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The Week In Which I Read And Liked A Lot Of Terrible Comics Instead Of Building Stories, Which Is Just Sitting Right Here Being Gloomy

Nate Bulmer and his Eat More Bikes, nailing it once again. Guy has a book coming out through Koyama and everything, you know that? That’s good eggs, it’s a quality breakfast.

THIS WEEK IN COMICS there was a bunch, man alive there were so many, we barely scratched the surface when we sat down to read them and there are still more to come, it absolutely does not ever stop, does it? We start off with ABHAY KHOSLA bringing you the only news that matters, then some comic books that came out 9 days ago, then some comics from this week. Then there’s an interview! It’s all coming up Comics Journal, buddy. Here’s mud in your eye!

I have been having kittens lately. Kittens, I says. Just having kittens over a sentence, one single I-am-not-kidding-kittens-KITTENS sentence, from an interview given by Lord Viceroy Sir Duke Grant Morrison, Knight Templar and Encastled Member of the Working Class of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, to the New Statesman last week.

The interview was gross, and by the word gross, I specifically mean “horrible, grotesque, nauseating, stomach-churning, flesh-crawling”—basically, all the worst parts of the Bible. But the GOOD part is that Morrison talks about why he is going to quit writing America’s Second-Favorite Batman stories: because of comics fans. COMICS FANS. Oh, those comic fans are some mean old nasties, cold-hearted son-bitches, the very dregs of humanity (the actual dregs, not the band). Oh, somebody get him a pillow for his head, having to deal with the Grinches. Just because he tried to propagate a teeny-tiny, measly, miniscule bit of ahistoric propaganda that flattered the repeated misconduct of his long-time corporate masters and dismissed the intense suffering of the comic creators who paved the way for his current success. Damn you, comic fans. Damn the dark places you live!

And so, in our darkest hours, Sir Morrison stood firm against the night and proclaimed: “There was a sense of, a definite sense of the temple was being burned down and it was time to run away.”


Run, Sir Robin Morrison! ‘Tis comic fans, loud of bellow, soft of belly, armed to their mother’s teeth with plastic Mjolnir and styrofoam Hulk Hands– run, for ye gallantry is for naught to the fiends!

More importantly, and also HOLY SHIT: it turns out DC Comics is a TEMPLE, you guys!

But wait: if DC Comics is a temple, what does that make Grant Morrison, MBE, as one of the authors of its infallible proclamations (i.e. that comic where Superman sings at a 3D space-vampire)? Is he a High Priest of the Temple, pontiff anointed first among equals? Do we bow? Or salute? If Morrison turns out to be both a knight and a priest, under the rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, does that technically make him a paladin? Does he get +3 on his saving throws if confronted by an advanced Dungeon or a slightly less advanced Dragon? If I have a gelatinous cube problem, hypothetically located at or about the scrotum region, could he recommend a good paladin or penicillin? And in this rarefied papal bureaucracy that Sir Morrison has ascended through, by virtue of having written Howard Porter comics, what does that make you or I, the lowly pox-ridden serfs who tithe every odd Wednesday? What is our lot in life, the templegoers, but worship, reverence, obedience?

The question is moot. Now, the temple is burning, alas.

Which is also an interesting image, a burning temple. I did a Google search, of temples burning, and Google turned up some Bible quotes. Now, I’m no one’s idea of a Bible scholar, but close as I can figure it, the Book of Chronicles tells the story about the Temple of Judah burned by the King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon: “They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.”

However, if I read this correctly (and again, I’m not a Bible scholar), here’s the bit that strikes me as funny about the image of temples getting burned down: God sure doesn’t seem like he was on the side of the temples? God was angry– Old Testament angry– that “the people had become extremely corrupt and idolatrous” and thus spaketh or speak-eth or sayeth, probably one of those: “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to [the temple] through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar.”

If you have to run away from a temple you worked at because it is now on fire, on fire because even the Lord God who you falsely professed to worship himself is ashamed of your corruption, your thorough, total corruption—well, I don’t know if that’s something you really want to go bragging about to the New Statesman? “News flash! I’m too stubborn to notice God is repulsed by my corrupt mentality. Stop the presses!” Though to be fair, Grant Morrison, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, only gave the interview, and was then given the opportunity to “review” the interview, in its entirety, and made sure to include in the interview that nothing he said in that interview or any other interview necessarily reflected his actual views, or the actual views of anyone else located in the United States or Guam, in that his views exist outside of time, space, the understood rules of causality, and thus any human capacity for critical judgment, but that if his views cause side effects, up to and including an erection lasting over four hours, with a mix of blood and semen erupting periodically such that… Look: I just don’t have the space to explain all the fine print, in full– the internet is simply too finite.


Meanwhile, all this happened at roughly the same time that (a) we were all blessed with DC’s latest hot rape-comic– Oh come let us adore it, and (b) Sir Morrison’s former 52-cowriter Greg Rucka spake unto the Mainstream Comics Temple of Mike Love Super-fans, thusly: “I gave seven very good years to DC and they took gross advantage of me. That’s partially my fault, but not entirely. At this point, I see no reason why I should have to put up with that [...] There is far less a desire to see good work be done. [...] They can stop selling the Batwoman: Elegy trade and stop selling the Wonder Woman trades and everything else I’ve done, because clearly I’ve not done anything of service and those guys aren’t making any money off me.”

