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Wait, What? 56.2: Let’s Go Backwards When Forward Fails

Jeff Lester

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As our old pal Reid Fleming used to say: “Ungawa!”

We’ve got the gripping ninety-two minute finale of Ep. 56 available for you, with Graeme and I talking Action Comics #1, G. Willow Wilson’s Mystic, the Wolverine: Debt of Death one-shot, IDW’s G.I. Joe: Cobra series, Kirby Genesis #3, our worries about the conclusion to X-Men: Schism, and a pretty sustained discussion (which will come as no surprise to long-time listeners) of Casanova #3 by Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba.

In case you have no need for this thing puny hu-mans call “iTunes,” you are hereby formally invited to listen to our fine audio programme right here, should you so choose:

Wait, What? Ep. 56.2: Lets Go Backwards When Forward Fails

And as ever, we thank you not just for listening, but also for the fine comments you contribute here at the website and at waitwhatpodcast [AT] gmail.com.  It is greatly appreciated!

47 Responses to “ Wait, What? 56.2: Let’s Go Backwards When Forward Fails ”

  1. So no review of Casanova but rather another deconstruction of Fraction and it was a part of the cast struck me as a little inappropriate given its basis in pure speculation. I understand that you think it’s fascinating but the substance of your conversation, despite the interviews referenced, seemed to be made out of armchair psychology and gossip and I’m wondering why Faction deserves that treatment while no other creators do?

    Vague hints that a writer might kill himself based on not really liking his work just aren’t what I expect from a comics podcast. Now obviously there’s nothing wrong with defying expectations but I can’t say that it struck me as something you’ve earned.

    If Fear Itself or Thor drives you towards this conversation again might I suggest that you take out a copy of Journey into Mystery instead? Kieron Gillen is doing exceptional work on that book and it washes away almost all the bad taste of what’s been done to Asgard elsewhere. It’s a personal choice I know but I’d much rather hear an informed discussion about the quality of that book than some half thought out conjecture on the future life path of Matt Fraction.

    Ok rant over and it was otherwise another great listen. In regards to the wolverine getting his face blown off issue I’d agree totally but it’s not even close to being the stupidest thing he’s pulled off in the last 10 years. The healing factor being out of control and robbing any drama from his fights has been a problem for a while now. Aaron is certainly playing to the worst of it but he’s not the instigator. If anything I’d say it’s his treatment of the character’s fighting wolverine that is a bigger problem. The possessed wolverine arc is the most obvious example for why.

  2. It’d be ironic if I was the one who killed myself. There’s a twist they didn’t see coming.

    KG

  3. @Kieron: Remember–if we start up the official Marvel Talent Death Pool, it’s officially your fault.

    @Slythe: Thanks for the very thoughtful comments. I actually think we did review the book itself (I pretty much liked it, Graeme pretty much couldn’t decide) and talked at least lightly about our reasons why.

    Sadly, I think the armchair psychology and gossip about Mr. Fraction isn’t going to be something that’ll catch regular listeners of the ‘cast by surprise. While we haven’t gone to great lengths with other creators, we’ve certainly overstepped our boundaries in the past while wondering about the cause of dispute between Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, two other creators who, like Fraction, either regularly engage (or play at engaging) at a deeper confessional nature about their life in the industry and its relation to their work. (I suppose we could also do the same with Warren Ellis if either of us could be arsed.) If other people in the industry want to toy with such a degree of self-disclosure, I imagine we’ll be drawn in our moth-like way to fret and worry and drive ourselves crazy with them, too.

    Glad you liked the rest of the podcast, though, and you make very good points about Wolverine. The whole out-of-control healing factor thing is something I should’ve talked about at greater length with Graeme since I’ve bothered to follow the character more closely than he has, and now that it’s been a topic discussed explicitly by both his fans and even talent that’s worked on the character. (Was it Guggenheim who tried to address the whole thing explicitly in a story arc from a few years back?)

  4. Hi Jeff, I was the guy who said your criticism of Schism made me interesting in reading it. It’s funny to hear your “impersonation” of my voice, haha. But it’s funny, the same day I said that, the preview of the next issue with Wolverine’s face getting blown off was released, and I immediately lost interest again.

    Let me say, don’t listen to the naysayers. The psychological discussion of Fraction and the comparison to David Foster Wallace was truly fascinating stuff, and while I didn’t see it coming either I totally loved it. I don’t like the idea of Siythe saying you haven’t “earned” it. As long as it’s not mean-spirited (it wasn’t) and as long as it’s well-done and intelligently thought out (it was), I’m cool with it.

