John Seavey
Everyone has that point where they can no longer separate the art from the artist, and they just can’t keep following a person’s work because as talented as they are, that person is a thundering asshole.

(And let me stress, this is different from suddenly realizing that someone’s actually horrifically untalented and that everything you thought you liked from them was really just superficially entertaining in a glossy way that covered up its huge, fundamental flaws. That’s what we call a “Mark Millar” moment.)

But I was interested in finding out what makes it happen for other people.


I don't hate Warren Ellis, but when I gave up on Authority (after the first Millar storyline, which felt to me like a giant insult caricature of American superheroes), I just sold all my Authority issues, including the Ellis ones. I don't know where it went after that, but why hang onto a piece of that series as it was then going that far from anything I want? Why hang onto the Ellis Authority if he thought Millar was a good successor?

I haven't looked at the new Stormwatch.

I kind of shy away from British comic-book writers in general now. But let's be clear: Morrison and Gaiman1 aren't so awful; yeah they come out of British horror comics, but they treat American pop culture with affection rather than fury. Millar (or probably his editors) wants to mock American violent culture while wallowing in it. I can do that myself, I can read Yank writers who do that, I don't some Scot who doesn't know my country assuming that all we are and all we produce is like that.

I mean, Captain America mocking France as surrender monkeys in the 1940's? Really? Apparently all Americans were always Fox News in his head.

Gar.

Beside the point, I know. OK, start again:

Sometimes it's just getting wise to someone's tropes and getting sick enough of them. Chris Claremont and Jim Shooter both mean a lot to me in an odd way, but I'm not running out to get books they write because, well, I've already absorbed a lot of what they have to say, I guess.

Shooter comes to mind because of things he fostered that collapsed oddly: The New Universe and Valiant. But I still have my Valiants. I didn't sell them when they were worth lots, and now I forget I have them in a closet. Hm. So while I sort of gave up on his new stuff, that's not it either.

I don't know. This week I was looking at posts I made several years ago. Like my old Killing Joke post that seemed to attract so many views--and there's a bit in there about realizing that Alan Moore was probably actually a real creep to people (rather than the victim genius his fans seem to want to read him as). But I was always skeeved by Alan Moore.

I'm not thinking of really strong comics examples of what Seavey is talking about. Well, Frank Miller (as mentioned is Seavey's post) is obvious. But there are some mild cases like it.

Oh, wait. The "Marvel-less Seven," weren't they called? I actually gained respect for Larsen over time, and got really sick of some the others. I don't know, that's different still.

You want a counter-example? Neal Adams may actually be losing his mind now, and I haven't always loved Neal Adams or anything, but my respect for him has gone up over time. Yeah, he wasn't exactly as much a one-man new wave as he has sometimes represented himself, but there is a germ of truth in it. Our comics culture needs to get beyond Adamsian melodrama, but he really did reinvigorate American comic-book illustration, and he deserves respect for that.

1: (For the record, I like very few Gaiman stories, but the man doesn't piss me off with his career. He's just like a pop star that I don't care for.)
philippos42: Miss Tyra funny face (funny face)
In a comment you may not be able to see, I said,

"Yeah, I could see Diana with Tasha Teranova (in space), Mala (in the past) or Io (in a self-destructive leading-her-on way), but I never really bought Diana/Artemis, as I've said. I could sorta buy Mike/Artemis, maybe Artemis/some Hellender, but not Di/Temi."

and anyone who knows the Byrne Wonder Woman is entitled to roll their eyes at one part of that.

Read more... )

Like I said, almost.
The Time Team is the first of the digest-sized Go Girl! volumes.

I'm not the target audience for this, I know. But in theory this has the sort of things I want to see. A female protagonist; an easy generationality (Lindsay is a second-generation superhero); a light touch; self-contained issues as part of the larger life of the character.

And yet, getting to the end of it, I thought, "I'm glad I didn't pay money for this." (Then I thought, "Is that fair? I mean, would I really regret paying $6 for this when I was buying comix?" Actually, I have paid much more for such thinly written stuff. And to be honest, I don't think I personally care enough to own the whole run of some the manga I've been reading lately either. Maybe Land of the Blindfolded, but not Takeru or Penguin Revolution. But when I was buying comix, I might have bought Takeru & not Land of the Blindfolded. It's so girly! But mostly I don't care about having my own private library anymore.)

Anne Timmons's art avoids the pinhead look of so many superhero comix; it's simple, yet both representational & expressive. The digest format suits her page layouts of 1-3 panels per page.

I just don't like it very much.

The writing is so simple, the formulae so familiar. Would I like it better if I were a child? I don't know.

...

Ah, the syndrome of the jaded reviewer, who's seen too much the same & wants something different. At some point you should probably look for other work, once you're only praising things that are sufficiently subversive & surprising. Or titillating in the way you like.

If I were a professional reviewer, at some point I might have to give up on fiction & go into politics.