Rucka’s words are hard to reconcile with the divinity of Morrison’s repeated chant that “My own experience proves [DC Comics] can be reasonable and honorable, if you deal with them in an adult fashion.” Morrison’s words would thus seem to suggest that Rucka was right to be excommunicated from the Temple, for he is a most unholy child. But must Morrison go further? Must Morrison smite or indeed even smote Rucka for having defiled the Temple? Shall Morrison seek blessings to launch a Crusade upon Rucka and the other heathens? Will Rucka and Morrison together attend the next Barcelona Comic-Con? If so, does Greg Rucka expect for there to be a Spanish Inquisition? No. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

In conclusion, you have just read jokes about Dungeons & Dragons, Monty Python, and Comic Books. Welcome to my temple of life-long celibacy!

The Shadow #5
By Garth Ennis, Aaron Campbell & Carlos Lopez
Published by Dynamite Comics

This is another issue where what seems like an awesome piece of hyperviolent pulp is undercut by art that is either confusing, illegible, or just plain old vanilla shit. It’s impossible not to enjoy at least some of what Garth Ennis gives these horrible, horrible characters to do here–anything so virulently hateful is, ultimately, going to end up conjuring its own noxious charm–and considering how only the most unabashed fans of the writer (or his murderous lead) will be willing to trudge through Aaron Campbell’s image swamps, those who make it to these issue’s final pages are, through that weird form of eugenics that fanaticism ensures, likely to find them immensely rewarding. Everybody else will have left long before. I’m fine with that, friend. This is my kind of filth.

Daredevil #18
By Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Javier Rodriguez
Published by Marvel Comics

It would be nice if Chris Samnee would turn his cutesy bullshit meter down a couple of notches; unless the man is bucking for a stint drawing IDW’s upcoming My Little Pony title, his work could do with a little more evidence that it’s been ejaculated from the pen of someone who stays up past 7PM. That being said: this is a solid piece of entertainment, the strongest issue since Paolo Rivera left the title, and while Waid’s loosely paced script underlines once again that Marvel’s near bi-weekly schedule is crippling even its most experienced writers, most of its flaws exist only in comparison to the title’s stellar installments. It stretches believability to think that Marvel will right the ship anytime soon–they are, after all, the ones responsible for scuttling it–but at least some of the chapters might be fun on the way down.

Happy #1
By Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson,  Richard Clark
Published by Image Comics

A four-issue mini-series may not be beyond the reach of Morrison, Robertson, or Image Comics, but history is on none of those participants’ sides when it comes to getting a comic out on time. However, only the most virginal of comics readers will be incapable of filling in the gaps in case a delay in publication does occur–by the time the comic gets around to describing its lead character as a “tragic, paranoid husk of a man” that “used to be the best detective in the whole department” for the benefit of a couple of non-speaking cops that were probably added right before publication, when this comic’s unlisted editor realized that Darick had forgotten to include an audience for that lead balloon of exposition … well, by the time you read that part, you will have figured out which closet of stock characters Grant is weaving from this time around. (That is of course, if you make it through the part where Morrison attempts to pull off writing profanity, which he’s only marginally worse at than he is at trying to write the ending to a story.) The end of this comic is, ultimately, where you find out what it’s going to be about: a grizzled ex-cop and his concussion-based hallucinatory friend. Or it’s about a grizzled ex-cop and an actual flying cartoon pony the size of a coffee mug only he can see. And travails. There’s some of those in it as well.

Crossed Badlands #14
By David Hine, Georges Duarte & Juanmar
Published by Avatar

For my money, fake Morrison–here presented as an Anton LaVey/Harlan Ellison/Zaroff/Grant Morrison hybrid calling young impressionables out to the mansion for some carousing–is way more fun to be around than the real Morrison, judged on the way he spends his time, but after you get past the initial introductions, the haw-hawing is abandoned and the regular Crossed shtick gets going, full tilt. Hairless asses and inhuman facial expressions abound, with entrails as ties. There’s even a dog getting raped, which might be a first. There’s probably a chart somewhere that lists all that stuff.

Hit Girl #3
By Mark Millar, John Romita Jr, Dean White
Published by Marvel Comics

Ah, this fucking thing: life is too goddamned long, if you ask me. Even when the lead is a tiny little girl, the fantasy being played out is that of a obsessive fanboy, convinced the world is still against him, and his most fervent fantasies is that he could pull a page directly from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and hang his tormentors of yesteryear over a rooftop. You can’t fault Mark Millar for wanting to make money, but it would be nice if he didn’t go about it in so craven a fashion. The curtains at the back of the video store aren’t up for your privacy. It’s because the rest of us don’t want to know what gets you off.

