Friday, April 20, 2012

Maybe I should schedule a rage dump every Friday...

If you're seeing this post, then Blogger's post schedule function is broken. Which is super-annoying, since I had 42 posts scheduled. And it's a little laggy, and picture uploading is really sketchy: a picture might load, but I have to get it out of the gallery to put back in. And it doesn't appear to have spellcheck anymore, and if your post is on the long side it acts weird...EDIT: And, the sidebar links to some other blogspot sites don't work: it goes there, loads the target site, then comes right back. Super-frustrating, since that's how I read most of the blogs I read. Ah, if only that was the most annoying thing this week.

Over at 4thletter and Comics Alliance, David Brothers has a great piece about Marvel and DC's "exploitative and unjust practices," against Jack Kirby, Alan Moore, and probably others. I respect his opinion and his conviction, but I don't agree. In fact, he actually reversed my opinion on Before Watchmen: I had just thought it was a stupid idea, but now...

Brothers describes Marvel Comics as not "an entity capable of holding a pen and pencil and having ideas." And he's right, it's not: it's a company. Marvel isn't your pal, it isn't someone you can reason with or shame into doing the "right thing," whatever that may be. It's a corporate entity with job one being make money. Not honor Jack Kirby's legacy, not be cool, not even make comics: make money. And Marvel is not going to do anything that is going to interfere with that. Did Kirby get a bad deal? Yes. Did Marvel take unfair advantage? Probably. But Marvel wasn't just going to sit back and lose a ream of characters.

Now here's the problem: I was fed up with Marvel during the Gary Friedrich/Ghost Rider thing. Friedrich is an older gentleman, and not in the best of health. Marvel comes off as a big mean corporation trying to crush anyone who may have a rightful share in their profits. But, Marvel does have the right to try to defend their rights, too. And, if Marvel tried to do anything "cool," like help Friedrich out, or kick something back to Kirby's estate; that could be seen as an admission of guilt or culpability. It could open the doors for anyone and everyone who did anything for the company to come back at them, knives out.

Brothers also suggest Marvel should come to terms, and mend fences, with the Kirby family. In a perfect world, that would be swell. That will never, ever, ever happen. Even if Marvel wanted to. Because, seriously, try to put a price tag on Jack Kirby's legacy. Really. If the Avengers movie was going to make a billion dollars, what percentage of that would you say is due Kirby? Or due Stan Lee, for that matter? (Lee certainly didn't get the shafting Kirby did, but...) Or Don Heck, or any other creators that have worked on the Avengers comics over the years? Never mind whatever contracts they had at the time...Then, figure out where Kirby and everyone's cut comes out of everyone else's cut; and who gets what out of the toys, DVDs, other merchandising...get a pencil, this might take a while. Then negotiate that with everyone else involved. Never. Ever.

Yeah, I wish Marvel had cut a more equitable deal with Kirby all those years ago. At the time, did Marvel's corporate handlers know there would be capital-B billions involved later? Doubtful. I'd love it if Kirby's estate got a piece of the toy sales to, but somehow, I have to think Kirby would be a little ok with the idea of kids with Hulk Hands and Thor hammers and Cap shields wailing on each other. I have to say, I think that's a pretty sweet legacy...

Of course, I say all this, because I plan on seeing the Avengers with my boys; but good lord Marvel pisses me off sometimes. I haven't read Avengers the comic regularly for over five years. Disney XD is apparently going to cancel Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, which I love; possibly to replace it with something more like...Ultimate Spider-Man which, to be kind, isn't to my taste. (I don't expect to love unconditionally everything Marvel does, and it is in their interest to make shows to appeal to different audiences. I still don't think it's very good.) I can't bring myself to care at all about Avengers vs. X-Men. Every time Marvel does something I like, they immediately follow it up with something I hate. Then cancel the thing I liked. And I just wrote a ton of words defending them (or rather, "it") for pushing Jack Kirby down and taking his stuff. Awesome.

And then there's DC, and the company's ongoing tormenting of Alan Moore. Before Watchmen really does seem like a prank that has somehow taken a life of its own; like they told Moore they were going to do it just to see if they could get him to rupture a blood vessel. And trying to build a franchise on something as self-contained as the original Watchmen sounds like trying to build a Lego skyscraper with a bowling ball as your base: there's not much to anchor to and build from. It's a stupid, stupid idea. It's probably not right, either, but it is DC's right to do it. And I reserve the right to pull issues out of the dollar bins in a couple months to make fun of 'em.

But I have to admit, there is a chance--a microscopic, long-shot, hail-mary, don't bet the rent chance--that the various creators on Before Watchmen might somehow succeed and make a franchise of it. It's a boldfaced, shameless cash-grab; but if it entertains readers (or, against all odds, brings in new ones) and sells, isn't that what matters? Well, no, but to the stockholders, I guess.

Ugh, this post is long enough for Blogger to hate it now, so enough. Buy stuff you like. Don't buy stuff you don't. And the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. books are great; they would be an excellent alternative to buying Marvel, DC, or any other books. I think sometimes, if you were to say you aren't buying or reading Marvel or DC books, it's looked at like you were voting Green Party: a waste of a vote...

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

First off, brother I so get how you feel about Blogger sometimes. The process of editing a skit,especially uploading pictures can sometimes be a very long and stressful process for those of us who love to this very thing. I can't tell you(but I am so I contradict myself) how many times I've wanted to smash my laptop or physically strangle the Blogger uploading process. It's just a necessary evil I guess, but you'd think in this day and age,there'd be fewer problems like this. Oh well.

As for the main issue here, I can see it your way on this one, and I'm very glad you've chosen to also address this issue, but I feel Marvel should toss Kirby's estate a friggin' bone or two here. The money the estate has missed out on is fucking pronominal, but I also see your point that if Marvel were to start to compensate some/or even a very select few creators, that would indeed open up hunting season on Marvel's ass for future compensations for every tom, dick, and harry out there that ever once worked for Marvel and got a rough deal. That said, that doesn't mean Marvel can't be the bigger man here and contribute a little something in a special case such as Kirby, you since he created half to most of the characters in their library anyways.

As for Moore, well yes, I think DC really is going out of their way to stick/say F you to Moore here with this whole Watchmen business. I only became intrigued with the nice, pretty covers, but not so much with general idea/concept. I might've toyed with the idea of perhaps at least checking these issues out, but know(even though I don't personally know Alan Moore, but out of respect) will choose to ignore these blatant money-making schemes.

I guess the lesson to be learned and re-learned here today is, that corporations exist SOLELY to make money and make their investors happy, and not to be bothered by the ethical/moral issues the rest of us regular folk bother with.

There, now Blogger can be mad at both of us for a change.