Funnybook Babylon

January 23, 2009

Waited for the Trade: Spider-Man – New Ways to Die

New Ways to Die Cover
Spider-Man: New Ways to Die
collects Amazing Spider-Man #568-573
written by Dan Slott & Mark Waid
art by John Romita Jr. & Adi Granov
Marvel Comics

Fair warning: This review contains some spoilers, but nothing that will really ruin your enjoyment of the story. Be forewarned.

I’m in love with Harry Osborn. Not the Harry Osborn of the movies, although James Franco is a pretty funny guy. Not even the old Harry Osborn, the one who died back in 1993. I was seven when that story happened; I bought the comic because it had a shiny cover but the greater significance of it was totally lost on me. Catching up on Spider-Man through Essential volumes has given me a greater grasp on the character, but to be perfectly frank, old Harry pales in comparison to the current Harry written by Dan Slott.

He’s a nuanced character now, with fully realized relationships with Norman Osborn (another resurrected villain), Peter Parker, Spider-Man (in a completely different sense than his relationship with Peter) and the rest of the supporting cast. If you haven’t been following Amazing Spider-Man for the past few years this probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but stay with me.

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January 16, 2009

Obamamania Update!

So, hey, people sure are excited about this whole “Spider-Man Meets Barack Obama” thing. Here’s a few things I wanted to address about the excitement.

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January 3, 2009

Noir vs. Noir

After reading X-Men Noir, I wondered why Marvel would want to publish a four part noir re-imagining of super hero comic. I had low expectations for Spider-Man Noir, but I discovered myself engaged in the book in a similar way to how I engage with a trashy but competent noir film, let’s say Out of the Past. Both Marvel Noir books are by competent creative teams, so why should one feel satisfying and the other feel like it exists as an excuse for art of well known characters skulking around in trench coats and fedoras?
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December 23, 2008

Remember That Secret Invasion Comic?

I know I’ve been hip deep in the Distinguished Competition’s “summer” event for a while, and I apologize to the House of Ideas. (I won’t even bring up everybody else; I’m still a goddamn troglodyte making my way through 100 Rooms in the first Maggie the Mechanic trade, so please speak to me in short sentences with easy words, I’m a bit slow.)

So – Secret Invasion! The epic culmination of Brian Michael Bendis’s years-long epic, building since Secret War and possibly all the way back to Alias! I remember being pretty goddamn excited when the first issue hit, and thinking it was a pretty great detonator for a summer crossover. Hell, I liked it to the point where I wrote an article about some of the Internet reaction to it that made Kevin Church hate me forever. I remember saying, and I can pretty thoroughly regret this now, “I have no idea how Final Crisis can possibly match this level of high-octane excitement.”

Why was I excited? Because what Bendis promised, and what I really, honestly expected to receive, was (I mean, he had eight issues to do this!) a fairly decent and smart balance of high-octane superheroic mass violence and reflection on what happens when our planet is invaded by a bunch of dudes who thoroughly believe they are correct and just and don’t come anywhere close to sharing a moral or ethical worldview with us.
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December 7, 2008

This Blog is Cancelled!

Torches? Check. Pitchforks? Check. Two-gallon drum of Haterade? Check. Looks like it’s time for Internet rage about comics getting cancelled again.

What’s up on the chopping block this time? One Marvel book (She-Hulk) and a whole lotta DC books (Nightwing, Robin, Birds of Prey, Manhunter and Blue Beetle). Why are they cancelled? Well, that’s a bit more complicated.

Conventional wisdom might tell you that these cancellations are due to today’s harsh economic realities. Other sectors might tell you that it’s about sexism, or subtle racism against minority characters, or a general unwillingness on the part of the publishers to give these books a shot. I’ve seen blame passed around, from the nature of the periodical medium to the willingness of the reader base to accept new characters, a lot of arguments from people who either weren’t reading the books or admitted they didn’t like them. What’s up with that?

