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I don’t know. I don’t know.

May 14, 2009

Okay, so I’m reading this and of course I agree with him, don’t I?  I mean, first of all, it’s Neil Gaiman.  As someone who got into non-superhero comics through Sandman, I have to agree with everything he says, or so the Fangirl Handbook tells me.  Secondly, artists don’t owe me anything, none of them.  Not writers or musicians or anyone.


There’s something in there, about the line between art and responsibility.  Writers have deadlines.  And missing a deadline here or there is understandable.  But then you have people who are well-known, especially in comics, for flubbing deadlines left and right.

And really, it’s comics I’m thinking about here.  Fans there DO have a greater sense of involvement…always have.  The communication that Gareth is talking about here is the technological improvements on the letter pages in the back of comics.  Because that line of communication has always been open, there’s always been that sense of entitlement with comics fans.  Of course, it helps that we’re not speaking of a single writer, whom we would hold to a higher standard, I think, because all the ideas and such would come from his or her brain, and the responsibility would be entirely theirs.  When you’re talking about decades of continuity, and maybe dozens of writers and artists involved, there’s a greater sense that the industry “needs” you to remind them here or there when they slip up.  As they do.

However, when it comes down to everything, yeah, Marvel–and you know how often it’s about Marvel–isn’t working for me or working for you, as Gaiman says.  They’re working to make money, and they’ve proven time and time again, and they’re afraid to make changes or take chances that will take them out of that nice, comfortable place where they’re sure they make good money.  Maybe not the BEST money.  But that would be too scary.

I didn’t mean for this to go stream-of-consciousness from Gaiman to Marvel, but I read this yesterday and it’s still there in the back of mind: If you’re [a] Marvel reader and truly feel we’re sexist, then why are you reading our books?


Why not ask why people why they kept reading Spider-Man after being disappointed by the Clone Saga?  Why not ask them why they’re still reading DC even though they professed a strong dislike for Countdown?  (I don’t know one person who liked it, if they finished it at all.)  It’s because the “we” to which Quesada belongs is, in the eyes of comic readers, a blip on the radar–an ant seen from the top of a skyscraper.  It’s because the “we” to which I belong–comic lovers, female readers, etc–believe in the stories, the characters, the mythologies, the histories.  Comic readers are a different kind of reader than genre fiction readers, because we accept that there will be missteps.  Our critical eye is a different kind of critical eye than that of Martin’s fan Gareth because, unlike Gareth, we’re not focused on the writer–in fact, we know the writer will not be writing this forever.  In comics, there’s a sense of “This too shall pass.”

Mr Quesada will pass too.  Er, not literally–well, I mean, OF COURSE literally one day.  But as the head of Marvel?  As the king of dismissive, sexist comments?  He’ll pass the crown on.  And we readers, we’ll still be here, waiting for the next good thing.  Hoping.

Is that entitlement, Mr Gaiman?  It’s a completely different ball game, as far as I’m concerned, and I didn’t mean to get off the original point, but I think that writing this out really got me to where my wibble was with the post.

So.  I win.

Well, unless I pick up Marvel Divas.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2009 8:16 pm

    I have to disagree with Mr. Gaiman.

    Let’s look at the act of published writing (whether novels, comic books, etc.) as what it truly is: the author as manufacturer and the readers as end users. Without the users buying the product, the manufacturer is S.O.L. Therefore, the manufacturer has an obligation to make a good product that the user wants to buy. Now, this doesn’t mean that the user gets to submit specs or detailed requirements to the manufacturer – the manufacturer is the expert on producing the product, and therefore has the final say on how it is made. But there is an obligation to the user – the CUSTOMER.

    To say that an author in the business of selling his work is somehow exempt from these universal rules of commerce is ridiculous and not a little pretentious. If a writer wants to just write whatever the hell he/she wants, deadlines and fan input be damned, then he/she can be the cliched “starving artist” without expecting a strong consumer base.

    Too many writers seem to want it both ways. They want the money and the fanbase, but not the obligations that go along with it. Like it or not, as someone who is producing a consumable product, the author has certain responsibilities to his/her readers. Crying “art!” is no excuse for bad business.

    • bookslide permalink*
      May 16, 2009 8:04 am

      BUT! We’re not talking about an assembly line where going faster means…going faster. The author could end up sacrificing excellent work for speed. And the author isn’t the one setting the deadlines, and often the publisher isn’t saying “Oh hey, you know what, X writes really slowly, so let’s set that deadline for two years right now instead of one year.” Getting stuff out of your head isn’t the same as turning a screw.

      We have ALWAYS, as a culture, assumed that creation is a different process than assembly, so why would we hold it to the same standards? Especially when it’s the industry, not the artist, who’s calling the shots on when?

      If a writer posted on his/her blog that they WOULD have this book finished in 30 days, and then at the end of 30 days has shown WHY the book didn’t get finished–despite his or her best effort–I can see it, I can get it, I can understand it. But if a publisher says “Next book in six months” and the book feels rushed and shoddy? I’m not blaming the author. I’d rather have them miss the deadline.

      There are definitely points on both sides of this, but my final, most important thought in all this is, I believe, EVERYONE STOP MAKING EVERYTHING A GODDAMN SERIES.

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