    I am interested though in hearing the one you did on Morrison and Millar now, though.

  5. One thing I found interesting about Wolverine is that even Claremont was planning on heading that way with his healing factor. In interviews he gave after leaving the book in the 90s, he said his next big storyline involved Wolverine getting decimated to the point where he was nothing but a drop of blood on an adamantium skeleton, and from the one drop of blood he would regrow his whole body but with no memories. He wanted to establish that the healing factor was much stronger than previously thought. Then the Hand would use the amnesiac Wolverine to brainwash him and turn him against the X-Men.

  6. I have no problem with the Fraction discussion (although it does verge on the pathological — I had a whole bunch of Wait, Whats backlogged not long ago, and listening to them in sequence it became frighteningly, eerily, unsettlingly clear just how frustrated Graeme has become with Fraction’s work), but it soft-pedals the major problem:

    $4.99?????

    I need the backmatter to be a whole lot more valuable than a letters page to justify $4.99. If that’s the new price point, I’m out.

    (Fraction would probably disagree with my prioritizing of the two problems, but I’m not the one being relentlessly psychoanalyzed for not writing good Thor comics and he’s not the one ponying up $5.24 after tax for an issue of Casanova. All depends on your perspective, I guess.)

  7. Casanova is 32 pages of comics plus its backmatter. You can complain about that, of course, but it’s not as if it’s trying to sell a normal size comic for five dollars.

    KG

  8. Pretty thrilled you liked Debt of Death as much as I did. I found it to be just what the doctor ordered.

    Similarly I feel like the new DD #3 that just came out is stupidly excellent. It’s literally a no brainer of a great comic book.

    Just hold it up in someone’s face and go, “No, no, this! This one! Don’t look at that other crap, this!”

    And to me it comes down to having artists and writers that are working together to deliver something and not just having a professional wank. You hear guys like Busiek and Waid gently ‘arguing’ on Twitter about clarity of storytelling details and you realize these are the guys who get it. Who understand and have a knowledge of the necessary pieces that make for good writing. Sure, not EVERYTHING they write (or everything Robinson, Fraction, Roberson, or whoever) is going to be an instant classic but I get the sense – and this is only as a guy who has read comics for twenty five years – that a segment of the creator populace is just going “Unnnh, unnnnh, splash page, splash page, grimace! Tragedy beat! There, it’s a comic book!”

    And people can go on and tell me that everybody works hard and tries their best but sh*t, these artists and a couple of others (McKelvie, Noto, Quitely, Aja) go home and f*ck the prom queen while the rest are out “doing their best.”

    I’ve got to tell you I hope others are voting with their wallets and buying things they REALLY like as opposed to buying things out of loyalty.

    Also, while I’m ranting I’m excited to say that Marcos Martin (who I consider to be a very fine comic book artist) better bring his f’ing A+ game or the work the Rivera family has done on DD is going to make him look like a lesser talent. I wish that didn’t sound so harsh but yeesh this dude and his Dad made Ulysses Klaw look AWESOME.

  9. @ Kieron It’s that kind of desperate nonsensical plot twist done purely for shock value that it ruining comics. For shame Mr Gillen, for shame.

    I’d also take this moment to fanboy out a little and say that Journey 627 was one of the best comics I’ve read in a long while. It was a great use of overarching marvel continuity and the big stupid event to tell a Mephisto story that totally nailed the character. If only the barman could have been Australian it would have been perfect.

    @ Jeff I know some people don’t take well to criticism but I feel that forcing me remember The Death of Wolverine arc is taking retribution a little too far. Logan beating up the Angel of Death every time he died was something I went to great pains to suppress and now I’ve got start all over again.

    I’d suggest an even bigger problem with that character though is that Marvel seems to have lost any larger sense of who he is in a way I just don’t think has happened with any other major character. Aaron certainly has a consistent vision for him but during his run alone other writers have had Logan be everything from noble samurai to cursed berserker to the X-men’s pet assassin to a flat out psychopath (cutting off one new body part of someone a year which basically made him Sabertooth) with no real links between them beyond claws and a healing factor. Now he’s the one on the calm and reasonable side of Schism while Scott Summers orders children to kill people and I can help feeling like I’m reading a What If.

