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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:26 am 
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JMS wrote:
Rather than answer the questions about Watchmen piecemeal in separate topics, I figured I’d address the key ones here, all in one place.

Let me start out by tackling head-on the most frequent question: “how would you feel if Babylon 5 was being done without your permission?” It’s a fair question, and it needs to be fairly answered...but it has to be an honest comparison, apples to apples, not apples to pomegranates.

First, we have to take the word “permission” off the table. Warner Bros. owns Babylon 5 lock, stock and phased-plasma guns, just as DC owns the Watchmen characters. DC wasn’t making creator-owned deals back in the 80s. Moreover, they were variations on characters that had been previously created for the Charleton Comics universe. Main point is: neither of us owns these characters in any significant legal way. Consequently, neither company needs our permission to do anything.

But I get that we’re talking about the emotional aspect of all this, not the legal stuff, which is pretty cut and dry. So again: apples to apples.

How would I feel if Babylon 5 were being made and I were shut out of anything to do with it, despite my desire to be involved? I’d feel pretty crummy about it. But as it happens, that has absolutely nothing to do with this situation in any way, manner, shape or form.

If at any point in the last 25 years, Alan had said, “you know, there’s a Watchmen story I’d like to tell,” there’s no question that DC would have given him both the freedom to tell that story and a check big enough to dim the lights at their offices for a week. And there were frequent overtures for him to do just that. In 2005, DC actually offered to give him ownership of the characters if he’d come back to do more stories with them.

They wanted his involvement, solicited his involvement, would have been thrilled at his involvement. He declined at every point. Fair enough. It’s his choice, and it’s his right to make it.

So now – apples to apples – let’s make the B5 comparison. Let’s say Warner Bros. came to me and said, “we want to do more Babylon 5, and we want you to run the whole thing. We’ll pay you anything you want, give you a proper budget, and you will have complete creative freedom.” (Actually, they made that offer last year, and I said yes enthusiastically, because I love these characters and that universe. At the eleventh hour the distribution system they had been trying to put together fell apart, and so did this, but let’s stick to the subject, shall we?)

So let’s say that Warners makes that offer, and I said, “No, I don’t want it, take your accursed money, your big budget and your complete creative freedom and begone, get thee behind me Satan!” Let’s say they came back and said “Okay, then how about we pay you vast sums of money just to consult? How about that?”

“No,” let’s say I cried, “no, no, a thousand times no.”

“How about just to meet with us? Just for an hour?”

“No, absolutely not, nuh-uh, no way, not a chance.”

“What if we sweeten the deal? What if we offer to give you full ownership of Babylon 5, legally and contractually, so you own it? How about that?”

“Fie, I tell you, fie!”

Well, where does that leave us?

If Warners offered me creative freedom, money and a budget to do the show the way I wanted, up to and including my completely owning the show, and I said no to that deal, and if after Warners waited TWENTY FIVE YEARS for me to change my mind they finally decided to go ahead and make B5 without me...then I would have absolutely zero right to complain about it. Because it was my choice to remove myself from the process, it wasn’t something foisted upon me by anybody else.

And frankly, and I’m only talking about me here, if I made that choice, I would be an idiot. Because I love those characters and that universe, and would greatly enjoy the chance to play with them again. Every TV writer in town would show up at my door just to personally kick the crap out of me, and they'd be right to do it.

On to the next topic.

“These were one-off characters, they were never intended to be used again.” A really good point whose only problem is that it’s not actually true. That was certainly never DC’s perception of the characters, and Alan himself floated an idea about doing a Minutemen prequel back in 1985.

Alan didn’t walk away from Watchmen for artistic reasons, he walked away over contract language regarding ownership issues. It was a contract dispute. In time that morphed into something else, but that was not what happened at the time.

“These characters are sacred, nobody else should write them.”

