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Random Thoughts! (August 11, 2009)

by  in Comic News Comment
Random Thoughts! (August 11, 2009)

I am back once again to deliver bite-sized nuggets of comic book goodness! It’s random thoughts time! Get excited!

Random Thought! Came across a poll on the CBR forums asking who people think is the worst Marvel editor-in-chief ever. The results are horribly questionable because the votes skew to the last four EICs heavily since, surprise surprise, those are the only ones people really remember as being EIC! Anyone before that has been glossed over with lovely rosey nostalgia, and an utter lack of knowledge (on the average fan’s part) of what went on behind-the-scenes then. What bothers me, honestly, is that Joe Quesada was in second place. Really? In what areas exactly has he failed so much? With creators, his track record has been very good compared to previous regimes — we haven’t had too many pissed off creators leaving Marvel in a huff (have there really been any?). He’s brought in talent on books and in editorial that would not have worked at Marvel otherwise — Axel Alonso as an editor probably being the biggest single move that altered Marvel’s creative direction, I think. Do people really forget the energy and creativity that came in his initial years? Have there been questionable choices? Sure, of course, no one is perfect — but I think Quesada’s tenure as EIC has been one of the strongest, if not the strongest in Marvel’s history, at least on a creative front — in that comparing the context in which Marvel operated for the past ten years to any other era is difficult (Stan Lee’s one-man operation, for example, was such an entirely different beast that the two are different companies really). The internet alone has been such a game changer… Basically, I think people focus far too much on the negatives of Quesada’s tenure (and, by negatives, I mean “One More Day”), forgetting the amount of fantastic material that’s come out of Marvel. Compare the last ten years to the ten years that came before. There’s a reason Quesada has been EIC for the past nine years and doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving anytime soon.

Random Thought! Go read this. Done? Good. For the last time, fans do not own the characters. They have no claims over them. If you do not like what a creator is doing — at the behest of the company that owns them, always remember that — that’s fine. You can critique the comics in question, you can discuss them, hell I think it’s even okay to raise your problems with those who wrote and/or drew the comics in a respectful way in the hopes of learning what they were going for and providing feedback that they will actually listen to (hence the ‘respectful’ part). Acting like a jackass only shows you to be a jackass. I know, I’ve got plenty of experience in that area. But we all have to grow up at some point. Or, I hope we do. (If you want some good examples of me being a jackass, google my name and Fanboy Rampage, and look for the series of polls I did on Millarworld once with Richard Basey… there was a point to them, but it was still an asshole move.)

Random Thought! That said, respectfully raising criticism probably works best with writers or artists you don’t hate. If only because… if you hate their work, why are you talking to them? If it’s someone you like, raising a work you dislike could lead to a good conversation — maybe the creator was trying something that didn’t work, maybe it isn’t something they’re happy with, maybe it’s just a case of a differing opinion, but that’s worthwhile feedback, I think (for both parties). Of course, bring it up politely and with genuine interest in knowing the other side. It’s been my experience that pros have little problem discussing work you dislike so long as you’re nice about it and want to hear their argument for why you may be wrong in disliking it. Hell, I’m usually more curious about the stuff I didn’t like from writers I follow, because I want to know how their approach was different, what circumstances produced work unlike their usual output… then again, maybe it’s all rude and I’m miguided. I don’t know.

Random Thought! Do writers really enjoy what their colleagues are doing as much as they say they do? I mean, do other Marvel writers really like work that’s universally panned? Are they that disconnected from readers or is it just being polite? And, if it’s the former… what does that say about their books and the company they work for? (I’m working hard to not focus on specific people here… can you tell?) I have absolutely no issue with a writer not wanting to publically bash a friend or product put out by a company he/she works for, but sometimes it works to make them look bad, too.

Random Thought! Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 is a pretty decent book. I kind of wish Mark Millar hadn’t spoiled the last page this weekend, though. Rereading The Ultimates last week had me pretty excited for that issue (and thanks to advance .pdfs for review purposes… heh).

Random Thought! Sometimes, with my reviewing and other discussions of comics online, creators drop me a line to say thanks for the kind words, and it always makes me feel weird. It’s great to know that they’ve read what I’ve written and that they appreciate the nice things I say, but… it feels weird for them to thank me. They did the quality work, while all I did was notice and then tell others. Weird.

Random Thought! Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk on Dark X-Men? I believe I shall purchase that.

Random Thought! If you haven’t go out and get the first two issues of Dark Reign: Zodiac by Joe Casey and Nathan Fox. You’ll thank me, because it’s the best comic Marvel has published this year.

Random Thought! I want you to notice that whenever I reference negative fan behaviour online, it never comes from the people who comment here (at least in the comment sections I’ve been reading). I’ve said it before, but thanks for that. It’s great.

Random Thought! In all honesty, Dark Reign: Zodiac may, in fact, be the best Joe Casey comic since Automatic Kafka. So pay attention.

Random Thought! “Weapon” by Matthew Good is a damn fine song.

Random Thought! Today’s “If I Can be Serious for a Moment” column by Chris Lansdell on rating wrestling matches and what criteria various critics use when determining ratings is an interesting piece and something that translates well to comic reviewing. Like some asked in the column, I’m not a big fan of star ratings, because they’re inaccurate over time and more emphasis is placed on them by people than the actual review most of the time (including myself). The review (aka what I spend FAR more time working on) should get the attention, but people like to look at the star ratings, get their impression there, and move on. I wish I could provide a detailed analysis of how I arrive at my star ratings, but it’s pretty simple: I begin with how good I thought the comic was, I write the review (during which time I often reveal to myself various positives and negatives I hadn’t considered immediately), and then I alter my star rating to match the review. So, ratings will often go up or down as I’m writing. I may begin hating a book, but, when I talk my way through it, I realise that it wasn’t THAT bad, or the opposite happens. Sometimes nothing changes. But, no, I don’t like rating comics — or anything like that. When I was an editor at my university paper, I got our Arts section to switch from star ratings for CD reviews to a three-tiered system of: buy, burn, and bag. I much prefer that as a guideline since it’s clear exactly what a reviewer thinks where the difference between 3 and 3 1/2 stars is a bit murky. Say what about will about the Buy Pile column (and I’ve said plenty), I do like Tabu’s categories, which let you know exactly what he thinks about the books in a clear way.

Random Thought! For all of those who demanded I read The Incredible Hercules for over a year now, I have read tomorrow’s issue and… it was okay. I’m not sold on it. But I’ve tried it, so get off my back. Please?

Random Thought! And, finally, a reminder: I will be doing a 24-hour blogathon over at GraphiContent on Saturday August 22 starting at 9am EST. I will be posting every 30 minutes for 24 hours for charity (I want to emphasise that). You can sponsor me by donating to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Anything you can manage is great. Just remember to let me know via comment or e-mail (chevett13 AT yahoo DOT ca) or whatever that you’ve donated so I can keep track of what money is raised. During the Blogathon, I will be writing about Brian Michael Bendis’s Avengers run, beginning with “Avengers Disassembled” right up to the end of the most recent arcs in New Avengers and Mighty Avengers — with plenty of tangents along the way. Like I may have to discuss a certain 12-issue run that sets up the main player in “Dark Reign”… I’ll have 49 posts to fill, so there will be LOTS of tangents and a lot of fun. Even if you can’t donate any money, stop by during the day and comment. I’ll probably also throw up several more reminders as we get closer to the date — and during the day itself. The last time I did this, it was a lot of fun, and this year looks like an even better time — or, more insane at least.

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