Monsters From The Inbox

I thought it was about time I did another one of these chatty/desultory posts, that usually come titled something like “Smatterings” or “Quick Notes”…and which are (I find, for myself anyway) like unto the kind of talk-therapy I call “reading aloud from the Daytimer”; an exposition addressed more to one’s self than to one’s respondent, just to put all the headclutter of things-to-do into some sort of rough shape. Of course instead of banging this out I could be actually working…but where’s the fun in that, on such a torrential Sunday evening/silent Monday morning as this?

So, here ya go, a glimpse inside the pot of cold spaghetti that is my typical thought-process:

My little Karnak piece is shaping up, now only lacking two Inhuman-sounding names and a little bit of main plot. The amusing trouble with this, is that I’ve actually stumbled upon several (I think) interesting things to say about the Inhumans…and I’m picking up subplots left and right, which is kind of neat, but at the same time I’m trying to restrain myself from imagining a big ongoing series or anything. It’s just supposed to be an experiment, damn it! But I think I may be getting a bit carried away with it…

Although another reason why I might be getting carried away has more to do with my new online obsession: yes, it may sound funny, but there’s nothing I like better these days than getting a big bowl of popcorn and firing up the Marvel Editorial Simulation Blog, where our old friend Sean Kleefeld is currently acting as simulated Editor-In-Chief. This is really quite a fascinating little thing, I think: I mean, I’m not sure if I’d be excited by any of the proposed new directions if they were taking place in real life (Wolverine in Madripoor is, how shall I put it, not for me…although to be fair, there are a couple of ideas the editors have floated which I think would have the potential to be really sort of nifty if handled just so), but that isn’t what fascinates. What fascinates is the way that even though I think I can assume that Sean is disenchanted with a lot of the stuff that passes for editorial direction at Marvel these days, his editors seem to be far more enthusiastic about recent Events like Civil War and World War Hulk and all the rest of that goop…and the funny thing is, that’s exactly what makes it all more than just a fantasy-league meme, because the fact is that Marvel is not one day just going to be suddenly stuffed to the rafters with people who don’t really like what Marvel does, is it? No, it isn’t. And, honestly, things would probably end up in a pretty shabby state if it were. I may think that Civil War etc. sucks hard, but many, many people don’t, and even if one were to start from a total blank slate at Marvel editor-wise (which is, after all, pretty much what this simulation is all about), that wouldn’t be the same thing as suddenly being absolute ruler of time and space, and therefore it would be impossible (as well as undignified, insensitive, and just plain unkind) to turn abruptly to all your loyal readers and say “piss off, you’re not wanted here any more” and expect to still be in business six months later…especially when a lot of those loyal ones also happen to be your trusty colleagues and employees, on whom you depend to get any comics out into the world whether they’re good comics or not. So in the end, the purity of the Iron Man character just is not a good enough reason to conduct an editorial purge, much less a readership purge, and anyway how the hell do you plan to turn over any sort of new leaf if you’re not willing to bring people along to it, too? Hilariously, I look at this simulation and realize that if I were in Sean’s place I’d be thinking “how soon can I do a big Crossover Event, damn it?” And yes, I’d probably try to get JMS or Joss on it, if Stephen King ended up turning me down, because the overpowering need to really improve sales is amusingly instructive: I mean how in the hell are you going to get people to buy these comics, for God’s sake? I swear to God, I for one simply do not know how to do that. Please, John Byrne, please, I’m begging you, come over and draw a few issues of Spider-Woman, huh? I think I’ve almost got Fabio lined up to write it…

What?

Listen, curse you, it got us into Entertainment Weekly, all right? And besides, Tarantino didn’t return my phone calls…

Ha! I’d be terrible at this. It’s fun! Now if only it could go on for another two weeks…

Speaking of Byrne, though…here’s another way in which I’m no doubt getting carried away, because today I re-read the first thirty or so issues of Alpha Flight, and found myself having thoughts about them, and then found those thoughts getting quite mixed-up with my recent viewing of X3, and now I’m about to layer the V For Vendetta movie on top of that…and in a handful of hours I’ll no doubt be posting about it all, but  for now let me just say:  God, wouldn’t it be great to have a full-colour phone book of Byrne’s complete run on Alpha Flight?  I say this because I think it’s actually an extremely interesting title to look through with some hindsight — lots of Byrne-isms both good and bad, and like X3  it may not be completely successful in everything it attempts, but at least its failures aren’t dull ones.

In fact, they’re actually sort of instructive.

Sort of slightly similar to the fancy cinematic messes of the Star Wars prequels, really, although the failures there are a little bit more enjoyment-destroying…and, oh no, suddenly I have too many connections to make, don’t I?  Whoops…I guess this is maybe going to be some deep-dish comics hangover pie, in a little bit.   Well, but what else is there to do with cold spaghetti, eh?

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4 responses to “Monsters From The Inbox

  1. Glad you’re enjoying our destruction of Marvel, Inc. It’s not easy to unilaterally piss off your ENTIRE reader base in a few months, let me tell you! :)

    But you’re right in that, at the end of the day, the underlying question is, was and always will be: how do we sell more comics? I can wish for any number of changes to drop into place, but even the EIC has limited power. I can’t force John Byrne or Stephen King to work for us, just as I surely as I can’t resurrect Jack Kirby. And I can’t force whatever is created to be bought by our potential audience.

    It’s quickly striking me that a lot of what Quesada and Didio are doing is watching all the crap that gets flung against the wall, and trying to decide which pieces are sticking the best.

    You know those infinite number of monkeys banging out Shakespeare? Not really accurate. There are indeed an infinite number of monkeys and some are indeed composing Hamlet… but the majority of them are just flinging their poo.

  2. Did you get my one comment, Sean? It’s at the end of the Patrick! post…

    Yeah, one thing that struck me as absolutely hilarious while reading along with you guys was that, oh my God, it seems like it must take a tremendously progressive editorial staff to even try anything, these days…like, we’re lucky the stuff that’s mostly crap even gets made, because any innovation, even a dumb innovation, represents such a risk of what you’re already clinging to…and gone are the days, I suppose, when Stan and Jack could say “we’ve got nothing to lose, we might as well go nuts”…

    Which doesn’t mean I don’t still think Marvel is making some pretty awful mistakes, because I do, but if Tom B. ever wanted to make a piece of propaganda to get irate readers like me to look on the Quimbyverse with a slightly more forgiving eye…well, this is it, probably.

    Plus, it’s so damn addictive!

    I’m really hoping you’re successful.

    As for you, Tom: darn right you should be thinking about Byrne while watching Sith! As I hope to make clear in about an hour or three…had a minor unforeseen life-annoyance crop up this afternoon, but I figure I should pretty quickly be back on the case…

  3. “… which is kind of neat, but at the same time I’m trying to restrain myself from imagining a big ongoing series or anything. It’s just supposed to be an experiment, damn it! But I think I may be getting a bit carried away with it…”

    Which is the reason why I can’t work on any sort of side projects pretty much ever. If I started writing a five page Inhumans story I’d have all the books spread out on my desk trying to figure out how Maximus was going to destroy Black Bolt and vice versa over the next THRITY OR SO issues. So I feel ya.

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