Commenter Rio Herrera clued me in about the two talented creators I met at the signing at Chuck Rozanski’s Mile High Comics Mega-store in Denver.
They are, far right, Scotlyn Xing Xin Bedford and far left, a young man who introduced himself to me as Phil. Rio also heard him called Phil. The Mile High Newsletter identifies him as Cory Watts, so I’m still not sure.
The guy in the white shirt is Chuck, and the looming ogre is me, of course.
But anyway, the property these two gentlemen were representing is called Ximphonia. You can find out more about Ximphonia and their other creative works on the Dreaming Symphonic-Beauty Empire website. Here’s a link:
Scot and Phil had a table near where Chuck stationed me. They drew quite a crowd—in fact, when I had a brief break and went over to see what all the fuss was about, I couldn’t get near enough to see. At the end when things were calmer, I finally did get to talk to them and they were, indeed, as mentioned above, gentlemen. Very smart and talented gentlemen. I wish them well.
Last Thursday evening, the gifted and irrepressibly creative J.C. Vaughn and his unindicted co-conspirator Rosina the Resplendent hosted a holiday gathering at Rosa Mexicano on East 18th Street in Manhattan.
J.C, as you may know, was my scripting partner on three issues of The Mighty Samson for Dark Horse. He’s done lots of stuff. Here’s his not-up-to-date CV:
J.C. Vaughn has written or co-written stories for renowned creator Billy Tucci’s highly successful series Shi published by Dark Horse Comics, Avatar, and Crusade Fine Arts. For IDW Publishing, he developed and wrote 24, based on the long-running Fox Television series; and also adapted one of acclaimed author Cory Doctorow’s short stories, “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth,” for Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now #2. Working with Realm Press, he helped reintroduce the original Battlestar Galactica to comics.
Vaughn contributed to two high profile anthologies, More Fund Comics published by Sky-Dog Press in association with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and ACTOR Comics Presents, published by Century Comics in association with ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots). Currently known as the Hero Initiative, ACTOR was founded in late 2000 by a consortium of publishers including Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics and others to assist comics creators in need.
He has created a number of notable comics properties including the Harvey Award-nominated Antiques: the Comic Strip, published in collected form by Gemstone Publishing; Zombie–Proof and Vampire, PA published by Moonstone Books; McCandless & Company published by Mandalay Books; as well as the upcoming Bedtime Stories For Impressionable Children (October 2010) slated for publication by Moonstone Books. He also created Secret Agent Vampire Gorilla and co-created Dirty Martini, both planned for release in 2011.
Vaughn also serves as Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of Gemstone Publishing, publishers of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. Under his guidance, the 2010 hardcover edition soared to a day-of-release sell-out. He also wrote Gemstone’s well-received Free Comic Book Day entry, The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics.
Rosa Mexicano is where the restaurant America used to be. It’s a terrific place—MexEclectic, vast and extra snazzy.
Besides, J.C., Rosina and me, Joe James and wife Yamilca, JayJay and partner Freddy, Adam Phillips and wife Julia, Debbie Fix and J.C.’s long-time friend Rob were present.
|Yamilca and Joe James
|JayJay and Freddy with Adam Phillips
|Adam, Rosina, Julia and Yamilca
|J.C. and Rob
|Debbie, Jim and J.C.
Debbie, JayJay, Joe and me…! There we were as in olden days, happy golden days of yore—at DEFIANT and Broadway Comics. Debbie and JayJay, of course, were with me at VALIANT, too. It’s always great to see them.
Adam Phillips worked with me for a while at Marvel long ago and now works for DC.
We had a wonderful time. Thanks, J.C. and Rosina.
For me, the first Christmas Carol of the season is always The “Pogo Christmas Carol” by the great Walt Kelly. It’s sung to the tune of “Deck the Halls.” Everyone who works in the comics medium should know it!
The Pogo Christmas Carol
By Walt Kelly
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!
Don’t we know archaic barrel
Lullaby, Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola Hullabaloo!
There are many more verses. Elaboration upon the carol was a Christmas season tradition in the Pogo strip.
Pogo was nationally syndicated from 1949 through 1975. If you’re too young to be familiar with Pogo, it’s well worth checking out the collections, some of which can be found on Amazon.
Pogo is an American cultural treasure and Walt Kelly was a genius. I never met him, but I met his widow, Selby Kelly several times at National Cartoonist Society events. Selby was very creative and had a background as an animator. Along with some of Walt’s assistants, she continued Pogo for a couple of years after Walt’s death in 1973.
For me, it’s not Christmas season till all of us are decked with Boston Charlie.
One More Thing
There has been a great deal of discussion here recently regarding religious beliefs. One of the most interesting books I’ve read about such things is The Physics of Immortality by Frank J. Tipler. It’s a daunting read, but worth the struggle, I think. Tipler is a Ph.D. mathematical physicist and cosmologist at Tulane University who hangs with big brains like Stephen W. Hawking and Roger Penrose. He offers a scientific theory of existence of God. The second half of the book is “An Appendix for Scientists,” consisting mostly of equations. I’m not necessarily endorsing what is proposed therein, but like I said, it’s interesting.
There isn’t enough sex in comics. There’s too much stuff like this:
I came across that site recently. What is shown there paints a pretty sad picture, I think, of what passes for sex in comic books (or in some cases, merely genitalia-related scenes). To me, most of it doesn’t really seem to have much to do with sex or sexuality. It’s there for shock value: “Bet you thought you’d never see THIS in a comic book!”
(P.S., the Hulk and his ball-batterer later shack up in a motel and get it on a different way.)
Or, worse, “Bet you never thought you’d see insert-name-of-character doing THIS!”
I find those sorts of things asexual. It’s so blatantly a gimmick or so out of character that it falls flat for me. My reaction is less “wow” or “ooh-la-la” or “glorioski!” and more a disappointed “good grief….”
Sometimes it seems to be all about the writer proving how clever he or she is by inventing some way that a super character’s power could be an advantage during a sex session.
Sometimes it seems to be all about the writer proving how clever he or she is by inventing some way that a super character’s power could be a disadvantage during a sex session. As we learn later, Kitty Pryde uncontrollably becomes immaterial when she climaxes.
But isn’t the art nice on this one?
All of the above, I believe, are examples of what the erudite Mr. Marc Miyake referred to in a comment once as “stimuli.” Stimuli as opposed to story. Elements inserted that do not serve the story, solely for the purpose of drawing a gasp. Like this one:
I haven’t read this story. I’m willing to bet though, that Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s bedroom preferences don’t have any bearing on the plot or any sub-plot. I’ll bet nothing established in this scene about their relationship or anything else has anything to do with the story. Irrelevant is my guess. So why is it there? For a wow? An ooh-la-la? A glorioski? Not from me. And what’s up with the Pepé le Pew accent? Good grief!
I’d venture a guess that Peter Parker could probably have sex with Mary Jane while sticking to the ceiling. That would be irrelevant, too. Unless, say, it served to set up some later scene in which, as Spider-Man, Peter’s ability to stick to a ceiling while bearing Mary Jane or a burden weighing as much as Mary Jane plays an important role. Or something. A reason.
Some writers go to great lengths to trump up a reason to have characters act out a sex scene on the printed page. “Hey, what if Superman and Big Barda made a porn film?!” It’s part of the story, yes, but is the story really about Superman and Big Barda or is it about getting that little personal fantasy into print?
Think about good (or at least well-crafted) movies you’ve seen. Raiders of the Lost Ark, for instance. Every time Spielberg and Lucas show you anything, it is relevant to the story. Think about what they show you. Indy has a fear of snakes, demonstrated in an early scene. Later, trying to retrieve the Ark, he is surrounded by…snakes! Also, think about what they don’t show you. Maybe Indy is an expert ballroom dancer, but it’s irrelevant so they do not establish it. There is not a drop of fat on that film. Everything shown serves a purpose relevant to the story at hand. Same with Rocky. Or The Wizard of Oz. Or any story written by a skilled professional.
If it’s not necessary, leave it out.
In Body Heat the sex was absolutely germane. So it was there, and done with steamy effectiveness. In Cat People sex is the core of the conceit.
In comics…? I’m trying to think of good examples. Hmm. Jaime Hernandez did some sweet, elegant, usually brief, intrinsic sex scenes in early issues of Love and Rockets. David Lapham did some well-crafted, germane sex scenes in Stray Bullets. I’ve been told that Bill Willingham’s Fables had some good and necessary ones. In Elfquest, Wendy and Richard Pini did some nice scenes. Others? Help me.
Anyway…the subject of sex in comics gets me right back to my usual rant, bad writing in comics.
I think that too often these days, characters are twisted to serve the whims, puerile fantasies and personal proclivities of the creators. Ignoring or perverting the nature of the characters is bad writing.
As for sex in comics in general, if portrayed skillfully and well, if it is absolutely germane, in character and essential, there is nothing that can’t be done. It doesn’t have to be sticky-gooey-graphic. Whatever is necessary, I suppose, that is non-actionable.
What about my handling of sex in comics, you may be wondering. Here’s a comment and answer pertaining to my Dark Horse and Legion work from a while back:
Defiant1 has left a new comment on your post “Legion of Super Heroes Overview, Part 3“:
My understanding is that you want your characters to have real motivations and sex or sexuality is a real motivation you’ve opted to include. From what I can tell, your latest work has been a tad bit heavier using sex or sexuality as a component when compared to your previous works. It also seems to have extended towards a seedier portrayal of sex. This has prompted some some criticism from a couple of people online. I am not offended, but I felt it’s been a little heavy at a time when comics need to appeal to the largest demographic audience possible. With some major titles from Marvel even struggling to sell 50,000 copies, wouldn’t it be better to write a story that can appeal to the largest demographic audience? I’d like to see mature comics that didn’t require parents to censor their kids from reading them. I’m not an advocate of turning comics into a mindless “Barney the dinosaur” feel-good experience to rot children’s brain cells, but I think it is possible to to write great stories that don’t have half naked women draped over the heroes shoulder.
I was curious about your thoughts regarding mature themed comics vs. appealing to a wider and inevitably more conservative audience.
Posted by Defiant1 to Jim Shooter at May 27, 2011 2:24 PM
I don’t know. To me, opting to include sex and sexuality as motivation for human characters is like opting to breathe if one wishes to live.
I doubt that cutting back on half naked women would have increased sales, and perhaps would have decreased sales. Lots of half naked men in my stories, too, by the way. If there are parents who believe that my stories are unsuitable for their children, I completely respect that. In my opinion, we’re going for the meat of the market these days, which is, for better or worse, adults. And still, I have done nothing in any story for DH that can’t be shown on prime time TV. In my scripts, I am constantly urging the artists to be careful, to keep it reined in. Have you seen what’s on prime time and daytime? The reality shows? No “seedy” subject off limits. Twilight has a great deal of sexuality, and it’s a kid favorite. And if you choose to consider HBO, Showtime and the rest…wow.
If the sexuality seems “seedier” to you, sorry. That’s not what I’m going for.
Criticism online and otherwise has been a fact of life for me for nearly 47 years. I listen. Really. I try to glean from it any points that will help me, any enlightenment there is to be had. Then I march on.
I try to tell the best stories I can, suited to the characters and their milieux.
Mainstream comics. Nothing seedy here….
I would add that the hand I was dealt at Dark Horse included The Mighty Samson, featuring a barbarian in a post-Apocalyptic primitive world—no modern day PC sensibilities there. Also, Turok Son of Stone, featuring a couple of Native Americans trapped in a Cretaceous-Era parallel dimension along with many other ancient peoples (and a few modern ones)—very few modern day PC sensibilities there. And Magnus Robot Fighter, which, in the tradition established by Russ Manning, is set in a future time full of beautiful people who dress sexy. It’s also inherently a romance. Lastly, Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom, featuring a scientist my age, Doctor Solar, who is transformed into a far younger (and super-powered) man. Like Magnus, it is also inherently a romance.
And, the Legion is about “underagers” full of raging hormones. Anyone writing such characters without addressing sex and sexuality never was a teenager.
Regarding the LSH, here’s a comment made a while back by a misinformed Anonymous regarding my analysis of Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 as related to my LSH work, and my answer:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post “DC Comics the New 52“:
Waaaaaaiiiit a second…
Aren’t you the guy that turned Saturn girl from a confident leader into someone with really low self-esteem, who can’t understand why leadership is more important than relationships, and sleeps around instead of talking about it? The one who had Night Girl’s outfit shred to pieces in her first appearance? Aren’t you the one who had Brainiac 5 sleep with an unconscious woman (which is rape, by the way, maybe look that up).
The women you write are sex objects and clusters of soap opera like cliches and offensive stereotypes strung together nonsensically.