Fury My War Gone By #6
By Garth Ennis, Goran Parlov, Lee Loughridge, Sebastian Girner
Not Fucked Up by Marvel

As this column has pointed out many times before, Fury: My War Gone By (also affectionately known as FURY MAX) is not only the best Marvel comic published since the heyday of Jack Kirby, it, along with Prison Pit 4 and Joe Lambert’s Helen Keller comic, is one of the only comic capable of taking this year’s Prettiest Pony title away from Chris Ware’s Building Stories. As such, the time wherein it was necessary for this column to review it favorably in hopes of convincing you to purchase it instead of whatever crap Top Shelf is shoveling out of their warehouse at prices so cheap the guys at comiXology were heard to mutter, “Jesus, have some fucking class,” before sending out a press release that all Aspen titles were now 69% off, slurp it up fanboyz — well, that time has passed, we’ve done our product-pointing-out job as best we could be expected to, and it’s time now to move into the educational phase of the Fury MAX conversation, wherein we here at the Comics Journal provide you with the sort of hard-to-fake analysis that will give you a leg up when it’s time to embarrass some socially awkward jerk-off who just schooled your ass on Kirby’s contributions to bricklaying right in front of a vaguely attractive person (different strokes, no judgment) who is planning to drop trou for whoever knows the most trivial bullshit. And the way things are nowadays, the randy sort of content that Fury provides–hardcore violence, nudity, and language–can be touch and go, and in keeping with the prescription of behavior explicated in Darryl Ayo’s recent post, entitled “Comics criticism, or whatever“, we here at Comics Of The Weak thought it would be best to reach out to someone whose flesh runs hot with due to the coursing fire of Cuban blood, as this comic’s story takes place amidst that land’s fabled shores. Michel Fiffe–a Brooklyn-based cartoonist responsible for titles like Zegas and Deathzone–was able to carve time out of his schedule to sit down and touch upon the subject of Cuba, violence, and “la revolutionary!

TCJ:
Michel, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. First things first: as a Cuban immigrant, do you find the portrayal of your people by Garth Ennis to be an accurate one? How about the way Goran Parlov draws the people of the Cuban isle—do you find yourself thinking: ah, yes, they could be my sisters and brothers!

Michel Fiffe: Not if Joey Q has anything to say about it. Quesada, and other high ranking Cubans (Cameron Diaz, Andy Garcia, the singer from Ministry), aren’t allowed to express sympathy for what the Left describes as a glorious takeover. But if there’s a Northern Irish mainstream comics writer who’s willing to work with what he’s given, Ennis is your guy. Parlov, too! He clearly used my family photo album as ref.

TCJ: Well, first things first: does the violence in this comic upset you? Do you feel that “la revolutiony” has been depicted with the proper amount of respect? Is this the way the land was won, through “violencia” and “torturia”? I don’t know how to make that upside down exclamation point I’m sorry!!

Fiffe: 1) No, it’s a MAX comic. 2) No, it’s a MAX comic. 3) Yes, of course, Tucker… “violencia”. How else are you gonna wring control of a nation with your bare hands? Now, the only “torturia” in reading comics about Cuba is sitting through all the crying (the characters’, not mine). Fury Max had no tears, not even when the Cuban soldier gets his face chewed off and the other guy gets his balls stabbed. Spoilers.

TCJ: Okay, so first things first. Now, knowing that hot blood runs through your people’s veins, do you find yourself more attracted as a man to Nick Fury because he so best represents the masculine ideal of a statue (like Michelangelo or other classics) or does your loyalty to your family-of-origin run so deep that you turn from him, embracing the evils of the godless communists he faces?

Fiffe: As a hot blooded immigrant, I can safely say that I want to murder you for trying to make me admit that I’m attracted to comic book characters. You’re wrong on both counts, anyway. [The American woman] is the most attractive.

TCJ: I am sorry for being rude, does it make you mad, me calling your people godless communists?

Fiffe: What’s the problem here? I don’t see the problem. Except maybe your tone which, frankly, could stand to use some vice-type disciplining.


82 Responses to The Week In Which I Read And Liked A Lot Of Terrible Comics Instead Of Building Stories, Which Is Just Sitting Right Here Being Gloomy

  1. Danny Ceballos says:

    That ubiquitous photo of Grant Morrison (Official Press Release? Interstellar Mugshot?) always makes me laff! It looks like a rejected recruitment poster for the Marines.

  2. nfpendleton says:

    I get very uneasy when I read these recent criticisms of Lord Morrison. He’s going to put a hex on the whole lot of comics fandom. He’s a wizard, mind you…

  3. scott joyner says:

    those photos of the kittens were wonderful.

  4. mateor says:

    I Google-image searched for “kitten rape”, just to see if your vision was interpretive.

    Lots of hits but not that image. So, good find!

  5. I love you, Abhay. Best punchline yet. Killer.

  6. robert says:

    What?! Did you just write a positive review of Garth Ennis’ The Shadow? I hope that was supposed to be sarcastic.

    • robert says:

      Wait a minute…now i’m starting to think that your praise for Fury Max (which I naturally assumed to be ironic) was actually sincere. Are you kidding me? Were you actually being serious when you said that “along with Prison Pit 4 and Joe Lambert’s Helen Keller comic, [Fury Max] is one of the only comic capable of taking this year’s Prettiest Pony title away from Chris Ware’s Building Stories”? Tell me your not comparing that POS Nick Fury comic to a Johnny Ryan comic.

