Kibbles ‘n’ Bits: June 1, 2010

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What the frak? It’s June? When did that happen!
§ Graeme McMillan wonders What Would Happen To Marvel If The Kirbys Won?, and the answer, apparently, is that they would have to do like that dachshund, and go around with their withered hindquarters supported by a little wheelie thing:

Marvel, of course, would be in trouble, not only losing the ability to publish a large percentage of their line (Even assuming that non-Kirby characters and series spun out from the Kirby series – X-Factor, War Machine, and so on – would remain with Marvel) but also having to surrender the rights to almost every active movie project at multiple studios (No surprise, perhaps, that Marvel is moving forward with a movie based on Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways, which will not be affected by any ongoing lawsuits coming from the Kirby heirs’ demands), effectively – if, presumably, only temporarily – wiping them out as a multimedia power altogether.

§ Marc-Oliver Frisch investigates 10 Things Superhero Comics Do Better Than Any Other Genre in Any Other Storytelling Form which includes many of the usual explanations like colorful costumes and big, macho fights, and also:

9: Let Creators Explore the Limits of Their Imagination Without Being Hampered by Logic or Plausibility

This is related to the previous point, but it reaches farther: The creators of superhero comics are free to imagine and explore all the things mentioned above, but more importantly, they are also free to imagine and explore things not mentioned above—things not mentioned anywhere at all, in fact. The human imagination is limitless in theory, but tends to be hampered by practical concerns like the requirement to adhere to a consensus of what’s acceptable by standards of logic and plausibility.


Is this REALLY one of the things that Superhero comics do best…or one of the things that COMICS do best? I think if you were plopped down in a room full of Krazy Kat, Thimble Theater, Milt Gross, Jim Woodring, Walt Kelly, Gilbert Hernandez, Carl Barks, Chester Gould, James Kochalka, Cathy Malkasian, Kozue Amano, Dash Shaw, Renee French, Hergé, Moebius, Akira Toriyama, Jeff Smith, Jason, Kazuo Umezu, Charles Burns and Tom Neely, for instance, you might think that comics just did fantastic world building in GENERAL best of all. I’m all for brave people in colorful costumes doing impossible things — the “kick ‘splod” paradigm — but as all the talk of “canon” of late shows, imagination in the superhero genre has become ossified into ritual. Or as Will Eisner once put it, “As long as young boys doubt their masculinity, there will be a need for superheroes.”

§ This very loosely structured piece by Michael Cieply in the NY Times explores Warner Brothers’ movie hopes through the lens of Jonah Hex, but notes that the biggest non-superhero comic book movie of all remains MEN IN BLACK.

Warner is betting heavily that its “Green Lantern,” which is now shooting and is set for release in June 2011, will open the door to a new wave of DC-based films. But first it has to make something out of “Jonah Hex.” A relatively inexpensive film, with production costs of about $50 million, it occupies prime real estate on Warner’s summer schedule — and points up the difficulty of turning an outsider’s art form into movies with broad appeal.


Related: At an investors meeting last week, Warner studio head Barry Meyer spelled out that with the Harry Potter franchise coming to an end, Warners is turning to DC characters as their next tentpole:

And he said his team has been preparing for the franchise’s end. Meyer particularly highlighted that DC Comics characters are key parts of Warner’s future, mentioning a July 20, 2012 release date for the latest “Batman” film by Christopher Nolan and a holiday season 2012 “Superman” film. He added that the studio is also “nearing” a greenlight for a “Flash” movie, with films featuring Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Mad magazine characters also in development.


§ Speaking of Green Lantern, the plot outline has been revealed:

Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax…he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.

