Thursday, May 3, 2007

Taking aim at two very broad targets

-The thing that surprises me most about the Vince Colletta letter that's been making the rounds? The neatness of his handwriting. It's just much better penmanship than I expected from the infamous inker. As for the interview transcript: I just quit reading after a while. It seemed too much like an end-of-the-show Saturday Night Live skit:

VC: I told Galton that Jim Shooter was a saint, and that the editors' complaints were unfounded.
INT: But they were legit complaints! Shooter shoved Michael Higgins' head into Carl Potts' aquarium! The fish were flapping on the floor!
VC: Yeah, but Galton doesn't know that, right? I'm trying to save Shooter's job.
INT: Oh, yeah. I get it.
VC: So anyway, Galton tells me he heard that Shooter was calling Hobson a drunk.
INT: Ooh, that's not very nice.
VC: Who cares?!? I'm trying help out my buddy Jim. It's irrelevant.
INT: It's still not very nice.
VC: Okay, whatever. So I tell him that Shooter didn't understand how big companies work.
INT: But that's not true! Shooter is a genius of corporate intrigue!
VC: GOD DAMMIT, I know that's not true!! Christ, aren't you paying attention?
(Repeat for five minutes, ending with Colletta killing the interviewer and/or himself.)

Man, I'm going to laugh if the interviewer turns out to be fairly well-known in the comics community. Let me rephrase that: I really, really hope the interviewer turns out to be someone well known in the comics community.

-There are some things worse than being a superhero fan. All hardcore fans are pathetic on some level; I'm always shocked at the degree of deep, personal injury that some Marvel/DC fans evince when their favorite characters somehow diverge from their ideal type (which is, of course, a completely subjective thing depending on the pathetic fanboy in question, thus in turn assuring us that someone's always going to be unhappy about the color of Hawkman's suspenders). But seriously, I think Transformers fandom might be the most damning indictment of Western culture to date. Not that there's anything more ridiculous about the concept than any other object of fannish passion--actually, it's a really great concept for a toy line aimed at young boys. But man, I'm floored by the efforts of Transformers fans to somehow synthesize the disparate mythoi of this particular intellectual property into one true narrative-- it puts DC fans to shame, frankly. These guys have done so much with so little.

Really, is there any other group which has built up such an elaborate fan culture based on such triviality? Is there any cultural significance to the Transformers beyond nostalgia?

-I'm really shocked that freeloaders sitting in the manga aisle is a genuine problem, rather than a calculated effort by bitter Marvel/DC apologists to discredit manga sales in bookstores. I really have never encountered this. Bear in mind that I only go into the big chain bookstores once or twice a month. I do see people browsing the manga all the time, and they do occasionally get in my way, but I never see them just sitting around reading stuff. You know where I do see that? My local comics store, which even has a couple of chairs for the purpose. Actually, the only patrons who've ever truly annoyed me as I was browsing for manga were several RPGers who were talking loudly and ignoring my dirty looks as I tried to peer around them.* Not really annoying, more like embarrassing: One time a teenager shopping with her mother asked me what kind of manga I liked, but I didn't really want say, "The kind with teenagers struggling to survive after an earthquake or tsunami or something." I think I might have mumbled something about horror manga and moved along. Maybe I'm just a prude--I worry what people think when I'm the only adult male in an aisle crowded with teenage girls. Especially when I have to ask one of them where the tentacle rape manga is. (Just kidding! I know where it is.)

*Actually, the RPG fuckers at certain comics shops are exponentially more annoying than anyone I've encountered reading manga at the bookstore. Thankfully my retailer doesn't sell that stuff, but I do encounter it when I'm buying comics while at home or visiting the in-laws. Do these people have jobs? They seem to be in these stores all hours of the day, quoting Family Guy dialogue and drinking Diet Rite while lasciviously caressing their 10 sided dice with their greasy, stubby fingers, coated orange from hot wing sauce. Or, if you happen to be in the main Mile High Comics store in Denver, they're all goth kids.

-Little did I know that Dr. Doom was so well-versed in the Legion of Super-Heroes and the complicated fan-professional politics of contemporary DC comics. The fact that I'm not reading the current LSH thing in JLA/JSA is really a testament to how much I really don't want to read anything written by the Geoff Johns of 2007 and the Brad Meltzer of all of recorded history. Steve Flanagan confirms that this is the correct decision.


Sleestak said...

- Really, is there any other group which has built up such an elaborate fan culture based on such triviality?

Pro Sports.

Matthew E said...

No, no; pro sports is less trivial than anything else that has fandom (that I can think of right now, anyway). Because in sports, the objects of interest are real actual people who are struggling to reach the pinnacle of success in their real-life careers. That's not trivial. Compare it to comic-book fandom, where the objects of interest are pictures and words printed on paper.

Dick Hyacinth's Ghost said...

Yeah, I think sports have tremendous cultural importance. Except for hockey.

Unknown said...

Okay, then in regards to Matthew's argument, the obvious response would be pro wrestling.

Hugh Stewart said...

Dick, I'm interested in starting a 'Teenagers survive some terrible catastrophe' manga.

Which would you recommend, Dragon Head or Drifting Classroom? Or is there some better alternative?

Dick Hyacinth's Ghost said...

You would be better off asking Ryan Sands or someone else from Same Hat! Same Hat! or one of the many other bloggers who read way more manga than I do (David Welsh, Shaenon Garrity, John Jakala, Bridg Alverson, etc).

But if you want to listen to a manga dilettante, I have to say I greatly prefer Dragon Head. Drifting Classroom is worth reading, and a lot of people seem to prefer it. I havne't been crazy about any of the Umezu I've read, (which basically means I suffer from bad taste in manga, from what I understand).

Having said that, I really find Dragon Head to be one of the most addictive comics I've ever read. I find its post-apocalyptic scenario to be much more compelling, with a more interesting array of characters. It's not great art/literature, but it's very entertaining.

Also, I should probably point out that there are no teenagers in Drifting Classroom, only adults and children.

Dick Hyacinth's Ghost said...

Oops, that should be "Brigid Alverson." Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who grew up with Transformers...

...I am not remotely offended when people diss it. The cartoon was horribly written, the toys I spent my money on could have been spent on better things, all non-Simon Furman comics are negligible, and horrible even by kids comics standards.

It's fun stuff, but I choose to let it remain just something that entertains me. However, I don't dislike it, or feel like disliking people who have greater passion for it than I do, because in the end if you seek that sort of thing out you wind up punishing yourself. And after that, your only options are to become a scientologist or an editor at DC Comics.

Timothy Liebe said...

I'm w/Sleestak - these days, that "pinnacle of success" is nothing more than repated instances of bodily and chemical abuse. Moreover, with VERY few exceptions, their careers end in their mid-late Thirties, which is when the rest of us's professional lives are just getting into swing - and again with few exceptions, they're treated as little better than (briefly well-paid) sharecroppers by greedy owners who exploit the "manly purity of sport" fantasies pro sports fans buy into.

Whatever else you can say about comics or anime or (ranging farther afield in the same general direction) SF, at least those are the creative and intellectual efforts of geniunely talented men and women, and deserve to be placed on at least as high a pinnacle as pro sports figures.

I am not now, nor have a ever been, a jock,
Tim Liebe
Dreaded Spouse-Creature of Tamora Pierce
- and co-writer of Marvel's White Tiger comic, #5 out now

Betty said...

Based on the title of this post, I naturally assumed it would be about Power Girl.

Anonymous said...

The Vince Colletta piece was not an interview but a recorded telephone conversation with (?)