  7. robert says:

    BTW You should point out that Grant Morrison’s Happy is a direct attack on Garth Ennis’ The Boys. In the same way that his Animal Man was a reaction to the adult comic trends of the eighties, Happy is a reaction to the sort of crap that Mark Millar, Garth Ennis et al have been churning out for the last few years.

    • J Lundberg says:

      Has he said anything about this? I thought of Millar when I saw a few pages of happy, but figured it was only my imagination.

    • zack soto says:

      Except that, so far it’s not very good and the Boys was actually kind of fun for a hot minute there.

    • Happy! reads like Garth Ennis and Mark Millar made a baby that was more Millar than Ennis, I think. It had none of the depth of most Ennis books and all of the shallow edginess of Millar’s books. I dunno that it’s an attack or reaction, though. It feels like his take on a crime comic, a genre that he’s rarely bothered with.

      • robert says:

        No it’s clearly an attack on the Millar/ Ennis school of comic writing. Morrison even stole Darick Robertson so he could get the Boys visual style.
        It becomes clear just a few pages into Happy that he’s taking the Ennis sensibility and turning it up to a ten (Morrison parodies the deviant sex in the Boys with a hilarious scene involving a hooker and a hammer)
        But the issue only gets good when Morrison turns the genre on its head makes the hero a character even more silly/childish than the super heroes that Garth Ennis claims to hate (for a man who claims to hate super heroes Ennis sure obsesses over them a lot)
        Not sure what to think of Happy yet, but I’m always happy to see hacks like Mark Millar and Garth Ennis being taken down a notch.

      • MG says:

        I love Morrison and superheroes but your analysis of Ennis is way off. He’s great and we’d all be better of f if every writer toiling in the American comic mines didn’t have to pay their rent writing capes if they didn’t want to.

  8. zack soto says:

    Fury Max is fantastic. I will make do with the 13 issues we’re apparently getting and be happy it made it through the meat grinder at all.

  9. D. Peace says:

    Morrison bashing = the comment section will explode. Get ready!

    I’ve grown so, so weary of this absurd “dark versus light” dichotomy that fantasy/superhero comics have insisted upon forever. In fact, I can’t even point to a time in history when it wasn’t prevalent: Werthem and conservative society of the 50′s thought comics were too “dark” and should be more “light” so it was a few decades of Batman fighting boogie-monsters in broad daylight with scripts written for and seemingly by five-year-olds. Then a new generation decided comics were too “light” and should be more “dark” so we got your Watchmens and your Dark Knight Returns’ and a couple decades of derivative shit that was designed to demonstrate how kewl and toof comics were. Then, some creators decided comics should be more “light” so we get Morrison demanding, rather stupidly, that superheroes be shining beacons of goodness to guide mankind to his next stage of evolution. And that’s combated by the Ennisian school which states that superheroes are nasty poopy-heads and Morrison counters with this new thing that emphatically announces “NO, NU-UH! CRIME COMICS ARE THE ONES THAT ARE POOPYHEADS!” and on and on we go. The thing about Happy! that I find most frustrating is that it just furthers this arbitrary thematic dichotomy because, as we’re seeing, Morrison isn’t above it and has had his feelings deeply hurt by people online suggesting superheroes are as asinine as they actually are. (seriously, he’s been all kinds of butthurt lately and I think his ostensible “quitting” is just him taking his ball and going home because his pride is wounded)

    Well, fuck binary oppositions. Fuck them so hard. In reality, good comics are good and bad comics are bad and this “dark versus light” thing where all content has to either align itself with the forces of optimism or the forces of pessimism is a load of crap. It’s kind of of a gnostic, old-world religious, “something George Lucas probably likes” way to view mainstream comics and it’s garbage and has no resemblance to reality.

  10. Jayhawh says:

    Why do dems want to protect pedophiles more than our veterans? What jerks (dat dat’s wut I tink).

    Morrison’s shiny head made the Happy #1 review unreadable for me, I scroll up so I couldn’t see it. Good job Morrison.

    Why isn’t Fury Max on comixology? I can’t buy it now. :(

    • robert says:

      You’re lucky. Fury Max sucks.

      • robert says:

        I actually used to like some of Garth Ennis’ stuff. He did a brilliant Punisher story with Tom Mandrake (I think it was called Hidden) that is probably still in my top ten of favorite superhero stories… and I still like that Arseface one shot he did for Vertigo. But about four years ago he lost the plot and has been writing yawn-inducing crap ever since. I mean The Boys is embarrassingly bad… I think that everyone would agree with that.

      • Jayhawh says:

        I dunno I heard Fury Max was pretty good! ^_^

  11. Neil says:

    If Morrison says “the temple is being burned down and it’s time to run away” then I think he means the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, when the Jews who hadn’t already settled elsewhere fled into the diaspora and focused their worship on Torah reading rather than a central location. The destruction of the first temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC, which is covered in II Kings and retold in Chronicles, was not so much of an occasion to flee because it resulted only in the elites, the priesthood and ruling class, being taken as captives into Babylon while the rest of the population remained. The comparison is muddy but I think Morrison is likening working on a top franchise character like Batman to officiating at the Jerusalem Temple and saying that the monument attracts too much ire, so that he will now dedicate his efforts to reading Torah in the diaspora, or the Image comics, etc. thing of writing about Batman and Superman analogs.

