In twenty years of comic fandom, I have never written in to a comic publisher before. But just this last week I sat down and wrote to DC Comics. Why?
Action Comics, DC's oldest comic still in print, and the home of Superman, was being written by Chuck Austen. Austen had written a semi-successful miniseries with Metropolis as a background last year, but it hadn't been my favorite series. I loved the art, but, truthfully, the story was meandering and unstructured.
When the Superman comics relaunched several months ago, Chuck Austen was given Action Comics. I knew from internet trolls complaining about Austen's run on X-Men that he could be a controversial figure, but I wasn't really clear on WHY so many readers didn't like his work.
As Austen's run on Action neared, interviews with the writer showed up online and Austen publicly stated that he didn't think Superman was interesting. Nor did he feel overly excited to be writing the comic. He found Lois Lane boring, and thought Superman should be more "proactive" or something along those lines.
When the comics started showing up, they were the action packed comics Austen ahd promised, but no single issue contained the hint of a coherent story. Ivan Reis had taken over art chores, and the guy does incredible work. But Austen seemed to be flailing through a backlog of Superman villains and supporting characters. Plotlines were being introduced and never carried out, villains appeared but failed to ever reappear in order to complete a storyline.
Further, Superman just didn't act like Superman. Some folks say he was acting more as if Austen were writing Spider-Man, but I didn't see it. I felt Austen was trying to interject humor into the Superman comics and simply wasn't very good at writing comics that way. Also, Superman would loudly declare superlatives such as "I am the best!" Uh-huh.
The whole thing had simply an awful sense of mismanagement about it, and Suprman fans were staying away in droves.
At any rate, yesterday DC Comics announced Austen is now off of Action Comics. The comic, which has been published since 1938, should be treated as a flagship comic, drawing the industry's best and brightest. And I think DC went into their agreement with Austen believing he would deliver a comic he proved himself incapable of producing.
The odd part of the entire deal is this: the new writer on the comic is JD Finn. Nobody has ever heard of JD Finn before. Nobody. It is assumed JD Finn is a pen name of some sort for an established writer as new writers usually aren't handed the reigns on a franchise book like Action Comics. I'm looking forward to seeing what the true story is and how "JD Finn" ties up Austen's confusing and ill-devies plot threads.
You read up on the Austen leaving Action Comics here.
Meanwhile, I totally encourage readers to pick up "Adventures of Superman" by Greg Rucka and Matthew Clark. Also, Azzarello and Lee's "Superman" is still holding my itnerest.
And I responded to Steven via electronic mail. Steven responded to my response here.
I have given Steven permission to post my full response on his site as this whole thing began over there.
I think of these sorts of life-altering deals like long term relationships and having kids to be a bit like traveling. We all have an idea of what New York City is like in our heads just from watching TV, but the second we step off the plane, we have to readjust our notions and come away with a different idea of what the city is all about. To extend the metaphor, people who live and work in New York are going to have yet another idea of what the city is all about and how it works. They aren't going to be using tourist maps to get around, and they aren't going to be bothering with the tour of the Statue of Liberty.
To further extend the metaphor, when you do go home, nobody wants to see photos from your vacation and/ or life in New York. Nobody wants to see 4x6 pictures of you standing in front of a hotdog cart while you explain how you order a hotdog in Manhattan. It's boring. And you always come off as an ass when you're trying to explain to your pals "how things work in the big city". It's unavoidable and, ultimately, you come off as a condescending jerk just for trying to explain how to buy subway tokens.
I think Jamie and I are sort of in-betweeners. We live in a sort of metaphorical Connecticut, or possibly Philadelphia. We're married, have been together for a pretty darn long while given our age, and have no kids. We're heading into the territory where people are having kids and telling us "there's nothing like it!" I'm taking them at their word for it, and occasionally playing with the little souvenir, but I have no idea what a 4:00am feeding is like, or the joys of labor, or worrying about lying kids on their stomach instead of their back. That's a whole new New York City I'm just not ready to even tourist through.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
So, lazy bastard that I am, I read many more comics than "real" books. And I'm also pretty choosy about about what I will spend time reading. I usually request two or three people's positive recommendations before I'll actually pick up a book and read it.
But, I do have a 45 minute drive to work. And a 45 minute drive home (one day I shall unleash my ongoing rant regarding my dream of efficient public transportation. It's all about bullet trains, people). Anyhoo, I do have quite a bit of time on the road, and I can only listen to so much Marketplace.
So, a few weeks ago my co-worker commented that he had the "book on tape" of The DaVinci Code. And his recommendation coupled with that of the Sensational Laura Denby led me to say "okay, sure. Let's kill some time."
