade.com/andy-capp-reg-smythe01.html

    Here’s my blurb:

    Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp was the greatest British newspaper strip of the 20th Century, but few people realise how much of his own troubled childhood Smythe poured into Andy and Flo’s lives. Andy was essentially a portrait of Smythe’s wastrel father, Flo a version of his formidable mother, and their town a portrait of the pre-war Hartlepool where Smythe grew up.
    PlanetSlade’s latest essay traces Smythe’s own biography, explores its parallels in Andy’s world, and considers the strip’s very early wife-beating jokes. There’s also a look at how the balance of power has shifted between Andy and Flo down the years, a discussion of the live-action sitcom starring James Bolam as Andy and my own analysis of just what made Smythe such an accomplished and stylish cartoonist. We also have new interviews with the three cartoonists continuing Andy’s exploits in The Mirror today.

  30. Jack says:

    I think that punchline is at least in the general vicinity of being mildly amusing. Alex wants Doonesbury to be renamed What Up, Alex?–it comes close to provoking a smile. That puts it way, way ahead of anything I saw the last time I read the comic strip section of a newspaper. Most of strips didn’t even register as attemps at humor–they were more like amateurish attempts at copying a vague feeling of cuteness generated by better, though still awful, comic strips.

  31. Kiel, I know me and you have had this argument a few times before (I think me, you, and Abhay have gone round the outside together before, even), but I have a short (I hope) question/comment. You’ve said before that you don’t want to lob angry questions at DC or Marvel, and I still think that’s remarkably disingenuous. My problem with that is that it’s a deflection, and not a particularly good one. No one here, and no one but the most rabid commentators, expects thrown bombs in interviews. I don’t want to speak for Abhay, but I’m going to anyway (sorry Abhay :( ) and say that he probably doesn’t expect you to interview DC in the same style as his blog posts. All anyone’s asking is just a little more followthrough and a little less pre-emptive deflection. Why do you keep pushing this as an either/or situation, instead of something with more nuance?

  32. Strangefate says:

    It’s a joke. As I understand it Harlan Ellison and the Comics Journal have had some…well, lets say, issues over the years. Litigious issues. So Tucker (?) wrote the review as though he was forced to omit practically every word of it.

  33. That Cowboy Henk joke is great. I need to get me some of that comic.

  34. >I don’t think that every conversation needs to be curbed in terms of how the internet or other editorializing frames the conversations.

    Really, Kiel? “Every?” Can we stick to the conversation at hand and cease deflecting?

    > I often feel that the common criticism of what people like me do in general is that we don’t start arguments on these things with interview subjects because we fear some kind of reprisal from their publishers.

    I don’t think this is a point Abhay raised (I’m not a mind reader) but it isn’t what I took from his piece. My own fear is that either your journalism is being mistaken for public relations, or your public relations is being mistaken for journalism. I, for one, believe you sincerely don’t wish to offend anyone (Abhay included).

  35. Kiel Phegley says:

    That is a totally fair question. I think generally, I’m kind of touchy about this stuff because the default criticism I hear so often is “you’re just a shill” which offers me nothing to work with in terms of getting better and is just a weak, useless troll thing to say anyway. You guys aren’t like that though, and I should be giving your disagreements better consideration, certainly. I’m trying to be less reactionary when I decide to speak up on these things. Sorry to dodge the issue or complicate matters in the past.

    To the broader, more important, point: I understand the criticism you make in a general sense about follow through, and in some regards this may fall as a lack of enthusiasm for that engagement on my part. I feel a lot of times, you get talked in circles about this stuff rather than get a direct response no matter how doggedly or repetitively you ask a question (See any panel where someone engages Dan DiDio for a prime example of this playing out in public). Maybe I should just say “Fuck it” and barrel on all the time no matter what response I get, but I’m not sure that would elevate the conversation as a whole. Generally I feel like doing that would just be an attempt to gain kudos from the blogosphere and such (again, this may just be me).

    But beyond that, I honestly am not sure what answer people are looking for in some of these cases. With Before Watchmen or the Siegel/Shuster issue, should it be my goal to get someone from DC to admit guilt of some kind? Not likely to happen. I think most readers of comics and of sites like CBR are pretty clear on the positions the big publishers hold on these issues. Combine that with the fact that the majority of the readership I’m trying to serve is more interested in issues totally unrelated to the ethics of the comics business (as slight as story concerns may seem to a lot of us), and I try and pick my battles in terms of balancing all the needs of my readership. I think content on a site like CBR is democratized to a certain point, and I don’t have qualms about trying to serve as many sides of the readership (fan, industry watcher, professional, retailer, etc) as possible.