    As for my concerns over the Fraction stuff I’d suggest that there’s a difference between speculating on facts that have been brought to light such as Morrison saying Millar was the worst person he’d ever met, if I remember the quote right, and trying to draw conclusions about Fractions current psychological state based on what he writes. Now admittedly I haven’t read the interviews you spoke of but the absolute conviction you both seemed to have just struck me as forgetting the basic rule of a cigar sometimes just being a cigar. According to i-tunes I’ve listened since ep 32 and I honestly can’t think of a time you’ve discussed a writer in a similar manner.

    However you’re right about the fact you did review the actual comic, even if it did get a little lost, and so is T when he points out that was you said was both intelligently put and done without malice. The problem may well just be me being uncomfortable with the subject matter. If I can make a suggestion without seeming to condescending maybe some links to interviews you talk about in the show notes might help context wise.

  10. @Kieron: Sure, and if the backmatter were still interviews and essays and what-not, I’d at least be more inclined to agree with you. (I absolutely love Fraction as an essayist, and have done since the Savant days.) An enlongated letters page, while somewhat quaintly retro, doesn’t leave me quite so enthused.

    And even then, there’s something tough for me about a comic breaking the five-dollar mark (after taxes). It may not be a regular-sized comic, but it’s a floppy with staples, not a bookshelf purchase or even a huge slab of Giant-Sized Whatever.

    That’s a purely psychological reaction, of course, but there it is — I just have real trouble justifying the value-for-money at that price point.

  11. How many pages was Casanova back when it was $1.99? I know it was less than a standard comic…

    Was I the only person that thought it was ridiculous that Superman was going after a business owner that used “illegal cheap labor?” Welcome to America, Superman, that shit happens here. It just seemed pretty out of touch to me. Or maybe it will be revealed in a future issue that Clark grew up in Arizona. Anyway, thank you for eliminating some jobs, Superman. Git r done!

  12. Just returned from my LCS with that Wolverine one-shot, purchased ONLY because of your recommendation (and my love of Aja). Better not let me down!!!

  13. Seijun Suzuki! Yes! Everyone gets hot for Branded to Kill but I kinda like Youth of the Beast more– it’s got this scene where the main character beats the shit out of some guy in a go-go dance place that’s stuck with me. Though so has the last scene of Branded to Kill though– I don’t know; I just like Youth of the Beast more. Never saw Detective Bureau though…

    (I got the Wolverine comic but it’s on a very bad to-read-someday pile, so no idea if it’s an apt comparison). (I did read Action and I’m… very confused by it; the math is all right but I’m not really sure about the music of it…? But it took me longer than most people to warm to All Star so it’s too early to say… I don’t know that I understand what Superman it’s trying to build yet, though, and I’m confused by that as I guess that’s the only real question I went in with that I still feel is… a question I couldn’t hope to answer …?).

    I thought the scene outside the nightclub in Casanova was encouraging because I don’t think he could’ve done that scene at least that way before the Marvel work, or as well, however I might feel about that Marvel stuff, and I guess I went in with that… curiosity. I didn’t have a tremendous reaction to the issue one way or the other, for various reasons– I was very inside my own head when I read it, but I’m not really in a prime read-comics mode at the moment for various reasons, and have been avoiding comics otherwise for that reason… but I did like that scene.

    Also: I found your Casanova conversation more than a little strange. But I also was yelling in my car when you guys were comparing Iron Man as being the equivalent of Doom Patrol (which is fucking craaaaaaaazy) a while back so I don’t know, I guess it cuts both ways.

    Also: of all the arguments about comic prices, the weirdest one for me will always be the one where comic readers are expected to do long division in their head. I don’t think that actually is a thing that happens. I’d have paid $5, or $10 or whatever though.

    Also, apropos of nothing– the backup feature on Men of War (at War?)– the backup feature…! I’ve liked other Jonathan Vankin comics (the Seth Fisher one) but I’m really, really not sure what he was aiming for on that one…

  14. re: the rest of Casanova #1, I had a hard time telling whether the rest of the issue was desperate to be good or if *I* was desperate for it to be good (?), in a way that reminded me of how I felt when I was reading Scarlet #1 where I went in with some of the same… pre-sets, I don’t know what the word is, but read it under a similar cloud of … cloudiness. So … That happened.