Anyway, I have now "read" the controversial best-seller. Well, an authorized, abridged, poorly narrated audio-book version of The DaVinci Code. It's okay. In all honesty, I think it sort of follows the current trend of authors wanting to write a screenplay and not having the screenwriting technique down pat, so they turn to prose. Nobody is going to accuse Dan Brown of being a literary genius, but what the book does manage to do is tell a fairly fast paced sort of mystery that is smart enough to give it's audience some surprises regarding plot elements, but is also savvy enough not to tell a confusing or complicated tale. You know, a good airport book.
The author doesn't have any pretensions of being perceived as the next James Joyce. He wants to tell a neat story about a nerd as an action hero and relies upon stoner/templar lore in order to do so.
Regarding the alleged "controversy" surrounding the book...
Basically it suggests that maybe the Catholic church hasn't always acted with the best of intentions and the author uses the Vatican as a sort of vague force which the characters must beware of. I can't say much more about what the controversy is without totally giving away the book, but I kind of figured out huge chunks of it by midway through disk three of 5.
There are some vaguely taboo topics covered, and a bit of mysticism and well researched humbuggery inserted to weave an interesting plot. The book plays it very, very safe as far as I'm concerned, and certainly doesn't cover any territory not covered elsewhere (the super freak comic Preacher: Proud Americans leaps immediately to mind.) But if you could bare with Arnie's "End of Days" or Demi Moore's "The Seventh Sign", I think you can handle this book without worrying about your immortal soul.
Brown wisely keeps to familiar touchstones for his story. He never gets particulalrly esoteric with his history, geography or even his landmarks. Even an untravelled jerk like me knows what the Louvre is, so when the book opens in the Louvre, as a middle-america slob, I can nod and smugly say "Ah, I know what the Louvre is! Two points for me!"
Brown's biggest failing is in his inability to create the vaguest interest in his own protagonists. The characters are little more than ciphers needed for advancing the plot, and seem to always act in the most obvious manner (not to mention, at least one of them can always unravel a puzzle within a few minutes).
I hear they're bringing the book to the big screen, and I think that's great. This is a book in search of a script, and will probably make a clever Christmas release.
In addition, I'm now hooked on the idea of getting books on CD for my commute. I'm going to go and get a library card this weekend and see what I can find.
10:41 PM |
I normally try to keep a sunny disposition, but today is honestly a tragic day.
A really good guy I worked with occasionally was killed in his home over the weekend. So, needless to say, I'm not feeling very much like posting my usual posts.
Jackie B. Kennedy made housewives across the world titter with glee when she opened up the White House for a televised tour during JFK's term in office. And then yesterday I found myself watching Laura Bush's crack squad of Junior Leaguers decorating the White House for Christmas.
Hey, W... you want a smaller government? Quit spending $5 mil on decorating the part of the house you don't use.
Anyhoo, The League was inspired. I don't actually want any of you people in my house, but I'd like to share a little Christmas cheer with you.
And so, the Christmas Tour of League HQ begins.
It's always nice to see how taking a photo of your own home quickly makes it appear that maybe your home is a crime scene. Especially when you have nothing but white walls.
So, let's start outside and work our way in.
Funny how houses don't photograph terribly well from outside in the dark, but there you have it. I guess it's sort of minimal on lighting. Well, I'm a cheap bastard and it was raining while I was hanging lights. What do you want?
Mel welcomes you to the house. He was not feeling very photo-friendly tonight.
We'll bypass the front room and head back to the living room/ kitchen.
This is our equivalent of a Christmas Village. Jamie won't let me do the whole Christmas Village deal. I think she knows the "Village" would quickly become a major metropolitan area.
Rudolph's nose does, indeed, light up.
Mr. and Mrs. Snowman sit atop the entertainment center with another Rudolph.
We have this weird sort of shelf space up above for which we've never thought of a good use. We put stuff up there on the Holidays. BTW, there are no fireplaces in The Valley of the Sun. It's 78 degrees here today. Possibly warmer.
We now return to the front room.
Here is the table we put out this year. I'm not really sure if we'll do this every year, but we did it this year for the first time.
Here's my official Polar Express reindeer bell. It's hanging from the lamp which is supposed to hang over the dining room table we don't have.
Here's our nativity set. I like it. Understated and it doesn't have the same creepy faces as the one my folks had when I was a kid.
The tree. It's our Charlie Brown tree. It's only four feet tall and fake. You can see from the bookshelf that we probably need more bookshelf space. Kids, furniture is expensive, and I have a comic habit to keep up with.
My mom thinks I don't have a star. Here is my star. See it? I have a star. One year I put Superman on top of the tree, and ever since then I've caught an earful before Christmas.
Our tree is Super.
Jamie is an extremely patient person.
The train to Christmastown.
Anyway, that's it. We only have a few presents under the tree, but it was enough to cover up the nice tree skirt my aunt sent us a few years ago. Ah, well.
We've been cohabitating for several years now, and we're getting our Christmas traditions down pat. It's fun pulling this stuff out every year and slowly adding more as you go. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the tour.
And this is totally unrelated, but I finished my online class today. Oh, and I reviewed Blade Trinity below. For your reading enjoyment.