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Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, 2/25/09

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§ Scott McCloud has relaunched scottmccloud.com, and there you can read the Google Comic, THE RIGHT NUMBER, and other early and middle period McCloud experiments in web comics. Above, “The Right Number” ©2003 and TM Scott McCloud.

§ Papercutz, the line of kids comics that publishes NANCY DREW, BIONICLE, TALES FROM THE CRYPT and so on, has launched a creators’ blog.

§ Paul Levitz Has Retired, says Scott Edelman.

§ Jennifer Contino recalls how her late grandmother encouraged her to be a superhero fan.

As I’ve said before, I can’t remember a time when superheroes weren’t in my life. As this picture proves, I was playing with Mego superhero dolls as a toddler. The beautiful woman there is my grandmother. While a lot of my aunts were trying to get me to play with Barbies or some other “girl-friendly” toy, grandma bought me superheroes for Christmas and my birthdays. She never tried to force the blonde bimbo brigade upon me and encouraged anything and everything I enjoyed. In fact, she played superheroes with me, watched Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman with me, and listened to me ramble on and on about my favorite characters and what I loved about each of them.


§ Wired has probably the most extensive interview with Alan Moore in the run-up to WATCHMEN.

Wired: What’s the significance of the superhero? What’s interesting about the iconography or the archetypes?

Alan Moore: I don’t actually think that anything is, at the moment. I don’t really think that very much is interesting about the superhero as an archetype. I’ve been distanced from the whole concept for quite a while now, but I’ve been considering it.

It has occurred to me that the superhero really only originates in America. That seems to be the only country that has produced this phenomenon. Yes, we have had knockoffs of American superheroes originating in this country and presumably in other parts of the world, but they’re not natural to this environment. They’re an alien species. And I’ve thought about it and wondered why that was. And I wonder—perhaps this is being too simplistic, I don’t know, but I wonder if the root of the emergence of the superhero in American culture might have something to do with a kind of an ingrained American reluctance to engage in confrontation without massive tactical superiority.

§ AND THEN…Sean T. Collins calls Alan Moore on being cranky about comics he hasn’t read.

§ Brian Heater interviewsRob Liefeld, with an intro that’s nearly as long as the interview:

It’s for these reasons that I felt compelled to speak with Liefeld, upon seeing a paper placard bearing his name on the Image table. My intent was not to celebrate nor denounce the man (plenty of people have done both before), but rather to speak to him as an artist who had—for both better and worse—left a major mark on the industry. Liefeld, for his part, agreed, but was undeniably hesitant—”five minutes,” he tells me, referring to the maximum duration of our interview. And, at least toward the beginning, a touch standoffish. The artist had clearly come to anticipate being bombarded by controversy. Of course such things didn’t cause him to hesitate from boasting about his accomplishments, result in such gems as, “The too most popular characters in comics right now—one is Barack Obama, the other is Deadpool.”


§ A Montrealer is looking for Maggie Chascarrillo. (Thanks, Sam H!)

§ Mark Millar saw WATCHMEN, and he has a review:

All the way through it, Jonathan and I kept looking at each other and unsure if we were loving it or not. It’s very reverential, but maybe WAY TOO reverential for something that wasn’t structured like a movie. This is a twelve episode HBO drama chopped down to three hours and feels simultaneously dense and yet somehow missing. I could fill in the gaps because I know the source material by heart, but friends who hadn’t read the book were utterly, utterly baffled. I think the book is quite difficult, but that’s part of the brilliance. Skimming over what’s probably the most dense comic ever written wasn’t such a good idea. It was like watching The Wire season one on fast forward.


§ Scott Mendelson reviews the animated Wonder Woman at HuffPo:

As Diana travels New York City, she is shocked to see female children taught that they are less than their male counterparts, while female adults feign helplessness as a means of flirtation. Refreshingly, director Lauren Montgomery and writers Gail Simone and Michael Jelenic do not simply toss the Wonder Woman character in a story where her womanhood is irrelevant. The creators also refuse to pat themselves on the back for creating a film involving a female super hero. Instead, they present the idea of such a hero as normal and expected, blisteringly questioning why it should be noteworthy at all.


§ And finally, Joss Whedon sounds off on many things in Maxim:

You recently wrapped up a run writing Astonishing X-Men in which you introduced the “mutant cure” plotline that ended up in X-Men: The Last Stand. How do you feel about how it was handled in the movie?

I felt like it would have been nice to be paid. We were told they were using some of our stuff for the movie and…”Isn’t that exciting?” You know, I’m sorry, but it’s not that exciting, and I don’t think it was handled well in the movie. I think they kind of glossed over it. So, ultimately it doesn’t affect me. You know when you write a Marvel comic, it’s theirs. They own it and they can do whatever they want with it. We probably weren’t the first people to come up with the idea of the mutant cure, though they did use some of our characters and specific situations. But at the end of the day, they made it not matter: any argument about whether or not it’s a terrible thing for people to be talking about curing mutants is kind of swept under the table. So ultimately I wish it had been handled better.

  1. I see now why Alan Moore likes to talk a lot.

    When you’re so full of it that it’s coming out your ears, it’s nice to give the ears a rest and let the mouth handle some of the duty/dooty.