  15. Casanova had 16 pages of story when it was a $1.99 comic

  16. In reverse order, because I am LAY-ZEE:

    @Abhay: Admittedly, I don’t remember a lot of our podcast conversations (even considering I basically have them twice, thanks to the miracle of editing) but I *totally* don’t remember us comparing Iron Man to Doom Patrol. Like, whaaa? Were we trying to justify that dropped Controller storyline or something? Or was it the Annual? I don’t know; it just seems odd.

    That said, I think the consensus is coming around that my and Graeme’s imaginary relationship with Matt Fraction is weird. I think it’s a fair assessment.

    Oh, and I know just the scene you mean and it’s one of my favorites. You should check out Tattooed Life (a.k.a., The Man With The White Tiger Tattoo). It’s a good little potboiler with a stunningly shot ending.

    @Dasbender: I feel confident you will dig the shit out of it but let me know what you think.

    @Mike W: I thought that was also an essentially chicken-shit path to choose which I think I bitched about in the ‘cast. (I hope I did, anyway.)

    @Siythe: How dare you use civility, rationality, and common sense when disagreeing with someone? Those are some damn dirty tricks. Don’t you know this is the Internet? Also, your comments on Wolverine were sensible and smart. Take that!

    J_Smitty: I mostly agree with you about DD #3 (though I thought…well, you’ll see soon enough). You really blue-collared the shit out of me with the entirety of your comment though, and I mean that as a compliment. If we ever need, like, a football coach for comics, I’m making sure the owners come after you, sir!

    T.: I’m totally weirded out by the idea Mark Millar read that interview and crafted Enemy of the State from it. I’ve read a ton of creator interviews and I don’t know I ever decided I would nab their story ideas if I ever got the chance. Also, I totally apologize if I did some asshole voice while paraphrasing you–really unnecessary and to some degree, unintentional. This podcast is slowly turning me into one of the cast members from Hee Haw, always hamming it up. Your reply was super-gracious and kind.

    Whew! Okay, hopefully, I didn’t kill off any conversational momentum still moving in this thread. I always worry I’m gonna do that…

  17. I burn CDs of like a dozen different podcasts onto a CD that I keep around in case of long car drives, so these were older ones. I think it was one of the 50’s, though I don’t remember which decimal point (?). Graeme used that premise to ask whether creators are given enough chances to fail as before– I had a hard time with the premise, and accordingly, threw a pathetic hissy fit in my car after a 4 hour drive back through traffic from an electricity-free visit to San Diego… Yeah, that was a long day, so maybe my memory is wobbly.

    Also, one of the things I found strange about your conversation, besides all the strange stuff you were saying, which was all of it, it was odd for me because… I guess my worry with this volume, based on the first issue, is that this volume is Black Kiss to the first volume’s American Flagg, if that comparison makes sense, in that by virtue of shifting from “viewing life through a pop culture prism” in an inherently favorable way to an inherently unfavorable way (pop culture in the first issue at least having attenuated down into comics culture especially, in a way that was I thought … a little worrisome), that the story may have turned being towards being… about a perception of the audience…? And I think if that’s how it pans out, that’s a story where I’d have a much harder time with the themes. I have a hard enough time with “Stop Uploading, Start Downloading, Kill the Alien Queen with Powerloading” or whatever that is, the little slogan in back that gets me all worked up, like a ninny…

  18. Though my calling your conversation strange is totally hypocritical because I think your concerns were basically mine after I read Grant Morrison’s Batman. So, wee, hypocrisy… (see also, though, re: pop culture attenuating to comics culture).

  19. Jeff, I totally wasn’t offended, I sincerely thought the voice was hilarious. I actually cracked up out loud at how douchey you made the voice sound. It’s all good, it was hilarious.

    Mark Millar was asked in several interviews whether he ripped off the Claremont interview and he swore he never even heard of or read the interview in question. The denial caused even more controversy than the actual storyline.

  20. FWIW i remember the Doom Patrol/Iron Man comment also, from maybe 51 or 52, as something you listed that was similar in creativity or invention. Having been a big DP fan and not having read any Iron Man (or Fraction for that matter) i found it pretty surprising, as i hadn’t heard anyone describe Iron Man in those terms at all.

  21. @Abhay You’re right, I’ve never looked at a comics page and thought “This page wasn’t worth 20 cents! Maybe 12 cents, but come on, 20!?!” BUT, I do remember Fraction (and Ellis on Fell?) talking about how the $1.99 price point was a good way to make sure that their comics got in people’s hands, especially people who can’t afford much more than that. Now, that was either complete bullshit or… actually, I don’t have another option.