I have no issue with a lady being depicted as wanting to have sex without commitment. But I forgot that a lady sleeping with two people is only okay if she does it out of a lack of self-esteem rather than her own desire. I forgot it’s only okay if she behaves immaturely and nonsensically (low self esteem + telepathy? Really?).
Like wow. PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF.
For the record, I had absolutely no problem understanding the paneling and what was happening. It was cinematic and very clear to me. The fact that you can’t follow along is amazing and sad.
Posted by Anonymous to Jim Shooter at October 8, 2011 3:39 AM
RE: Saturn Girl: Affairs of the heart have a way of troubling even the most confident leaders. Saturn Girl did not sleep around. She didn’t sleep with anyone except Lightning Lad. Maybe you missed this scene in LSH #49:
Scene: In the hallway, outside the Infirmary, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl confer. Saturn Girl is shrugging in a “beats me” way. Lightning Lad is confused and distraught, running one hand through his hair—a classic confused-and-distraught gesture. Like he needed another crisis….
NOTE: Embarrassing photo or ugly sketch of LLad’s gesture available on demand.
I agree. It’s…suspicious…but that’s what she remembers.
Why does everything have to go wrong at once…?!
Scene: Silent panel. Acting and body language are everything, here, Francis. Lightning Lad looks at Saturn Girl, struggling with the decision to ask her about her “fling” with Ultra Boy. Saturn Girl—perhaps sensing what’s coming—stares at the floor, awash in shame and guilt.
Scene: Lightning Lad goes for it. Saturn Girl still looks down, guiltily, ashamed, possibly crying.
Imra, Ultra Boy is insisting to everyone who will listen that nothing happened between you two. That’s what Element Lad told me.
Well…? Did anything…happen?
Yes. No. I don’t know…it doesn’t matter.
Scene: Two-shot of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. He’s pressing for answers. She’s still crying.
I invited him…no, I dragged him into my mind…and what happens there is real…to me.
Did he actually touch you…physically?
I…don’t know. Maybe not. I think.
Scene: Two-shot. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl face each other, look into each others eyes. To LLad, only physical counts—that Jimmy Carter “…committed adultery in my heart…” stuff is meaningless. SG sees in his eyes/senses forgiveness.
Scene: Saturn Girl picks up a disturbing vibe from Lightning Lad. He’s suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. Busted!
Garth, who have you been with?
None of your business. And don’t look!
Then stop thinking about her so loud!
Scene: In the middle of Saturn Girl’s starting to be outraged and jealous; and Lightning Lad starting to be busted, embarrassed and contrite, the SCRAMBLE SIREN established at the end of #47 and the beginning of #48 goes off. Lightning Lad is saved by the bell!
Saturn Girl, after being ignored, taken for granted and worked near to death precisely because of her leadership abilities by Lightning Lad had a moment of weakness (while under the influence of an intoxicant) and the thought of a fling with Ultra Boy crossed her mind. She almost did it, but stopped short. The point was that a) Saturn Girl has to have an incredibly disciplined mind due to the nature of her power, b) what happens on the mental plane, i.e., in thoughts, her own and others, is as real to her as physical things are to normal people, and c) a moment of weakness of no consequence to folks like us is a very big deal to her.
RE: Night Girl: Much set up had been done regarding the Legionnaires’ new, super-durable costumes, a key element in the arc. Night Girl’s clothes being torn was meant to be a further illustration of that and a realistic touch. To people of Superboy-level strength any ordinary cloth would be gossamer. Yes, it was meant to be a sexy scene. I repeatedly told Francis to be careful. Look at what he drew. Did he go over the top?
RE: Brainiac sleeping with unconscious Dream Girl: I wasn’t the one who did that. I think it was Mark Waid. There was no suggestion of sex, as I recall. Was there? Anyway, I didn’t write that. Dream Girl was long dead when I started.
I never complained about the writers’ treatment of women in the course of the reviews. Afterward, in a subsequent column, I said this:
“The first two of the New 52 I reviewed, Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 and Catwoman #1 were suggested by JayJay, because they were generating the most discussion online.
I tried to confine my analysis to Comics 101 basics, how the efforts compared to DC’s stated goals and how well each succeeded at what, in particular, they seemed to be trying to do. A lot of the discussion about those books both here and elsewhere online seems to be about the depiction and behavior of the female characters. I didn’t weigh in there. To me, that’s an evaluation each reader has to make for him or herself, not one I am more qualified than any other individual to pontificate about. One person’s Good Girl Art is another person’s “demeaning to women.” Etc.
The publisher has the right to publish any non-actionable material it wishes. Then we get to pick. The DC brass apparently thought the content of the two books I reviewed served their goals or would appeal to a large enough segment of the market to be worth doing. Whatever.
For many reasons having nothing to do with the controversies over the depiction and behavior of the female characters, I found a lot wrong with Red Hood and Catwoman.
But, let it be known, personally, I didn’t like the way the female characters were portrayed. It’s not that I think that there is anything, any situation or any type of character, male or female, that cannot be done if it is done with rare excellence and surpassing skill. The problem is that, too often, comic book writers and artists who belong in creator kindergarten think they’re already Ph.D’s.”
So, heal myself of what?
I’m sorry you don’t like the way I write women. I’m always trying to do better.
I’m glad you have the acumen to understand “paneling” that you call “cinematic” and I’m sorry that I don’t. If I don’t, however, I will say so.
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify the above.
And, by the way, here is the continuation of that Lightning Lad/Saturn Girl relationship drama from my unpublished script for LSH #50:
Scene: Cut to the WAR ROOM in the UNITED PLANETS DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE BUILDING. This is a new location, a big, high-tech command center.
Present are PRESIDENT KIN’THEA KIESELBACH, henceforth called KIN’THEA, Councilwoman SYDNE ARDEEN, Deputy Chief of Staff ZILYA POPOFF, Science Police Sector chief LON NORG (Invisible Kid’s father), the President’s Chief of Staff M’LEE SHURIFF, and Supreme Commander of the U.P. Military GENERAL OH, other MILITARY OFFICERS and a few miscellaneous government and military aides. No need to try to cram all these people into this shot. I’m just letting you know who’s there. Make the place seem busy, though.
(NOTE: No NIMRA LaFONG! Remember, she’s dead!)
Everyone present is involved in some bit of business—conferring re: some report, studying a screen or chart, speaking on a comlink, etc. Again, try to give a sense of busy-ness and urgency. There’s a war on.
In particular, General Oh, Kin’thea and M’lee Shuriff are looking at a screen that shows the fleet battling in space against the Destroyers. If you like, use a stat of Panel 1 of Page Five. If you prefer to draw a new scene, please make sure that the screen shows one huge space-battleship being destroyed. General Oh is explaining the progress of the battle to Kin’thea and Chief of Staff M’lee Shuriff.
IMPORTANT: Do not show any Legionnaires fighting on the screen! Just U.P. ships versus the Destroyers.
In addition to the screen Kin’thea and company are looking at, dominating the room there should be the futuristic, 31st Century equivalent of one of those table top maps often seen in war movies, on which military officers push model ships/planes and tanks around using croupier sticks:
Remember, a 31st Century version would have to be 3D. Holographic? A few military officers would be pointing, conferring and maneuvering the (holo?) models around, possibly using high-tech “sticks” of some sort—maybe sort of light-sabre-ish? Dunno. Good luck.
IMPORTANT: Anyone in this room who does not wear a uniform should have on different clothes than when last we saw them, except Kin’thea, who should have on the same outfit she wore in #49.
The United Planets Department of Defense Building. The War Room.
General Oh…! How are we doing?
These monsters adapt to overcome any force used against them, Madame President. Setting our shields to oscillating frequencies and our heavy weapons to variable energy spectra has helped….
Scene: Close, two-shot of Kin’thea and General Oh. Kin’thea looks a little smug (in a dignified way), rubbing it in to Legion-hater General Oh that input from the Legion has empowered his fleet. General Oh isn’t moved. He still hates the Legion.
A stratagem based on intelligence provided by the Legion…correct?
Hmh! It’s not enough. They’re wearing us down. We’ve lost the cruisers Moon E and Geo-Cline…and now, the capital ship Winm’r Tim’r.
Scene: Angle to include Kin’thea, General Oh and to introduce M’lee Shuriff. M’lee Shuriff is reading from a futuristic Blackberry-type device. General Oh looks grim, resigned to defeat—which angers Kin’thea (in a dignified, understated, Presidential way—nothing too extreme, please).
The crews transmattered out in time. Casualties are light…so far….
But the fleet is slowly being driven back. I fear that defeat…is inevitable.
Defeat means the annihilation of all life, General.
Scene: Saturn Girl is being ushered in by the same ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT seen in Panel 2 of Page Ten of #45. I’d angle this to include Kin’thea, M’lee Shuriff and enough environs to reset the locale. I’d also do it at eye level and hang all the heads on the horizon, but that’s just me. Please put Kin’thea and M’lee Shuriff in the foreground. Therefore, Saturn Girl and the Administrative Assistant are in the background, so we can see the door through which they’re entering. M’lee Shuriff is turning toward the door, noticing Saturn Girl’s arrival. Kin’thea has not yet. She’s still facing away (toward us), agonizing over the looming possibility that the U.P. is going to be wiped out.
IMPORTANT: M’lee Shuriff is pleased to see SG (or any Legionnaire). Kin’thea will be too, when she finally sees SG next panel. If we can see Sydne Ardeen and Lon Norg in this panel—not necessary—they’re looking up from whatever they’re doing, also pleased to see SG. As in #45, again, if seen—not necessary—Legion-haters Zilya Popoff and General Oh pointedly ignore SG.
IMPORTANT, TOO: Please put Kin’thea and M’lee Shuriff on the left side of the panel, so the reader’s left-to-right visual/verbal progression is first Kin’thea’s despair and then the arrival of SG representing the “way” she’s wishing for, i.e., the Legion!
(anguished in a dignified way)
Madame President, ladies and gentlemen, may I present Legionnaire Saturn Girl.
Scene: Close medium on Kin’thea introducing M’lee Shuriff to Saturn Girl, though SG is glancing toward her mother, Sydne Ardeen, approaching from the background. Kin’thea, M’lee Shuriff and Sydne Ardeen are politely smiling, but the situation is too grave for big grins. Saturn Girl looks sort of cold and serious.
NOTE: Actually, inside, SG is boiling with anger at Kin’thea for making out with her love, Lightning Lad. SG is restraining her rage—so far—but if you can give her a little edginess, a little flicker of jealous wrath, that would be wonderful. I don’t ask much….
Welcome. I am Kin’thea Kieselbach. This is my Chief of Staff M’lee Shuriff.
Madame President, Ms. Shuriff.
(telepathic balloon, closely
Hi, mom. Or should I call you Madame Councilwoman here?
This is no time for needless formality, Imra. Mom will do.
Scene: Two-shot of Saturn Girl and Sydne Ardeen. SG is grim and serious, but her expression softens somewhat while telepathicomming with her mother.
I hope you’re bringing us good news.
I’m afraid not. Brainiac 5 says more Destroyers have attacked here than in any other system. They know that the U.P. command center and Legion HQ are here.
Scene: Another angle on Saturn Girl and Sydne Ardeen, possibly including Kin’thea, that also includes and features a screen showing Sun Boy blasting the Destroyers near Ganymede—a stat of Panel 3 of Page Five, if that works. If you want to also show a screen or a bit of one that’s a stat of Panel 3 of Page Six, that’s cool, too.
Legionnaires are helping out where needed most. But, Destroyers always concentrate their power where resistance is strongest…
…so, more and more of them will flow from other U.P. systems to this one. We won’t be able to hold them off for long.
Scene: Close up two-shot of Saturn Girl and Sydne Ardeen. Saturn Girl is sad but resolute. Sydne Ardeen is reacting to her daughter’s revelation that she’s about to go on a suicide mission. Sydne Ardeen is shocked and anguished, but don’t overdo it.
We have one hope. Six Legionnaires, including me, are going to attack the beings behind the destroyers, where they live.
Brainy says it’s a suicide mission even if we succeed.
Scene: Another angle to include Saturn Girl, Kin’thea, General Oh, M’lee Shuriff and Sydne Ardeen. Eye level shot, please, all figures cropped at bust level. M’lee Shuriff and Sydne Ardeen are both still troubled by SG’s suicide-mission revelation. M’lee Shuriff is comforting Sydne Ardeen. SG is staring with thinly disguised hostility at Kin’thea. Kin’thea is staring, sternly, at General Oh, who, once again, feels trumped by the Legion.
In order to have any chance at all, we need time.
We’ll buy you every second we can. Won’t we, General Oh?
(humbled again, and seething about it)
Scene: Focus on Saturn Girl hugging her mother, Sydne Ardeen.
I came to say good-bye, Mom. I love you.