If we’re going to talk about the sanctity of characters, let me point to an observation I made in one of the interviews:

“Alan has spent most of the last decade writing some very, very good stories about characters created by other writers, including Alice (from Wonderland), Dorothy (from Oz), Wendy (from Peter Pan), as well as Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde and Professor Moriarty. I think one loses a little of the moral high ground to say, “I can write characters created by Jules Verne, HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Frank Baum, but it’s wrong for anyone else to write my characters.”

Some folks have replied to this with “well, Alan says this is different because he’s using those characters in different situations.” (I’m not vouching that Alan said that, only that this is the most common reply. If he never said anything to that effect I’m happy to be corrected.)

I’m really good with the English language, but I’ve turned that sentence over several times and I can’t parse it in any logical way. What the heck does it even mean? The moment you have Mr. Hyde do anything not in Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, it’s a “different situation.” I think that the argument being made here is that by putting Mr. Hyde in a modern context, then that makes it Alan’s and that makes it legally and morally okay.

If that’s true, then I invite Alan to try that with James Bond, or Jason Bourne, or any other character where the writer or the estate is still around to fight for the rights of their characters. Legally, yes, you can do what you wish with public domain characters. But one ends up on a slippery moral slope to say that all of these other writers' characters are fair game but Alan’s characters are sacred on a moral or emotional basis.

I would suggest that there are just as many people around the world who hold Wendy from Peter Pan sacred, or who might think it untoward that Alan had Mr. Hyde literally sodomize the Invisible Man TO DEATH after the latter serially raped a bunch of girls at a private school. How would Robert Louis Stevenson or H.G. Wells have viewed such a story?

Despite this, somehow, by Alan’s lights, that’s not just okay, it is right and proper. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have done it. Alan’s a genius, and if it were in my power I’d set him up with a big distribution system, ten million dollars, and publish anything he wrote, up to and including the phone book.

I’m just suggesting that one needs to be consistent in one's moral stance if one wishes that moral stance to be taken seriously.

“This will dilute the legacy of the original Watchmen.”

Can’t happen. The book is the book is the book. It will always be up on the shelf. You can read it alone, or after the prequels, or before...it doesn’t change a word of it. The original book has twenty five years of legacy standing behind it. It’s not that fragile. It’s a work of art, and art endures.

“So how come you left Thor because they were messing with the story?”

Apples, meet oranges. Thor was a work in process, versus a finished work in the case of Watchmen. No one's suggesting a mid-course correction in the original book. I would have been happy to remain on Thor for decades, but when I saw the ominous approach of an Event that would once again erase or damage the story that I had worked so hard to create, I opted out. By contrast, nobody is infringing on a story Alan wants to write. Finally, again, opting out of Thor was my choice, just as it’s Alan’s choice not to be involved in any further Watchmen projects. I have no more right to complain about what came afterward than...well, anyone else in that situation.

“You didn’t like what Mongoose Publishing did with Babylon 5.”

True. Leaving aside that they were trying to include novels into a licensing contract that was intended only for game books and reference...leaving aside that instead of going to quality writers they picked up fan fiction on the cheap from amateur writers...the books were dreadful and not in keeping with the standard that I applied to anything done in the B5 universe. I’d bounced a couple of properly authorized and sanctioned novels previously because I didn’t feel they were up to snuff. The quality was the issue, not my involvement, because under contract I was involved and had approval. Had the books been better, they would’ve come out. They weren’t, and they didn’t. Apples and oranges.

I think those are all the major points that have been repeatedly brought up here and online elsewhere. To which I would add only the following codicil.

When I met with the others in New York to discuss these books, I was in awe of the assembled talent. These were, and are, some of the brightest lights in the comic business. (And me, holding up the rear.) Listening to Brian A, I frankly thought I should be sitting at the children’s table, not here. And beside me was Len Wein, who was involved with the original Watchmen books. Amazing.