  12. Don Druid says:

    I think Grant’s internalized “never show ‘em your tears”, although I can’t speculate on what social class has drilled that into him . . .

    But I think what he might have been saying, under all that, giving him the benefit of the doubt as a good Christian would or whatever that might be nowadays in the English-speaking world, is that he actually feels kind of fucking bad that all these people, pluggers-away with war-era mentalities and simple hopes to put food on the table, got wrung through the superhero machine to squeeze out their blood as ink so he could have the leisure to write a book about how superheros bring out the best in all of us.

    I think he felt bad, and felt guilty, and didn’t feel it in his bones until his readers came back at him over Supergods and the messages within, and that’s fine.

    I think after everyone in the world who read his book, really read it from cover to cover and had the interest to respond to it, said, Grant, what the fuck man, what the fuck was this, we never thought we’d get this from you

    I think he didn’t want to be associated with it anymore, and he had the power to say no to further involvement, and he said no.

    Once again, this is granting him more than his words merit, since he decided to take aim at his critics in this interview, for no reason that I could discern other than to save face. Then again, I don’t think he’d offer up any of this as self-criticism while DC still had his work in the hopper, and I understand that.

    But Grant has his own platform to say these things if he believes them. Class consciousness or whatever, it’s plenty hard for me to go to bat for someone who won’t go to bat for himself. Here’s hoping he does, and soon. Are his readers, and critics, the sort of people who would balk at sincere auto-critique? I don’t think they are.

  13. bobsy says:

    FMAX is basically the only comic on Marvel’s roster that all involved shouldn’t feel ashamed of – in its steeliness and determination to roll in the grit it captures and says something quite rare about the intoxicating but very ugly golden age of US imperialism. It’s a bloody good read, yes, worthy even of comparison to the blank and funny Johnny Ryan one with all the skill fighting. (Parlov’s the best artist Marvel have written a cheque to in years and years.)

    But like the Cuban interview thing in this review… I read it yesterday and thought, ‘Hhmm, bit weird, don’t get what that was about.’ And then a bit later I realised: it was basically a dig at Darryl Ayo for not being white and apolitical enough, right?

    So this column gets – rightly – incensed about Morrison providing cover for superhero publishers’ exploitation of their best creators; but then after this naked flirtation with morality puts its best reactionary clobber back on when someone legitimately criticises the larger issues of endemic racism, misogyny and representation that the medium is still deeply mired in. The tensions here are pretty ugly, and I think certain modes of thinking about these problems – within the horizon of the comics industry/medium – that have been dominant for several years, might be approaching collapse from such internal contradictions.

    • Pat says:

      “…legitimately criticises the larger issues of endemic racism…”

      maybe the issue is that “this piece of art is problematic because the artist is white” isn’t a legitimate criticism.

      • Jacob C. says:

        How about, “this piece is problematic because the artist is having a great time at the expense of people and a culture that he does not identify with, has no connection to, and finds “interesting” from a detached standpoint”? It’s legitimate as hell to criticize that, and Tucker’s dickish response to quite level-headed criticism doesn’t help anything.

      • Tim Hodler says:

        Hey guys –

        This is clearly a legitimate topic for debate, but please try to argue without getting too personal or overheated about it. Let’s keep it civil. Thanks.

      • Pat says:

        “How about, “this piece is problematic because the artist is having a great time at the expense of people and a culture that he does not identify with, has no connection to, and finds “interesting” from a detached standpoint”?”

        i honestly don’t see how that is any different from what i said. if the work is problematic based on how it deals with race then it can be criticized as such no matter what the race of the creator is.

        i’m not necessarily arguing that the works in question aren’t and i’d be more than open to listen to arguments that they are, but i don’t believe for a second that arguments based around the race of the creator are valid.

      • Ayo says:

        Pat: wild guess: white man, right?

      • Pat says:

        really?

      • Martin Wisse says:

        The issue isn’t being that the artist is white, the issue is that appropriating Black American history for your purile revenge fantasy is troubling.

        Also, that, yes, there are some issues that white (American) males just shut the fuck up about.

      • Christopher M says:

        I don’t think that “there are some issues that white (American) males just shut the fuck up about” – in fact, endemic racism, misogyny and imperialism deserves to be criticized not only by those most directly affected by it, but by anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-imperialist white American men. If we want to actually successfully fight racism, sexism, and imperialism, we need to build mass movements against them, and while white men are never going to be (and shouldn’t be) the leaders of a movement against racism or sexism, you’ll never be able to build a mass movement of any kind by pre-emptively casting out whole chunks of the population on the basis that they were born the wrong gender, ethnicity, or within the wrong set of arbitrarily-drawn political borders.

      • mateor says:

        That is so sad and boring.