Blue Beetle had an astounding 25-issue run that was a slow-starter and is forever kind of hurt by the fact that the opening stages are greatly affected by, and have to refer to, the events of Infinite Crisis where Jaime made his first appearance. As much as I hate to say it, this’ll always hurt its ability to sell in trades. Once you hit issue seven (which is, ironically enough, the most Infinite Crisis-linked of all the issues), it really kicks off, though, and Rogers turned it into what was probably one of DC’s strongest books during the time it was coming out. I’m sure somebody will comment about how that’s damning with faint praise, but this was during 52 and the start of Morrison’s Batman and back when Busiek/Pacheco Superman was cool and it looked like DC might actually keep its momentum.
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October 28, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 29, 2008

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 by Brian Michael Bendis & David Lafuente (Marvel Comics): There comes a time in every young superhero’s life when someone decides to do an issue about their sex life. These “very special” issues have come with a range of tasteful comments from the creators:

static25

I understand that teenage sexuality is a difficult subject for a lot of people. And, as is the custom, I won’t even mention black sexuality. But I don’t think that the people who read Static are afraid to explore storylines ground in the issues of contemporary life.

Dwayne McDuffie on the publication of Static #25

petenkitty

I called Bob Harras and said, “Excalibur #90, Kitty Pryde gets fucked.” He went deadly silent, then he said, “Just try and keep it tasteful.”

Warren Ellis on the publication of Excalibur #90

eab1 1 sbl

Where will USM Annual #3 fall along the axis? Who knows, though it has the “added bonus” of being part of the MARCH ON ULTIMATUM, though I’m still not entirely sure what that means besides having a really ugly banner along the top.

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October 22, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 22, 2008

It’s a big week for known quantities at Marvel and DC, as their respective Summer Blockbusters stretch into sweaterweather.

finalcrisis4

After last week’s Rogues’ Revenge and Legion of Three Worlds tie-ins, the fourth issue of the core Final Crisis title by Grant Morrison and JG Jones (and Carlo Pacheco, and Doug Mahnke… what up’s, Jonesy?) drops, its “gap month” extended to ten weeks. We’re also getting Submit, a one-shot by Grant Morrison and Matthew Clark. David will be stepping up with annotations later today.

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October 14, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 15, 2008

Going to try to skip past the obvious “big books” this week — if you’re following Astonishing X-Men, Final Crisis tie-ins or Amazing Spider-Man I bet you’ll notice the big stacks of them at your local shop tomorrow. Here are some things that might not be so well-stocked:

Are you excited for Halloween? Publishers sure are! Marvel’s gearing up for round eighty-two of ZOMBIE COVER VARIANTS, and DC is putting out the ridiculously titled Superman & Batman vs. Werewolves & Vampires mini-series, and I’m going to be uncharitable and assume the title is the first and last thing you need to read about that book. Here are two slightly more palatable haunts:

monster-hulkHulk Monster-Size Special by Jeff Parker & Gabriel Hardman (Marvel Comics): Yes, this is Superhero Property vs. Universal Monster Property, just like S/BvW/V. But HMSS is a standalone one-shot rather than a six issue mini-series, which gives me hope for a punchy fun story light on exposition and high on goofy slugfests. It also helps that it’s written by Jeff Parker, who has shown a knack for big goofy fun in various Marvel Adventures books. Hopefully everyone will overlook the lack of Red Hulk, who according to Jeph Loeb is “the most popular character since Wolverine”!

Dear Dracula by Joshua Williamson and Vinny Navarrete (Image Comics): Image/Shadowline is rolling out a series of all-ages/children’s graphic novels, starting with Dear Dracula. Everything I know about the book and its creators can be found alongside a preview of the book at Newsarama. Looks cute, and the timing of the release is right.

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September 28, 2008

New New Avengers Lineup Leaked! Spoilers!

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:12 pm

Yeah, apparently the full roster and cover for the post-Secret Invasion New Avengers has been leaked thanks to what I assume is the Dynamic Forces section of Previews.

Kevin Huxford, eat your heart out. (I know I said I hated spoilers, but this lineup makes me so excited I can’t contain myself.)

LO! BELOW! (more…)

June 3, 2008

FBBP #60 – Attack of the Scots

This week’s podcast featured more Scotsmen than a Mel Gibson fight scene!

  • Grant Morrison! (All-Star Superman! Batman! Final Crisis!)
  • Frank Quitely! (All-Star Superman too!)
  • Mark Millar! (1985!)

Joining us on the podcast is FBB’s own David Uzumeri, an expert on this exotic species.

Back in America, Marvel is pushing Fred Van Lente and the Periscope Studios Crew. Under Mark Paniccia, they’ve been all over the Marvel Adventures line, Incredible Hercules and the newly announced Marvel Zombies 3 and The Age of the Sentry, We talk about the different style they bring to the Big Two, and what kind of fans that might be attracted by their books.