I wish you could’ve been there. I wish you could’ve seen the passion, the care, the creativity in their eyes and in their voices. There was no talk of money, or of deals, it was all about digging into characters for whom we all shared a profound reverence and appreciation. No detail was too small to delve into. What really happened to this character, who died or disappeared? Why did this other character dissolve into madness and alcohol? Who the hell was the Twilight Lady? There was an excitement and a dedication to preserve the quality of the characters that I wish you could have been present to witness firsthand.

It. Was. Awesome.

I have always put a great emphasis on doing right by the money fans have to spend on product. This is because I come from ridiculously poor circumstances, and equally ridiculous fannish circumstances. I saved all summer to buy a membership in the Supermen of America Club. Another summer got me a wonderful envelope from FOOM. I was the only kid in my neighborhood who not only ordered a pair of X-Ray Specs, but expected them to actually work...and was devastated when they didn’t.

So I’ve always viewed things from a perspective of, “Is this going to be worth somebody’s hard earned cash?” I won’t speak of my stuff, because the specter of enlightened self-interest raises its head...but when I think of what Brian and Darwyn and the others are doing with their books, the stories they’ve chosen to tell, and the reaction I think these stories will meet, the quality of the art and the storytelling...for me, as a fan, the answer is an enthusiastic “hell, yes.”

The books will speak for themselves.

Everything else is just foreplay.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:43 am 
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wow, I'm glad I read (most of, I skimmed some of it) that, and there's a lot of interesting points there, and I'll say it now, I agree with most of them, nice to see JMS bringing in things that have happened to him in the past as comparison for the Watchmen debate.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:31 am 
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That interview was incredibly enlightening.

Not only did I know beforehand that JMS is a poor writer with a knack for misunderstanding characters he gets tasked with, he is now also a DC's interview figurehead and unofficial (or official perhaps?) boot licker.

Truly, one learns something new every day :D !

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:40 am 
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If you have a rebuttal, feli, I'd be delighted to hear it.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:52 am 
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Curiosity Inc. wrote:
If you have a rebuttal, feli, I'd be delighted to hear it.


Not right now, I'm a little frustrated about some other non-watchmen related stuff to post my complaints about the interview.

Can promise I'll do so later.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:01 pm 
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Mister Pain wrote:
Curiosity Inc. wrote:
In Star Wars, in Watchmen, in Before Watchmen, and in every other work of fiction, remember these immortal words of Neil Gaiman:

"Never trust the storyteller. Only trust the story."


Kinda works. A crap storyteller can ruin a perfectly good story. Gaiman's done it himself (half the Fragile Things collection is embarrassingly sub-Bradbury). We all have our off days :)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:48 pm 
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Curiosity Inc. wrote:
If you have a rebuttal, feli, I'd be delighted to hear it.


I'll try to keep this short, I feel that as of this moment I'm simply beating on a dead horse, so unless there's other people who share my views (where are you Writer Of Wrongs ? WHERE ARE YOU ?!!) then consider this my last long post on the subject, there's little I can do about this situation, so I might as well go into "acceptance mode" and try to find a positive spin on this entire thing.

Still, Curi asked me to stand by my opinion with words, so at the very least I'll say this:

I think JMS, apart from being a lame writer, is an idiot, and an ass-licker:

It's one thing to say Alan Moore was naive, and foolish, to make a business decision on those terms if he was seeking creator-owned rights to his work. It's another to refer, inmaturily and disrespectfully, to his responses as "Fie, I tell you, Fie" and "Get thee behind me Satan!" while also calling him an idiot.

It's one thing to say DC Comics held the rights of the comic for more than twenty years and continuously attempted to offer him the rights back IN EXCHANGE for additional work. It's another one to paint one side with a rainbow brush and describe their efforts as completely selfless and all-rewarding to the author, when the reality was that they were attempting another profitable business transaction for themselves, in which they continuously tried to slip by the one demand they simply couldn't accept, which was "No more Watchmen".

Tell me JMS, if DC was so convinced that they were right, that they did fair business and did nothing wrong, then why did we have to wait more than twenty years to get these prequels ?