201006010236 Kibbles n Bits: June 1, 2010

§ MEANWHILE, race in superhero comics continues to be a hot topic yet again. David Uzumeri explains Why We Need Minority Heroes in Superhero Comics

Here’s the thing: I love this stuff — comics — and I want to share it with everybody. I realize tastes aren’t universal, but when really good stories are held back from finding a mass, multicultural audience by the whitebread nature of the protagonists, it’s depressing. You can’t just change race of major icons, sure, but the world around them should still reflect the world we live in, because otherwise it’s alienating. I don’t want to read, and enjoy, comics that alienate other people for unnecessary reasons — it’s depressing, and it kills my enjoyment, too.


§ And Marc Bernardin says the unthinkable:The last thing Spider-Man should be is another white guy

So why couldn’t Peter Parker be played by a black or a Hispanic actor? How does that invalidate who Peter Parker is? I’m not saying that the producers need to force the issue; that they need to cast a minority just for the sake of it — but in the face of such underwhelming options like Billy Elliot and the kid who played young Voldemort, why not broaden the search? It’s not like any of these blokes are lighting the world on fire like a young Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio.


If you read the Green Lantern synopsis above, it is another case of Avatar-ism, a.k.a. “It Takes a White Man To Save the Universe.” Which is all fine and dandy, because white men need heroes too, as long as they understand that in other galaxies, it takes an Andorran, or a Mon Calamari, or a Neptunian to save the universe.

§ Would you like to be Stuart Levy’s personal assistant?

§ Johnathan at Living between Wednesdays draws the line

In honour of the end of what will surely be remembered as the best run of Power Girl appearances (that’s right, not just in her own comic: anywhere) I was going to put together a timeline of PG appearances that would necessarily showcase the changes to her costume and *ahem* carriage over the years. The longer that I worked on it though, the more it became evident that I was going to end up with a thirty-year history of one character’s boobs. Which was kind of the point, I admit, but it was far to creepy for me to go on.

§ Tom Spurgeon’s annual guide to surviving CCI ages like port in the bottle but it held some shocks for us.

Tip #96. Seek Bathrooms Out Of The Main Flow Of Traffic

The convention center does a generally good job with keeping the bathrooms clean and functioning, but it may be worth seeking out one or two restroom spots far from the maddening crowd. I’d also suggest just straight-up making friends someone with a room at the Omni, Marriott or Hilton for use of their bathroom, but there’s really no good way to initiate that conversation.


It is deeply disturbing to realize that finding a comfortable place to go to the bathroom is something that you need to plan ahead and a shock to realize that we have developed our own favorite potty stops over nearly 20 years of going at San Diego. But, upon reflection, perhaps our favorite ladies room is the one on the mezzanine outside the panel rooms. It never seems too crowded and there are rarely any costume-related log jams.

§ Sierra Hahn and Joëlle Jones talk about the making of the Janet and Alex Evanovich graphic novel.

phoco8 Kibbles n Bits: June 1, 2010

§ Phoenix Comicon! Marc Mason went and had some gripes about the press policy, but found lots of cool people to talk to. This report by a blogger named Himani suggests it was well-attended. And this photo set from Eric Esquivel suggests that it looked much like most comicons, except that the pipe-and-drape was red and white instead of blue and white, and also people did very strange things in photos.

Comments

  1. Heidi:

    “Is this REALLY one of the things that Superhero comics do best…or one of the things that COMICS do best?”

    Or one of the things STORIES do best.

    Sure, it’s not exclusive to superheroes. But I would submit that the willingness to let logic and plausibility fall aside for the sake of testing the limits of what people can imagine is something that’s part of the standard vernacular of superhero comics and can therefore be realized in a more natural and immediate fashion in them than elsewhere.

    As per their genre-bending, all-you-have-to-do-is-draw-it nature, there’s virtually nothing that you can’t bring into a superhero comic at any given moment and have the audience accept it at a moment’s notice.

  2. Al™ says:

    If the Kirbys won, would Marvel need to revert to the Kirby art style for all Kirby-visualized characters?

    Would all the artists need to study the official model sheets for spackle guidelines?

    Would there be a mandated standard for male character leg spread, of say, 170 degrees?