    Fraction doesn’t care about poor people.
    http://dialoguemagazine.com/index/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Kanye-George-Bush-hates-black-people1.png

    (I would not have paid $10)

  22. I have to ask if either of you guys are reading Uncanny X-Force? I don’t think I have heard it come up.

    Especially since I think Jeff would really enjoy that book and when Opena is drawing it the good transforms into the best looking book on the stands.

  23. @Rick Vance (whose comment is showing up here for some god-damned reason, despite it being posted half an hour ago): I’ve been reading Uncanny X-Force (though I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it here since Opena’s first arc). Just finished ranting about the latest issue to Graeme, which you should be able to hear next week in Wait, What?, Ep. 57!

    @Mike Walker: Based on Kieron’s numbers, twice the pagecount of a $1.99 book plus a dollar for color sounds….not terrible? I dunno, thinking about it, it doesn’t sound especially great, either. But I do think Fraction’s goals with Casanova have changed and his art team has become much more in demand, too.

    (That said, I find the Kanye reference to be especially clever on your part. Kudos.)

    @bad wolf and @Abhay: Abhay’s description makes a bit more sense but I’d swear Graeme’s point wasn’t that Iron Man was comparable to Doom Patrol (I’m pretty sure Graeme would cough up a lung at that comparison) but, as Abhay says, whether there are enough chance for a creator to fail at creating their own voice before being led into the sausage factory of higher profile WFH. The comparison then, (though I remember neither of us made it) would be Morrison’s Doom Patrol which never set the charts on fire but was critically acclaimed and allowed to run for several years, and The Order, which lasted…six issues? Again, I’m both guessing, imagining and quasi-prevaricating, but I’d think Graeme’s point was if that hadn’t been the case, maybe Fraction would’ve been able to bring more of his chops (apart from his glibness) to later work–which I know Graeme has in the past found, at best, derivative of templates set by Brubaker in Captain America (and maybe Bendis)?

    God, I hope there’s no specific moment where in fact it’s just:

    Graeme: “I mean, Fraction’s Iron Man is really more or less Morrison’s Doom Patrol when you think about it…”

    Jeff: “Right! Right.”

    @T: You are a good egg. God bless.

  24. Can I just say, I love, love, love this podcast, and I love Jeff and Graeme’s general style of jawin’ and jabbin’ and talkin’ about whatever for hours on end (don’t listen to that Haterdude guy who’s always “whine whine whine you talk too much whine”, I like the laid back feel of listening to two old friends ramble at each other) BUT… but but but… the whole Casanova/Fraction/improbably close reading thing whereby two guys speculate for a creepily long period of time about this one writer’s mental health based on some shit that’s happening in one of his comic books… was really pretty creepy, creepy enough that I actually had to stop the podcast at one point ’cause I felt kind of skeevy listening to it.

  25. “how the $1.99 price point was a good way to make sure that their comics got in people’s hands, especially people who can’t afford much more than that. Now, that was either complete bullshit or… actually, I don’t have another option.”

    I don’t see any reason that’s not true…? I was never entirely clear on the “can’t afford much more” part, but it’s not hard to imagine people willing to gamble on a $1.99 book more than they might be on a $2.99 or $3.99 or $5 book. But I don’t think it made life easy ofr anyone else to make any money off that price point– my vague recollection is there was a third Slimline book that couldn’t do the $1.99 price point because of some difference in economy; they had no hope of getting the sales Fell or Casanova were getting, or they had to pay a colorist, or something. (Something about samurai maybe?).

    Anyways, if the difference in volume didn’t justify the price, they probably made a smart move by shifting their strategy on the price. Especially in light of overall changes to the economy. So.

    Also, Stephen Colbert talked about this last night: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/waffle-house-hurricanes_n_945756.html.

  26. Creepy and totally bonkers, I should say. Like, listening to that, I kept imagining Graeme parked in a car across from Fraction’s house, focusing a pair of binoculars on an open window or two, and muttering, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t know him, but… I’m worried, I’m worried, about him,” while rubbing the pages of the Gula TPB over his nether regions.

  27. Remember that the book sold for $1.99 back when it was printed two-color, and with 16 pages of story, like half a decade ago.