It's one thing to say writers and artists involved were enthusiastic and glad to be involved in the project. It's another one to say NO ONE talked about money or deals when sitting at that table, not only is that insulting to the intelligence of the people JMS is speaking to, but also speaks of the dishonesty of someone who isn't even capable of having enough balls to at least say "I like money and this is business" in order to not piss-off potential buyers.

Fuck you JMS, you're a shitty writer, and the one, guaranteed ego-stroker of DC Comics.

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 Post subject: Re: Before Watchmen
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:41 pm 
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feliciano182 wrote:
Dog Carcass wrote:
feliciano182 wrote:
I'm going to say it right now...I will torrent the living shit out of those comics, not a single cent of mine will go into the pockets of uncreative, greedy fucks leeching off talent they could never surpass.


A little extreme


Alan Moore said it himself man, if they had actual ideas, they would work on them, instead of sucking off whatever life there is out of a franchise that ended a long time ago.


And then this: 'And when we told Professor Gray about the top tier talents writing and drawing each series, he practically growled with tortured angst. “They’re going to make it really hard for people to say no. Those creative teams? I would buy, sight unseen, whatever they’re doing. But it’s terrible! The feeling I have in my body right now is the feeling DC wants. They’re like: ‘Yeah, you say you don’t want to buy it, but you totally want to know what Brian Azzarello is going to do with The Comedian.’ And that’s what’s blowing my mind right now. Dammit!” '

SSoooo..... if these big names and bright talents are so great, why are monthly comic books living on fumes right now? Forget the New 52 hype for a minute, because that's still so new it's not yet clear if it's going to have any lasting impact (and some sales fall-off is already being reported). Just answer this, if comic book talent is so unparalleled now, why are comic sales so dismal compared to what they were a decade, two decades, three decades, four decades ago? There's been a steady march downwards, and even if you argue that the talent now is the best ever, the commercial results don't agree with you.

Just a little sidebar I wanted to address.

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 Post subject: Re: Before Watchmen
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:44 pm 
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Mister Pain wrote:
feliciano182 wrote:
Dog Carcass wrote:
feliciano182 wrote:
I'm going to say it right now...I will torrent the living shit out of those comics, not a single cent of mine will go into the pockets of uncreative, greedy fucks leeching off talent they could never surpass.


A little extreme


Alan Moore said it himself man, if they had actual ideas, they would work on them, instead of sucking off whatever life there is out of a franchise that ended a long time ago.


And this point is eloquently answered in the interviews. The hypocrisy of this statement coming from a man happy to mash-up other great writer's characters into the steampunk-porn of Extraordinary Gentlemen... Mr. Moore is just baiting you with that comment, and making his slavish disciples look a little foolish in the process. He knowingly did exactly what he is describing with much-loved Victorian properties who's copyrights had expired.


But, on the other hand, Alan Moore and WATCHMEN is not over a hundred years old. I think there IS a difference here. Plus the fact that WATCHMEN was conceived as a self-contained story, NOT a traditional comic book serial. Another huge difference.

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 Post subject: Re: Before Watchmen
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:52 pm 
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piper909 wrote:
feliciano182 wrote:
Dog Carcass wrote:
feliciano182 wrote:
I'm going to say it right now...I will torrent the living shit out of those comics, not a single cent of mine will go into the pockets of uncreative, greedy fucks leeching off talent they could never surpass.


A little extreme


Alan Moore said it himself man, if they had actual ideas, they would work on them, instead of sucking off whatever life there is out of a franchise that ended a long time ago.


