NO FIWOTTS ALLOWED!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Collaboration

Via Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics:


Really, though, it was a fairly benign story; the only reason I mention it was the final graph, which featured the following choice words from DC Publisher and legendary Legion of Super-Heroes scribe PAUL LEVITZ, who clearly has his finger to the pulse of the contemporary comics-as-art scene:

"Because comics are done collaboratively, a lot of the best stuff is 'Can you top this?' You've got three or four top practicioners of the art sitting around saying, 'Wouldn't it be cool if'? That's how the best of this stuff builds."

Word UP, man! That's TOTALLY how the best of this art shit builds. Stan Lee couldn't have put it any better. It's like that time Chris Ware was sitting around with his inker, and the inker was all, like, "Shit man, wouldn't it be cool if Jimmy Corrigan had a grandpa that totally went to the old Chicago World's Fair an' shit? I'd love to ink me some of them motherfuckin' buildings!" Or that time when Dan Clowes was talking about Ice Haven over lattes with his letterer, and the letter dude was all, "Bro, I could make some BITCHIN' logos for all of these characters, you should totally break this up into different strips that add up to a more gnarly whole. Let's build this shit UP!"


Heh. I love the FantaBlog.

10 Love Letters:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I agree with the spirit of what he's saying, it kinda blows his point out of the water if even one of their big talents uses an inker.

And one did.

-a

8:44 AM

 
Blogger Paul said...

I don't know if Reynolds is really intending to conflate collaboration between writers and artists with corprotainment comics like the Johnuckannick Infinite Crisis beast. If he is, yeah, he's really messed up his point.

If it were me writing the blog, it would probably be about...well, it would probably be about midgets or pornography or midget pornography, but if I were commenting on that Levitz quote, I'd probably say, "Hey, that's wrong," too.

But I'd say it's wrong because the purpose of art is not to make money. So if you have a group of guys sitting around thinking up ideas for "event" comics designed solely to boost sales, you're not being honest to your craft. You're not going to have purity of vision, and you're not going to have anything good. You're going to have sweeps week on One Life to Live.

11:33 AM

 
Blogger alex said...

Agreed.

I think it's a little weird to crack jokes about inkers when one of your most popular books used an inker... and a colorist!

horrors!

-a

11:48 AM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I think the joke was the assumption that ALL comics are that way, or that it was the "natural order of things."

12:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno- I think the joke was face value-

"These dopes and their collaborative efforts! har! we have Clowes who does it all himself, and he rules!"

Now mind you, I agree. But I think as long as they publish HATE, they don't have much of a leg to stand on when mocking the use of inkers, and their input to a book....

Or whatever. I dunno. Like I said, I agree, but as the old saw goes, for a company that makes a big pile of cash publishing japanese fairy porn, they should maybe be wary of mocking corporate superhero porn.

That said, they're all nice guys, and it was just a joke. I'm just pointing out the obvious other side...

-a

12:45 PM

 
Blogger Paul said...

Shut up, Joe!

Alex and I are agreeing.

That is a dumb statement by Levitz, but it's dumb in a few ways.

Yeah, in his world, comics are made with inkers and colorists and letterers and whatnot. That's his assumption because that's the way it works for him. And that's one thing that likely isn't going to change, whether Levitz or whoever is in charge. It's the same way in movies, magazines, whatever. The bigger the budget, the more people will work on it.

But it's a continuum. The really bad assumption that Levitz DOES have control over...is that what these Infinite Schmucks are putting out is actually good. Quantity of writers does not = Quality of product. "Tentpole events" do not = healthy comics in a thriving industry.

They just need to be clearer about what their goals are. If art is their goal, they need to know to make more stuff like "Solo" and less like "Green Lantern Rebirth."

1:03 PM

 
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

But I'd say it's wrong because the purpose of art is not to make money. So if you have a group of guys sitting around thinking up ideas for "event" comics designed solely to boost sales, you're not being honest to your craft. You're not going to have purity of vision, and you're not going to have anything good. You're going to have sweeps week on One Life to Live.

and...

They just need to be clearer about what their goals are. If art is their goal, they need to know to make more stuff like "Solo" and less like "Green Lantern Rebirth."

I'm awfully fond of you, Paul.

I'd quibble on one thing, though--as far as the creators themselves go, it's probably not as much of an art or a business thing (well, at least, not entirely a business thing), but an entertainment one. All publishers have an interest in making money, so the business side is a given (at least, all publishers that run their shops like a business. Fantagraphics wants to make money--hence, the Eros line. DC wants to make money. Tokyopop wants to make money.

The creators, though--I think they're spectrum is between two different points--art and entertainment. They can go hand in hand, but they don't have to. If anything, entertainment is probably the goal of most of the creators making the big explodey comics. Dollar dollar bill, y'all--that's the goal of Levitz and his kind.

And since you knocked One Life to Live and not All My Children, I don't have to cut your throat and pee down your gullet.

9:30 PM

 
Anonymous jdonelson.nyc said...

My problem with Levitz' remarks has nothing to do with the question of collaboration vs. single-authorship. Whether it's asked by a group of creators or one creator, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." is precisely the probem with DC & Marvel superhero comics. That's how you write fan fiction: "Wouldn't it be cool if Wonder Woman snapped somebody's neck? Wouldn't it be cool if we learned every detail of Boba Fett's origin? Wouldn't it be cool if Riker and Worf make sweaty man-love in a Sherlock Holmes-era holodeck adventure?"

The question they should ask is, "Wouldn't it be cool if we came up with a story that included a sliver of emotional resonance, believeable characters, or original ideas?"

9:54 AM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

That sounds much harder than jerking off to old Wolfman or Thomas books.

10:28 AM

 
Anonymous jdonelson.nyc said...

Not only is it harder, it also seems to be the difference between selling 10,000 and selling 100,000 copies.

11:17 AM

 

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