  28. @moose n squirrel: I was going to wait a before replying to your first comment, but since the second one just made me laugh very loudly while at work…

    I think it’s safe to say you were not alone in your impression (though hopefully not to the unfortunately vivid degree of your second comment). And I suspect that if we haven’t gotten it out of our system by now, we will probably save such discussions for off-mic. I really do think it’s fair (and, as a listener, interesting) to keep things candid enough to where you get a sense of us shortcomings and all…but not to the “stop the podcast because I’m actively skeeved out” stage of things.

  29. What a podcast. So. Jeff and his wife think that Grant Morrison should just have the courage of his convictions and have Superman beat up Sam Walton and I guess anyone who disagrees with Jeff/Superman about proper policies regarding unions. Graeme seems to think this would be fine in itself, but worries it might lead to some bad PR for DC.

    I should say so! It would reveal in stark terms the insane fascism of the whole Superman-as-‘social crusader’ concept! Superman would become a one-man lynch mob unilaterally imposing his political opinions on everyone with his fists. The Adventures of Stalinman! Oh, but they’re the ‘right’ (which is to say left) opinions, so that makes it ok. Boy, I sure hope Batman has his Kryptonite brass knuckles handy.

    Even in the childish, cartoonish terms in which it was presented in Action #1, which you guys correctly identified, it turned me off enough that I didn’t buy the comic as I had intended. What rubbish. If it turns out in a few issues that Morrison’s point all along was that it is rubbish, I’ll be amazed and hail him as an uber-genius. But I’m not holding my breath.

    To be fair to you guys, you both did seem vaguely uncomfortable with all this. I can see why!

  30. Can anybody tell me what comic the page at top of this post is from?
    Thanks.

  31. I’m catching up on old podcasts, I’m a new listener, but in a strange way all the talk of Matt Fraction has made me want to read his books, but for all the wrong reasons. I’m starting to share the obsession with psychoanalyzing this total stranger! I now want to read his books to see if I can see the same clues of personal issues that you guys spot as well as weird out-of-character moments in his mainstream work, rather than being motivated to try his books because I expect good stories out of them.

    I’m going to start with the latest Casanova because I’m now morbidly curious as to what exactly is so disturbing about it.

    Also, regarding Graeme’s line “Born of pain, about pain, but unable to say anything [profound or illuminating] about pain.” Even though I didn’t read Casanova and couldn’t appreciate the line in relation to that work, it was such a great sentence and observation, and helped crystallize what I don’t like about certain works in other genres, like the movie “Closer.”

  32. The other relevant fact: Casanova never did the numbers Fell did. Fell did great. Casanova didn’t. They tried to do something nice with format and price and all that, and it didn’t work for Casanova and clearly came close to killing it.

    Talking as someone else who did a lot of things with format (and keeping price down)* in hoping it would affect the numbers only for not to help at all and contribute to killing the book, I personally don’t particularly begrudge Casanova becoming merely a fairly normal deal in terms of comic content instead of the veritable barg it was. Because the market said “Fuck that!” to the veritable barg.

    Siythe: Thank you. I’m glad it worked for you. And you have my permission to pretend he’s Australian if you like. He’s a bartender after all. He probably is.

    KG

    *God knows how many times Singles Club was brought up as an example of how much you could get for a $3.50 comic book and how awesome that was, none of which seemed to influence orders one notch. Of course, this kinda discussion makes me aware that – and understand why – if PG ever came back and asked for market rate for market content, we’d be slaughtered for it (even from the people who mocked the essays for existing)**.

    **NOT THAT I’M BITTER IN ANY WAY, NO, SIR.

  33. @Tom: I don’t know but I’m guessing it’s a page from the Wolverine: Debt of Death one-shot that Mr Jeff Lefster was so besotted by.It certainly looks like Aja’s work and it sure looks awesome.

  34. @John K (UK): It is, and it is.

    @Tom: See above. Get it if you can–it’s great!

    @Chris Brown: I am…mighty pink. We are both uncomfortable with risking offending people with our political opinions (Graeme, probably more than me) but, while I see your very good point regarding fascism, it’s unfortunately part and parcel of every dude in a suit who punches somebody else without being an actual officer of the law (and even then, in fact).

    Maybe we would all be better off discussing that, with as little rancor as possible, instead of sweeping it under the rug every time it comes up?

  35. @moose n squirrel: HA! Touché.