Scene: Feature Saturn Girl and Kin’thea, facing each other at arm’s-length range. Saturn Girl looks like she’s barely restraining the urge to punch Kin’thea in the nose. Kin’thea looks a little freaked, as would anyone, if someone right in front of them were talking about punching them in the nose. Intense, but no overacting, please.
And, I wanted to get one look at you, Madame President, up close, in person before I die…
…and punch you in the nose.
Scene: Saturn Girl punches Kin’thea, the President of the United Planets, in the nose. If seen, M’lee Shuriff and Sydne Ardeen react—they’re totally shocked.
SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE TO FRANCIS: Please do not make this a comic-booky punch. Kin’thea does NOT go flying. No blood, spittle or flying bits of stuff, please. Think of a real 125 lb. girl hitting a real 140 lb. woman spontaneously, without a big wind-up. Think what that would look like, and draw that.
ANOTHER NOTE TO FRANCIS: In #45, you drew Kin’thea approximately as tall as 6’2” Lightning Lad. Assuming that she’s wearing 3” heels, hidden by her flowing robe, that would make her 5’11”, a fairly tall woman. Of course, you also drew 5’10” Element Lad roughly the same height as LLad, too, so what’s it all mean? I don’t know. I give up.
Anyway, Saturn Girl should be about three inches shorter than Kin’thea, barefoot. If Kin’thea is wearing 3” heels again, SG is 6” shorter, since, from what I can discern from your drawings, there seem to be no heels on SG’s boots, like sneakers.
Scene: Pull back. Saturn Girl flies quickly toward the exit—feature her, here. SG is telepathically commanding everyone in the room to forget what just happened—except Kin’thea. SG wants her to remember. Sydne Ardeen, being a telepath, isn’t affected by her daughter’s commands. Anyone else seen here, including M’lee Shuriff, should look unaware of what happened and totally unconcerned.
Kin’thea holds her bloodied nose, staggered for a few seconds, as you or I would be. Sydne Ardeen looks flabbergasted. She’s staring, slackjawed, in disbelief at her daughter.
A couple of SECRET SERVICE GUYS and a miscellaneous COLONEL speak. They’re completely blasé, showing that they are totally influenced by SG!
You didn’t see what happened! There’s no problem here! Stay out of my way!
I didn’t see what happened.
(NOTE: In my scribbles, panels 1-3 form the first tier, i.e., three 1/9 page panels, which provides a lot of room for the establishing shot that follows.)
Scene: Close on Kin’thea, Sydne Ardeen and M’lee Shuriff. Kin’thea is holding her painful, bleeding nose. Don’t overplay it. This isn’t a catastrophic injury. It hurts, yes, and it’s messy, but no major damage.
M’lee Shuriff is noticing that Kin’thea’s nose is bleeding. She has no idea why. She looks mildly nonplussed and has a sort of “Oh, dear!” motherly expression.
Sydne Ardeen is pondering a thought-snippet she picked up from Saturn Girl. Possibly, she’s looking at Kin’thea quizzically, wondering if the disturbing thing she sensed in her daughter’s mind could possibly be true.
Grife! What was that about…!?
I’m not sure, Madame President…but as Imra left, I caught a thought….
Scene: Two-shot of Sydne Ardeen and Kin’thea. Sydne Ardeen is a little freaked. Kin’thea is a little freaked, too. Who knew Lightning Lad had a girlfriend? Or that she, SG, would find out? And punch her, Kin’thea, in the nose? Owww….
Did you have a…romantic liaison with her boyfriend, Lightning Lad?!
Scene: Pull back to reveal that we’re in the Hallway. Lightning Lad is looking up, reacting, as he sees SG hurrying toward the Lab Complex door (and him, since he’s standing next to the door). Colossal Boy is still “on the line,” but LLad is now paying no attention to him whatsoever. Our POV is probably too far from LLad to see the Holographic Image of Colossal Boy, but at least indicate a glow around LLad’s Flight Ring to indicate activity.
Imra! Where have you been?!
Brainy said we had ten minutes while he made final preparations. So I went to say good-bye to my mother…
Scene: Saturn Girl is trying to brush past Lightning Lad and enter the Lab Complex, but LLad is (gently!) trying to stop her, maybe grabbing her softly by the upper arm. She’s averting her face, trying to hide tears. Here are the mixed, myriad emotions to attempt to get across:
- Saturn Girl is still hurt, jealous and angry that LLad had a liaison with the President last issue.
- Saturn Girl also feels very ashamed of what she just did—punching the President in the nose. How low-class, how Neanderthal, how utterly trashy-stupid!
- Saturn Girl also still feels lower that a slime-worm’s gut about her moment of needy, self-pitying weakness with Ultra Boy—even though the infidelity took place mostly in her mind!
Bottom line, she feels miserable, guilty and detestable. He desperately longs for her and what they once had. Give it your best shot. Good luck!
Lightning Lad is apprehensive and a little shocked by what SG tells him—as I might be if I found out that my girlfriend had just paid a visit to the “other woman” I was fooling around with last night.
If seen, LLad’s Ring is still glowing. If seen close enough, possibly the Holographic Image of Colossal Boy can be seen, small. Not necessary. Might even be too distracting.
…and…to see…President Kieselbach.
Scene: Cut back to the Hallway Outside the Lab Complex. Two-shot of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, but show enough environs to reinforce where we are. SG is contrite, ashamed. LLad is (gently) holding SG by the upper arms, (gently) making her stay. We should get the feeling that if he weren’t she’d run away and crawl under a rock somewhere. She’s still somewhat averting her face, not wanting to look LLad in the eye.
LLad is shocked to learn that SG poked Kin’thea in the proboscis.
- Lightning Lad feels bad that he made out with the President, but with an excuse—remember, at that point he thought he and Saturn Girl were through. (P.S., FYI, he and Kin’thea didn’t get too far before being interrupted by the Flight Ring panic alarm, anyway.)
- Lightning Lad just wishes it was all over and that they could pretend it all never happened. He really loves Saturn Girl.
I thought it would make me feel better, but…now I feel worse. Like a foob.
Scene: Close up, two-shot of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, now looking into each others’ eyes. Supersaturate this with emotion, please. It’s a prelude to a kiss.
Imra, I screwed up…but I thought we were finished, and….
No, it was my fault. I cheated on you first.
But…it was just in your mind. Not real. Anybody can have a weak moment. Even a telepath.
Scene: Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl kiss. If seen, LLad’s Flight Ring is still glowing.
Scene: Angle to place Lightning Lad’s Flight Ring close enough to our POV so we can see the Holographic Image of Colossal Boy shouting at Lightning Lad. LLad is startled out of his romantic moment with Saturn Girl, jolted back to reality. Saturn Girl, too, is jolted back to the here and now. [One has to wonder what was happening between them in her mind during that kiss…. ; ) ]
(Flight Ring communication balloon)
Lightning Lad! We need you NOW!
Oh. Yeah. Destroyers. Right. Um….
Scene: Foreground, Lightning Lad quick-flies down the Hallway, presumably on his way to the aid of Colossal Boy. Background, Saturn Girl is entering the Lab Complex, but her head is turned toward LLad and the camera, watching LLad depart. Both of them are subtly smiling. Content. At peace.
That’s it. I’ll stand by that.
I am fully prepared for questions and challenges about my work with regard to sexual content. Remember, please, that some of my stories were written long ago when I was young and foolish. All right, more foolish. Also, remember, I didn’t draw the stories and I was often at the mercy of artists who did things differently than I would have liked. I am prepared to defend or apologize for anything I did.
That said, you may fire when ready, Gridley.
NEXT: And So This Is Christmas Plus More Sex
I found this link to an article from 1983 really interesting, as it focuses a great deal on blue-collar workesr in the postwar era:
I recently found these links to books about American steelworkers that I thought you might find interesting:
[MikeAnon:] With all the talk of abused women, I'm reminded of an interview with Brian Michael Bendis in which he had to defend the blow-by-blow depiction of Tigra's beating at the hands of the Hood in NEW AVENGERS. He basically said, "As gruesome as it was, I had to put everything 'on camera' where the reader could see it, or else there would have been lingering questions in the reader's mind of whether Tigra had been raped." I wonder how much of a commentary on society that is: He couldn't hide the brutality of the scene from us for fear we'd make it worse in our minds. [–MikeAnon]
I’m really glad that you liked those links that I sent you. I thought that you might find these links interesting as well:
They are about governments which, based on my research, did a great deal to improve people’s lives while in office.
Jim, when you told me about the job you did that paid 55 cents an hour back in 1969, do you know if that was for a business that was out of the jurisdiction of labor laws? I ask this because I read that the federal minimum wage at that time was $1.30.
In regards to Family Guy, did you know that Adam West acts fairly regularly on the show?
Lastly, I recently came across the X-Men story “God Loves, Man Kills.” It was fantastic.
RE: "Jim, when you told me about the job you did that paid 55 cents an hour back in 1969, do you know if that was for a business that was out of the jurisdiction of labor laws? I ask this because I read that the federal minimum wage at that time was $1.30."
I don't know whether it was a typo or brain freeze, but it should have said $1.55/hour. Or maybe I was thinking of my dishwasher days when I actually was paid around 55 cents an hour. There was no minimum wage for restaurant work in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Yes, I did know Adam West does a voice for Family Guy. Good for him. I like Adam West.
Me too. He's a great actor. Apparently, he was once offered the role of James Bond. The way he portrays himself in Family Guy is hysterical. If you see the episode "Perfect Castaway" Jim (one of my favourite episodes) you'll see what I mean.
Kindest regards, Victor.
Thanks for the links. I'm happy to have confirmation of my memories.
I've seen Family Guy, though I'm not a regular viewer. I don't know Seth McFarlane, but it makes sense that he'd be comics savvy.
I definitely owe you a "you're right, and I'm oblivious" on the Solar/Gail thing.
As for the rest, I feel I've taken up enough of your time, and I fear I came off a tad disrespectful in the last response (though that was not my intent at all).
I truly want to thank you for taking the time to respond to me, and I want to let you know that you are, and always have been, a true hero to me.
It's actually precisely why I felt the need to pick a bone with you. Truly, though, knowing the idea for Doctor Solar #9 made me far more comfortable with much of this. I suppose it's unfair to judge an unfinished work without seeing what was left on the drawing board.
Thanks again. Hope to be reading more of your work VERY soon.
I was really interested when you told me about how the “no-strike” pledge of the Seventies helped bring about significant gains for steelworkers. I found some links to articles which refer to this development which I thought you might find interesting:
Also Jim, I was wondering if you have ever seen the comedy Family Guy? You might be interested to know that several Transformers (such as Optimus Prime and Megatron), as well as Spider-Man, have appeared on the series. I have a feeling that the creator Seth McFarlane is a fan of both Transformers and Spider-Man.
Kindest regards, Victor.
I'd have like to have read Dark Horse's Solar, but the art looked liked it'd been inked with a sharpie and it looked like all the shading was done with photoshop. Too distracting. It looked like it was trying to emulate Mike Mignola's style which I honestly can't stand. I also resented having their reprint comic stuck into the middle of a comic when it was already overpriced. If I wanted the original Gold Key story, I'd buy the original. I never had any interest in what Gold Key published except Doctor Spektor. It interested me enough that I was really looking forward to seeing him with a modern twist and better art.
Panel 1 (1/6 page):
Scene: Close up on exquisite Gail, being so sincere, averting her eyes, looking down rather than at Doctor Solar. It’s hard for her to bare the emotion she’s baring. Remember Stan’s bust rule!
The night before…it was wonderful. I really enjoyed dinner…and just talking with you.
But, you know, we’d just met that day, and…well…when we said goodnight…I was half afraid you were going to kiss me…
…and half afraid you wouldn’t.
Panel 2 (1/6 page):
Scene: Another angle. She’s still struggling with this confession of sorts. If we see Doctor Solar close enough to pick up any of his expression, he look like I would if, say, Jessica Alba suddenly revealed that I was the only man for her. Sell it, Rog.
You see, I…I didn’t want you to think I was just a groupie trying to…. I mean, didn’t want you to think of me as…um, like that.
But, I …I’ve never felt so…such a connection. Th-that is, I really think you’re….
Panel 3 (1/6 page):
Scene: Now Gail looks him straight in the eye with sincerity and obvious affection. Doctor Solar is sort of averting his eyes a little now. This is overwhelming. Beyond his wildest dreams.
What I’m trying to say is would you like to have dinner again…? Sometime? Or just coffee, if you’re too busy?
Too busy? No…I’d like that. I’d love that. Dinner, I mean.
