Monday, November 5, 2007

Angry, angry, angry

-Least likely development of the last week: furor over Wizard. It's hard to believe anyone can get worked up about a magazine whose relevance is nil for anyone with an internet connection. It's never been the periodical of record for North American comics, simply because it's never approached (or even aspired to) comprehensive coverage of North American comics. It's not event the voice of Fanboy Nation anymore--the internet has allowed for the dissemination of wildly divergent, frequently unhinged opinions about superhero comics, so Wizard's voice is easily lost in the cacophony. Not only that, Wizard's take on superhero comics (from what I remember) is rather meek by today's standards. Flocks of bloggers and message board posters take their opinions to extremes, drowning out Wizard with unearthly shrieks and screeches. And with Marvel/DC resorting to a variety of shock tactics to make their voices stand out from this murderous racket, Wizard's various "whose boobs are these?" features are rather quaint and humble. It almost reminds one of a simpler time, when the Big Two superhero publishers provided the cheesecake, and the socially retarded fan culture did the rest. Oh, for those halcyon days of yore....

I just can't get worked up about Wizard unless viewing them from a historical context. When the magazine was at its peak of influence, it was inimical to the entire comics industry--not just the superhero publishers or their devoted fans, but everyone from the shop owner to the comics creator. It helped fuel the speculator boom, instilled the zero-attention span mentality which still applies to comics fans today, and helped forge the Image founders' self-image (PUN INTENDED!), which led to them basically abandoning a movement which might have revolutionized the industry.* And that's not even getting into the issues raised by this contemporary piece of vitriol (via Dirk Deppey). Viewed from this historical context, the "magazine for men" blurb is like a footnote to a footnote.

*Though to be fair, this probably had more to do with the obscene amounts of money the Image founders raked in. The number of toy manufacturers and Hollywood studios interested in exploiting their intellectual properties may have been just as important.

-That manga reviewer at Comics Should Be Good is really something, huh? Really puts that Tezuka in his place.

-Speaking of reviews, Abhay Khosla's roundup of Zuda's current offerings covers a lot of what I find annoying not just about the Zuda stuff (which I hadn't bothered to look at until following the links in his review), but many independent comics in general. I'm so sick of lower primates, ninjas, pirates, robots, various monsters, and cynical-yet-infallible nerds (oh wait, that last one is a webcomics thing). Which serves to remind me that the effectiveness of these hackneyed cultural touchstones largely depends on the skill of those manipulating them. That kind of goes without saying, but it's still worth repeating. At this point in my life, if I see some new comic which depends on ape-based comedy (or whatever), my first inclination is to dismiss it out of hand. So the cartoonist(s) have to work extra hard to win me back over, just because they're relying on archetypes I associate with the worst kind of hackwork. I would say that using played out shit like cowboys and zombies is counterproductive, but maybe comics featuring cowboys fighting zombies sell better than the kind of shit I actually want to read.

Anyway, the real reason I brought this up is this one particular comment in reaction to the review:

If you dona.t [sic] want to like anything a big company does, that's your perogative [sic]. But, at least be honest about it.

This, my friends, is the state of online comics discourse. I'm not sure how much we can blame Wizard for this state of affairs, though I wish we could. Also irritating, from Brian Wood's Lucca Festival guest blog:

This trip is the perfect balm to the last several weeks of horrible deadlines, endless (and pointless) online conversations/arguments about Vertigo sales numbers, stresses related to launching a new series, etc.

Jesus, dude, leak some numbers if you're not satisfied with the way these discussions are going. Although you might not be happy to find that the current discourse seems to be moving away from systemic distribution/marketing problems and towards "their comics suck now." Or, since nobody's really singling out DMZ for condemnation, maybe it passes muster. Anyway, sorry to contribute towards making your trip to Italy necessary, Mr. Wood. If you see Gipi again anytime soon, tell him I liked Notes For a War Story.

EDIT: WAIT WAIT WAIT! J. Longo, creator of the universally-panned (and, trust me, genuinely bad) This American Strife shows up to defend his good name:

Abhay,
Thanks for your detailed hatred regarding my comic. I wish I could tell you that it bothered me. . .but it didnt [sic]. Instead, I'll thank you for the extra added attention you've helped my comic receive. Couldn't have done it without your help.

I look forward to seeing your comic being posted on Zuda. Thanks, buddy.

J. Longo thus sets a torrid pace for Asshole of the Month. Who will match this incredible effort? More importantly, who will admit to actually liking his terrible comic?

8 comments:

Alicia said...

I'm still stunned at how bad that MW review at Comics Should Be Good is. It may qualify as basically the worst piece of reviewing I've ever read... and I read video game reviews on a regular basics, so it's not like I don't read a lot of bad pieces of reviewing anyways. It was just terrible, unfair, and non-useful in every way a review can be.

Anonymous said...

Judging from that MW review, no Japanese person is allowed to criticize the USA's treatment of Japan because of the militarism in Japan's past. And Japan having a Self-Defense Force is equivalent to all the controversial military actions the US has engaged in over the years. But I guess it would have taken too much effort to do some research on what Tezuka's actual views toward war and Japanese militarism were.

Dan Coyle said...

Where is she getting this thing about Viz's "First refusal"? I've never heard of that.