    @Jeff and Abhay and everybody: Yeah, I can certainly understand how priorities can change over time, especially when you are supporting a family as opposed to just yourself. I’m all for creators being paid for their work. I just remember a time when Fraction was enthusiastic about the fact that the book was slimmer, it had a more limited color palette, it cost less than other books, that these limitations actually improved the quality of the work (well, maybe not the “less expensive” part). And that’s an idea I can get behind.

    But I think you were right (and I was wrong), I jumped on the price increase when I think I was really reacting to change in approach, an approach that I thought really had some merit and was paying off. But I seem to be the only person that is horked off that the book is longer and in full color and costs more, so y’all can just ignore me, I’m gonna go eat some worms over here.

    “My freedom thus consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned to myself for each one of my undertakings. I shall go even further: my freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the claims that shackle the spirit.”

    -Igor Stravinsky, Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons

    Oh, and the other slimline book was Pinapl? I don’t remember this book at all…
    http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2007/09/18/365-reasons-to-love-comics-261/

    @Tom: That page is from the Wolverine: Debt of Death one shot.

  36. Thanks to all for the answer.
    I may buy the book based on that one page alone!

  37. @Tom: The page is excerpted from Wolverine, “Debt of Death” one-shot. Came out on September 7 of this year, I believe.

  38. @Kieron: I took so long posting that your response hadn’t loaded.

    I had no idea about the sales figures on Casanova. I certainly would not have said “Fuck that!” if the book was still in the original format, but I am just one reader and I feel like I’m less representative of the comics buying market by the minute.

  39. @Kieron: An issue of Phonogram, with annotations and an essay, would earn my $5.00+ without a word of complaint. (Especially if it was in full color. I love McKelvie’s art in color.)

    That said, I don’t mean to imply that Casanova is wildly out of line with the current comics market — but the average market price is currently so high that I’ve cut my buying down to almost nil (I read largely via the library). Casanova was one of the very last titles I was purchasing, and now — with the increased price and the (I believe) lesser backmatter — I’ll probably just switch to trade-waiting.

  40. Oh hey, Jeff, maybe I came off too stridently, I’m sorry. I wasn’t ‘offended’. I just disagreed, that’s all. It’s a totally legit topic for disagreement and discussion.

    You’re right to point out that the very concept of superheroes is inherently problematic in this regard. These guys are vigilantes, but so is a lynch mob, and in real life that would be a problem, however much we might applaud their actions in this or that particular instance. They’re setting themselves up as the writers of the law, the interpreters of the law, and the executors of the law – and they don’t even tell anyone what the laws are! AND then they hide their identities so they have no accountability. Yikes!

    Often in comics, the problem is avoided by having the heroes fight cosmic super-powered menaces threatening to destroy/enslave the world, so that they’re trying to save humanity as such, rather than trying to solve disputes between humans. So you get the fun of people in colorful costumes beating the crap out of each other, without the creepy political/moral implications.

    Now that I think about it, the comics I most enjoy really aren’t of the classic ‘put on a costume to fight crime’ variety anyway, and maybe this is partially why. Stuff like Fantastic Four, Thor, and X-Men or, most recently, OMAC and Frankenstein, really involve fantastical critters with their own otherworldly conflicts/adventures, and have little to do with ‘fighting crime/injustice’ per se, except in a fantastical context. They can have fun imaginative adventures without the ‘wait, what am I applauding here?’ implications.

    I actually think superheroes ‘break’ in a variety of ways when you try to make them too ‘real’, and I think Action #1 exposes one of those ways (though I think there are several others). But that’s a topic of discussion for a whole other 2.5-hour podcast!

  41. “God knows how many times Singles Club was brought up as an example of how much you could get for a $3.50 comic book and how awesome that was, none of which seemed to influence orders one notch. ”

    Except… the extra material, since Stan Lee and letter pages on, it’s always been about shoring up the commitment of existing readers, and hopefully, maybe turning existing readers into evangelists. Viewed from that perspective, from a slightly longer-term perspective, I’d say there’s evidence suggesting that material has tended to be a worthwhile investment– I certainly can’t think of a career it’s hurt, let’s say. (Well, there was this one time with the Elementals letter page, but– Bill Willingham landed on his feet).

    The benefit of the evangelism tends to accrue more to the creative teams than the books themselves, perhaps, but… mares eat oats and does eat oats. (?)