Finally, FBB proudly announces a new sister corporation, FBB Publishing! Listen to learn the terms of our “pact”, and its advantages over our competitor’s contracts who want to take advantage of impressionable youth! Deviant Art creators, join us! We pay $20.25 for a finished page: just enough to keep your self-respect.

May 15, 2008

FBBP #58 – Political Crossover

After the blockbuster Iron Man talk of episode 57, we return to the niche market of comics.

First up, we talk the Egyptian Comics Confiscationissue and the general lack of interest on the part of the blogalaxy.

Now, DC Decisions, there’s a story bloggers can sink their teeth into! Who will Superman vote for? Which senators are in the pocket of Big Meta? Judd Winick and Bill Willingham will give you the scoop this fall!

Finally, we try to shake off politics by talking Secret Invasion and its tie-ins. Wait, SI is a political allegory too? Damn you! Damn you, Election Year!

What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Infiltration?

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , — Funnybook Babylon @ 8:00 am

Hey all. Most of you will not know who I am, and shame on you. I’ve made a brief appearance during the NYCC podcasts, but the Secret Invasion has inspired me to actually write an article to help you all figure out whom to trust. So I took a break from drinking (ok, that’s a lie, there’s a scotch by my side), and would like to share some observations. I’ve been re-reading nearly all of Brian Michael Bendis’s Marvel comics from the past few years. While some series have been mostly dead ends (Alias, I’m looking at you, though it was nice to re-read it, just because it’s a good series), New Avengers and Mighty Avengers are, as expected, chock full of clues.

Veranke plans to replace Jessica Drew in NA #40

At first, some people seem to think that the ending of New Avengers #40 is misdirection. In a flashback, it shows Skrull Princess Veranke planning to infiltrate Earth disguised as Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman. But since it’s not explicitly shown that she does replace Drew, it does not necessarily indicate that Spider-Woman is a Skrull. It could simply be misdirection. I hate to be the bearer of bad news (ok, that’s another lie), but it’s not misdirection. “Spider-Woman” is a Skrull. I would like to point first at New Avengers #30. Most of the team is suspicious of Clint Barton, (who was thought to have died in “Disassembled”, and was apparently resurrected in House of M, as shown in New Avengers#26), and Dr. Strange casts a spell to prove that Barton is indeed who he says it is.

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March 11, 2008

Respect the Architects

Stan Lee

Styling and Profiling

How do you sum up the career of a man who revolutionized an industry? Should you emphasize his triumphs? When I first started reading comics, I experienced the rite of passage that any new superhero fan has to endure: the nostalgia of older readers. One of the primary paradoxes of superhero comics is that readers have to purposely ignore the long history of the title (and the characters) that produce huge gaps in narrative logic, and simultaneously learn more about the past in order to understand plot points and references. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were far past their prime by the time I started reading. But I was constantly inundated with the competing origin myths of the Marvel Universe. At that point, the consensus was that Lee had single handedly birthed the Marvel Universe, with some assistance from interchangeable artists. In some interviews, it even seemed as though Lee endorsed this view. My father (and his childhood friends) had a very different view. In their version of events, the artists (Kirby, Ditko, Romita, Buscema) were the real visionaries, and Lee was the businessman who robbed them of their dream. This counternarrative dovetailed perfectly with their political beliefs. It was simply a story of corporate interests steamrolling creativity. The ‘man’ crushed the dreamers. The latter vision turned out to be the one that was far more popular, and was evoked in a countless number of stories about the early days of the medium, as brilliantly discussed in Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

But now that we’ve all recognized the true genius of Kirby, et. al., it’s troubling to note that the pendulum has swung in the opposite extreme. In the latest Comics Journal (available for free for one week only!), Tom Crippen uses one of Lee’s most recent books, The Last Fantastic Four Story, and Jeff McLaughlin’s collection of Lee interviews, Stan Lee: Conversations, to discuss his legacy. In the event that anyone doesn’t have the time to peruse the article, the short version is this: “At Marvel, Ditko and Kirby covered imagination and heroics; Stan covered pop-culture gimmicks, catch phrases – all the zeitgeist jabber- and he made it his business to keep the everyman angle coming through.” Essentially, his legacy is that of an ad-man, a guy who writes pithy phrases on packs of Bazooka Joe gum.
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December 19, 2007

Countdown to Extinction, Part One

Was this the beginning of the end?