  3. my favorite thing on that Levy assistant posting is how sad it makes the SVP seem in the last sentence and how that inversely inflates the diva-ness of the CEO. The objective is (my summary): do anything the CEO needs, even things he hasn’t thought of yet. Oh yeah, also phone and meeting support for the SVP.

    Sounds like that SVP will have a hard time actually making that happen with the CEOs whims at the forefront.

    How big is Tokyopop anyway?

  4. Synsidar says:

    I don’t believe there’s any possibility that the Kirby estate could gain the sole copyright of any Marvel character. The worst that could happen, from Marvel’s perspective, is that the estate would share the copyrights of some characters with Marvel, which could allow the estate to arrange their own non-exclusive licensing deals.

    I have to strongly disagree with the statement that dispensing with logic and/or plausibility can be virtuous. Establishing a framework for events, setting limits, etc., is Fantasy Fiction 101. Practically the only writers who cite “suspension of disbelief” in response to criticism have written unbelievable fantasy stories — and they’re unbelievable because they lack internal logic.

    SRS

  5. Matthew Jeske says:

    Why are they planning to release a Superman movie at Christmas? They need to release it in the summer to be successful.

  6. Has David Uzumeri has ever given thought into checking out some of DC’s Milestone line?

    ~

    Coat

  7. brenticles says:

    “…but as all the talk of “canon” of late shows, imagination in the superhero genre has become ossified into ritual.”

    Over time I have formed the opinion that some superhero fans are, ironically, among the least imaginative people. These people want everything locked down, codified, and unchangeable. These are the people that repeatedly ask Grant Morrison, “Will you do Animal Man again?”, instead of asking something like, “What new stories do you have planned?” Or pick any variation of that question of any creator that asks for the same ground to be covered.

  8. Phil Hester says:

    I know where the good bathrooms are and I’m not telling.

    Actually, the higher the level, the better the bathroom. The men’s room outside the ballroom formerly used for the Eisners is my favorite.

  9. McMillan’s essay has some mistakes, but most are corrected in the comments.

    What if Kirby gains half of the rights? Then Disney can negate Sony’s and Fox’s contracts on the films. UNLESS Sony and Fox have already hedged their bets with some money sent to the legal team (“We’ll fund your case, if you win you’ll require Disney to produce the films with us.”)

    Of course, Disney could reach an agreement with the Kirby estate, licensing their share of the copyright. Sort of like how Warners licensed Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling. Disney is VERY GOOD at licensing.

    Is the Kirby case the reason for Black Widow’s report in Iron Man 2?

  10. Bathrooms… looking at the SDCC website, there is one set on the Mezzanine near the Convention Center offices (access limited?) as well as two sets near the Mezzanine Terrace.

    There’s also a set within the Sails Pavilion.

    Do the parking levels have restrooms?

    As an urban hiker, I know that hotel restrooms are usually located near the hotel bar. One can usually pretend to look for someone in the bar, find the restroom, and then leave. Restrooms are also near the ballrooms, but if that floor is empty, you might be thrown out by hotel security. If you can’t locate the restroom, explain your emergency to the concierge. Be sure to tip.

  11. “Here’s the thing: I love this stuff — comics — and I want to share it with everybody. I realize tastes aren’t universal, but when really good stories are held back from finding a mass, multicultural audience by the whitebread nature of the protagonists, it’s depressing. ”

    This statement baffles me on multiple points, so because alot of the DC heroes are white they can’t reach the masses wtf?. I’m not white and Hal Jordan and Barry Allen are my favorite super heroes, I hang out with mostly non-white friends and you know who their favorite heroes are Peter Parker, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne.

    Skin color has nothing to do with comics being able to reach the masses unless you can’t let go of it and want to make everything about it.

  12. Is there a source for that Will Eisner quote?

    It surprises me, because I never saw a quote from Eisner that sounded so profoundly stupid.

  13. Synsidar says:

    Is there a source for that Will Eisner quote?