Panel 4 (1/6 page):
Scene: Doctor Solar is beating a hasty retreat but he’s brimming with joy! She likes him! Hey, Mikey! He waves cheerfully. Have him running towards us, foreground, and have his coat coming open a bit so we can see the PILLOW fastened around his waist to make him look like his old, plump self. Like me. Gail is smiling. Not bubbling over, grinning from ear to ear, just all happy and aglow because that difficult and emotionally risky exposure of her heart turned out okay. No wave from her, just the smile. Almost beatific. Ah, love.
Speaking of busy, I have…an appointment. I have to rush. But, see you soon, okay?
Samson lives in a barbaric world where women are property. Sharmaine comes from the enlightened enclave at Prinzten and is no one's chattel. Terra, daughter of the last warrior-king of the Jerz has established herself as a worthy successor. Two remarkable women.
RE: "3. As for what was developed about Gail's attraction to Phil in #0, I guess I don't see it. I see the adoration and a hint that she might want more, but she definitely rejected that kiss with a small sense of shock and disgust, and she didn't seem all that interested in him after he rewrote time and prevented that moment from happening. Maybe I missed something, but her final moment of throwing herself at Phil definitely felt arbitrary to me."
Apparently you missed this sequence in issue #4:
Panel 3 (1/6 page):
Scene: Doctor Solar is standing on the doorstep. Gail has opened the door and is very pleased to see him. Gail has changed clothes since last issue, from her work clothes into something more casual and comfortable—but a little dressier/sexier than ordinary hanging-around-the-house clothes, because she knew Doctor Solar was coming! And she wanted to look good for him! Nothing too revealing or trampy. Just nice, attractive, subtly, elegantly sexy. And, remember, she’d look hot in a potato sack. I’ll let you do the online fashion “shopping” this time. Rock it, Rog.
Sorry I’m late, Gail. Some things came up.
Phil, it’s so good to see you! Come on in.
I…really can’t right now. I can only stay a minute.
Panel 4 (1/6 page):
Scene: They talk. They’re both awkward, because he’s super-attracted to her, and, believe it or not, even though she still thinks he’s an old guy, she has some twitterpation for him! If you can suggest a little sexual tension between them, which they’re both trying to hide, that would be good. I don’t ask much. Especially since he’s all covered up. : )
Everyone thought you died in the reactor. How are you?
How do I tell her I did die, but I found a way back?
NARRATIVE CAPTION (2nd)
(close to or touching the first one)
Now is not the time.
I’m fine. Better than fine, actually.
RE: "1. Sounds like I would have loved Doctor Solar #9. Still, I think it's unfortunate that raped, beaten, and often murdered women need to be the acid test for how evil a being can be. I honestly wonder if I would have felt more comfortable with all this if Moloch had taken Pickerel upstairs and molested him next, or if Nuro could have shown even one instance of extreme recreational sadism to a male subordinate too (yes, he mutates them into sacrificial champions when Phil comes knocking, but this serves a practical purpose and isn't done for pleasure)."
Moloch is sufficiently cruel to Pickerel that he begs for death. If I'd had Pickerel molested by Moloch I would have had the Advocate demanding my head on a plate again. Nuro, in his first appearance beats a male victim for recreation. He was an equal opportunity monster.
RE: "2. I definitely recognize that Gail did not intend to be a temptress to Phil, yet her confusing and seemingly cruel mixed communications nearly caused him to destroy the universe while in the reactor and later allow Moloch to kill his allies. Since this issue of the distraction of women comes up in Magnus, Samson, and in Solar, it seems to reflect more upon the gender than upon the weaknesses of the individual heroes…as if the theme is "avoid women, they're good for nothing but distraction." I think it would have worked fine for just one hero, but this appears to be the central crux in all three's lives.
There are other motivators out there beyond sex and love. I experience them everyday. And, if you're going to go the love route, then I think you owe it to the reader to help us to see the love interest through the same eyes that the main characters do. I get that Gail has accomplished a lot, but I have no idea what her appeal to Phil is beyond the fact that she worships him and is young. And I understand what Magnus and Samson see in their love interests even less (beyond the sex appeal). Part of the reason I feel these women come off as little more than temptresses (intended or otherwise) and objects to be won is that their appeal doesn't come across clearly. Who are they? What do they care about/believe in? What do their lovers see in them? I can answer this for Magnus, Samson, and Solar, but not for their women."
The guy Gail is attracted to is suddenly thirty years younger. Given that, I cannot fathom how you find her communication with Doctor Solar "confusing and seemingly cruel." What? What does she say that isn't reasonable under the circumstances? She feels, and justifiably so, that some cruel trickery may be being played upon her. But she responds to the evidence as it unfolds with cautious willingness to believe.
"Since this issue of the distraction of women comes up in Magnus, Samson, and in Solar…." What? Doctor Solar is distracted by his worries over Gail. Just when and where is Magnus distracted by either Cinnette or Leeja? He's all business and gets the job done. Samson is torn between fiery Terra and icy Sharmaine. But when is he distracted? He gets the job done, even when that means taking the practical step of forming an alliance — and a liaison — with Terra. You are inventing a pattern and a theme that isn't there.
"There are other motivators out there beyond sex and love." No kidding?
I tried to make it clear that Solar was attracted to Gail because of her "beautiful mind" as well as her youth and physical beauty. Sorry if that didn't come through.
Magnus lives in a world of Cinnettes — and they have their appeal to a young man. Leeja, however, is unique, a breath of fresh air, a brave, defiant young woman, as well as a physically beautiful one. Sorry if that didn't come through.
5. I can certainly understand the problems of the source material you're working with. I'm a huge fan of the original Mighty Samson and grinned like a fool when you finally gave him the eye patch in the final issue. Still, those comics were written in a different era and tailored to a more immature audience. You made a wealth of changes to Samson, and I think changing Sharmaine and her relationship to Samson might have been another appropriate change to make. She was raised by Mindor and the scientists outside of Samson's culture, after all, so that pretty much frees her up to be any kind of character you want her to be.
One final note — I think the most brilliant thing you ever did with a female character was how you depicted Kris Hathaway in relation to Pete Stanchek. Pete was, in many ways, a young Phil Solar, given infinite powers, but focused mostly on the girl. You made Kris refuse to play that passive love interest role though, quickly figuring out when Pete was playing with her mind and calling him out on it, second guessing Pete on numerous occasions, and generally becoming the backbone and wisdom of the team, even while she had no powers of her own. In fact, when she started gravitating towards Torque, you even laid the groundwork for us to understand that (she'd never actually chosen Pete of her own volition, Torque was actually more sensitive in some respects, Torque more closely resembled the people she hung out with in school). Even though you didn't narrate through Kris' eyes, I often understood her motivations and desires.
Kris is certainly not the only female character you've written that well, but I don't intend to waste any more of your time. It sounds like you had some strong plans for some of these women to develop later on (and I concur that you did wonderful things for Glo). But, in the issues that actually saw print, I still feel that nearly all of the women were portrayed in less than flattering ways.
Thanks much for the detailed response. I truly appreciate it.
1. Sounds like I would have loved Doctor Solar #9. Still, I think it's unfortunate that raped, beaten, and often murdered women need to be the acid test for how evil a being can be. I honestly wonder if I would have felt more comfortable with all this if Moloch had taken Pickeryl upstairs and molested him next, or if Nuro could have shown even one instance of extreme recreational sadism to a male subordinate too (yes, he mutates them into sacrificial champions when Phil comes knocking, but this serves a practical purpose and isn't done for pleasure).
2. I definitely recognize that Gail did not intend to be a temptress to Phil, yet her confusing and seemingly cruel mixed communications nearly caused him to destroy the universe while in the reactor and later allow Moloch to kill his allies. Since this issue of the distraction of women comes up in Magnus, Samson, and in Solar, it seems to reflect more upon the gender than upon the weaknesses of the individual heroes…as if the theme is "avoid women, they're good for nothing but distraction." I think it would have worked fine for just one hero, but this appears to be the central crux in all three's lives.
There are other motivators out there beyond sex and love. I experience them everyday. And, if you're going to go the love route, then I think you owe it to the reader to help us to see the love interest through the same eyes that the main characters do. I get that Gail has accomplished a lot, but I have no idea what her appeal to Phil is beyond the fact that she worships him and is young. And I understand what Magnus and Samson see in their love interests even less (beyond the sex appeal). Part of the reason I feel these women come off as little more than temptresses (intended or otherwise) and objects to be won is that their appeal doesn't come across clearly. Who are they? What do they care about/believe in? What do their lovers see in them? I can answer this for Magnus, Samson, and Solar, but not for their women.
3. As for what was developed about Gail's attraction to Phil in #0, I guess I don't see it. I see the adoration and a hint that she might want more, but she definitely rejected that kiss with a small sense of shock and disgust, and she didn't seem all that interested in him after he rewrote time and prevented that moment from happening. Maybe I missed something, but her final moment of throwing herself at Phil definitely felt arbitrary to me.
4. To be honest, I've not read the Turoks yet. I'm having some difficulty in letting the whole Gold Key relaunch thing go, and so a part of me does not want to finish them and be done with it. Perhaps once I know your next project is on its way to the stands…
– "Resisting the tempation of women…." Wow. I don't know what to say…but I'll try. Russ Manning established Magnus's era as one in which the cloud-dwelling, proper citizens were soft, pampered pleasure-seekers. Cinnette was established as a super-rich, party girl who was an extreme pleasure-seeker among pleasure-seekers. And startlingly beautiful. She was there as stark contrast to Leeja, who was relatively feisty and self-reliant, for a cloud-cloddie. Magnus, a young man, succumbed to Cinnette's allure for a while. I was young and foolish (even more foolish than now) once. It can happen. But Magnus learned and grew. Leeja learned and grew. And, eventually, I had plans for Cinnette to learn and grow.
In the Magnus #0 origin story, the beginnings of Magnus and Leeja's relationship, was established. It also established strong, admirable Queeny's character. She was a central figure in Magnus's development. That story was never published.
Doctor Solar's powers, as I wrote him, depended upon his ability to concentrate. Have relationship issues ever distracted you? "Dangerous temptresses?" What? Did Gail have a clue about what was going on with Doctor Solar? Was she out to tempt him? And Cinnette is Paris Hilton times a hundred. Carefree pleasure-kitten. What her worry? P.S. Magnus did his duty.
Samson, a young man who grew up in a monastery, essentially, had a huge interest in young ladies. All right, any attractive ladies. This is one of the many parallels with the Biblical Samson that Dark Horse editor Chris Warner and I agreed upon. The Biblical Samson was a dog. Our Samson's attraction to Terra was a significant factor in the original series. I just spun it out. I'll stand by that story.
RE: "3. Sharmaine, Leeja, and Gail all come off as stubborn, willful, and hard to get at first, but eventually throw themselves at Samson, Magnus, and Phil like lovesick teenie-boppers at a Justin Beiber concert. Certainly, Gail was the most spontaneous of the three when she arbitrarily did this in the final issue."
– I inherited willful Sharmaine from the Otto Binder and Frank Thorne — attracted to Samson with reservations. I inherited impulsive Leeja from Russ Manning — attracted to Magnus with few reservations. I inherited who-the-hell-knows Gail from Paul S. Newman and Matt Murphy. I made her a brilliant scientist and Nobel Laureate. Willful, too. But, attracted to Doctor Solar, as she was back when.
The Doctor Solar #0 story, published in issues #5-8 of DSMOTA showed the origins of Doctor Solar and Gail's relationship. That, and the scenes in the post #0 stories make her declaration of interest in MOTA in #8 anything but arbitrary.
How did you like the relationship between Turok and Aasta? Okay? Or similarly unsatisfactory?
I try to be true to the characters. I didn't invent these casts, but I meant to honor those who did.
RE: "I'm really glad the issue of how you write women has come up because it's been on my mind a lot in this past year. It's not really the half-nakedness nor the sex-as-motivation factors alone (you refute both objections quite well), but I do have some other concerns:
1. The over-the-top sexual violence towards women in Doctor Solar. Not really sure it's necessary to explain this one any further, but I found it damn disturbing. Yeah, Nero is a villain, and yeah Moloch believes he's a god who exists beyond morality, but it was still far too much for my sensibilities. I thought the saving grace to all of this would be that Susan would have a twist to her, just as every other creation Pickeryl conjured did. Maybe the perfect woman would have some surprise powers to help her kick Moloch's butt and get revenge for being raped and beaten repeatedly, but, unlike Glo and Leviathan, it doesn't seem that you had any further plans for Susan once she took her exit. I found that devastating."
– I wanted Nuro to be the most heinous person imaginable. I think I got there. Moloch is a baby-burning-devouring Neolithic god. Not nice. Both very evil towards women. And men, by the way. Glow and Leviathan grew from the ciphers Pickerel conjured and became more real and rounded human beings. Glow was revealed to be super-strong, and a capable, brave, reliable, heroic figure. I'm glad you were devastated by Susan's fate. That means what I did worked. And, it speaks well of you. Susan was the victim of Moloch's abuse, yes. But she and Moloch were intended to return in issue #9, in a story arc in which both Susan and Glow show uncommon courage and heroism that brings about the ultimate destruction of Moloch. Susan grows and develops from victim to vanquisher. No super powers needed.