  14. Tony says:

    I have good news for you, Stone. Humanoids is re-releasing Igor Baranko’s The Horde in January, but “now presented in its original size and in a pristine hardcover format.”

  15. Martin Wisse says:

    Well Pat, your arguments against Darryl Ajo’s criticism do come off a bit like derailing 101, where the first thing that any white cartoonist or writer when called upon their racism or appropriation or orientalism says is “but but my race shouldn’t matter and it’s racist to think that I’m not qualified to talk about this in this particular way” (shorter version, why can’t I say the N-word when all those rappers use it all the time).

    Context matters and yes, your race and gender plays a role in this. The author may be dead, but the colour of his corpse still matters.

    Obligatory caveat: that is not to say that people of colour can’t be racist or make mistakes or shit, or that no white person ever should write about Black people or Black history and all that good stuff, just that the latter need to be very very careful as it’s so easy to fall into racist stereotype, especially when you’re edgy and cool and obviously satirical up to the point that the KKK runs your strips in their magazine…

  16. Darryl Ayo says:

    The thing Pat doesn’t understand (apart from reading because seriously, he didn’t understand a word of what I wrote) is that we are always speaking from our cultural points of view, even when making fiction. So when there is a book like Lincoln Washington, yes, this is a white person having a happy-good time with playing around with black pain.

    So many white authors have written smartly about these issues. Just not this one. But hey, don’t listen to me, I’m just some angry black guy. Feel free to invent your own reality, Pat.

    • Pat says:

      Maybe I did completely miss the point (i mean that sincerely), but I find myself having the exact same issues with:

      “…we are always speaking from our cultural points of view, even when making fiction. So when there is a book like Lincoln Washington, yes, this is a white person having a happy-good time with playing around with black pain.”

      I think it’s unfair to make the creator such a major point of a criticism and then dictate point of view and authorial intent.

      I dunno, maybe I’m being overly defensive as someone who likes Marra’s work and has a massively different subjective experience with it. I’m certainly not trying to say that your experience with it isn’t valid, but my problem lies in that I don’t believe people are arguing that the reverse is true.

      • Pat says:

        Or at least that the reverse doesn’t come without judgment.

      • Didn’t Marra say that he’s doing it for a fun time, rather than a deep examination of slave-era racial politics or whatever the opposite is? I don’t think Darryl is dictating authorial intent so much as judging a work based on what it is — “rockin’ slavery period revenge piece” is fair, I think — and what the author himself has said about where he was coming from with it.

        Lincoln Washington and Tarantino’s upcoming Django Unchained (which I am greatly looking forward to) are both tales written by white men about a black experience, at least in part. It’s their take on historical fiction, or period fiction, or whatever, and that period is one in which blacks were treated as cattle at best instead of people. That is a fair assessment, right?

        Their approach is informed by who they are, which is white American men of varying backgrounds. They have a different connection to the concept of slavery and that time period than, say, Darryl would. Or even Kyle Baker, who created the incredible Nat Turner graphic novel, come to think of it. Baker’s approach is surely as violent as Marra’s — going by preview images, I haven’t read Lincoln Washington yet — but it doesn’t feel like a rocking action movie at all. It’s harrowing and awful. Baker can do big action, but he chose not to in that book, which is interesting.

        So yeah, death of the author, whatever, who cares. If the author is making remarks on his work, then his remarks are fair game for evaluating that book. Not even fair game, honestly. Those remarks are intended to provide context for us going into the book. Darryl judged it accordingly.

        It’s not that white people shouldn’t do these stories. I didn’t get that from Darryl’s post at all, though I cannot, and do not want, to speak for him. Shaft was created by a white guy, y’know? White people have created a ton of cool black characters and written great books about black life. But if you’re going to play around with a sensitive subject, particularly one whose effects are being felt to this very day in a depressingly wide variety of ways, you should probably be prepared for someone else to look at your exciting violent fantasy adventure comic through the lens of that history and find your funnybook lacking and/or disrespectful.

      • Ayo says:

        Thanks David. That’s what I mean.

      • Pat says:

        I think “fun time” is a fairly harsh rephrasing of what was said, but I would absolutely agree that the stated intent clearly had nothing to do with deep examination. I guess that’s where I have another issue with the criticisms though; if we’re accepting that intent matters here, isn’t it also harsh to attack the book for not being something it was never meant to be?

        I’m also still having a hard time reconciling

        “It’s not that white people shouldn’t do these stories. I didn’t get that from Darryl’s post at all, though I cannot, and do not want, to speak for him.”

        with

        “I could be way off base, but the emotion that I feel about “Lincoln Washington” might be similar to how many (not “all”) women feel about rape-revenge stories: this isn’t your story to tell.”

        If I’m missing something, I’m missing something, but I honestly just don’t see how that fits.

  17. Martin Wisse says:

    I don’t think that “there are some issues that white (American) males just shut the fuck up about” – in fact, endemic racism, misogyny and imperialism deserves to be criticized not only by those most directly affected by it

    Obviously, but first we need to listen.

  18. Old Dog says:

    During the print years of TCJ it was standard practice to send featured interviewees drafts of their interviews for proofreading and corrections, so that isn’t really something I can see the TCJ validly roasting Morrison for requesting. Of course, the author of this piece may not have known this.