    I didn’t find an authoritative source for the quotation online, although it has appeared elsewhere as “As long as there are young men who doubt their masculinity, there will be a need for superheroes.” Heidi used the quotation back in 2007.

    SRS

  14. The Beat says:

    I’m afraid the Source is ME, Gene. Eisner said it at one of the ProCons back in the early 90s. You’d think people would have tape recorded those things, but it was beyond our primitive technology at the time. I have quoted it many times in the intervening years — and Eisner expressed similar sentiments in many interviews.

  15. Oh well, everyone has an off day.

  16. Army of Dorkness says:

    “It surprises me, because I never saw a quote from Eisner that sounded so profoundly stupid.”

    how so? makes perfect sense to me.

  17. AOD, the quote makes sense only if one chooses to define the appeal of superheroes in terms of Adlerian compensation for this supposed “questioning of masculinity.”

    However, once you take that position, there’s no way such a sweeping statement can be applied only to superheroes, because there’s no good reason not to apply it to every genre that offers anything like an adventurous thrill-ride, be it westerns, detective stories, or thrillers. Too bad, Alfie Hitchcock! Many critics thought you were an artist, but your whole genre is merely compensation for guys who can’t talk to a girl!

    Or are the costumes supposed to make the difference? Does that mean if you judge that James Bond doesn’t wear a costume, then he hasn’t got anything to do with masculinity “issues?” (Jeez, I think I threw up in my mouth typing that psychobabble.)

    I don’t remember which BEAT poster quoted Eisner’s quote in the first place– evidently agreeing with this dopey canard– but I’d be fascinated to know if indeed only superheroes are inherently compensatory, or if as I’ve reasoned it must apply to everything in the adventure-genre and all related genres.

  18. Synsidar says:

    I’ll agree that the quote can be interpreted negatively — the classic superhero is a masculine power fantasy that a mature adult doesn’t indulge in. An adventure hero doesn’t have paranormal powers.

    SRS

  19. So “super powers”= “masculine self-doubts,” while a normally-powered hero like, say, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer is by comparison a bastion of maturity and sophistication?

  20. Synsidar says:

    Young men can’t aspire to have heat vision. They can aspire to be astronauts, pro football players, or private investigators.

    SRS

  21. Army of Dorkness says:

    You keep typing words, but I don’t know what you’re getting at.

    The quote, as read, does not provide the *only* reason superheros will still exist. It provides *a* reason they will always exist which is a reasonable assumption because they are power fantasies which are mostly read by boys. As long as that basic element remains in the world, superheroes will always exist…are you saying that superheroes could become irrelevant even if young men continue to doubt their masculinity?

  22. “Young men can’t aspire to have heat vision. They can aspire to be astronauts, pro football players, or private investigators.

    SRS”

    That’s not an answer to my question.

  23. “You keep typing words, but I don’t know what you’re getting at.

    The quote, as read, does not provide the *only* reason superheros will still exist. It provides *a* reason they will always exist which is a reasonable assumption because they are power fantasies which are mostly read by boys. As long as that basic element remains in the world, superheroes will always exist…are you saying that superheroes could become irrelevant even if young men continue to doubt their masculinity?”

    But what’s the etiology of the power fantasies? Do they arise because every kid who ever partakes of them is plagued by masculine doubts? (God knows why the girls, minority audience tho they are/have been, ever read the superheroes if so.) Or is it more reasonable to assume that power fantasies are patronized in any genre or medium are simply fun?

    If one wants to say that some readers become highly cathected to superheores because they have “masculine issues,” that would be a reasonable proposition. To say that this psychobabble applies across the board to all readers, as Eisner implied, remains a stupid and unproveable proposition.

    I’m not saying what you said at the end there, and don’t see how you got there. Maybe Eisner was saying it, but it’s no longer possible to ask him.