Over the last several months, the comics blogosphere has been consumed with the problems of DC Comics. Impassioned posts have been written detailing the decline in both the quality of the books and market share (vis a vis Marvel). DC has significantly altered the tone of its universe in the last twenty years, transforming characters infused with the optimism of the Silver Age into ones that were superficially darker. Some say this trend began with Watchmen, others say it began with The Dark Knight Returns, but the result is a universe that fans consider ‘less fun’. Stories were inserted in the pasts of some characters, most notably in Identity Crisis, that were designed to make the characters more ‘realistic’. Many of these changes are inspired by a desire for superhero books to be more relevant to popular culture.

Pop culture has always had a schizophrenic relationship with the genre. On one hand, adaptations of the books in other media have experienced some measure of success, a development that is arguably at its current zenith with the success of the Batman, Spider Man and X-men franchises. This success has rarely translated into interest in the actual books produced by either company. However, when publishers (and fans) see broader acceptance of the concepts, they see a chance to rejoin mainstream popular culture again.
Isn't this just like real life?
As a result, almost every new development in comics, from the importation of talent from other media, the introduction of all-ages comic lines or the adaptation of popular properties into comics has been received by long term fans with an eye towards “growing the audience”.
If you build it, they will come.
Broadly speaking, when we talk about a “new audience”, we are talking about two groups of consumers. First, we are referring to the cohort of children aged six to twelve. This group was the classic audience for superhero comics throughout much of the genre’s history. This audience is particularly attractive for two reasons. One is that at this age, children are believed to be somewhat impressionable, and can not only develop an interest in super-heroes as a concept, but the comic book as a medium. Even if that interest dissipates with adolescence, graphic storytelling will still retain some legitimacy with them. The second reason is a notion (shared by a sizable portion of the blogosphere) that they are the “natural audience” for the medium. The second class of consumers is essentially composed of my cohort: people between the ages of eighteen and thirty who may have been a fan of comics as a child, but who have drifted away due to the genre’s reputation and quality. Based on which marketing theory you buy, this may also be the key ‘disposable income’ cohort.

The problem at DC (one that I believe is shared to a lesser degree by Marvel) is that strategies designed to attract either fanbase can alienate the existing one. If DC de-emphasizes or eliminates continuity, it loses the audience that cherishes it. If it makes any serious attempt to make their superhero line more mature (in the sense of encouraging character growth as a method of developing the narrative rather than using plot devices), or to make it more light-hearted (which people think the kids like), it will lose that audience as well, without any guarantee that a new audience will fully replace it.

This dilemma is exacerbated by a drought of imagination. Simply put, the “Big Two” no longer have the monopoly on talent that they used to have. Twenty years ago, comic books in America meant Marvel and DC, unless a creator was adventurous enough to go the Dave Sim/Hernandez Bros. route, or signed up with a company that was unstable.
Remember them?
Today, creators have the option of choosing from a wide range of publishers that will not only allow them to own their creations but provide them with a regular source of income.

Marvel and DC used to have a clear economic purpose in the comic marketplace. They provided their expertise in publishing, marketing and distributing books (which includes the editorial component) in exchange for the copyrights and trademarks to the characters created by writers and artists. Even when the exchange was inequitable (due to adhesive contracts and quasi-cartel behavior), the companies were indispensable. Even when Dave Sim proved that a creator could disintermediate publishers, it was still difficult to make any other choice. The advent of webcomics meant that the barriers to entry were mostly gone. The brilliant artistic minds of my generation have a broader array of choices that create a talent drain in mainstream comics.

So what’s the solution for mainstream comics publishers? Let’s first look at the youth problem. In my view, there are two main groups that advocate an increased focus on youth. The first group is composed of people who are fans of the superhero genre, and the second are those who are opposed to its perceived dominance.

Fans believe that without a youthful audience as its base, the lifespan of the genre will be limited by its predominantly aging audience. If publishers release material that is focused on the young, it will ensure the future of the superhero.

The other group wants publishers to focus on a younger audience due to their biases against the genre. Superhero comics were written (and marketed) as children’s entertainment, and any deviation from that focus degrades the genre as a whole. From this perspective, this is why imposing realistic elements in superhero comics ends badly.

It is important to note that the solutions advocated by both sides are almost identical. Both want more comics that contain elements that appeal to a youth audience, elements that both believe are present in manga and anime. Both want comics that are more ‘fun’, and are less reliant on ‘continuity’.