Can you imagine a jaded reviewer as a politician or pundit? Constitution questions: "Wouldn't it be more interesting if we rewrote the constitution so that elections were every six months, but each voter could only vote once every three years? I want to see that, just for my own amusement!" Statutes: "Let's have a five-year mandatory minimum for possession of whiskey, & sell cocaine in the drugstores! But only for three years!" Foreign policy: "NATO, SchmATO, what happens if the USA's primary ally is Brazil? Ooooh...."

No, it's more that US politics is so freaking resistant to change, that you can call for change for years without getting anywhere. The new & different is something you push for for a long time. It becomes a long fight, & you can constantly call for reform. That has a certain appeal to me.

Actually, that probably means the easily bored give up on politics, & go off in search of things that more quickly sate their boredom. Ah.

...

Anyway, my problem with Go Girl! may in fact be partly that it's not what I'm used to. Anne Timmons's art may need more time to grow on me. But it's also--so old hat. Someone who'd never read a comic book about superheroes or teenagers might like it. But I found it silly & bland.

Part of it is probably that my copy was badly bound, so bits of the page were cut off. At one point Lindsay appears to say, "These guys look like kings. How did we end up in Norway?" Of course it's, "These guys look like Vikings."

Maybe it's that I'm adjusting from relatively high-impact actioners, & the deeply emotionally invested Land of the Blindfolded, & Go Girl! is so light, so low-impact, in effect. And it's short.

I never read Trina Robbins's Barbie comix. They did go for a while, as did her California Girls (which I may have flipped through once; I don't remember for certain, but I seem to recall being unimpressed). Maybe she's just kind of a thin writer. Not my cuppa.
Metamorpho was a whimsical DC comic book in the 1960's. I only know it by reputation, but I'm given to understand that it was merry.

For some reason--or, worryingly, for no reason at all--DC for the last 20 years has insisted on portraying the characters from that series as deeply broken & morose.

I have a hypothesis that most "general DC fans" & most DC editors are unfamiliar with characters' own books & base their impressions of characters other than the Bat- & Super- casts on the various characters' appearances in books like JLA, & their guest appearances in Bat- & Super- books.

I wonder if Metamorpho's morosity is somehow traceable to the infamous The Brave and the Bold #123 (when it was a Batman team-up book). This is the issue which excited a minor controversy ten years later in the letters pages of Mike W. Barr's The Outsiders. Mike W. Barr condemned The Brave and the Bold #123 as a throwaway non-continuity Batman/Metamorpho/Plastic Man team-up in which Rex (Metamorpho) was out-of-character, being uncharacteristically downbeat. And MWB made a point of writing Rex as a happy guy.

But then The Outsiders was canceled, & Rex turned evil & died in a very strange final arc. Metamorpho was resurrected in Invasion! & got stuck in Justice League Europe, where he became mopey, because his wife had moved on while he was dead & evil. Then he was killed off again, & is now back in some strange form in a new version of the Outsiders.

~ ~ ~

I like Shakespeare, I do. Underrated comedian, who is perhaps not well served by his worshipers. Look, Hamlet, stripped to plot, is a morbid sack of vomit, much like Titus Andronicus--it has survived because the soliloquy is that good. Romeo & Juliet seems like a romp gone strangely off to me. I liked Macbeth as a kid, but am afraid that on seeing it or reading it again, I'll now hate it. But yeah, good comedian, & decent work on his "histories." Some few of the sonnets are brilliant. Too bad English teachers mistake "tragedy" for "serious" & thus for "good."

But in no way did Shakespeare invent the human or something. English culture would have muddled through much the same without him, thank you very much. And I say this as a matter-of-fact Stratfordian; Shakespeare's output, much of it adapted from previous material, isn't that incredible in a world where J. S. Bach existed.

~ ~ ~

All of which is to say I read The Sandman: Dream Country yesterday.

As a longtime comix fan, I naturally started with, "the one where Gaiman kills off Element Girl." They actually gave Bob Haney & Ramona Fradon credit on the title page for creating her, but I don't think it's the sort of thing Fradon would approve of, exactly. Gaiman's odd little pro-suicide piece might have gone down better if it weren't done as the canon fate of a goofy whimsical trademark.

Also, I don't think you're doing Colleen Doran's art a lot of favors with that inker (M. Jones III?).

Then I went to, "the one with the Charles Vess art." I have never in fact seen or read Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Perhaps this hot mess would have made more sense if I had. Can someone familiar with both tell me if the references work? There was some mildly cute characterization, but not a lot of, y'know, story there. It seemed like he was trying to ride on reference to a more well-known work with which his audience would be familiar, which is something I consider poor writing.

I read the introduction, & on reflection, no, I don't think the man's father was telling him the truth.

Then I figured I'd read the Kelley Jones ones.

I'll give Gaiman points for actually freeing Calliope from bondage in the first one.

Then there's "A Dream of a Thousand Cats." Maybe it's because I read that one last, but this one affected me. It really got to me. Not enough for me to let slide that apparently the colorist doesn't know what a blue point Siamese is (or Gaiman assumes that at least some cat owners who care about this can't tell blue from chocolate). Ahem. But no, it got to me.

Then I thought about it. Dream's just a big fat liar, isn't he?

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