Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

Marvel Universe >> View Post
·
Post By
Jared

In Reply To
Nitz the Bloody

Subj: Don't worry about it...Actually, I'm in kind of a unique position...
Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 at 04:42:26 pm EST
Reply Subj: Hard Truths
Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 at 12:19:38 pm EST

Previous Post


I will confess that I do get a bit peeved when I hear people say that they prefer to read classic superhero comics over anything else. However, I also believe that such a stance has some really unsettling connotations, for the individual, the audience, and the comic industry at large.

Everybody realizes that taste is very subjective, and not everybody is going to like everything. Quality and intellectual merit, however, are far less so. We may not always like a work, but we should at least be able to appreciate the craftsmanship involved. And I get that you're not insulting mature readers comics, so that isn't a problem here.

What is a problem, however, is using individual preference as the only arbiter of one's choice in fiction, sticking exclusively to a preferred genre and dismissing anything on the outside. It's self-induced deprivation of sources of not only potential entertainment, but intellectual growth as well. As Robert Heinlein put it, as the conclusion to a larger quote on the versatility of experience that people should aspire to, " Specialization is for insects ".

Admittedly, I am assuming a lot. I don't know what your non comics tastes are, and I don't know what other interests you have. But the jist is this; superheroes are a perfectly fine choice for reading material. The problem is when they are the only choice of reading material.

And given how much the industry ( and specifically, a large cross-section of fandom ) caters to insularity and narrow-mindedness, it's an especially sore issue with me.


>
> What is a problem, however, is using individual preference as the only arbiter of one's choice in fiction, sticking exclusively to a preferred genre and dismissing anything on the outside. It's self-induced deprivation of sources of not only potential entertainment, but intellectual growth as well. As Robert Heinlein put it, as the conclusion to a larger quote on the versatility of experience that people should aspire to, " Specialization is for insects ".

> Admittedly, I am assuming a lot. I don't know what your non comics tastes are, and I don't know what other interests you have. But the jist is this; superheroes are a perfectly fine choice for reading material. The problem is when they are the only choice of reading material.

Oh, not at all, as I show below. But, for whatever reason, superheroes are what get my passion going, and arouse my excitement. Don't ask me why, they just do. It also extends into my writing, as with my Ultimate-style reimagining of Sleepwalker; I try to find new ways of exploring old ideas, often by exploring new themes that are not, I think, unfaithful to the originals. Sort of like how the X-Men's themes of social alienation have alternately been used to comment on the situations of people of color, homosexuals, youths, and others-some of the same stuff is there, it's just being looked at through a different lens.

It's the implied criticism of the superhero genre that doesn't sit well with me, and in a way I try to respond by showing how capes and spandex can still be used to explore different types of themes. In its own way, it's a fun creative and intellectual challenge to come up with new ways to explore some of these old tropes, allowing them to evolve and grow without stagnating.

This doesn't mean I particularly support every kind of change-JMS's changes to Spider-Man and the implications made by Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum novel both rubbed me the wrong way-but for me, trying to find new ways to explore old ideas is just as fun as trying to find ways to break new ground.

> And given how much the industry ( and specifically, a large cross-section of fandom ) caters to insularity and narrow-mindedness, it's an especially sore issue with me.

This I can understand perfectly well, especially when quality work like what you apparently like doesn't get the attention it deserves. I, for one, vastly prefer the Stan Lee/Johnny Romita interpretation of Spider-Man, though you'll never find me denigrating the importance Ditko lent to the character. Nor guys like Morrison, even if I don't always agree with the themes he espouses in his work.

For what it's worth, I really love the work of the Belgian cartoonist Hergé; it was the 1990s cartoon that initiallly got me into it, but I also love the individual comics Hergé himself drew, especially the way he worked various types of political commentary in later books. That, to me, shows the right way to insert commentary, by doing it subtly, so the audience can pick up on it if they look, but otherwise don't need it to enjoy the story. If you beat the audience over the head with it, however, that's when it can turn people off.

Other books I should get from the library are Maus, and that one up here in Canada someone did about Louis Riel. These books have the potential to hit home-while my family isn't Jewish, my grandfather was shot down in World War II, and spent several years in a POW camp before being rescued. As for Riel, Canadian history is one of my passions, and if you study this country's history, the saga of Riel remains one of the most heated topics you can name.

Oh, and Calvin and Hobbes always has and always will rock. I noticed that Bill Watterson remarked on a few occasions that he could have gotten more freedom AND more money by ditching newspapers and switching to book form-so why wouldn't he do that? If newspapers were such a hassle to work with, why not tell them to get bent and publish his work his own way?


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