These two goals appear to be relatively easy to accomplish. DC already produces a line of comics that are focused towards youth, with some critical and commercial success. Why shouldn’t DC marginalize the main universe, and emphasize its All-Star, Vertigo, and the Johnny DC/Minx lines? Even though these imprints aren’t particularly successful, I would imagine that DC allocates less money to these imprints for marketing or talent acquisition. The financial success (and market share) could change if the investment was more signicant, and if it incorporated some of the more successful elements of manga. So why not do it? With the All-Star line, DC could retain the necessary legal rights over its most important intellectual property, and would have an increased ability to cross-promote when the properties are used in other media (not to mention maintain some of its adult audience, and more talented creators). With more money invested in the Vertigo line, it would gain a competitive advantage over ‘independent’ comics publishers. And the Johnny DC/Minx lines could be where DC cultivated a new audience. Although there would be a significant loss of market share to Marvel for a short period of time, it may be offset by the fact that market share is far less important than perception for DC. As a branch of a media conglomerate, it was never really directly competing with Marvel, except in the eyes of the audience and the media. If lower market share is perceived as an element of a long term strategy rather than a consequence of incompetent management, the impact could be smaller.

The only problem with this strategy is that it almost completely depends on the notion that if the ‘Big Two’ published work that was designed to appeal to youth (like manga does), kids would actually buy the comics in large enough numbers to replace the long-term fans would stop reading. But who says that youth are interested in the superhero genre as published by the ‘Big Two’ at all? Is there a need somewhere that is unfulfilled? If you’re a kid who (1) likes comics, (2) doesn’t already read Marvel or DC, and (3) is interested in tales of larger than life characters (with powers) clashing, you’re already reading manga.

One of the main fallacies in fan thinking (and I’m including myself here) is that we think that the only reason our eccentric hobbies are not in the mainstream is due to a lack of adequate publicity. We tell ourselves that only if they knew, or if we offered them the perfect comic tailored to their interest, they would become just like us. The problem is that they won’t. Sure, we all have anecdotal stories about our child/student/little brother who we introduced to comics by giving them that perfect issue of ______. But most people don’t have a passionate relationship with their entertainment. They’re not trying to find something to supplement a need that’s already being fulfilled. Sometimes companies (like Apple) can work their way around this, by creating demand where none previously existed, but those are few and far between, especially in entertainment. If DC is unable to generate this demand, changes in content may be insufficient. It would struggle to compete with publishers who have a distinct competitive advantage in the American marketplace, and who have fulfilled the demands of their consumers. In the end, DC may lose their primary audience without anyone to replace it.

If this is all true, why do I still think that it’s a good idea?

EDIT: Tune in next time, where I discuss possible strategies for expanding the adult audience and explain why I think nuking everything to get the kids isn’t the worst idea! (Thanks to Andy for pointing out that this needed clarification).

December 18, 2007

Random Bits and Pieces

They are owned by huge, creativity-deadening corporations and operated by lawyers and marketing executives who lord over the worst creative decline I have witnessed in a long time, particularly in films. In television, companies like GE view properties like NBC the way realtors view square footage. GE does not care what is on NBC. So long as the programming is relatively inoffensive, they want to earn as much per square foot as they can.
Alec Baldwin

It’s a slow, slow time in the comics blogosphere, so when I decided to take a break from writing memos and preparing for meetings, I had to write about some completely random things. Two of them are related and all are tangentially connected to the comics industry.

1. Newsarama posted the first part of a wide-ranging interview with Paul Levitz, publisher of DC Comics, about the state of the company. Some interesting quotes:

In response to Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited program:

I wish Marvel well with it. I hope they’ve figured out something that a bunch of fans like at a price that the fans find appropriate, and that it’s a workable model for them. If it is, we’ll certainly look hard at it over time.

I think we have a few different views of the area than Marvel, one is if we’re going to do something where we’re distributing our material online, then we would certainly want to have figured out how the talent was going to participate in revenues that we were going to make. And that’s an extraordinarily complicated nightmare. If you set out to say…we’ve published probably 40,000 comic books in the course of our history…so if in one extreme you sat there and said, “I’m going to put 40,000 comic books online for people to read, the prospect of sorting the rights out for that, writing checks to the talent is pretty nightmarish.

