Tagged with "DC"
Rest In Peace, Joe Kubert Tags: Joe Kubert DC war Arion Ragman Sgt. Rock editor artist writer

Joe Kubert passed away today.  He worked for just about EVERYONE in the comics field and could draw, write, edit, paint ... really, he could do just about everything and did.

He was also the creator of great characters like Ragman, Tor and Firehair (as well as the 3-D process for comics) while doing what many consider the definitive versions of Sgt. Rock, two generations of Hawkman, The Golden Age Flash, and scores of other characters.  For a couple of decades, he edited a variety of comics for DC such as their war titles (where he stressed the message of "Make War No More") and books as diverse as Rima, The Jungle Girl and Arion, Lord of Atlantis. 

Joe also created the Joe Kubert School of Comic Book Art.  Opening this fully-accredited facility back in the '70s, he staffed it with professional artists and writers from the comics field to pass on their knowledge.  Previously, art schools taught the illustrative arts for commercial/advertising/fine art purposes, skills that found their ways into the comics field (even if they weren't always utilized).  From this school came talents such as Steve Bissette, Tim Truman, Jan Duursema, Tom Mandrake, Tom Yeates, Fernando Ruiz, and so many more.  In fact, two of Joe's sons (Andy and Adam) became instructors as well as top comics talents.

On a personal level, years ago, I transcribed Bill Schelly's interviews with Joe for Man of Rock, the definitive biography of the great man.  What struck me was that for all of his accomplishments, Joe ended the interview by asking Bill in all sincerity why a biography was being done about him, of all people.  If anyone was entitled to an ego, it was Joe Kubert ... but he was too good a man to have one.

When I look back upon all the best comics I've ever read, Joe's name could be found in many of them.  His contributions to the comic book field are legion and we are all the lesser for his passing.

My prayers of strength and comfort go to his friends, family, and his scores of admirers.

Tempest in a Teacup (or Protesting the New DC Universe and the Movie) Tags: DC Universe Superman Henry Cavill Film

(DISCLAIMER: This doesn't apply to you, okay?  But I keep up on a LOT of sites and it's easy to get caught up in the hating)
 

One month from now, DC will restart its entire mainstream line with all-new #1 issues.  Many series will take the opportunity to tweak continuity, others will use it as a fresh start.  One of the latter is SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS.  When this was announced, the funnybook punditocracy couldn't gnash it's teeth more.

Sundry moaned and wailed, "Why are they destroying MY Superman?  Doesn't DC care about its fans?"

Honestly ... the fans have let DC down ... that's why they're taking this financial and creative risk.

When Jack Lebowitz was publisher at DC, the policy was that ANY comic that sold under 200,000 copies would be kicked to the curb.  BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS almost saw cancelation TWICE because of this policy.  Fast forward to the present ... SUPERMAN now sells under 50,000 copies an issue (actually now more like 45,000 and dropping) and ACTION was last reported to be selling around 30,000.  Many a creative superstar has worked on each title in the last five years but the downward sales trend (one that's reflected in the entire comics industry right now) has continued after the slight spike in curiosity sales. (source= www.comicsbeat.com, various entries)

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Top talent hasn't arrested the sales decline.  Dropping the price by a dollar didn't do it.  The business model is failing to register with the public at large, many of whom are unaware that comics are still being produced.

And now we have a still of Henry Cavill as the new film Superman ... and the wailing begins anew.  "The costume is plastic, it's too textured, he's not an American, and where's the spitcurl?"  And on the heels of the pic came the  announcement that Lawrence Fishburne is cast as Perry White.  The volume of carping increased once again.

If you are aware of the history of Superman, he's changed a LOT over the years due to the demands of readers (as opposed to "fans") and the marketplace.  Superman used to be a vigilante who wasn't above coercion to gain info from criminals or to mete out violent judgment without due process.  But to appeal to parents, he basically became a family-friendly right arm to Law Enforcement.  When older readers entered the comics marketplace in the late 60s and asked why Superman didn't mop up in Viet Nam, tackle pollution, or even move out of the newspaper field and become a TV anchorman, the comics responded appropriately.  When readers thought Superman was too powerful, he lost some of his uber-abilities.

But he always changed back.  Every time.  He could turn his attention to Lana Lang, as in the '70s, but he always returned to Lois.  Kryptonite might change to Iron or Pa Kent might live to see his adopted son grow up, but that changed back too.

And Superman can be the mischevious vigilante, the guy who lights suns with huge matches, the guy who had to visualize a lynx to access his powers, the George Reeves who could split into two or walk through walls, the Christopher Reeve who could toss all the nukes into the Sun, the Brandon Routh who left Earth to confirm the death of his home world, or whomever.  The point is that SOME version of Superman is someone else's Superman.  None of us have a lock on THE Superman, except for the one that has resonance for us.

But some so-called fans seem to think the sky is falling.  Some insist that a business decision is somehow personal, that DC is trying to drive away its readership.  Nonsense!  The fans aren't coming to the party so DC is inviting new guests.  The hope is that this new version will have a broader appeal and it would HAVE to.  The current version seems to have run out of sales steam.

And some call for the heads of the DC editorial and creative staff and even express the idea that DC should go out of business because of this.  So who wants all those writers, artists, letterers, colorists, editors, production people to lose their jobs, especially in THIS economy?  How can anyone be so cold, so unsympathetic, so un-SUPERMAN about this result of the change?

A mystery writer of note once had one of his books made into a spectacularly bad film.  When asked how he felt now that his book had been ruined, the writer pointed to a copy on his bookshelf and said, "Look at it.  It's not ruined.  It's still a good book."

YOUR Superman is still out there.  He may be on DVD or in reprints or in issues you missed the first time.  But he's still out there, every bit as valid as the other versions. 

As for the new more alien, never married to Lois, armored and collared version, perhaps it will keep the character in the public eye for another 25 years, the length of time since the last major revamp of the legend.  Without seeing more than a few pages of unlettered art, how will you know that you won't enjoy it more (or could at least live with it)? 

So BUY the new book and read it with an open mind.  Watch the film with no expectations except that it will be a well-constructed action movie.  If you don't enjoy them, send DC a letter (not an e-mail) and tell them calmly, politely, why.  But THAT is in the spirit of Superman, gathering the proper information like Clark Kent, making a rational decision, but wishing no one ill for enjoying the new stories just like Jonathan and Martha raised their boy to do.  Anything else spits on the true spirit of the character.

Then let the new readers and movie fans enjoy what could become THEIR Superman because the alternative could be NO Superman at all.  And I doubt even the most callous of so-called "fans" would want a world without a Superman.

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