We have learned that folks would rather argue about “journalism” than talk about a picture of Spider-Man shooting webbing out his ass.

That really surprised me, frankly.


  1. After that Far Side cartoon, and Powdered Toast Man, webbing (or netting) coming out of a South Korean rip-off of Spider-Man is old news. Besides, I think fandom covered that discussion when the first Spider-Man movie was released… why does he have organic webshooters on his wrist when it should be coming out his ass?

  2. People who weren’t reading comics in the ’70s and ’80s might not know how feuds between professionals and disputes between professionals and publishers played out in the pages of publications. The Comics Journal #63, Spring 1981 had an interview with Steve Englehart (the main reason I still have the issue) in which he took shots at Gerry Conway; a letter from Bill Mantlo that begins, “In response to Steve Gerber’s publicly vented spleen regarding my work at Marvel, I should remind him that as a fellow front-facer responsible for passing off a certain amount of his own crap as entertainment, not speaking of Howard the Duck or certain issues of Man-Thing, in order to make a living, I was still shocked and saddened that he would take that attitude toward a guy who’s endeavoring to make a living in much the same way as he made his for many years.”; Joe Brancatelli and Jim Shooter exchanged punches over the content of an interview with Shooter; Jan Strnad commented on “Roy Thomas vs. Marvel.”

    Superhero comics is still a niche segment of the publishing industry; the story content hasn’t evolved very much — format changes aren’t evolution in content. Publicity about comics might be easier to do via Web sites instead of magazines such as The Comics Journal, Amazing Heroes, and Comics Interview, but there’s little substance to it. Pros might be more circumspect about their disputes now since comments can be disseminated so widely and quickly online. There are certainly benefits to talking about comics, etc., online whenever one wants, but I feel a bit nostalgic about the days when fanzines and prozines were the venues for news and disputes.


  3. One thing I was sorry that the “gossip” thread didn’t address more was the question of substantive reporting vs. simple gossip. Where do you draw the line?

    For instance, Gerber’s remarks re Mantlo are interesting to the historian of comics as an indicator of Gerber’s state of mind back then.

    But in their own time, weren’t they just gossip, as much as (say) Elton John bagging on Sam Kinnison way back when?

    Or were both examples– POLITICAL DISCOURSE???

    Anyway, I enjoyed the hell out of “tell-all” crap like that.

  4. Regarding the thread that was ‘Valerized’…

    The whole point (I thought) was to show how harmful gossip sites can be and as Gail asked, does the industry even ‘need’ a gossip site.

    What I as a ‘reader’ could not — for the life of me believe — was how many industry professionals weighed in — then continued and continued and continued… and continued ‘bickering’ to and about each other — on a completely public forum… for the entire world to see.

    Doesn’t anyone out there not see the irony?

    Is the ego so overblown that people can’t see that when they argue amongst themselves — in public, for everyone to see, they may as well be propping themselves up on a billboard advertising their own unprofessionalism; that they are doing as much damage to themselves as the very gossip sites and message board post’rs they condemn.

    Right or wrong, if industry professionals want to keep their business private, they may want to think twice about airing their dirty laundry in public, whether its been done before (in the Comics Journal) or not.

    Why? Because dirty laundry has an awful smell; it stinks.

    And that’s exactly what that thread looks like, an awful lot of dirty laundry.

  5. PS. So what have we learned?

    I hope, as a reader, that if professionals have issues with gossip sites or each other, about each other, that they refrain from making comments in public if they have an aversion to the entire world knowing about their business. They may want to consider sending the pro or site reporter they have an issue with a private email.

    Or… continue to ‘carry-on’. And if they do, well then, the industry doesn’t need any ‘one’ particular ‘Rona Barrett’ as the pros have then become Rona Barrett’s all by themselves, for themselves.

  6. Why? Because dirty laundry has an awful smell; it stinks.

    True enough, but a comics reader can’t just look the other way, because the same ill feelings that make laundry dirty make the stories dirty too. Take Byrne’s run on STAR BRAND:

    When John Byrne took over Star Brand back in the ’80s, he proceeded to launch one Take That after another at the departing figure of ousted Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter. Star Brand was one of the Shooter-initiated “New Universe” titles, and was the one that Shooter himself wrote personally. Byrne not only took ad hominem shots at Shooter personally, but had exposition characters hang lampshades on how implausible the events of Shooter’s run was, and how stupid the hero had been. Early on in Byrne’s run, the hero’s girlfriend (a major cast member) got Stuffed In The Fridge; the hero later broke down and passed the titular Brand onto some other poor schmuck, destroying Pittsburgh (Jim Shooter’s hometown) in the process.

    When the basis for a storyline is one writer’s resentment toward another over treatments of certain characters or other issues, the readers become involved in the dispute, even if they’re unaware of it. In INFINITY ABYSS, Starlin declared (via dialogue) that various storylines involving Thanos that hadn’t been written by him actually involved fake versions of Thanos. The “Avengers Disassembled” storyline that made Bendis a star at Marvel wouldn’t have existed if not for Byrne’s AWC storyline, described in “Armed with Canon.”

    Editors are arguably at fault for allowing writers to engage in petty vendettas via storytelling, but the nature of the material contributes too. If a novelist writes a roman à clef, he has no one to blame for negative reactions but himself.


  7. I think the moral of the story is that what comes out of Rich Johnston’s ass is more interesting than what comes out of Spider-Man’s.

    (sorry, but it was just sitting there.)

  8. TOM: I think the moral of the story is that what comes out of Rich Johnston’s ass is more interesting than what comes out of Spider-Man’s.

    That’s because you’re all contemplating the wrong part of Peter’s anatomy. Me, I giggle like crazy every time I see Mary Jane reclining comfortably on Peter’s glandular secretions in Spider-Man 2 and 3. You know, the stuff that comes out of his wrists in gigantic, powerful spurts.

    We guys should all have an extra organic web-shooter when that’s what Kirsten Dunst is into (or vice-versa).

    — Rob

  9. “Can I travel back in time now and talk myself out of taking the Fantagraphics job, please?”

    Only if you promise to do a Bobo’s Progress comic book series ASAP.

    — Rob