RE: "2. A repeating central conflict in Solar, Magnus, and Samson is resisting the temptation of women. Magnus had to resist Cinnette in order to go do his job in the early issues, Samson had to repeatedly resist Queen Terra to stay on the side of right, and even Solar had to resist the urge to talk to Gail and find out how she felt about him in order to not abandon his friends and responsibilities while fighting Moloch. Granted, all heroes are conflicted about choosing between their duties and their desires, but it just began to feel like the women of these stories were nothing but dangerous temptresses to our heroes, whether they intended to be or not."
I'm really glad the issue of how you write women has come up because it's been on my mind a lot in this past year. It's not really the half-nakedness nor the sex-as-motivation factors alone (you refute both objections quite well), but I do have some other concerns:
1. The over-the-top sexual violence towards women in Doctor Solar. Not really sure it's necessary to explain this one any further, but I found it damn disturbing. Yeah, Nero is a villain, and yeah Moloch believes he's a god who exists beyond morality, but it was still far too much for my sensibilities. I thought the saving grace to all of this would be that Susan would have a twist to her, just as every other creation Pickeryl conjured did. Maybe the perfect woman would have some surprise powers to help her kick Moloch's butt and get revenge for being raped and beaten repeatedly, but, unlike Glo and Leviathan, it doesn't seem that you had any further plans for Susan once she took her exit. I found that devastating.
2. A repeating central conflict in Solar, Magnus, and Samson is resisting the temptation of women. Magnus had to resist Cinnette in order to go do his job in the early issues, Samson had to repeatedly resist Queen Terra to stay on the side of right, and even Solar had to resist the urge to talk to Gail and find out how she felt about him in order to not abandon his friends and responsibilities while fighting Moloch. Granted, all heroes are conflicted about choosing between their duties and their desires, but it just began to feel like the women of these stories were nothing but dangerous temptresses to our heroes, whether they intended to be or not.
3. Sharmaine, Leeja, and Gail all come off as stubborn, willful, and hard to get at first, but eventually throw themselves at Samson, Magnus, and Phil like lovesick teenie-boppers at a Justin Beiber concert. Certainly, Gail was the most spontaneous of the three when she arbitrarily did this in the final issue.
I understand that heroes are people, people have sex drives, and all of the Gold Key heroes happened to be male; I just think this unintentionally left the women in their comics marginalized and depicted in an unflattering light (except for Leeja. I think she came off rather well by the final issue of Magnus).
I've been an avid follower of yours through the Legion, the New Universe, Valiant, and Defiant prior to this (I missed Broadway somehow), so I've known you to write strong and/or endearing female characters before. That's why I found the women in this Gold Key relaunch…surprising.
At any rate, I can't wait to hear your plans post-Gold Key Relaunch. While I'm truly sorry to see the series go, I keep hoping this will be an opportunity for you to either get involved with the Valiant relaunch, the stalled Marvel Newuniversal project, or the start of something brilliant from scratch (as you've done so many times before).
So sorry my first comment to you ever was a critique. In spite of the concerns I raised above, I'm still (and most likely always will be) an avid fan.
I know Simon Furman but I haven't seen him for a long time. I'm glad to hear he's getting proper support.
Thanks Jim. I greatly appreciated your responses.
By the way, I was interested in learning recently that you played a major part in the creation of the Transformers. I have been a big fan of the Transformers since I was at least six and I just want to thank you for helping to create a series that I've loved so much (and millions of others) since my childhood. It continues to enjoy a HUGE cult following here in the UK.
By the way, have you ever met Simon Furman? The TF stories that he's written over the years have been really top notch. Thanks to a petition, he's going to be writing the continuation of the Generation 1 Transformers story for IDW, which ended with Issue 80 when it was published by Marvel. It would be good if the Generation 2 storyline was continued as well (I highly recommend it Jim).
Hope that you had a very happy new year as well.
Kindest regards, Victor.
Gee, I wish I had known I was going to show up in that photo of JayJay and Freddy! I was trying to lean out of it! Oh well, it was a lovely evening and a pleasure to see you, Jim, and everyone else.
Jim Shooter wrote: He did occasionally write complete plots, especially early on. I have seen and read his carbon copy of the complete plot for Fantastic Four #1
Regarding the typewritten plot for FF #1… I believe Stan says he came up with the characters and wrote that plot entirely by himself. However, Kirby at times also said that he came up with the characters entirely by himself and had input on the plot. Obviously there's no way to absolutely reconcile what the two of them have said, and I don't think either of them is/was deliberately lying.
My own guess is that they had a verbal plot conference and came up with the characters and story together, and then afterwards Stan typed up his plot synopsis for Kirby to work from. I think the fact that the FF's origin is quite similar to that of the Challengers argues for some Kirby involvement in the story. It strikes me as more likely that Kirby would re-use elements from a story he'd written before than it does that Stan would copy something from someone else's story. And we know that's essentially how they worked for their original rejected Spider-Man prototype… the two of them devised a plot which borrowed from a previous Simon-Kirby character.
For some reason the phrase "I love rocks" stays with me. I think I'll go around saying that to people without any explanation or back story. I think it'll get an interesting reaction from people.
Wow, I was a tour guide at Cascade Caverns around 1975 or 76 and I remember I made 50 cents an hour. I loved the job and when I wasn't tour guiding I got to work the rock counter in the gift shop, which was very cool since I love rocks, but the pay was low, even for the time. I guess I've always chosen jobs I liked over ones that paid well.
Except when I worked for you. Then I had both. 😀
The average income in the U.S. in 1966 was around $7,000. I don't know about the rest of the country, but in the Pittsburgh area for a family of four it wasn't enough.
Other union jobs paid higher at the time. Lots of jobs paid lower. For instance, I once worked a minimum wage job in 1969. Pay: 55 cents an hour. Do the math. That's under $1,200 per year.
By the early-to-mid 1970's, most blue collar jobs paid a good bit better.
Thank you and happy New Year.
The cost of living is high in the Northeastern U.S. You have to make more money just to have the same standard of living as a lesser paying job in other states.
Thank you for replying to my comment. I found it very interesting, such as the part about things improving for steelworkers in the Seventies and also about your father at one point earning $7,000. At that time, was that a high salary that could provide an American family with a middle-class standard of living? The way I read your reply, it sounded like your father at that time was being well paid, but please correct me if I’m wrong in that assumption. I think it’s only fair that if you work hard you get paid well for it.
I’m glad that things got better for steelworkers in the Seventies. I’m just sorry about what happened to the industry.
This is probably a difficult question to answer, Jim, but do you know if most blue-collar jobs in the States paid well by that time (the Seventies)? I ask this partly from reading that in 1980 most Americans earned the highest wages in the developed world.
I have long taken a great interest in history and politics, particularly in relation to living standards and worker’s rights, and it’s nice that you got back to me on my queries.
Also, I hope that you have a very happy new year.
As far as I know, Stan never wrote full scripts during the 60's or later. I could be wrong. He did occasionally write complete plots, especially early on. I have seen and read his carbon copy of the complete plot for Fantastic Four #1 and I believe Roy has a photocopy of it. Stan haters/Kirby-did-it-all types will say that Stan typed up a plot after Kirby delivered the pencils. If someone wants to think Stan is a liar and Kirby did everything, nothing I say will likely change their minds. I don't think Stan is a liar and I don't think Jack did it all. Neither of them needs credit for anything they didn't do to be the greatest-of-the-greats.
Dimitris is right… when I said Stan had "co-writers" I meant co-plotters, since plotting obviously is an important part of the writing process. I should have been more clear, though, since I know that in the comic credit world the term "writer" is often used exclusively to refer to the person who composes dialogue. That's always struck me as odd, since plotting is at least as important as dialogue and a plotter is a writer too. But to be clear, I wasn't suggesting Stan had help with writing the dialogue when I said he had co-writers.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Stan never wrote a full script for any story in the 60's or 70's. And my understanding is that by 1964 or so he almost always co-plotted the stories with the artists. Also, by the late 60's there were often instances in which the artist plotted the story entirely by himself, or with only minimal input from Stan. So that's what I meant by saying he worked with co-writers. Not taking anything away from Stan… he is a phenomenal talent who, in creating the Marvel method, created the perfect niche for his unique abilities. I'm just saying as a writer, Stan did his best work in collaboration with others.
I can't speak for czeskleba but since I agreed with his comment I have to say that I took it that he regarded plotting-pacing-scripting as parts of "writing" and since the artists had a substancial part in the first two, they were co-writers, instead of merely illustrators of the work. Technically, that may be wrong, but at least that's how I took it.
Stan had co-plotters sometimes, but I know of no instance where he had a co-writer.
I just want to say that czeskleba's comment above expresses my feelings exactly as well. It's the first time I see it written by someone else, heh.
Dimitris said:Regarding czeskleba's comment, maybe fans in general think of Stan Lee mostly as a writer, even though his duties were also editorial.
That may well be the perception, but if so it's backwards. I think Stan's greatest talents by far were editorial. His best writing (ie, almost everything after 1961) was done with co-writers rather than solo. And his biggest skill was to take the raw ideas created by others and make them substantially better, which is primarily an editorial skill.
A few quick points.
1. IMO, I think that comics featuring characters originally created for and aimed at (and marketed at outside the comics themselves) at kids and/or all ages should (to quote John Byrne) be written in a layered all ages manner so that they can appeal to readers of all ages on many different levels. So sex,violence,and language should all be handled in a tasteful manner without going over board or being too graphic. The Hank/Jan and Norman/Gwen sex scenes, IMO, went way too far. The Aunt May and JJJ SR scene, while unnecessary and pushed the envelope for a cheap laugh, was handled (IMO) in a tasteful manner. IMO, I thought that the guidelines Marvel set for itself in their CCA approved comics from 1961 to 2000, were the perfect middle ground compromise in putting out comics that were appropriate for people of most (if not all) ages.
2. Most prime time (and day time) TV shows on the major broadcast networks these days are not aimed at or suitable for all ages. Most of these shows are aimed at teens and adults. The more all ages shows are found on the kids cable networks.
3. I work at a comic shop, and I can tell you that based on my own personal experience that sex does not sell lots of comics. I can count on one hand and still have fingers left the number of customers who buy comics solely because those books have sex or scantly clad women in them.
Regarding czeskleba's comment, maybe fans in general think of Stan Lee mostly as a writer, even though his duties were also editorial. I admit that if somebody had asked me who is my all-time favorite Marvel EIC, without mentioning any names, I would answer Jim Shooter. I would always think of Stan Lee if somebody asked my favorite Spider-Man or Fantastic Four writer though.
Having said that, I find 60s Marvel the best ever line of mainstream comics as a whole, with 80s Marvel taking secong place. And obviously Stan's, and Jim's, editorial reigns had a lot ot do with that.
We upgraded a few steel mills in the Northeast in the 90's and built the control equipment for quite a few in Southeast Asia also. On my end, it was good because it took about 6 months to build a job like that. We built one job twice because a ship delivering the first job sank in transit to Asia. Last I heard China was buying up all the scrap metal in the U.S. I can see how the steel industry is and was hurting.
In the same manner, we built a lot of equipment to control the big Heidelburg/Goss(?) printing presses after 2000, but that business shrunk drastically in the past 5 years. I assume the upgrades were done in a last big push for the printing companies to survive. The technology to control the modern machines is better and more cost effective that ever. One steel mill job we built had penalties of a million dollars a day for every day we shipped late. Supposedly, that's what it can cost for a steel mill to be down a day. I remember us working miracles to get the job shipped despite some $50,000 pieces of equipment getting delivered to us damaged three shipments in a row.
The United Steelworkers Union lagged well behind other major labor unions — the machinists, auto workers, mine workers, others — in winning decent wages and benefits for their members. The situation was complicated by the boom-and-bust cycle that plagued the American industry: buyers stockpiling at cheaper prices or when a strike threatened and not buying for periods thereafter. Competition from the highly subsidized Japanese and German mills was another issue. My father worked every hour offered to him and still made very little — even though he had a good bit of seniority and was qualified to do jobs in the high-middle pay scale classes, when available. For instance, in 1966, my father earned about $7,000. The money I made was no fortune, but it helped. Sometime in the early 1970's the USW agreed to a no-strike contract in exchange for many concessions and things got much better for steelworkers. It eliminated boom-and-bust, but too late. The American steel industry was a shadow of what it had been. There was also a world wide "steel crisis" around that time, when supply so exceeded demand that many mills closed. As did my father's, eventually.