  2. Gene, The Hell?

    I am absolutely baffled at the hate directed towards Alan Moore by superhero fans. You guys have your movie, what more do you want?

    Moore is one of the true geniuses in literature and he made comic books his home. We should be thanking him for giving us so much, not mad at him.

  3. Joss Whedon: “I felt like it would have been nice to be paid. We were told they were using some of our stuff for the movie and…”Isn’t that exciting?” You know, I’m sorry, but it’s not that exciting, and I don’t think it was handled well in the movie …”

    Well, now you know what it’s like to be a comic book writer. The line forms behind Steve Gerber …

  4. Kenny,

    My aggravation with Moore has nothing to do with the movie, though I may touch on his attitude toward adaptations in future blogposts.

    I agree that he’s a genius, but be it Alan Moore, William Blake, or D.H. Lawrence, when a genius says something dumb, they earn some opprobrium.

    And Moore’s equivalence of superheores with “massive tactical superiority” is d-u-m dumb, even he qualifies it a little.

    I’ve done a preliminary post on this subject here:

    http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2009/02/monkey-see-monkey-dont.html

  5. Whedon: “We probably weren’t the first people to come up with the idea of the mutant cure”

    I’m glad Whedon said that, since when I saw LAST STAND the first thing I thought of was a plotline in D.P.7. Not that I think the one influenced the other, but it’s always good to be circumspect about such things.

    And yeah, LAST STAND pretty much screwed the pooch on that idea, among others.

  6. I love Jennifer’s story about her grandmother — thanks for posting, Heidi!

    I know every single one of us had a similar experience as kids. Thank you to smart adults everywhere.

  7. Gene Philips:

    If Alan Moore had bothered to read any recent comics, he would only have found he was right. And a waste of his time.

    You’re just pissy because he doesn’t like superhero comics like you do.

  8. Adam,

    Whether or not he likes superhero comics the way I do has nothing to do with it. The problem is the pseudo-intellectual b.s. about “massive tactical superiority.” I notice you don’t address my specific complaint.

  9. Alan Moore is close — the reason superheroes are a peculiarly American phenomenon is that allergy to stories about lineages of kings is a peculiarly American phenomenon. If you think about it, it was the original American political correctness. But superheroes were there to fill in the gap, complete with courtly primary-coloured costumes (particularly in the early days), lofty birthrights, and superior abilities.

    It’s kind of as obvious as the nose on your face. Superheroes were essentially a fascist form of entertainment (think about the fascist leaning of vigilantism, for example), maybe until the X-Men and Spider-Man came along, and Stan Lee gave pimply teenagers or anyone really the ability to randomly develop mutant ability, and broke the right-wing costumed mould.

  10. I guess the new definition of “fascism” is “vigilante justice,” though I can’t find anything similar in the Webster’s, Cambridge or American Heritage dictionaries. Oh well.

    What do you mean by “allergy?”

  11. I guess the new definition of “fascism” is “vigilante justice,” though I can’t find anything similar in the Webster’s, Cambridge or American Heritage dictionaries. Oh well.

    What do you mean by “allergy?”

  12. Note that in the Wired interview, Moore was describing his current attitude toward superheroes and casually relating that attitude toward the origins of superheroes. If he’d thought about the question for a bit longer, he might have realized that he was conflating two separate issues: attitude and origins. After all, he said that his own attitude toward superheroes was different decades ago.

    Conflation aside, there is some support for Moore’s current attitude. Check out, for example, the Wikipedia entry on the Powell Doctrine, which traces the use of “decisive (overwhelming) force” back to von Clausewitz. In stories, the superheroes routinely tried to end battles quickly, to protect innocent civilians, etc. And Americans have generally tended to view the enemies in our wars as evil villains.

    Moore’s use of literary characters in “literary games” is interesting. If stories that use heroes and villains in morality lectures are considered dull and obsolete, stories that are about normal people, using paranormals only as symbols, are rare, and nobody does SF treatments of paranormals, then what’s left? Comics stories as storyboards for aspiring screenwriters, and Moore’s current angle on them.

    I certainly sympathize with Moore’s attitudes toward adaptations, the strengths of comics, and the weaknesses of cinema. Moore’s right about archetypes being uninteresting.

    SRS

  13. “Check out, for example, the Wikipedia entry on the Powell Doctrine, which traces the use of “decisive (overwhelming) force” back to von Clausewitz. In stories, the superheroes routinely tried to end battles quickly, to protect innocent civilians, etc. And Americans have generally tended to view the enemies in our wars as evil villains.”

    In UNMOORED PART 2 I cite an example of “carpet bombing” that far predates Von Clausewitz.

    “Moore’s use of literary characters in “literary games” is interesting.”

    I agree, though I wish he had more appreciation for the way superheroes function as their own kind of literary game, rather than simply as a means of referencing other genres.

    “Moore’s right about archetypes being uninteresting.”

    I disagree; it’s stereotypes that are uninteresting. An archetype is a construct which is symbolically dynamic and thus can generate any number of fascinating associations in the hands of a gifted creator.

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