  19. Pat — Darryl does not and can not regulate the sale or creation of books. He can’t spike someone else’s story, as far as I know (maybe he’s got a rifle and the address of every cartoonist in the world, I dunno). But he can look at a story and judge its… credibility, for lack of a better, amongst the people who are fictionalized in that story. Hence his point about rape-revenge movies — I, personally, know next to nothing about being a rape survivor, despite being fairly well read/raised by a social worker/sympathetic/not a moron. I could tell a rape-revenge story and pitch it as the Great Getback, the Rape-Revenge to End All Rape Revenges And Also All Rapes, but that story is not, by the strictest definition, my story to tell. Actual rape survivors could, and probably would, call me out on the things I screwed up or sensationalized.

    “That’s not your story to tell” isn’t saying “Shut up, honky.” It’s more like, “This is a subject that is very close to me and you are screwing it up/disrespecting it/whatever whatever.” It’s a criticism, not a call for censorship and segregated literature.

    • Jacob C. says:

      Excellently put.

    • Pat says:

      “That’s not your story to tell” isn’t saying “Shut up, honky.” It’s more like, “This is a subject that is very close to me and you are screwing it up/disrespecting it/whatever whatever.” It’s a criticism, not a call for censorship and segregated literature.

      Well yeah, like I’ve said, on a subjective level I can completely understand where he and anyone that agrees with him is coming from. It makes sense and I respect that position completely, and yeah, he can’t actually stop people from selling, reading, or buying the work (which he points out himself), but following it up with

      “But with works like these, please be aware of what you’re getting into.”

      undercuts the entire thing in my mind. Again, maybe I’m misreading and/or being overly defensive, but I can’t help but feel like there’s a judgment being made there that I would argue needs to be based on criticism of the actual work that’s a bit more substantial.

      I dunno, this is clearly a big, messy issue, and maybe a young-ish white guy from literally the whitest state in America really isn’t equipped to get into it. Beats me. I just know how I respond to the guy’s work, what I take from it, and there were a lot of bits in the criticisms I’ve read that I felt like rejected that kind of reaction sight unseen.

      Ugh, I thought I had this one figured out when I starting talking.

      • It’s fine, this stuff is sticky and intensely personal/subjective. I dug that Richard Corben/Brian Azzarello CAGE miniseries, and I heard some friends today talking about how dumb/racist it was. Different strokes, so to speak.

        But that rejection you mention is criticism in and of itself. I think Frank Miller’s The Spirit was a pretty bad movie, but really interesting from the point of view of “THIS is what happens when you let a superfan make a movie.” It’s the most comicbook-y movie since like… Dick Tracy. (I’m serious. Samuel L Jackson portrays several major comics villains archetypes via his costumes.) And if someone pointed out that none of that matters because, uh, the movie is awful, they’re rejecting my interpretation, yeah, but that doesn’t mean that either of ours is invalid. They both work, because we both get different things from it and can probably quantify those things we get and explain them to someone else. Both are true, as far as criticism goes, assuming you can support both.

        Darryl looked at Lincoln Washington and got a poke in the eye. You got a fun time. I figure both of you can back up your POVs with ease over the course of a couple short sentences that show us exactly where you’re coming from. I, personally, lean toward Darryl’s side more than yours, but that don’t mean you’re wrong. We’re all just different. Like — “the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you, may not be right for some.”

  20. Ian Harker says:

    Here’s the reason why I disagree with Darryl’s assessment of Lincoln Washington, he’s missing the joke entirely. The joke isn’t any of the stuff that offended him, that’s Marra teeing you up for the joke. The joke is once Lincoln Washington starts ripping everyone’s arms off and punching their heads off. Darryl, that’s Lucy pulling the football away! That’s the part where it gets so stupid that it completely undermines the 5 levels of irony that it already set up! That’s the part where Darryl, with teeth gritted, stops and says “i see what you did there, Marra you rascal!”

    C’mon dude!

    • James [Smith III] says:

      Or he got it and didn’t find it funny.

      I think it’s a positive sign that the conversation got this far before someone fell back on “can’t you take a joke!?” We’ve come a long way, baby.

      • Ian Harker says:

        I think he was focusing on the wrong part of the joke.

      • James Smith III says:

        I think that’s weird. Part of a joke is its set-up. Even if I were to buy into the “it’s just a joke” response (which I don’t), that’s like telling someone they should laugh even if the comedian screwed up the timing.

        Taking that further: Marra claims to be fascinated by (the black American) race. That doesn’t gross me out quite as much as some other people (some, not a lot). But building a joke on that foundation is inherently distancing to the people who are the OBJECT of that joke. It’s like asking a straight woman to be turned on by Penthouse.

        And I find it heartening that Marra himself isn’t trying to defend his work on the grounds that it’s “just a joke.” Jokes are as open to examination as anything.

      • Ian Harker says:

        It’s an offensive joke if black history ends up being the butt of the joke, but it’s not the butt of the joke. Marra makes himself and the reader the butt of the joke by stringing you along with an offensive premise then shoving that premise over the cliff of absurdity. The joke is about perceptions not realities.

