Friday, June 04, 2004

A letter to Tony

Here's a letter I recently sent to's Tony Whitt regarding change in comics, take a look:

Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I've really enjoyed the last two weeks of your column, heck, the last month for that matter. It's nice to see different things popping up here, I loved the creator interview, and your comments about Supes brought up some very interesting points. Unfortunately I've never been an avid follower of the character (outside of SMALLVILLE anyway) so my opinion may not exactly matter. However, for me to become a follower alot would have to change. I think JMS is writing a far better "superman" over on SUPREME POWER than probably anyone on any SUPERMAN book I've ever read. You are right, the problem is that he's a character that's extremely hard to relate too, and as (a person who fancies himself) a writer I can tell you it makes the task of telling interesting stories with him that much harder. Should those things (invulnerability, etc., etc.) be changed? Yes and no. Bottom line, it's never going to be our call to make. I think the biggest problem lies in the fact that companies own these characters, and as companies they want them to be easily identifiable to new and old fans alike, but what they end up doing is alienating those of us who "grow up", for lack of a better term. Don't get me wrong, I love my superhero books, but I'm no glutton for punishment, I refuse to read the same stories year after year and then travel the message boards griping about how stagnant the book is, I'll simply quit reading it. Your point about the cosmetic changes rings all too true as well, and that's something else that bothers me. Again, companies want easily identifiable icons, and "fans" want the comics to be like they were when they were growing up, and will gripe about it until it happens. Case in point, Hal Jordan. It's taken awhile, but the "fans" finally have their GL back (or will shortly) and soon it'll be as if he never died (a la Green Arrow) and the world will be a much happier place. Right? No, it just leads us to stagnation, treading the same damn water we've been treading since the 30's. So you don't want alot of cosmetic changes? Okay, well how about we change the man behind the mask (so to speak)? The GL changes are probably the most indentifiable, there was Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Jon Stewart (or is that John, I never remember), but there are others. I might be the only person in the comics community who'll stand on a chair and shout "The Clone Saga was a good idea!" until my lungs bleed. Granted, it was poorly executed, but negating years uypon years of Spidey stories may have been the most original idea in a book about guys in tights since those two nice Jewish boys created that invinceable man. For some reason we as a community are unwilling to accept real changes to our beloved characters. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think this happens in any other medium...well maybe Wrestling, but certainly not on TV shows (sitcoms being a possible exception). On soap operas there is a constant state of change, which brings the viewers back for more.. On TV changes end up getting made to try and bring in the viewers, where as in comics they somehow drive them away. No matter how much promotion these companies seem to do (hell, I'm sure the only reason DC hasn't been bankrupt is because of its AOL-Time-Warner affiliation) nothing sells new comic books. The first Spidey film was huge, yet look at the sales for the book...they don't reflect that at all. The movie did not sell the book, and I'm certain nothing will, at least not in the numbers the company wants. In my personal opinion, it's time to move on, time for creators to create something new, and for companies to give them the chance, to actually promote these new ideas. It won't happen, but it's a nice thought. Yeah, occasionally it's fun to revisit my youth, but one of the things about growing up is realizing those things you loved as a kid really weren't that great anyway. Don't believe me? Try watching an episode of the THUNDERCATS or SILVERHAWKS sometime. Or maybe even the old SPIDER-MAN or X-MEN cartoons. There's a DVD out now with the first season of the old TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 'toon, go pick it up, see how long it takes before you realize the show was goofier than you remember. I'll give it three minutes tops. Again, it's is nice to have those things around to remind you of how great being a kids was. I love my TRANSFORMERS DVDs, along with all the other I've mentioned, and occasionally I'll pop one in and try to remember what I was like when I originally watched those shows. The same goes with comics. I was a huge X-Force fan, and occasionally I'll pull out an old issue and reread it, but it's never as good as I remembered. It's unfair that attitudes like that (things must be as we've always had them!) have all but crippled an entire industry, and for some reason these companies seem fit to cater to them. In the words of Vince Neil: Change, Now It's Time For Change.


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