And then this: 'And when we told Professor Gray about the top tier talents writing and drawing each series, he practically growled with tortured angst. “They’re going to make it really hard for people to say no. Those creative teams? I would buy, sight unseen, whatever they’re doing. But it’s terrible! The feeling I have in my body right now is the feeling DC wants. They’re like: ‘Yeah, you say you don’t want to buy it, but you totally want to know what Brian Azzarello is going to do with The Comedian.’ And that’s what’s blowing my mind right now. Dammit!” '

SSoooo..... if these big names and bright talents are so great, why are monthly comic books living on fumes right now? Forget the New 52 hype for a minute, because that's still so new it's not yet clear if it's going to have any lasting impact (and some sales fall-off is already being reported). Just answer this, if comic book talent is so unparalleled now, why are comic sales so dismal compared to what they were a decade, two decades, three decades, four decades ago? There's been a steady march downwards, and even if you argue that the talent now is the best ever, the commercial results don't agree with you.

Just a little sidebar I wanted to address.

That's a pretty stupid thing to say. You're incorrectly equating sales revenue with quality. By your logic, Transformers 3 should have rightly tanked at the theaters.

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 Post subject: Re: Before Watchmen
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:54 pm 
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Godziller66 wrote:
That's a pretty stupid thing to say. You're incorrectly equating sales revenue with quality. By your logic, Transformers 3 should have rightly tanked at the theaters.


Perhaps the relationship is incorrect, perhaps sales revenue has progressively decreased due to a perceived lack of quality.

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 Post subject: Re: Before Watchmen
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:26 am 
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Godziller66 wrote:
piper909 wrote:
feliciano182 wrote:
Dog Carcass wrote:
feliciano182 wrote:
I'm going to say it right now...I will torrent the living shit out of those comics, not a single cent of mine will go into the pockets of uncreative, greedy fucks leeching off talent they could never surpass.


A little extreme


Alan Moore said it himself man, if they had actual ideas, they would work on them, instead of sucking off whatever life there is out of a franchise that ended a long time ago.


And then this: 'And when we told Professor Gray about the top tier talents writing and drawing each series, he practically growled with tortured angst. “They’re going to make it really hard for people to say no. Those creative teams? I would buy, sight unseen, whatever they’re doing. But it’s terrible! The feeling I have in my body right now is the feeling DC wants. They’re like: ‘Yeah, you say you don’t want to buy it, but you totally want to know what Brian Azzarello is going to do with The Comedian.’ And that’s what’s blowing my mind right now. Dammit!” '

SSoooo..... if these big names and bright talents are so great, why are monthly comic books living on fumes right now? Forget the New 52 hype for a minute, because that's still so new it's not yet clear if it's going to have any lasting impact (and some sales fall-off is already being reported). Just answer this, if comic book talent is so unparalleled now, why are comic sales so dismal compared to what they were a decade, two decades, three decades, four decades ago? There's been a steady march downwards, and even if you argue that the talent now is the best ever, the commercial results don't agree with you.

Just a little sidebar I wanted to address.

That's a pretty stupid thing to say. You're incorrectly equating sales revenue with quality. By your logic, Transformers 3 should have rightly tanked at the theaters.


Not at all. "Quality" is inherently subjective. You think something is great, I think it's bad. Who is right? Both and nobody. What measure can we employ to gauge the "success" of comic books? Sales figures are at least quantifiable and objective. Modern comics, judging by sales figures, are not as successful as older comics. Maybe some are "better " comics (certainly I prefer more comics from the last decade than from the 1990s or 1980s), maybe not, but that's getting back into subjectivity.

Someone needs to point out that today's comic creators may be big frogs, but the pond is a whole lot smaller than it once was.

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 Post subject: Re: Before Watchmen
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:29 am 
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piper909 wrote:
Not at all. "Quality" is inherently subjective. You think something is great, I think it's bad. Who is right? Both and nobody. What measure can we employ to gauge the "success" of comic books? Sales figures are at least quantifiable and objective. Modern comics, judging by sales figures, are not as successful as older comics. Maybe some are "better " comics (certainly I prefer more comics from the last decade than from the 1990s or 1980s), maybe not, but that's getting back into subjectivity.