        That’s at least how I read the joke.

      • James Smith III says:

        I don’t think “offensive” is objective. If Darryl’s offended, then the comic is offensive to him. I don’t think Marra *intended* it to be offensive, and intent is how people who aren’t offended by something tend to define “offensive.”

        At any rate, the question isn’t whether it’s offensive. Darryl’s contention was only that Marra’s work (which Marra explicitly states is meant to be dangerous and challenging) was treading on troubling ground, and then explained why it was troubling to him. Your response seems to be that he shouldn’t find it troubling because it’s funny. Which, funny enough, also misses the point. Jokes are contextual. Darryl has a different context than you. So the joke falls flat. Happens every day.

        Again: it’s deeply weird to expect that the object of Marra’s “fascination” be just as fascinated by its own existence as he is.

        (I want to note I still don’t agree there’s a joke here where you see one– your interpretation is no less contextual and personal than Darryl’s; but I’m not going to waste your time trying to convince you of that.)

      • Pat says:

        Totally agree.

      • Pat says:

        …with Ian. James ninja-ed that last one in there while I was typing.

    • Ian Harker says:

      But misconstruing an artist’s intentions to make a point is not effective criticism. It’s a straw man. The dismemberment angle in the story is just too consequential to the absurdity the work to be overlooked as the ultimate punchline. Marra goes out of his way to make this gratuitously obvious. Not to mention the part of the joke where Washington’s super-human power, which allows him to cartoonishly dismember klansmen, is explained as a manifestation of “generations of black pain” (to paraphrase). To take this at face value is just a willful misreading.

      Maybe Darryl just has no interest in this kind of gallows humor? I ultimately view Lincoln Washington as a joke about social & moral nihilism, a valid topic.

      • James Smith III says:

        Ian, you don’t have a lock on the only valid way to read this comic. You also aren’t addressing Darryl’s point at all.

        But your argument above is interesting, and I wish you’d led with that, rather than “it’s just a joke, c’mon, dude!”

      • James Smith III says:

        Not to crap all over you. I just think you stated it better this time. Thanks.

      • Ian Harker says:

        I feel like I know Darryl well enough at this point to pull the “C’Mon Dude!” card on him :)

  21. Ian Harker says:

    …and yes humor is an end within itself.

  22. Yeah, but the ‘it’s a joke come on lighten up’ thing is really not particularly interesting or valuable to this though is it?

    • Jesse post says:

      But that’s not what Ian said, and he keeps clarifying and repeating and restating that that isn’t what he said, and no one is listening. He said that the comic was SET UP to be the joke that Darryl picked apart, but then evolved to become a smarter criticism of that joke through a storytelling tactic of extreme absurdity.

      I mean, I don’t know if that’s actually true since I didn’t read the comic, but I did read and comprehend Ian’s comment about it.

  23. And Pat, this bit:

    “maybe a young-ish white guy from literally the whitest state in America really isn’t equipped to get into it. Beats me. I just know how I respond to the guy’s work, what I take from it”

    is precisely why you criticizing Darryl’s take is perhaps a bit ill-informed.

  24. James [Smith III] says:

    “Something I think about a lot is how we’re judged as people — we don’t always know what we’re doing, we do unconscious things, and those are the actions that people judge us on. I’m sure there’s an element of myself that does things unconsciously — even in my own work — that I’m not aware of but other people pick up on.” __ Benjamin Marra

    It’s pretty clever how Stone and Fiffe play into Abhay’s running theme of comics professionals shitting on reasonable criticism of their work. Like, way meta, dudes. I’ve been missing Stephen Colbert’s Formidable Opponent gag…

  25. James says:

    That reminds me that if I comment to this site in future, I’d better sign my whole name because the “James” commenting here isn’t me.

  26. Chuck Gower says:

    If Grant Morrison is going to put his ear to the wall to hear the fanboys praise, he has to realize he’s going to hear the raspberries as well. It’s the price you pay for building his own personal brand, but he needs thicker skin.
    Unless of course, he believes the fanboys are ‘right’, and is backing out because he’s more concerned with tarnishing his own brand (his name) than he is Batman.
    That HAS to be the case, because unless he’s completely lost his mind, how could anyone accept the concept of ‘the fanboys are RIGHT’?
    These are the same type of people that bought 8 billion copies of Rob Liefeld’s X-Force #1.
    They’re no different than a cat who is entertained by a ball of yarn. When they tire of it, you simply get a brighter color ball of yarn and keep the fun times a rollin’.
    Maybe this’ll be a clean break for Grant, and he can go to Image and come up with a comic completely outside the box and fans-be-damned make something that is unique and special and show just how great comic books can be and….
    Oh. Never mind.

    • Don Druid says:

      What ‘fanboy’ is going to bat for the creators of Superman? Is that what the sales numbers show, a vast boycott of DC’s Superman comics?

  27. michael L says:

    “Maybe Darryl just has no interest in this kind of gallows humor?”

    Wow Ian, pretty easy to say when you’re not the one on the gallows.

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