Unfortunate Confluence of Words

Fri, June 27th, 2008 at 5:33pm PDT | Updated: June 28th, 2008 at 7:16am

Comic Books
Keith Giffen, Columnist

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Once more into the breach.

Certain things confuse me. OK, a lot of things confuse me but, for the sake of brevity, I'm restricting myself to comic book matters. It's for the best. Really. You do not want to get me rolling on the braille keyboards at drive thru ATMs. But I digress...

Every so often I run across certain behavior patterns, contradictory mind sets, and deliberate circumstances that leave me totally baffled (insert your own "totally baffled" joke here). Now I'm not exactly the brightest bulb in the chandelier (shut up, Rucka!), so maybe I'm missing the obvious. It wouldn't be the first time. Hell, I voted for Nixon.

Tell you what, why don't I lay out a few of the things that confuse the hell out of me and maybe one of the half dozen or so of you still regularly reading this column can enlighten me. Hey, stranger things have happened.

That said, let's get down to the questions of the day...

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS!?

Airing our dirty laundry in public. Still. Sure, the internet's a great place to interact with fans and get near instantaneous responses to the latest books, but is it the right place to state your case whenever you and the company you're currently working for have a dust-up? If I were to hit the blogs or the message boards every time DC and I go at it, I'd never get any work done. Look, if you feel you're being treated unfairly, and that's always open to debate (as long as it's not in a public forum), then exit stage left (or right if you're voting Republican). Spare me the righteous indignation Life's not fair and, truth be told, the last thing I need is to be reminded of that fact on a regular basis. Do lawyers do this when they have a flare-up in their firm? Doctors? Librarians? Yeah, I know the film / TV / general entertainment business is rife with this kind of public square yowling but do we really want to lumped in with a bunch of narcissistic crybabies?

Opting for star power over competence. I'd rather work with a good, solid talent who knows how to tell a story and knows the meaning of the word "deadline" than with someone who's begun believing his / her own press releases and has, at best, a nodding acquaintance with the concept "periodical." Our product, according to the solicitations I've read, comes out monthly (or, God help us, weekly). That's monthly, as in every thirty(one) days. Monthly deadlines. That's what we sign up for when we take on a monthly book. That's why it's called a monthly book! I've never, in all my years in the comic book biz, seen solicitation copy that read, "... published whenever (insert comic book ‘star’ of choice) damn well pleases." A while back I heard an interesting response to a flurry of blown deadlines, "Do you want it on time or do you want it good?" I think, at close to three bucks a pop, the fans deserve both. And while I'm on the subject...

There are no stars in comics (unless, that is, we're talking Wonder Woman's panties and that's a whole other column). Let me repeat that. There are no stars in comics. Adding the term “super-star” to the mix only makes it that much worse. Are there incredibly talented creators out there? Absolutely. Do they have loyal fan bases that follow them from book to book? You betcha. Does that make them stars? Before you answer that, let me remind you that everyone currently working in comics has, to one extent or another, a loyal fan base that follows them from book to book. I know both of my fans have shown incredible loyalty over the years. Does that make me a dwarf star?

Believing we can make the character work. Not talking title characters here, gang. I'm talking the awe inspiring misfires that litter the comic book landscape. Quisp, Aquaman's impish pal. Itty, Green Lantern's... what? Corsage? The various alien beings that Batman ran up against after Freddie Wertham decided that comic books, not poor parenting or societal upheaval, were screwing kids up. In short, the kinds of goofy characters that I used to rely on to populate the Ambush Bug books. Let's be honest here, some characters defy gentrification. Here's a radical idea, and one I've put forward before, how about creating some new characters? No? Okay, enjoy your stay at the bottom of the barrel. Having spent some time there myself, a few safety tips...

  1. If they're wearing pointy shoes, pass.
  2. Just uncrossing the eyes doesn't count.
  3. Two feet or under? Pass.
  4. Don't drink the water.

Oh, this just in.

Dan Didio does not eat children.

Too harsh? Read some of the comments floating around on the web then get back to me.

Enough already. Now, where was I?

Lumping all comicbook fans under "fanboy." When I put "Bite Me, Fanboy" on the back of Lobo's vest, it was meant to be a joke. When Mark Evanier put out a book called Fanboy, it was done with all affection. Lately, however, it seems the term has been liberally slathered over all of comicbook fandom, often as a derogatory. It's been my experience that comicbook fans are pretty hard to lump together into one category. Comicbook fans are kinda, sorta like snowflakes, no two are alike (I know. I can't believe I went with the snowflake comparison either). I've met, over the course of what I laughingly refer to as my career, fans ranging from intellectuals to indigents (and all points between, natch). Some encounters have been pleasant, some frustrating and some downright scary. It’s been my experience that professionals who treat fans with ill disguised disdain don't last long. I think its time to retire the term "Fanboy" except as the punchline to jokes that laugh with, not at. I know I'm swearing off the term. I've met too many fans for it to have much, if any, validity. Anyone else willing to step up?

That's enough of that. I'm a two finger typer and I just lost the feeling in one.

'Til next time.

TAGS:  dc comics, keith giffen

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