I have to say Ode to Kirihito was pretty sexist and left a bad taste in my mouth, but the rest of that review was just bizarre and kind of ignorant.

David Gallaher said...

>> I would say that using played out shit like cowboys and zombies is counterproductive, but maybe comics featuring cowboys fighting zombies sell better than the kind of shit I actually want to read.>>

Heya,

There are no zombies in HIGH MOON, no vampires either. The story itself I wrote over three years ago - and I think I should have a chance to tell it.

I talk about the project on my production blog here:
http://high-moon.blogspot.com/2007/11/challenge-of-writing-for-zuda.html
http://high-moon.blogspot.com/2007/11/original-character-notes-for-high-moon.html
http://high-moon.blogspot.com/2007/11/world-building-blest-texas.html

If it doesn't work for you - that's all well and good, but to suggest that I didn't have a serious story I wanted to tell is a little insulting.

Anyway, I pitched two other concepts to ZUDA, and this is the one that wanted, so this is the one that's online. Neither of those projects had werewolves, zombies, ninjas, pirates, or any supernatural elements at all.

If you hate it, you hate it - and that's fine. Steve and I tried to make the best use out of 8 pages. Everything that the series will build on is right there. And I think we have something that is very different than every other piece there.

All the best,

- David Gallaher
Writer, Co-creator: HIGH MOON

Dick Hyacinth said...

I was actually thinking more about that Cowboys vs. Aliens thing Platinum did, but as long as you're here....

I don't think I said that comics featuring ninjas, zombies, etc., were inherently bad, just that their creators have an uphill battle trying to convince me of the quality of their comic featuring said tropes, due to my prejudices against said tropes. I certainly wouldn't say you don't deserve the chance to tell your story, but it's just not the sort of thing that appeals to me.

(My history with westerns doesn't help. I used to hate them, but then I married a historian of the American West. Which, in turn, means I learned a lot about the American West. Now when I read/watch a western, I expect something more like Deadwood, what with its exploration of class and racial tensions, the role of capitalism vs. the myth of the rugged individual, etc. I know that's unfair baggage to bring to a comic involving werewolves, but that's the way it is, I guess.)

Like most of the Zuda comics I read, I found it very choppy and hard to follow. I realize that's due to the format, etc, but that's still my main impression. It's certainly better than This American Strife, for whatever that's worth.

David Gallaher said...

>> Now when I read/watch a western, I expect something more like Deadwood, what with its exploration of class and racial tensions, the role of capitalism vs. the myth of the rugged individual, etc. I know that's unfair baggage to bring to a comic involving werewolves, but that's the way it is, I guess.>>

Also, that's a LOT to cram into 8 screens, which is actually you know, only 4 pages. Most comics these days don't get to the meat of their story in 4 pages .. let alon tackle all of the issues you address.

Yeah, HIGH MOON is a little chopped, I tried to borrow the cadance of old time radio shows with their dialgoue beats and stacato, terse lines. (I was raised on old time radio) - so, it's structured to be quick and a little jarring at first.

I'm not saying I don't agree with you to some extent... I mean, I used to HATE westerns - and I spent three years researching this project, so I'm going to try an not blow it - we're not trying to hack out a story here - we are working hard to do something fun - and tell a story we want to tell.

It's really fun to be a apart of this experiment, but that doesn't mean it's easy dealing with a zillion naysayers - and have to go trolling for votes.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I didn't mean to say that I expected Deadwood from your comic--I don't really expect it from any comic, just like I don't expect any comic to be like The Wire. But that's a different subject, more or less.

The trolling for votes thing is pretty horrific. I guess that's why J. Longo is making an ass of himself. I can't say I'm all that sympathetic about the naysayers part--that's just part of making popular art, right? Or do you mean the anti-Zuda types (which would include me, I guess)? If so, I'm not sure that's going to affect who wins the contract, though it might be a long term headache.

David Gallaher said...

This turned out to be a LOT longer than I wanted it to be. Sorry about that.

>> Or do you mean the anti-Zuda types (which would include me, I guess)? >>

That's more or less what I mean -- I mean - just like any experiment(like Vertigo, Epic, Minx, Helix), it's going to have its ups and downs - and certainly, it's share of headaches for everyone, but, I mean I for one never thought I'd see Corey Lewis doing a project for DC - and I like that Zuda is opening doors at DC that have been shut for a very, very long time. Or, damn, Bayou - that's something VERTIGO would never publish. I think, to a degree, Zuda is something to celebrate -- flaws and all. Nobody has any clue where it will go - and that's kind of exciting, at least to me.

The trolling for votes thing does sort of suck -- because I actually personally know most of the folks I'm competing against. And, that's not so awesome.

There are several reasons I chose to send HIGH MOON to Zuda. One was the chance to work with Dave, Kwanza and Ron again, I had a fantastic artist, and I had this story that I was willing to tell. Yeah, there is the thing about the contract and the money, but when I was approached - the contract and the Zuda name didn't exist yet. I'm doing this because I love what I'm doing - and I'm sure Rey, Longo, Mhan, TS3, and the others are doing this for the love - they almost have to because only one of us is going to win.

Anyway, there's more backstory than you need - but you are welcome to drop me a line anytime through my website if you'd like to follow-up on anything I've said.

All the best,
David