Monday, March 25, 2013

Quotes: Thor Edition

I was a Thor fan as a kid. I fully acknowledge that the Thor film released a couple of years ago was not terribly good. But I love it. Nothing you can say will convince me not to love it.

There is precisely one truly outstanding line in that movie, and when it's uttered by Thor, it feels like a throwaway line:

We drank, we fought, he made his ancestors proud.

It's followed soon after by...

I still don't think you're the god of thunder, but you should be.
--Erik Selvig

Can't wait for The Dark World...

The King!!!!

Walt Simonson's run on Thor has probably been the most influential story in my life.

I detested Stracyzinsky's Thor story. But I loved Olivier Coipel's art.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Superman and Science

A while back I wrote a brief summary of the popular science books that utilize Superman and other superheroes to teach scientific concepts. This method is still at work. In a Scientific American blog, Kyle Hill writes 'Superman Explains Why He Didn't Destroy the Russian Meteor.' You may recall that meteor, hitting the atmosphere above  the town of Chelyabinsk about a month ago. The explosion, in the atmosphere, shattered windows and shook the earth.

So, in order to explain why it would have been a bad idea to destroy the meteor in flight, Kyle imagines Superman telling people why he decided to let the atmosphere take care of it.

“We can only speculate, as no one has ever exploded a bomb of that size at that height,” said the Man of Steel, “but if I punched the meteor where it disintegrated over Chelyabinsk, I probably would have killed people.”

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Artist Chris Sprouse leaves Card Superman Project

Well, looks like the Orson Scott Card controversy has reached a 'to be continued...'. Card's views on gay marriage and his advocacy of overthrowing a government that allows it have caused lots and lots of news outlets to report that some people won't buy or sell a Superman story that he wrote. Then, all of a sudden, the artist of the story, Chris Sprouse, decides he doesn't want to be involved. Sprouse released this statement:

It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I've decided to step back as the artist on this story. The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that's something I wasn't comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them.

 DC Comics reports that they're looking for a new artist, and in the interim they've removed the book from publication. They apparently have no problem with Sprouse's exit.

The links above all lead to news stories on sites that remain objective about the whole situation. There are others, however, who are less objective.

We kind of wish Sprouse had said it was Card’s bigotry that was taking away from the work, not “the media surrounding this story.” But if this get’s DC closer to canning the Ender’s Game scribe, so much the better.

 Wired, tipping their hat a bit, includes the line, "The now non-homophobic Adventures of Superman no. 1 will be launched digitally on April 29, with the print edition following on May 29."

That makes me wonder if a homophobic writer can ever write a non-homophobic story.

Anyway, the whole thing may just be quietly forgotten by DC now that they have an out. How hard will they look for a new artist? To be continued...

I don't think I ever linked to the petition to get DC to remove Card from the project. Here it is, 16,500 signatures strong.

It reads, in part:

We need to let DC Comics know they can't support Orson Scott Card or his work to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens. They know they're accountable to their fans, so if enough of us speak out now, they'll hear us loud and clear.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Card, Superman, Retailers

Comics Alliance has been running a series of interviews with comic book retailers regarding the Orson Scott Card Superman thingie. I linked to the first one here. They've added parts two and three and four.

Part 2 is a conversation with  the manager of Acme comics in North Carolina. It's a lot about how content can affect sales, but the manager ultimately believes his job is to give the choice to his customers, so he'll be stocking the comic in question. Even when he disagrees with the creator or content, it doesn't affect his business practices.

Jermaine Exum:  Just like in the worlds of entertainment and sports, the comics industry is not immune to creators who are divisive or are, in some cases, difficult to support. The moment where a fan must decide if they support the creation or the creator is never fun, nor is it anything you can prepare for until it happens. I myself recently purged my personal collection of the work of a creator I had previously enjoyed, due to his outlook on the industry we are both part of and my interaction with him at conventions. That creator's work is still on prominent display at Acme Comics, and we reorder it regularly as needed.

In the third, with the owners of Challengers in Chicago, we learn that this store is planning on donating all their profits to the LGBT advocacy group called Human Rights Campaign. A couple of relevant passages:

Patrick Brower: It is never our intention to take the choice away from the people who shop with us. Just because we may not be fond of this particular creator's very public personal beliefs doesn't mean fans of Superman that choose to shop at Challengers should be denied the opportunity to get that issue of Adventures of Superman. That we don't want to profit from it is not a good enough reason to not let someone buy it if they want it. Also, that issue is an anthology and Chris Samnee has work in that book. Have you seen his Superman pin-up? It's gorgeous.

W. Dal Bush:This book is a print edition of a digital-first DC superhero comic; it's not Saga. Based on our sales for other digital-first comics, such as Batman Beyond Unlimited or Arrow, we'd have been lucky to sell a dozen copies even if there'd been no controversy regarding the creators involved. While our donation of profits might not be apparent to DC, I don't know that a missing 12 copies would've either. All things being equal, we felt better making a donation and selling the book than boycotting the title.

Part 4 is an interview with Adam Healy, of Cosmic Monkey comics in Oregon. he is carrying the comic because it's his job to provide comics for his customers. Beyond that, here's an interesting statement:

We worry about not being able to satisfy our customers more than losing customers. We stock fairly low numbers on the shelf of most of the books DC and Marvel publish. They put out so many books that they compete against each other and lose. We simply can't afford to stock most books more than lightly since we have no evidence that there is a demand for the product beyond what our pre-orders are for each book. Realistically, without the media attention, an Orson Scott Card-written Superman book is not something that would sell well. Superman is a character that lacks the social relevance he had 75 years ago. People don't know what he stands for or why he does what he does, and current storylines do nothing to address this confusion.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Measure of a Man

I've been thinking about Issue 6 of All-Star Superman a lot lately. I've excised the chapter that focused on it from my book, replacing it with a chapter based on fieldwork instead. I'm contemplating turning the excised chapter into an article, so it's got my attention even though it's gone. And I've been looking over the story.

On top of that, there were the superheroics of early last month. It would seem to work nicely with a line from All-Star issue 6. Clark Kent, delivering a eulogy for his father Jonathan, says: "He taught me that the measure of a man lies not in what he says but what he does." It seems a profound moment.

But it only seems that way. I'm not the only one to find trouble in this, or in other aspects of Morrison's work, but as time goes by I feel like this line in particular just isn't correct.

So, this really isn't a post about Superman.

With that out of the way, the idea at issue in the line--that doing things is more important than saying things--creates a dichotomy between words and actions. We've all heard the notion that 'actions speak louder than words.' There's a hint of this in the old saw that 'seeing is believing,' because it opposes the active seeing to the passive 'hearing about' something (the modern phrase, however, is just half the older version, which told us that "seeing is believing, but touching is for real").

It's a false dichotomy.

Talking is doing. A silly sentence, yes, but it gets right to the point. I'm troubled by the notion that speech isn't an action, that there's no agency behind it. It's right up there in the US Constitution, among the other actions of petition, assembly, and whatnot in the First Amendment. If speaking wasn't an action, then it would have no effect. People wouldn't be motivated by words, or driven to hatred and love. In performance studies, there's a special word for speaking as action: speech act. I dub thee knight. I pronounce you husband and wife. I'm breaking up with you. Some of these are accompanied by actions, but the words are often enough by themselves. Words written, words spoken, words signed...these things can bring us to tears, spur us to victory, put us to sleep, and take away our fears.

And to me, it's interesting that Morrison, a man who makes his living with his output of words, overlooks that when writing Superman's speech.