Regarding that poll… no offense to Jim, but it's patently ridiculous that Stan Lee is a distant second in the voting (and barely ahead of Quesada at that). It bespeaks the historical ignorance of many fans. I think Stan is sometimes overrated as a writer, but it's impossible to overrate him as an editor, so huge were his contributions in that department.
"[MikeAnon:] See what happens when you let the Devil rewrite history? 🙂 [–MikeAnon]"
They say the Devil has all the best tunes…clearly, he doesn't have all the best comics! 😉
"May was the epitome of propriety back then. Sex before marriage would have been out of the question."
[MikeAnon:] See what happens when you let the Devil rewrite history? 🙂 [–MikeAnon]
Byrne made a conscious decision to write a story that involved Superman in a porn film at a time when comics were still sold on newstands and kids formed a substantial part of the audience.
Byrne has always tried to shoehorn his deviant stories, mysoginistic tales, and sexist views in all ages work while whining when other writers do it. A true hypocrite who never wastes an opportunity to insult the great Jim Shooter (who did a great job of reining in some of Byrne's excesses. To be fair though a lot of Byrne's stuff under SHooter was better than the dreck he would later publish and his bitter divorce probably soured him on women even more later in life).
A while ago, I read GI Joe and the Transformers Issue 3 and came across a message from you where you touched upon how you wrote comics both out of enjoyment and to help your struggling family, something that touched me deeply. You also mentioned how Spider-Man was your favourite character and that you could relate to him because he and Aunt May had money problems just like your family did.
There are a couple of questions that I was wondering if you could please answer for me Jim: what were the wages like for steelworkers when your father was working in that industry? I remember reading some articles which stated that American steelworkers were (and are) well paid, but based on your own experiences, do you feel that there is much validity to that claim? It saddens me that at a time when America was said to have the highest standard of living in the world there were many who did not share in that affluence. I'm glad that things got better for you.
I meant "hear". It was very early, I am in a different time zone and I didn't proof read. I shouldn't post until after I drink a 5-Hour. I switched to Sanka so…have a heart.
As always, Ole, but I did notice that those who voted for Jim also simply posted the words "Jim Shooter" as their comments, clearly counting on those words speaking for themselves, as they do. I imagine there were some who voted for others on the list and who needed to go long-winded in order to justify their pick.
Maybe Byrnes story was too intense for a kids audience but the question becomes ;was the comic audience still full of young kids when he did the Barda porn story? Or is that type of story a taboo subject?
I dont know who was the best or worst EIC in Marvel's history per se.
I do know my favorite stretches were under Stan Lee and Jim Shooter
Ole M. Olsen
Unfortunately, there's some of the usual bull in the comments section of the poll.
Jim, Great to see you dominate that poll on "Who Was The Best Marvel EIC?" Well deserved.
Thank you, Rob. I knew the general lines of what JMS was trying to do but not the details of why Quesada overruled such changes. As you say, the original concepts are far from good stories either.
It's not alleged editorial inteference with JMS. It is acknowledged editorial interference
thoiugh i dont think the stories would be much better had they run the way he wanted
(1) he wanted Gwen's kids to be Peter's. He would not have known they existed and she was killed by the Goblin before he was told by her, and presumably the Goblin raised, and warped them. Quesada vetoed that so they became norman's kids.
Apparently he regretted this because he says he was told he could undo it, but then was not allowed to undo it with One More Day.
(2) as far as One More Day, Quesada claims that he and Straczynski made plans to resurrect Gwen Stacy alongside Harry Osborn in the final chapter. This plot twist was discarded after numerous Marvel editors and writers lobbied for the character to remain dead. According to Quesada, Straczynski's original script for the storyline's fourth issue involved changes to continuity going as far back as 1971. Peter would have helped Harry Osborn get into rehab for his drug addiction immediately, which would have allowed a number of rewrites. Mary Jane would have remained in a relationship with Harry, Gwen would not have been killed and ultimately Peter's marriage to Mary Jane would not have taken place. Quesada realized that these changes would have far-reaching consequences for both historical and forthcoming storylines, so he made the decision to change Straczynski's story. While Peter and Mary Jane were to have remained a couple for the purposes of back-story, they were simply not a married couple. Quesada, answering questions for Comic Book Resources, said every story that happened in the Spider-Man canon still "counted", with the only change being that, due to the world's newly-revised memories, Peter and Mary Jane did not marry due to some unknown incident and the official unmasking of his identity to the public during the 2007 Civil War mini-series has been forgotten."
I dont think i really got the Venus Butterfly reference in that issue when I read it at 10. I knew they were going to have sex but not what that was.
Still, I think JMS and Michilienie wrote a very good young couple in Peter and MJ.
JMS wrote very emotional scenes between them. The dialogue was excellent
Ole M. Olsen
"Sex is just biology, but the concern parents have is that it is being introduced to an immature mind too early. Kids are not properly using the information they see or hear."
I quite agree! I was thinking more about the kind of puritan attitude that "children" (anyone under 25, I think 🙂 ) will be "corrupted" if they should happen to be exposed to anything remotely reminiscent of sex, aka "filth".
It's not quite as bad here (in Norway), but generally few people lifts an eyelid no matter how much violence you show on TV. But sex? Remember Janet Jackson's nipple? It seemed like the world was about to end.
“The Barda scene in that Action book supported how degenerate the villain was in the story. He was a sex fetish supplier for Darkseid in his younger days. Brynes personal life is not our business.”
Sleez was created by John Byrne. I’m no DC expert (I’m a Marvel fan), I have not read the New Gods titles entirely, but I cannot remember any other reference to porn business in Apokolips. One writes what one wants. Byrne wanted to write about Big Barda and Superman in a XXX flick, as much as he wanted to write about Wanda victimizing Wonder Man or sex in Next Men.
I am a fan of much of Byrne’s work, but it is clear that the women are portrayed as mentioned by Chad above.
One of the things I like best about Mr. Shooter's run on Star Brand is that good intentions, combined with ultimate power, can still lead to disaster. It's a very Buddhist concept: Connell's got to overcome his ignorance, sentimentality, and irresponsibility in order to live up to his potential as a man and as a god-thing.
Coming back to the series after many years, I was at first annoyed by how much time gets devoted to the guy's love life, but all of it serves to illustrate his moral failings. In particular, Ken extorts sex out of Debbie by holding forth the prospect of a committed relationship, which we know (based on his infidelity to Barb) he's unwilling and maybe unable to honor.
What's really striking in Star Brand is how f*cking cynical it is about love and relationships. Ken is a douche bag, but the men around him are even worse. Debbie's so needy it's pitiful: unconditional love is arguably a bad thing. The only character who's sexually adult is Barb, but arguably she's using a honey trap to lure Ken into becoming a co-parent to her kids.
I'm extremely tired of seeing guns and murder in every other TV or movie drama. I'm bored with it. I don't think that's a healthy reaction for me to have and it's definitely not healthy for a child's mind.
I disassemble a portion of the gas meter on the side of our house with a screwdriver at age three. My mind was not mature enough to know how to use the information I had seen. The gas company had to be called to repair the problem. Sex is just biology, but the concern parents have is that it is being introduced to an immature mind too early. Kids are not properly using the information they see or hear.
Superheroes appealed to me and acted as a role model to overcome and do what's right. I guess John Byrne wants kids to become a porn star if he feels his Superman story was suitable for them.
@ Ole re: Star Brand:
Curious that Byrne would say he didn't intend to take "cheap shots" at Mr. Shooter. He immediately vaporized Mr. Shooter's home town (okay, maybe implicit in the first run) and then turned Shooter's semi-autobiographical character into a psychotic, totalitarian maniac who could not brook creative dissent. Very cheap shots in my opinion. No class.
But praise where it's due. Blowing up a major city by accident is exactly the type of thing that would happen in this setting, and managed to lurch the setting into gear more effectively than the "White Event" did. Also, prior to Byrne's run, the New Universe kind of teased its younger readers (me at the time) with the promise of super heroics. Byrne's run made it clear that was never going to happen. Which at least was honest.
More on Mr. Shooter's run on Star Brand in a minute…
Ole M. Olsen
Re. Star Brand: I've always loved Star Brand! Still do. 🙂 I ordered an autographed #1 when Jim was recently at Mile High getting writer's cramp. Sadly, really, it was cheap.
I loved Shooter and JRJR's issues, and – although it may not be a popular point of view here – I liked Byrne's issues as well.
(I like most of Byrne's work, and try to separate the man from his work. I mean, his tales about Jim just seem mean-spirited, don't make sense for the most part and don't seem to hold water either, but he's created a lot of enjoyable comic books).
It would indeed be interesting to know where Jim had intended to take the book, and I'd have preferred to see THAT. But Byrne's direction worked too, IMHO. (It was certainly a lot better than the direction most of the Valiant books took after Jim was fired). The Old Man certainly looked a lot like Ken Connell from the beginning. 🙂
Byrne says a bit about Star Brand here:
Besides the usual Shooter bashing, he writes of his run that "I followed thru on the character arc I felt Shooter had established for Connell. One of the rules I set for myself, in fact, was that I would not use the book to take cheap shots at Shooter. Revenge, as they say, is a dish best eaten cold."
In general, I think the New Universe was a good idea that wasn't very well executed for the most part. Only after half the titles were cancelled did it seem to take on a "universe-wide" direction.
Star Brand and Gruenwald's D.P.7 (another favourite of mine) were about the only titles that seemed to have a direction from the beginning.
Re. sex in comics:
I don't really mind anything that serves to develop a story. Sex and all the complications surrounding it is obviously a natural part of human life (or if isn't, then we wish it was… even despite the complications), so the chances that sex could serve a story are indeed present. There are a lot of other stuff in present day "decompressed" comics that don't serve any kind of story whatsoever.
(I don't really like the word "decompressed". It makes it sound like something was "compressed" to begin with and that they've "fixed" it).
I don't think "graphic" sex scenes are very interesting (or relevant to the story) in mainstream comics. But in general, the most "harmful" thing about kids (I mean somewhat older kids) seeing stuff that relates to sex on TV, in movies or for that matter comics, is their embarrassment if their parents are around.
I've always failed to understand why what is basically biology is so supposedly harmful to see, yet violence, hatred, torture and murder is just harmless entertainment.
I'm going to take the low road here. A few years back I saw Joe Quesada on "The Colbert Report". At the time I was a periphery comic reader; still am, I guess. I knew who he was, and from my limited point of view didn't like the direction he had taken Marvel. So I un-muted and paid closer than usual attention to the interview. 30 seconds in and my first reaction: stunned silence. 2 minutes in-"This guy is EIC of Marvel Comics?!?!". I don't remember the particulars of the interview; I think it had something to do with the rationale behind putting every top tier character in The Avengers and the "Civil War" crossover, but don't quote me. Maybe he was trying (too hard) to be "kewl", but now when I here his name I automatically get a mental image of Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
The Barda scene in that Action book supported how degenerate the villain was in the story. He was a sex fetish supplier for Darkseid in his younger days. Brynes personal life is not our business.
Great post as usual Jim!
The Superman/Big Barda porno scene is a classic example of an immature writer like John Byrne trying (and failing) to write about sex in a 'edgy' way.
If you look back at his treatment of women in comics, Byrne shows a disturbing pattern of victimazation, abuse, rape, and young women 'falling' for older men (Byrne has stated that this is a sad little fantasy of his on his forum).
Byrne's bitter divorce probably plays a role in this but it is a shame that he portrays garbage like this in an all ages medium. Especially since the old hypocrite often whines about how comics are no longer appropriate for kids.
Byrne is the classic puritan figure condenming others while he secretly loathes himself for thinking dirty thoughts on his own.
Yeah, it was a strange and unexpected ending to that tale…kind of like a comic book! Closure is very nice to have and something you rarely get in this world…so I'll take it where I can get it.
By the by, nice to see you getting your props on that CBR forum poll.
RE: "People have already been saying this, but I'll add my voice: I don't think a (tasteful) sex scene necessarily has to be integral to the story, either. It can serve several other functions, like setting the mood and style of the story or the entire fictional universe, giving the reader a sense of what kind of world this is (all the more so if it is fantasy or science fiction, and the entire cultural make-up of the society depicted is very different from ours). The more important the characters' emotional journey and relation to events are, the more appropriate any kind of emotional (incl. sexual) elements will be, Elfquest being a prime example."
Sigh. Key words: "It can serve several other functions…" That's the point! Serving a function. If a scene, a sex scene or otherwise, can, in Mark Twain's words, "…exhibit sufficient excuse for being there." then it works, it belongs. See my answer to Dusty.
RE: "The Peter and Mary Jane scene was part of the story, as they just got married and their relationship as newly weds was needed for character development."