Someone needs to point out that today's comic creators may be big frogs, but the pond is a whole lot smaller than it once was.


In all fairness, quality can be objective, if you define the latter as the universal agreement among experts.

If five guys with a baggage of comic book knowledge say a book is great, then it probably is great.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:35 am 
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So then if a bunch of film geeks gather around and say
man this movie is GREAT.

Like idk...
Drive
Office Space?
It must be great.

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 Post subject: Re: Before Watchmen
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:36 am 
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piper909 wrote:
Not at all. "Quality" is inherently subjective. You think something is great, I think it's bad. Who is right? Both and nobody. What measure can we employ to gauge the "success" of comic books? Sales figures are at least quantifiable and objective. Modern comics, judging by sales figures, are not as successful as older comics. Maybe some are "better " comics (certainly I prefer more comics from the last decade than from the 1990s or 1980s), maybe not, but that's getting back into subjectivity.

Someone needs to point out that today's comic creators may be big frogs, but the pond is a whole lot smaller than it once was.


You act like the interest in comics is the same. Comics have been so, dare I say, villified that to have a comic book collection is less socially acceptable than publicly displaying one's underwear. There was a time when comics were widely available and it was common for people to read comics... but times have changed and that is no reflection of quality.

NiteOwl wrote:
So then if a bunch of film geeks gather around and say
man this movie is GREAT.

Like idk...
Drive
Office Space?
It must be great.


No, Office Space is great because... it's great.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:49 am 
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you'll get no argument about that from me!
I fucking love that movie.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:19 am 
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Well, piper does bring up an interesting point: If the comic book industry supposedly has such a wealth of talent, then why are Marvel and DC still churning out stories with the same old superheroes?

Then again, it's not like these artists and writers are completely void of original ideas. Azzarello created 100 Bullets, Amanda Conner has co-created comics for Image and Black Bull, J.G. Jones was the artist of Wanted, and JMS' list of original work speaks for itself.

On the other hand, why are these storytellers being paid to revisit someone else's work if they have other, newer, fresher stories for DC to publish? Maybe they're out of ideas? Maybe this is to get some leverage with the DC management? Maybe their previous original stories didn't sell well enough?

Or maybe this issue is more complex than we give it credit for. I don't know.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:21 am 
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Curiosity Inc. wrote:
Well, piper does bring up an interesting point: If the comic book industry supposedly has such a wealth of talent, then why are Marvel and DC still churning out stories with the same old superheroes?

Then again, it's not like these artists and writers are completely void of original ideas. Azzarello created 100 Bullets, Amanda Conner has co-created comics for Image and Black Bull, J.G. Jones was the artist of Wanted, and JMS' list of original work speaks for itself.

On the other hand, why are these storytellers being paid to revisit someone else's work if they have other, newer, fresher stories for DC to publish? Maybe they're out of ideas? Maybe this is to get some leverage with the DC management? Maybe their previous original stories didn't sell well enough?

Or maybe this issue is more complex than we give it credit for. I don't know.

Never thought about it like that. Instead of rebooting Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. - just stop. Say, we're done with those characters - for now - and here are some new original heroes to focus on. It would be a bold move, but a nice breath of fresh air.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:06 pm 
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The way I see it, it's probably like Hollywood. The big budget franchise movies finance the much riskier projects. There's still a good deal of original content coming out - it's just not as publicised.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:28 pm 
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AYBGerrardo wrote:
The way I see it, it's probably like Hollywood. The big budget franchise movies finance the much riskier projects. There's still a good deal of original content coming out - it's just not as publicised.


I do have to agree with AYB to an extent here. I feel like Marvel and DC are gateway drugs nto comics, they have the sposure and they get people into an LCS. Then they walk past a rack and see Invincible, and old trade of Zot or any number of other indie heroes and move on from there.

There are plenty of new heroes popping up all the time, just most people don't know about them... or blatantly ignore a handsome forum member who recommends one of them all the time.

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