Friday, April 1, 2011

Issue 3 - Buzzwords and over a page of flame

Page 1 (page 2 and 3 at end of post)
The letter column of issue 3 seemed to say a lot about the current market at the time. Bryne defends the higher price point of JBNM and the use of the thicker paper stock of the first issues cover. The Andy Reynolds letter just annoyed me. He starts off telling Byrne how to make his comic.
"...the absence of the Comics Code leaves you free to portray such gore. My favorite horror movie being John Carpenter's The Thing, I certainly won't complain. But keep in mind that such scenes can often be executed more effectively in a more subdues manner, or even off-panel, as were, for example, most of the classic EC shocks. I think..."
The last thing Byrne needs is for some guy to tell him how to script his book. And it sounds like he was complaining to me. Reynolds then goes on to envision who he would see portraying all the characters in a movie...after one issue. Lame. Don't worry. John puts him in his place.
"There will be no "mercy bullets" in my world, nor any sanitizing of the consequence of violence. Frank Miller once joked with me about the amazing daggers Elektra would use in her Daredevil appearances - the ones which penetrated flesh and bone but, at least on the viewer's side, not cloth. You won't find that in JBNM..."
This months  "A flame about this high..." is a big one. Over one and a half pages of rant, but it's also a insightful one.
"For years those monthly sales figures represented an important means - indeed, the only means - of gauging the reader's likes and dislikes. (Letters to the editors being routinely discounted, since company policy  tended to be that anyone who wrote to a comic book must be slightly off the beam, and there fore unreliable. Really! I am not making this up!) We've lost that important frame of reference, with the advent of Fill-In-The-Blank_Zombies, people who buy multiple copies of the same issue, not because they particularly enjoyed the story and might want some extras for when the much-read copy got dog-eared to read, but because they think these "hot" title will be a good investment. On that basis it becomes impossible to use sales as a barometer of public taste...)"
You can't argue much with that statement. That's the comic industry during the nineties in a nutshell. Another interesting take the nineties was given by Mile High's Chuck Rozanski over on his Tales From the Database blog. Rozanski argues that it was the distributors Diamond and Capital that caused more problems then the comic book speculators, but maybe that is in terms of the glutton of books rather then the quality. 

Take a look at page 3. Byrne relates a story about the backlash from his Superman reboot in the mid eighties. I will let you read that one on your own. There is some interesting anecdotes regarding the bashing of comic creators by fans. This one about comic editor and writer Jo Duffy.
"Jo Duffy tells a wry tale of overhearing two fans discussing what a creep this guy "Joe Duffy" was. They were referring to Jo, oblivious to the fact that she was standing within earshot. They discussed encounters that had never happened, rude words that had never been exchanged. And you can be damn sure they would be more than happy to continue this discussion with anyone else who was prepared to listen."
Here Byrne relates a fan encountering his friend Roger Stern at a comic convention.
"About a year and a half ago, my buddy Roger Stern returned from a convention to tell me the tale of a fan who had accosted him, as a known friend of mine, with the story of how obnoxious and rude I had been to him - the fan - at a convention in Philadelphia earlier that year. Roger, knowing my convention schedule, quickly pointed out that not only had I not been to a convention in Philadelphia earlier that year, but, so far as he knew, I had not been to a convention in Philadelphia ever! The fan immediately corrected his story. The encounter must have happened at some other Con, in some other city. Roger, his Holmesian intellect piqued, at once asked if the fan had ever been to Mansfield, Ohio. No, came the reply. Well, Roger explained - and I've seen the kind of infinite patience Roger can muster when dealing with this kind of situation -the incident could not have happened, since, at the time, the Mid-Ohio Con, in Mansfield, was the only convention I was attending, anywhere, and had for about five years."
Nice so-called fan. Is it only Byrne that has fans like that? I'm going to leave it at that. Take a read of the letters for yourself.
Page 2
Page 3

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