    To us a specific example again, I believe that the first time Abhay and I ever talked about this, it was on a Robot 6 thread about a DiDio interview I did about DC’s killing off their minority iteration of the Atom and how that related to the company’s diversity issues overall. I asked one question, got one response which I thought acknowledged a lot of the concerns readers had and moved on to as many other topics as I could hit in the short time given. It may not have been perfect, but I think it helped overall.

    Ultimately, I view the way a lot of these topics are discussed on our site as part of a continuity of coverage. I may not always get everything in during one interview, but when I have access to return to these topics as they seem relevant to the readership and to the representatives, I think over time we help get more good info out into the public sphere. This most recent Morrison call was the first time I’d talked to Grant since the last story where we’d first discussed Siegel/Shuster, and I think we’ve now got a lot better view of how he as a major DC creator views these things, and that better view was aided by the time in between, not hurt.

    It’s a slow process and can be frustrating, but I hope that in the end, comics is better for CBR’s engagement with these things in this way.

    God…this is such a long post. I’m off to softball now. Thanks for asking, David!

  36. John Fellows says:

    I just didn’t get HAWKEYE. Like, they wanted a comic called HAWKEYE on the shelves for the millions of people who saw AVENGERS: THE AVENGERS in the cinemas and have rushed to their comic-store to find a comic featuring the entire cast, but… The comic itself, you have a nice enough crime story that – with very little effort – could have been a Fraction/Aja creator-owned series from Image. Like, at the point at which you have to alter the feel/mood/general basics of any character to such a degree to make it workable, why are you bothering? I mean, “PROFIT?” yeah, but why are Fraction/Aja bothering? Because you have to put in x amount of effort in the mines to keep in the Secret Marvel Boy’s Club? I dunno, it feels like some group of guys out negging every Friday night and if you don’t plow through enough ropey birds, the dudes will throw you out of negging club. Did I use “negging” correctly?

    It’s a comic I didn’t mind reading. Which is the ultimate in faint praise, but if you’ve tried reading anything published at DC at the moment (seriously, any title at random) and you’ll see that at least Marvel’s titles differ dramatically from “utter garbage” to “not bad”. Whereas DC’s stick quite consistently at the “Sub-par video-game tie-in”.

  37. Chris Duffy says:

    That Cowboy Henk book is terrific. I still pull it out to read sometimes. Oh–and the panel in Hawkeye #1 where Hawkeye brings the dog into the emergency vet is a parallel to when Daredevil brings in the big American-flag-on-face guy into …. the Bugle? I think? From Born Again.

  38. BVS says:

    just like dunesberry, this column also requires decades of continuity and back story just to deliver not funny jokes.

  39. “the other B-Minus Bruce Timm’s”

    I literally LOLed at this.

    Also, Vertigo: it wasn’t exactly a surprise, it’s been a hot favourite for a while but, still, yeah. I think it’s partly because it’s About Movies in a way that “cinephiles” like; you know, the gaze and doubling and all that.

  40. Kit says:

    and I’d love to hear what some Journal readers make of it

    At fifteen clickthroughs, I don’t like your chances. Did you have some extra internet you needed to use up?

  41. Yeah, “B-minus”. Ouch! Well, I do like Parker.

  42. mateor says:

    False. I literally didn’t know it was a joke. Although that is often how I felt after reading Peanuts, so…

    As far as generational narcissism goes, the current batch may have all the irony, but I’ve yet to see it get in the way of any self-involvement.

    And everyone who has spoken up about comic interview that isn’t named Abhay, I want to tell you that you’re boring.

    Although Abhay doesn’t get off scot-free either. You talk a big game, but when the trousers hit the floor there is not one kitten GIF in the history of this column.

  43. Paul Slade says:

    It’s about 36,000 words, including the various sidebars, and Journal readers are already well-accustomed to features of that length. Would a single-page format on screen really be preferable for a piece of that length?

    As it is, readers are asked to click through to the next page once every 2,400 words, which doesn’t seem terribly excessive.