This brings two things to mind. The obvious one is that I think that Levitz should hold company workshops on communicating a message to the media. He’s saying things designed to resonate with every audience. If you’re a fan, he implies (in his discussion of the administrative difficulties) that when DC figures out an online initiative, it is less likely to limit the amount of material available to the degree that Marvel has. If DC wanted to release limited portions of its archives for an online service, working out talent payments would not be particularly overwhelming. I would imagine that a publisher would be able to track the number of people who are accessing particular issues/runs, and develop some kind of pricing system. If you’re a creator, he’s telling you that DC will not take any rash actions before figuring out your compensation.

His patience and deliberation could also be seen as a positive for management/shareholders (to the extent they know that DC is part of Time Warner).

There’s no question that people are willing to read some comics online if they don’t have to pay for them. The question is: does anybody have a value proposition where a reasonable number of people are willing to pay for them? Will people ultimately want it all to be ad-supported, which seems how most online entertainment is being delivered these days? And is there an ad-supported methodology that makes sense for flat comic book pages?

Owners/managers of traditional i/p companies don’t want to hear about non-monetized technical innovation. The truth is, that on some basic level, no one knows whether online ad support is or will be sufficient to fully replace present revenue from print ads. In the end, we all know that it’ll have to, but that’s in the future. Managers want to keep their job now. Shareholders want a return in the next few months. This kind of hard-nosed skepticism is great for them.

His responses are also candy to the media:

NRAMA: Has DC done any kind of study or estimate in regards to how much money it feels it has lost due to online piracy?

PL: I haven’t a clue.

This is the kind of ‘honesty’ that makes journalists wet. If you don’t believe me, look at John McCain. Phony straight talk is like manna to the media.

But the more interesting, less obvious point made in the interview is this:

If you set out to say…we’ve published probably 40,000 comic books in the course of our history…so if in one extreme you sat there and said, “I’m going to put 40,000 comic books online for people to read, the prospect of sorting the rights out for that . . . is pretty nightmarish

I read a good article a couple of weeks ago about this, but I assumed that since Time/Warner employed so many attorneys, someone would have been working on this. It’s kind of sad.

2. Dick Hyacinth was right about the Trader Joe’s Gorgonzola Walnut Tortellini. It is really good, especially for a Lazy Man’s dinner.

3. Tom Brevoort on the Marvel Creative Retreat:

For the next 48 hours, we’ll be brainstorming on the overall direction of the future of the Marvel line, from the end of 2008 and the climax of SECRET INVASION well into 2009 and beyond. There are a bunch of ideas and plans already buzzing through the halls, but inevitably everything is going to change before our metting time is done. The only real certainty is that there’ll be some moment somewhere within the two days when I’ll change color.

Like in the past, it’ll be an interesting combination and collision of any number of creative mindsets, and virtually nobody’s storylines will escape completely unscathed–but hopefully better for having come through the experience. For myself, the two big areas of interest will be in getting to know Matt Fraction, who’s been doing some outstanding work lately, and who’s really a guy to watch, and spending some time picking the brain of Allan Heinberg, who’s one of the best guys in the business when it comes to breaking stories and making sure that character motivations and reactions remain true to the characters. This is the first Marvel summit that either of these guys has attended, so it’ll be interesting to see how they interact with the rest of the group (and how the group functions without Mark Millar or J. Michael Straczynski in the room this time, both of whom had other commitments that prevented them from attending.)

This is the moment when the future gets decided, so look for updates as things progress.

Even though I like quite a bit of what Marvel publishes, and think that the quality of the writing, art, and editing has undergone an amazing improvement since the 80’s – ’90’s, these kinds of corporate retreats kind of make me nauseous. The older I get, the more my enjoyment of comics is connected to an appreciation of the craft and creativity that goes into them (1). I really don’t care about the strategy and the coordination. When I read Bendis’ Daredevil, Brubaker’s Captain America, or Pak’s Incredible Hulk, I’m interested in their work, and not its relationship to an intricate larger universe. I guess that the shared universe aspect of the genre (at least as practiced by the Big Two) doesn’t really appeal to me anymore. Or maybe it’s just that I used to work for a big corporation, and got cheery e-mails like this for company retreats that made me want to stick pencils in my eyes.

(1): I wouldn’t say that this is a maturity issue, just a personal one. There’s nothing worse than when people link maturity to appreciation of a genre. You didn’t ‘grow out’ of it, you just stopped liking it. And there is a real difference.

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