You're missing the point. It's easy to come up with a scene that is germane to serve the need for character development. Could be a scene just as "shocking," just as sex-related or more so, if you like. So why not do it skillfully and well? I can think of hundreds of ways to do it. So could you. Irrelevant is irrelevant.
RE: "Have you seen the latest poll at the CBR forums, JIM?
"Everybody still knows who the best was, and I'll bet most of Quesada's votes are from the bootlickers in his boys club!"
But a good and thoughtful one nonetheless. Thanks.
RE: "Are the items on UGO's list now normal on TV? I have no idea. I hardly ever watch TV — my set can be turned off for months in a row — so maybe my concept of acceptability is out of date."
Prime time TV used to be a fairly clear barometer of acceptability for all-ages publications. These days, I'm not so sure. HBO, ShowTime and others, and cable/satellite in general have warped the yardstick. However, when I say prime time TV, I mean major broadcast networks. So I'm old. Sue me.
RE: Millie the Model/Millie Shuriff: Could be a connection. It's not a stretch at all that Millie's name was appropriated by Stan.
RE: "The name Kin'thea is interesting because it restores the original initial [k] of the original Greek Κυνθία Kynthía and combines the first syllable with θεά theá "goddess." What does the apostrophe between "n" and "t" represent?"
I threw in that apostrophe in the hopes that it would cause people to pronounce the name Kin-THEa rather than KINthea.
Tales of Star Brand are in the queue. Thanks.
Nice to see the lack of openly gay characters at Marvel while Jim was EiC being used as another stick to beat him with, by assuming he must be homophobic. I've always assumed it was more a result of different times…remember, these were the days when AIDS was seen as a "gay plague"…and, besides, there was a lot less emphasis on sex and sexuality in comics all round in those days. I mean, there were any number of minor characters whose orientation was never even alluded to: while it can be assumed that most or all of these were heterosexual, they really could have been anything, it just wasn't mentioned as it wasn't relevant to the story.
People have already been saying this, but I'll add my voice: I don't think a (tasteful) sex scene necessarily has to be integral to the story, either. It can serve several other functions, like setting the mood and style of the story or the entire fictional universe, giving the reader a sense of what kind of world this is (all the more so if it is fantasy or science fiction, and the entire cultural make-up of the society depicted is very different from ours). The more important the characters' emotional journey and relation to events are, the more appropriate any kind of emotional (incl. sexual) elements will be, Elfquest being a prime example.
I'll also echo others' voices in regard to the Venus Butterfly scene in Amazing Spider-Man, which was very appropriate and funny in the specific context, and ended up being quite a memorable scene. Those Michelinie/McFarlane issues are some of the last classic Spidey stories as far as I am concerned.
Strazynski, when he did Spider-Man, had a scene where a villain accused Spider-Man, on public TV, of being a sexual pervert. That, I did not think was appropriate for an all-ages audience (or for a Spider-Man story in general). But of course, that was in later years, where most readers are adult anyway.
The recent instances of Starfire's sexual attitude have been very disappointing, too. She is now portrayed as a sexpot cynic, with none of the innocence and harmony she used to exude. Whether she is just badly written or it is supposed to be the way her character has developed over time (which, to a degree, is still badly written), it is certainly unsatisfying for those of us craving proper stories and proper characterization.
The Peter and Mary Jane scene was part of the story, as they just got married and their relationship as newly weds was needed for character development.
Have you seen the latest poll at the CBR forums, JIM?
Everybody still knows who the best was, and I'll bet most of Quesada's votes are from the bootlickers in his boys club!
That was a greatly edited post above to get the word count down..
I'm a bit desensitized to sex in comics. I'm attracted to the idealized female form. I like seeing healthy and fit characters. I don't really have a fascination in seeing their bedroom antics. As said above, I think James Bond movies introduce sexuality in a suitable way. James Bond represents a character that revolves around shallow sexuality. His wife was murdered a deep emotional relationship is his one true weakness.
I'm not really interested in having every mainstream superhero portrayed in the same manner. I was tired of Peter David writing every character with a sarcastic wit. I like a little more diversity from characters. Introducing elements such as this across the spectrum diminishes a character's individuality because it is limited by a writer's own imagination of what a relationship or sexual encounter should be. That can drastically differ from what a reader expects. I think there is a huge opportunity for disappointment. One perverted perspective from a writer can taint a character permanently. Once a reader envisions Spider-man suspended from the ceiling having sex, it's really difficult to erase that vision from your mind. Keeping sexuality in the shadows allows the readers to define the characters based upon their normal behavior. Much in the same way a person relates to their parents.
By all means, James Bond's behavior is relevant to a story. In many cases with other characters… it's not. Tony Stark did not show the behavior of a playboy in the comics when I grew up. I would have expected the limits to be pushed. It would undermine Captain America's character to show him as a playboy or someone with loose morality in a relationship.
In the movie Mallrats, Stan lee is asked about superheroes and their sex lives. I liked his response. He didn't answer. The speculation is more amusing that having it nailed down and in print.
I would like to see stories written that don't have to be censored to protect children. A story can be entertaining and intelligent for adults while still being suitable for children.
I'm not saying there isn't room for all types of literature with all types of character exploration. Cafeteria food tends to be bland because it has to appeal to large numbers of people that may have food allergies or sensitivities. I am suggesting that some mainstream comics become a little more bland so they can appeal to larger audiences. Once an audience is rebuilt and consumers know they can find something suitable for them and their kids, there is plenty of room to create all sorts of characters with their own peculiar quirks be it sexual or not.
The alternative is to write stories as graphic and detailed as you like, know that it's being introduced to an already small demographic audience and accept that order numbers will not be enough to sustain it. Neither option is good, but reigning in the content (pasteurizing it) for the masses at least gets the hobby poised to acquire more consumers. Somebody will have to take that step eventually.
(Continued from above.)
I am reminded of the story you've told about Spider-Man's illegitimate child:
I said, no. Tell you what, do that same story, call him Arachnid Man, do it for Epic. And everybody will really know that it's Spider-Man. He said, "Why not?" I said, "Look, we have licensed Spider-Man for Underroos. We have things in the contract that say we won't do things like that." I said, "Can you imagine, on a slow news day, the president of Union underwear wakes up and there on CNN, they're talking about Spider-Man fathering an illegitimate child. All over the Bible Belt, Underroos are being pulled off the shelves. … The people who own this company have put me here in order to keep you from doing that. Do that in the adult line for Epic. These just aren't our characters and we can't just mess around with them like that. We do have obligations. I didn't carve them, but they're there."
I don't think there's anything that shouldn't be done in the medium of comics apart from libel. But as you explained above, established characters have limits. Or used to. Does Marvel still "have things in the contract that say we won't do things like that"? Or have comics slipped so far off people's radar that nobody cares anymore? In any case, I think that with great power — the opportunity to add to existing superhero mythology — comes great responsibility.
If the illegitimate parenthood story wasn't any good if the father were Arachnid-Man instead of Spider-Man, then it wasn't good as a story. Would anyone have paid attention to the disasters that were Rise of Arsenal #3 (in the UGO list) and Batman: The Widening Gyre #6 if they didn't involve Speedy (now Arsenal) and Batman?
Real stories don't rely on name recognition. Nobody had ever heard of Peter Parker until 1962. Yet millions know his origin 49 years after it was published. Stories resonate; stimuli fade.
I was puzzled by Defiant1's comment back when I first read it, because I couldn't think of anything in your recent work that was "seedier."
And still, I have done nothing in any story for DH that can't be shown on prime time TV.
I'd say the same about your recent LSH work.
Are the items on UGO's list now normal on TV? I have no idea. I hardly ever watch TV — my set can be turned off for months in a row — so maybe my concept of acceptability is out of date.
The anonymous comment about your LSH is even more puzzling.
Millie Shuriff lives again in the 30th century! Could Millie the Model be named after her?
The name Kin'thea is interesting because it restores the original initial [k] of the original Greek Κυνθία Kynthía and combines the first syllable with θεά theá "goddess." What does the apostrophe between "n" and "t" represent?
Thanks for the three-in-one post.
After seeing photos of the VALIANT/DEFIANT/Broadway reunion, I thought, "There's more?" Yes!
I had wondered if you had read Tipler's book before you launched DEFIANT, but The Physics of Immortality actually came out in 1994. Oops. AFAIK, the DEFIANT universe was the first comic book universe with its own cosmology from the start. Quantum Queen goes all the way back to the first Adult Legion story you did in 1966, so you've been interested in physics for a very long time.
I had never heard of almost all of the scenes in that UGO article. Speaking of Quantum Queen, did you see what Doug Moench did to one of your Wanderers (not QQ) on page 8? Did you and/or Weisinger have plans for the Wanderers? (Sorry, I don't have my Showcase reprint of your story on hand right now. Maybe there's a caption mentioning how they'll appear again.)
Do readers really think the scenes in UGO's list are sexy rather than merely sex-related?
Thanks for mentioning me. The "stimulation" is two-fold here. The sight of childhood favorites engaging in "mature" behavior (note the scare quotes) apparently entertains some segment of the audience. Take away the childhood favorite factor, and some of the "magic" is gone. Who would be amused by the "Venus butterfly" line if it were said by some no-name guy to some no-name gal? But if Peter Parker says it to Mary Jane Watson-Parker, then it's soooo funny. Hardy har.
You asked, "is it about getting that little personal fantasy into print?" I suspect that is often the case. I see "heroes" doing things — in and out of the bedroom — that make me think "fanfic." A friend has called modern comic book writing "professional fanfic." Fan fiction at its worst is about manipulation of preexisting icons rather than creation. Playing with other people's toys, making them do things those other people would never let them do.
I've never been bothered by what Alan Moore did with his Watchmen characters. Yes, they were loosely based on the Charlton characters, but they were his to use as he pleased. Moore's work might shock, but shock is not his primary goal. He's too good to stoop to that level.
(To be continued.)
Not that it would have made any difference, Mark, but I had no idea you wrote that scene. My objection is not about age-appropriateness or raunchy-ness. It is a shock scene. Fine says I, if pertinent. My objection is that it seemed out of character for Aunt May. When I was the arbiter of such things, I would have argued against the scene. May was the epitome of propriety back then. Sex before marriage would have been out of the question. Maybe the "official" perception of Aunt May had changed by the time you wrote that. If so, apologies.
I recently read your issues of the ol' Star Brand series, which handles sexuality surprisingly directly for a mid-80's comic marketed heavily toward kids. The protagonist is constantly getting laid, or trying to get laid, but while this sometimes seems gratuitous in any single issue, over the 7-issue arc, his behavior demonstrates some very serious character flaws. Which he wants to fix, but not enough to, y'know, actually fix them. Which is a really disturbing weakness of character for a dude with ultimate power.
So: it's possible that some of this stuff works much better when viewed as part of an extended storyline than just as a single scene.
PS. If at all possible, I'd love to know what the hell was "really" going on in the Star Brand series: I've read the issues you worked on several times, and I still can't figure out what the hell was up with the "Old Man" character, or where you had hoped to go with the series.
[MikeAnon:] In the list of "sex done well" scenes in comics I wanted to toss in John Byrne's FANTASTIC FOUR off-camera frolickings of Reed & Sue in their Negative Zone adventure, and Johnny and Alicia at her apartment (discovered soon after by a really angry Ben). I totally recommend the John Byrne FF Omnibus that Marvel recently published, collecting all of Byrne's FF work. [–MikeAnon]
Might I also point out, as a counter to Jim's depiction of sex and such in THAT story that even he said was indefensible in a recent post (and rightly so), I do like the way that his two new super-villains created during the Secret Wars wound up dating the Molecule Man and the Absorbing Man. While villains are villains, most do not see themselves as "evil", and it served to humanise these established characters, and the new female villains also, to see scenes like Molecule Man and Volcana's run-of-the-mill domesticity.
"When handled skillfully, unnecessary bits tend to make a story more realistic, as the real world is full of interactions that "don't go anywhere."…To that point, a lot of decompressed comics employ these sort of "talking-heads" scenes and I know you are not a fan."
[MikeAnon:] Nor am I a fan, mainly because it forces me to buy 6 issues of a comic to get maybe 3 issues of story. Couple cases in point: I just read Bendis' first Heroic Age volumes of AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS. $40 I paid for those two books. I should have paid $20 total because those 6-issue arcs would have been 3-issue arcs without all the fluff. That's the problem with Bendis' writing — you can buy a whole run of something, and in the end, nothing happened, and nothing was resolved. Look at the first arc of Heroic Age AVENGERS especially — you can throw out that whole story, and you'll never miss it. Throwaway stories like that should be one issue, not six. So aggravating. Compare that with the first volume of AVENGERS ACADEMY, written by Christos Gage. 7 single-issues stories, and something massive, even if it's only on a character level, happens in each issue. *That* is the kind of storytelling we need in comics, not this decompressed crap. [–MikeAnon]
Great breakdown, JayJay…wonderful analysis. I do agree with the point that a couple others were making above that, in serial fiction, sometimes you need scenes that don't necessarily serve the story you're currently telling, but serve the overall storyline, provide insight to the characters, or set up the building blocks for future stories.