  44. Jesse Post says:

    I think that risks turning into something like the SNL parody of the McLaughlin Group, though, doesn’t it? “Superman — created by people, then: lawsuits. Discuss!” The follow-up question posed to Morrison wasn’t editorializing, it was conversational. Framing the context of a question is just the art of the interview; if you just said, “Ecplain this,” you wouldn’t get nearly as good an answer as you would by saying, “Here are a couple ways I see the issue being discussed, here’s what I think, and I’m wondering how it all specifically relates to the work you do.” I mean, Tom Spurgeon is arguably the best interviewer we have and his questions are REALLY dense, just packed with information and specificity. You always run the risk of turning your conversational framework into a leading question by accident, but that’s where practice and skill as a journalist come into it.

    I think the second Morrison interview quote is just not as good an example as the others. The point still stands (and it’s an incredibly worthwhile point) but I don’t see it happening there in that one thing. It wasn’t wrong for Kiel to ask him to “take a stronger stand.” Morrison’s original answer was so horribly weak sauce — “I don’t know nothin’ about Siegel and Schuster because I wasn’t alive then” — and Kiel let it go then but then wanted to hold him to an opinion the next chance he got. That’s not the same as saying, “Don’t worry Azzarello, I won’t ask you any of those icky morality questions.” Whether or not the result was a failed opportunity to make Morrison address a morality conflict is a different argument, I guess, but it wasn’t a bad beginning.

  45. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    Interesting article so far. Thanks!

  46. Duncan says:

    I remain a massive fan of your writing, of course.

  47. Kit says:

    Would a single-page format on screen really be preferable for a piece of that length?

    Yes, because a) 15 separate pages have literally no benefit to either you (as you’re not serving ads [unless I’ve already blocked them from another site]) or the reader (as it’s not 1997 and we can load 36,000 words at once without needing to go and do a load of washing and have a cup of tea), and b) anyone who instapapers or sends to Kindle or suchlike won’t bother reading at all.

    Maybe my preferences are blinding me, of course, and I’d be happy for you to come back in a month and tell us how many people loaded the first page, how many loaded the last, and that they’re exactly the same number, and I’ll go “OK pwnt.”

  48. Paul Slade says:

    It’d be a miracle if that happened with a five page feature, let alone a fifteen page one, so I think that’s a bit of a red herring. Besides, without some comparable data showing how many people would bail out before reaching the end of a single page version, what would the figures prove anyway?

    What I can tell you is that I’ve heard from 60-odd people about the feature so far, and you’re only the third to raise the lack of a single page option. Both the others were specifically concerned about the Kindle point you raise, which is a powerful one.

    My own instinct is still that the current format is less cumbersome for most people, but perhaps that’s because I’m still thinking of websites as electronic versions of a paper magazine rather than as a medium in their own right.

    The Kindle issue alone means I should probably think about adding single-page options on all of PlanetSlade’s features, but doing that properly would take quite a bit of time which I could otherwise devote to researching and writing new essays for the site.

  49. Rob Lamb says:

    I really loved your article, Paul. Have always been fascinated with Andy Capp’s popularity throughout the years and puzzled why there’s so little written about it and/or Smythe – so your in-depth look was greatly appreciated . TCJ should reprint it on this site.

    In re: Doonesbury: TCJ has always seemed unjustly biased against strips in general – as if anything cranked out daily couldn’t possibly be considered art. But then again, they do recognize greatness when they see it since of their top 100 comics, the top 3 are strips.

    No doubt newspaper strips are the most difficult of all the comics forms and should be given the respect they deserve. Doonesbury especially since it is at the very least always pushing itself to grow and change, even if not everyone cares for it.

  50. Mike Hunter says:

    Re that “The persistent message is always that only comic creators are the true grown-ups” situation, I wonder if the grounds beneath that attitude is that virtually any job brings a batch of moral compromises with it.

    (I.e., along with worthy fare, public librarians also make available much meretricious crap; police protect from small-scale criminals, but routinely can’t go after the truly BIG ones: a President who lied the nation into a war, an environment-poisoning multinational; a grocer sells both healthy fare and fattening junk.)

    In the case of mainstream comics creators, it can be taken for granted that the creative backhistory of most any established character features a sorry trail of creators ill-treated, screwed; their creations treated with crudely exploitative “rebootings” ( http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2012/07/23/120723sh_shouts_doyle ); corporations raking in millions from movies while those responsible for content rarely get so much as a credit, and so forth.