  42. I don’t have anything to add, I just wanted to let you guys know this is the best comments thread, ever. Thanks.

    Phil

  43. @Matt T.: I feel for you, as I’m always thinking of the fiscal bottom line in my review and used to get called out for it. I may have gotten softer in my age but did feel there was enough heft to that book to justify it. I do see your points, though.

    @Chris Brown: Let’s not call it “strident.” Let’s call it “saucy,” shall we? In my touchy-feely way, I probably overreacted a bit and I appreciate your thoughtful, measured and altogether non-flamey response.

    In fact, it may end up being a touching off point for a podcast (if me and my god-damned pile of straw for brains can remember) as I betcha that Graeme is of a similar persuasion to you and I am all over the map (but like me a good inherently fascist punch-em-up).

    Phil S.: I know, right? Discussions of fascism, pricing strategies, creepy fanboy stalkerism, and the appearance of a talented pro writer, without one sign of trolling or asshattery (except from me). It’s…kinda impressive.

  44. T. told me to listen to this, so I did (because I LOVED Casanova #1). Good stuff – I may have to come back (because I need to waste more time thinking about comics, dang it!). One thing: why does Graeme sound like he’s a deep hole? Is that how it is for everyone? I had a hard time understanding him occasionally (and no, it’s not the accent).

    I think what everyone is missing from this discussion is it sounded like Jeff called Stuart Immonen a hack. But that couldn’t be, could it? COULD IT?!?!?!?

  45. Darn, now I really have to listen to this half, I’m behind!

    @ Greg Burgas, if I remember part one correctly, Graeme was recording in his basement, so yes! He really IS in a deep hole.

  46. “One thing: why does Graeme sound like he’s a deep hole? Is that how it is for everyone?”

    Everyone’s in a deep hole, Greg, when you think about it.

  47. Just listened to this, sorry to be adding a comment so late. But, hey.

    Gillen covered most of this, but briefly: Casanova used to be 16 pages for $2, like Fell. The creators didn’t make money from it, and there were comic shops who had the attitude of “why should I give shelf space to a $2 black and white* comic when I can give that same shelf space to a full-price full-color comic?” The comic shop nearest me, which is a stereotypical comic shop (mostly superhero monthlies, some t-shirts and superhero knick-knacks, some trades and very little in the way of indie and small press stuff) wouldn’t even carry the book before, but they do now. Now Casanova is 32 pages of comics PLUS the letters page, with no advertisements. Even leaving aside the letter’s page, it’s 10 or 12 more pages of actual comics than the average mainstream comic. That’s expensive but to me it’s worth it, and it’s a better cost per page than Marvel’s main line. (Personally, I’m even willing to buy Casanova in individual issues plus collections; it’s a comic I love and want to support the creators of it and encourage the publication of more comics like it.)

    The Fraction discussion went to some troubling places, but it wasn’t surprising to me. Fraction is a creator whose persona has always been incredibly public. He got his start by “being a loudmouth on the internet” (his words) via Savant, the Warren Ellis Forum, Comic Book Resources, etc. I’m sure I read thousands of words from him before I read any of his comics, and I think the first comic of his I read was his second. He was especially vocal in the backmatter of the original run of Casanova, and he’s said many things about the comic that allows for a “confessional” reading of it. If “I love my job. But, it’s a job” in the first issue of Casanova is auto-biography from Fraction, as he’s said it is, then how else can we be expected to take “I used to love my job. Now it’s a fucking nightmare” in Avaritia #1? What about “I hate my life. I’m trapped” a few pages later? One of the amazing things about writing fiction is that in some ways you can be more honest than when writing non-fiction. Metaphors and characters stand in for ideas and real people, and your subconscious goes to work in ways that can later surprise you. Many writers have work that they only realize in retrospect is about something-or-other they were dealing with in their lives at the time they wrote it. But with Casanova, Fraction’s been up front about how it’s purposely invested with a lot of himself. This new issue feels to me like he’s trying to write his way out of some problems he’s having. I could only speculate as to what they are, but I understand the impulse to speculate as was done in this podcast; the work itself and what Fraction’s said about the series in the past encourages that.

    (I have so many conflicted thoughts on this. Maybe I’ll send another email to Fraction for possible inclusion in the back of Casanova.)

    Oh, and I appreciated the Seijun Suzuki mention.
    _______________________
    *Casanova was never in only black and white, but was close enough that some retailers referred to it as a black and white comic.

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