As a big fan of Neal Stephenson, I'm pretty leniant regarding whether scenes "serve the story" or not.
Reservoir Dogs is as close to screenwriting 101 as it gets, with skillful, brilliant touches thrown in. The movie starts with Quentin Tarantino's character talking about the song "Like a Virgin" and his take on it. It sets up that these men (experienced gangsters) are about to experience a painful job like it was their first time (Tarantino's character is even killed when the heist goes wrong) and the further music discussion sets up something central to the entire film… songs. Unlike many films in which the musical score is done or chosen later, every song in the film is central and pertinent to what goes on, especially "Stuck in the Middle With You" used in the torture scene. It's a brilliant device that I loved from the start. One guy in the diner brings up the radio station that is playing all these good songs and the "Super Sounds of the 70's weekend" playlist becomes the soundtrack for the film. Even the word "weekend" sets up when the entire situation takes place. I've always loved Tarantino's ability to blend pop culture references in with his storytelling. And from the first word in the film, Tarantino sets himself up as the storyteller who uses crude terms to get across key concepts.
In the diner scene, one by one we are introduced to the different characters, their loyalties and to the friction in their interaction. It sets up the key point of the men's personalities that come into play later. Lawrence Tierney has the loyalty of "psycho" Michael Madsen,who shows almost an eagerness to kill right from the start, but Joe's (Tierney's) authority is challenged (albeit affectionately) by Harvey Keitel. We get the (correct) impression that Tierney and Keitel go way back. Tim Roth is just a listener here and for most of the film. Which is the first clue to his role in the drama. He seems to have a bond with Keitel and we later find out why. Poor Mr. Orange is always the odd man out and even his name reflects it.
Even the discussion about tipping the waitress sets up the viewer's understanding of how the characters will act later. And it piques your curiosity when Steve Buscemi is called Mr, Pink, the only reference to the heist that is dropped in that opening sequence. Steve Buscemi's character is shown to be cold and unsympathetic, at odds with his ironic nickname, Mr. Pink. Mr. Pink is the ultimate cold, out-for-himself member of the group and that is set up in the waitress tipping discussion.
And the diner scene set up also allows Tarantino the freedom to play with the rest of the film out of time sequence. I could analyze this film all day and come away with even more admiration for it. It's an expertly written piece of work.
The brilliance of that scene in the diner is that Tarantino was such a skillful writer that you couldn't tell the diner scene was anything but meaningless banter, yet not one line of that scene is wasted. Every single word sets up key interactions that are expanded on later. If you watch the film entirely again and then watch that opening scene, you can see just what Tarantino was setting up.
Reservoir Dogs is a good example that reinforces Jim's point exactly. There's not a wasted scene in the entire film. And you never see the bones, the structure. The film is so entertaining that you never even think about the skill it took to write and direct it. Don't even get me started on the symbolism and storytelling of the camera work. : )
Oy, hard to stay current. In JSBlogtimecontinuum, I've just finished reading the Comics Code Authority statement, which is a bit of a revelation. It sent me scurrying back to the beginning of the Marvel Age of Comics. Honestly, really appreciated the Hank Pym panel-above, as Ant-Man was the first great hero created, after the Fantastic Four, in Tales to Astonish #27. All this after foolishly purchasing three issues of DC's The Shade, thinking it was about Ditko's Shade the Changing Man, and discovering it was about another character entirely, and still possessed much gruesome material that would never pass the CCA.
So, anyway, not really into Jim's defense of his sex-writing, which I didn't know was required, but appreciative of the chance to scour over one of his scripts. Oh, by the way, best sex ever in comics remains Alan Moore/Stephen Bissette/John Totleban Swamp Thing #34, bar none, sorry, and totally essential to the story.
Not really current with Spider-Man or later LSH, so can't speak to that, but definitely liked the nuance in Jim's script. Nothing inappropriate there. Jim representation of Legion-jealousy, from the script: a-one cool. Thanks Jim.
Now, to me, the Comics Code Authority Criteria was kind of glossed over, and going back to The Shade, a bit, may need a re-think in terms of regaining public support for comics.
I totally understand that the main buying audience for comics nowadays is adults, which thereby deserves content to fit their tastes, however, there was a lot of bad that was curtailed by adhering to the Criteria. I'd only got a few pages into The Shade, when I have to deal with weapons-fire blowing holes in people's chests. Dang, I thought I was going to get something decent, and will go back and try to read the books, despite my misgivings.
But once upon a time, the creative-team actually had to come up with clever storytelling, which would not offend the average non-thrill seeking public. Marvel Comics of the 60s did that amazingly well. They could be avant-garde without being offensive. They could be intelligent, without speaking down to the reader.
I'd read that the last publisher gave up on CCA this year. When I looked at early 50's Atlas creepiness on Strange Tales covers before the Code, and then afterwards, how it brought up Marvel. Now, it seems to have just reverted, and it's to that makes me offended, and makes me wonder if it isn't time to do it all over again.
Thanks, Jerry. That's nice to know.
Regarding the Superman & Big Barda porno comic that John Byrne did. You are right that it seems like a way of getting a personal fantasy into print.
On his message board he wrote that he once dated someone 40 years younger than him. He was 58 years at the time he said that. You do the math on that and then remember every issue he's written with a teen girl getting together an adult male.
BTW, I noticed that some of the cover are for "Magnus Robot Fighter" made it into this years Spectrum, the collection for best science fiction and fantasy illustration. Kudoes to you and your artist collaborator!
I love the Kitty and Peter scene, it was a logical conclusion to a b plot line that was running through the series, and was beautifully drawn(and tastefully shaded). The phasing orgasm was a funny touch, as was Wolverine's "about time" comment…but it was not overly explicit, which it easily could have been.
Don't forget that after that scene we all had to scratch our eyes out.
To be fair, the "Pete walks in on Aunt May" scene, mine, is pertinent to the plot and to Pete and May's relationship. It was also just damn funny. But in retrospect, I agree that it may not have been the most age-appropriate Spidey moment ever. (If it makes anyone feel any better, that's as raunchy as it got; everyone had a nice, grownup conversation about it immediately following, which I thought really helped de-sensationalize it.)
I love the blog and read it daily, but I have to disagree on one point: You can't really compare a movie and a comic book title. There is no fat in a movie because of the time constraints;they have to cram a whole lot into an hour and a half or two hours. It's more like a one-shot. Having to deal with a continuing narrative is completely different isn't it? They don't just tell a story and it's done. It goes on and on and on. They really have to flesh the characters out quite a bit more. Maybe I'm looking at it from the wrong angle.
Again, I really enjoy the Blog!
Maybe it's my prudish side showing through, or my Catholic upbringing, but, in comics aimed at children/suitable for all ages at least, such as the major titles at Marvel and DC used to be to the start of the 90s or so, there should be no graphic representations of sex, allusions to acts such as fellatio, any form of kinkiness, heroes should not be implied as using others in order to satisfy their urges (I'm not saying two characters have to be married in order to have intercourse: for one thing, it was heavily implied that, for a few years in the early 80s, Spider-Man and the Black Cat were having regular sex, but this was never shown, rather implied, and it was consentual between two adults). Take the James Bond films, for example: I watched the Connery and Moore films as a kid (and Lazenby's sole outing), and, despite being very sheltered, I was able to watch these without being somehow corrupted. It was always more a case of a sheet draped here, a caress there, the occasional "oh, James", but it was more about what was hinted at than what was shown, and, for the most part, sex in mainstream comics used to be like that too, allowing older readers to fill in the blanks if they so wished, but being subtle enough for your kids to be able to read the comics also.
This is kind of off topic here but it was a nice resolution/interaction that happened because of this blog: http://jbonner71.blogspot.com/2011/12/addendumretraction.html
I also feel not every single scene has to bring something to the story.
On the same Amazing Spider-Man 300 that I mentioned earlier, there is a scene between MJ and Aunt May. MJ ask May why she doesn’t visit them anymore and Aunt May answers that she doesn’t want to interfere in the marriage (remember this was when they were newlyweds). MJ answers that May is very important to them and that on the contrary, they would like to have her closer. This scene, as well as the “rising spirit” does nothing to the story; however both are part of the every-day scenes that made the Parker marriage something so good, people is still angry with its dissolution.
I think one of the high points of the Straczinsky run on Amazing was that he was able to show that Peter an MJ had sex on a regular basis as any married couple and it was never cheap or for the mere shock value. He was writing them as a couple after a long absence of MJ, so it showed how much Peter cared for her. It was beautiful.
Of course that he is the same writer of that scene between Gwenn Stacy and (Tommy Lee Jones) Osborn, and of the I-made- a-pact-with-the-devil-to-end-this-instead-of-divorce, both, allegedly, on editorial mandate. But his stories with the couple were good enough for me.
Charles, I completely disagree with your point in re: Reservoir Dogs. That diner scene is completely necessary. It sets up the entire rest of the movie, sets up the characterizations, and establishes the characters as real people before they're turned into a gang of criminals. The scene serves the story, which I believe is the point Mr. Shooter is trying to make. Every scene should serve the story, or, in the case of serial fiction, set up the next story.
Sexuality is certainly sensationalized in many comics today. But I would like to defend the Spider-Man scene where Peter walks in on his Aunt May and her fiance Jay Jameson. I suppose a lot of readers did find that shocking, but I thought it was relevant to the story in that it showed how Aunt May's new relationship had rejuvenated her health. Aunt May is now depicted as more energetic and active than she ever has been before–volunteering at a local soup kitchen, sticking up for herself, even moving to a new city, because she's now involved in a fulfilling romantic relationship. Showing her in bed with her fiance is just another part of that. I actually find it kind of sweet.
Mr. Shooter, I love your blog and am a fan of a lot of the comics you have written. That said, I tend to disagree with most of your reviews of other folks' comics. I think I figured out where we differ. You wrote:
"Everything shown serves a purpose relevant to the story at hand. Same with Rocky. Or The Wizard of Oz. Or any story written by a skilled professional.
If it’s not necessary, leave it out."
I disagree. When handled skillfully, unnecessary bits tend to make a story more realistic, as the real world is full of interactions that "don't go anywhere." To continue your cinema example… The opening diner scene in Reservoir Dogs. It isn't necessary, but without it the movie would be far less.
To that point, a lot of decompressed comics employ these sort of "talking-heads" scenes and I know you are not a fan. That's fair; that's your preference. For me (and I think a lot of current comics fans,) we like that. Especially in super hero books where we have to greatly suspend our disbelief, it helps ground the story in the real world.
That said, I will definitely agree that not everyone can pull it off. Comics creator kindergarteners will try and it can be a disaster.
Just a thought. Have a wonderful day,
Grant Morrison made an X-Men Annual. There is a scene where Wolverine “smells” her female partner Domino and realizes that she is in “mating season”, then he volunteers in a polite yet pragmatic way. To me it was a very good scene, since it is something two “soldiers” like Wolverine and Domino would be able to discuss and even accept. When your work is deadly dangerous, some basic needs can be discussed and fulfilled like that.
That Pepe le Pew scene actually is an hilarious gag by David Michelinie. One of the few writers that, at least at the beginning of his run, knew how to show the ups and downs of “regular” married life for Spider-Man. Amazing Spider-Man 300 has another scene where MJ poses for Peter (he is depressed) and she ends cheering him up by taking off her blouse. The narrator says “Peter’s spirit slowly begins to rise”. I read that when I was 9 years old. Still, I knew exactly what was happening. Hell I even envied the guy!
In a lot of ways, I think it depends on the style and tone of the story. For example, the comic series "Criminal" is done in the style of noir crime novels and movies, and, let's be honest, noir without sex is like beer without alcohol…it exists, but it misses the point.
Most of the examples shown in the article linked where it's a mainstream super-hero, it always feels shoehorned in.
And, on the Spider-Man example about thew "Venus Butterfly"…that was a topic joke at the time based on an on-going joke on LA Law where the act was never named, and people could imagine what it was. Making the Wikipedia entry a perfect example of missing the point…and showing that when you use topical references, they just don't age well.
I never thought a sex scene had to be vital to the story. It's something that people do to show attraction for each other. I guess pre 80's it all happened off panel as not to shock the little kids. I assumed Johnny Storm and Crystal had sex but it was never depicted in the book.I haven't read the Starfire book that everyone is raving about but , from what I've heard , it sounds completely gratuitous.