  24. Synsidar says:

    People differentiate between the physically possible and the impossible. Using a power to impose your will on someone else is a power fantasy that critics see ineffectual people indulging in. Liking action-adventure fiction doesn’t raise doubts about masculinity.

    SRS

  25. “People differentiate between the physically possible and the impossible. Using a power to impose your will on someone else is a power fantasy that critics see ineffectual people indulging in. Liking action-adventure fiction doesn’t raise doubts about masculinity.

    SRS”

    Have you read anything from a guy named Wertham?

    If you do, you’ll find that he was just as vehement against violent cowboy sagas as violent superhero tales. But compared to Eisner, Wertham has the virtue of consistency. Of course, Wertham wrote at a time when all junk-fiction was The Enemy, not just one junky genre.

    If you want to say that a lot of people consider westerns to be more mature than superhero stories, that’s a correct expression of a general belief.

    But that general belief doesn’t prove that westerns ARE more mature than superhero stories or that the former genre is any less representative than the latter genre of Adlerian compensatory psychology.

  26. Gene, is there really any question but that superheroes are an adolescent power fantasy (not necessarily just a male one) and nearly every modern interpretation of the development of Superman suggests as much.

    Would you be less offended if Eisner had said “As long as young girls fear taking control of their sexuality, there will be a need for shojo manga”? Cuz that’s true, too.

    Now that superhero comics are mostly read by middle aged men, I’m not quite sure what fantasy they are hitting, but it’s one rich in potential for psychological evaluation.

  27. Pedro Bouça says:

    And I would say that Dragon Ball (and a few other shonen fight mangas) have better slugfests than US super-hero comics…

    Best,
    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  28. Heidi, in the unlikely event you’ll read this in the wake of Heroes Con et al–

    I was thinking about simply saying that you should read my blog for the answers to your questions. But since that’s probably not going to happen anyway, I’ll admit that essentially I referred you to another essay I’d written to refute Dirk Deppey. Also, I have a feeling that you might well lose interest before finishing just one essay-of-response, so here are some highlights from OFF BEAT Parts 1 and 2:

    “I’d say that while I do think that superheroes don’t have an absolute lock on this imaginative freedom, they are certainly more free to diverge from consensual reality than many genres”

    ‘I don’t believe that there’s a automatic disconnect between “imagination” and “ritual.”‘

    “Goldang, ah cain’t write a scathin’ putdown o’ dumbass fanboys, but Dan Clowes shore can, and thet’s why he’s mah artwadd-lovin’ HERO.”

    “Of course, many’s the time I’ve answered this question in response to this or that essay, and most of those who raise the question, like jesting Spurgeon and Deppey, will not stay for an answer.”

    “some superheroes have been known to largely reject their ties to juvenile audiences and wholly enter the realm of Adult Pulp, which was the case with the DAREDEVIL title for several years”

    And lastly,

    “Heidi lists a lot of artists who don’t do superheroes as her counterexamples, though I’d have to say that at least one work by Akira Toriyama, DRAGON BALL, is pretty thoroughly implicated in the superhero idiom.

    As for the others… well…

    A lot of them are INVENTIVE–

    But not that IMAGINATIVE”

    One thing I didn’t respond to in the essays:

    No, I don’t think negative compensation defines shojo manga any more than it defines superheroes.

    Side-note to Pedro: you’ll possibly be thrilled that I didn’t put down Toriyama as one of the merely inventive creators.

  29. Army of Dorkness says:

    “To say that this psychobabble applies across the board to all readers, as Eisner implied, remains a stupid and unproveable proposition.”

    I think you’re reading into it too much.

    I still think Eisner’s quote is spot-on.

    You seem to be disagreeing with what you think it means rather than what it states. Have fun with that.

  30. Eisner’s bon mot is just another rewording of the old canard, “Nobody ever went broke undestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

    I suppose the accusation of negative compensation is an improvement over his calling comics-readers of his own time “cretins,” as Eisner did in one of his last interviews,

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