    Most of those creators are surely aware of the polluted waters they swim in. And they consider the return — making a decent-or-better living at an art form they have an affinity and talent for — to be worth keeping a clothespin on their noses.

    Thus, some fans ask, say, “how can you possibly work on a Superman comic, when Siegel and Shuster were so shamefully shafted by DC, and help further enrich the corporation that treated them so wrongfully?”

    And the creators are aware (unless they’ve had their heads buried in the sand for decades) that indeed that’s the situation, but Superman is the superhero, a very high-profile “property” that their story arc and career can greatly benefit from “piggybacking” on. Stuff that would not even register on most fans’ radars, yet be crucial concerns for a professional.

    Or they may need the money; or have fond childhood memories of the character, and think they would enjoy doing a story with them.

    Heavens, even Eddie Campbell — the finest writer-artist in comics, I firmly maintain — did a Batman mini-series. Erudite gent that he is, surely aware of how Bob Kane hogged the credit for creating the character, squeezing out Bill Finger ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Finger ) and Jerry Robinson.

    So fans as a group are coming at the situation from an outside, nonprofessional perspective. Focusing on the end result and unaware of, or with a distorted perspective (“Why don’t you just do what you want, without any commercial considerations?”) of the seedy details of the reality; the endless moral and aesthetic compromises routinely and unfortunately involved in chasing after commercial success, particularly if you’re an employee of a corporation, being allowed to play with their toys.

    Now, if these creators are afraid of pissing off their corporate higher-ups while still acknowledging the abusive conditions that existed, and dubious situations that still prevail in some instances, they can phrase their comments or interview responses very carefully.

    For instance, they could say, “In the past of this industry, many talented creators have been treated badly, not gotten their proper due. Conditions have greatly improved overall in many ways, but some problems still persist, or new ones come along. For instance, in the book industry authors have complained about not getting a sufficient cut from e-book sales. Screenwriters for movies and TV have gone on strike over getting residuals from digital broadcasts of their stories. There is the messy borderland between moral and legal rights. This is an ever-evolving process, far from complete…”

    Pretty cautiously diplomatic and PR-release-ish, yet still showing awareness of the complexities involved, and far preferable to a noxious “Siegel & Shuster were saps who are to blame for getting taken advantage of” or the like, which might serve to mash down one’s pesky conscience, but be morally contemptible.

    For that matter, consider the situation of a reporter who — unlike mainstream news reporters, with a far greater variety of subjects to deal with — focuses on a comics industry dominated by two titans. Getting the chance to interview some of their star creators (which for a reporter is like a comics creator getting to do a Superman story), can they be blamed for not wanting to piss the creator off, or not succeeding in getting them to say something harshly critical of their employers?

    Which could result in a truncated, uptight interview; refusal by that creator to ever deal with that reporter again; negative repercussions toward the creator by their highers-up (yes, I know a reporter shouldn’t give a damn what happens to their subject, which is considered an admirable thing in journalism); the decision by Corporate that its huge batch of comics creators should henceforth avoid being interviewed by that reporter like the plague, and so forth.

    Even mainstream reporters given a special placement, as in the sorry case of the White House Press Corps, become afraid of being denied access, and thus seriously damaging their careers. See http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2011/05/17/veteran-journalists-todays-white-house-reporters-are-too-timid , http://www.theblaze.com/stories/journalists-confront-white-house-about-tense-relations-treatment/ .

  51. Paul Slade says:

    Thanks, Rob – glad you liked it. I did offer tcj.com a 2,000-3,000 word extract as part of my efforts to publicise the piece, but they didn’t bite. Tim was kind enough to give the full PlanetSlade version a mention in the site’s July 26 blog, though, so I’m grateful for that.

  52. James says:

    Figures that the usual suspects in the “moral compromised” area are writers of questionable ability and taste who are happy to let artists get massively smaller billing than themselves and/or making 6 figures constantly regurgitating other people’s ideas.

  53. Kit says:

    Heavens, even Eddie Campbell — the finest writer-artist in comics, I firmly maintain — did a Batman mini-series.

    He did an eight-pager, a one-shot, and a two-part inventory story (that got burnt off as an annual, with unreadably terrible art). None of which tie into each other in any way.

    For that matter, consider the situation of a reporter who — unlike mainstream news reporters, with a far greater variety of subjects to deal with — focuses on a comics industry dominated by two titans. Getting the chance to interview some of their star creators (which for a reporter is like a comics creator getting to do a Superman story), can they be blamed for not wanting to piss the creator off, or not succeeding in getting them to say something harshly critical of their employers?

    Sure.

  54. I’m reading all the comments, and all I can think is that my bit I used to do where I riffed on the comic’s that were discussed can’t top the going-ons in these comments for sheer entertainment–be it from people making swipes at each other or defending Doonesbury. Hell, I even have liked Doonesbury but in the last few years have not found it entertaining usually.

  55. Pingback: The Comics Journal bashes Doonesbury The Daily Cartoonist

  56. Antek says:

    thank you kindly mister strangefate…

  57. Andrew Horn says:

    Re: Doonesbury-

    Yep, Trudeau does all the pencils himself, as a rule 9not ot suggest he might not occaisonally have help, but no more so than most 7-day-a-week strip artists)- his inking has been done by the same guy for quite a while now. Don’t know why you didn’t know that.

    Also- the whole “Alec takes over the strip” thing? Not happening. It was a big meta-joke- the annual “Mike’s summer daydream” bit done as a big piece, instead of just a week (or a day, which has happened some years. It was pretty obvious from early on, if you actually read the strip- there’s no way he was going to give up BD, for example. Really, you obviously were just using this as an excuse to get your “Doonesbury’s irrelevant” schtick out there- too bad you pretty much blew the review.

  58. Andrew Horn says:

    Man, I need to proof-read before I hit “post”.

  59. John Farwell says:

    http://dochermes.livejournal.com/716035.html
    It’s a tragic fact that newspapers have been dwindling in every way. In the last year or so, our local paper has become narrower to the extent I hear people grousing over it. But actually, it’s a process that has been going on for decades. The actual newspapers from the 1930s and 1940s that I have seen have been huge… no wonder old movies showed hoboes sleeping under a covers of newspapers. The comics back then had plenty of room to breathe and develop suspense or laughs. A Sunday PRINCE VALIANT or MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAn could be a gorgeous work of art.

    given the current slow death of newspapers as a medium entirely, one wonders why they don’t return space to comics…

  60. Mike Hunter says:

    They won’t return space to comics. (I’d say “unfortunately,” but today’s offerings are so dismal…) From the June 25th entry in Tom Tomorrow’s site:

    ————————–
    Cost cutting

    …when altweeklies cut cartoons as a “cost-cutting measure”, it is not actually a cost-cutting measure at all — it is Accounting Theatre, something editors are forced to do to appease the corporate bean-counters. The actual savings are probably about what you’d get from eliminating breakroom coffee, though arguably more self-defeating…
    —————————

  61. Frank VanderShoot says:

    Yeah . . . no way does this come off well at all when I write it, but “by the authority vested in me . . . I thee rape” was pretty good political cartooning.

  62. Pingback: Doonesbury | Wis[s]e Words

  63. Paul Slade says:

    Following my exchange with Kit above, I have now added a second version of the Andy Capp article which can be viewed as a single page or – so I’m told – transferred to a Kindle. You’ll find the new version here:

    http://www.planetslade.com/andy-capp-reg-smythe-v3.html

  64. Pingback: » #330 “Doonesbury”: Polarizing and UnifyingDeconstructing Comics: A podcast about the craft of comics

  65. Pingback: The Comics Podcast Network » Deconstructing Comics #330: “Doonesbury”: Polarizing and Unifying

  66. Paul Slade says:

    Hey, Kit – remember that Andy Capp article you told me I should reformat as a single page back in August? I was skeptical at first, but I did end up taking your advice, which indirectly led to it ending up as one of Longform’s Top Ten Articles of 2012: http://longform.org/lists/best-of-2012.

    So, y’know – thanks.

  67. Don Druid says:

    Trudeau’s Donald Trump is, for me, the best argument as to why he should just go ahead and try caricatures of public figures, because they seem to actually be his strength. Who carried the creator’s point better – Ted Rall’s George W. Bush or Trudeau’s?

  68. Don Druid says:

    Who are you?

  69. Kit says:

    Ha ha! Good to hear it – and I’ll read it now…

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