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Darwyn Cooke on Cape Comix

August 31st, 2010 by | Tags:

I’m still working out my thoughts on this (off the cuff, minute long, at a convention) interview, but I think he makes some interesting points, the sort of things I’d like to see discussed in a long interview.

A few points:
-I think the comment about 45 year old dudes is pretty apt. The realism that comics companies are producing in pursuit of that audience, and I didn’t put realism in scare quotes but I probably should have, is pretty foul. Superhero books don’t do well when you add realism into the mix unless you have the deftest of touches. Doing Politically Pointed Comics with superheroes tends to be loud, dumb, and garish, if not outright disrespectful. Stories about lynchings and gay bashing and whatever else tend to look absolutely ridiculous once some douchebag in tights shows up to save the day. Suspension of disbelief snaps when you introduce a certain level of injustice into the mix. Bank robberies? Sure, we can live with that. Dragging somebody behind a truck until his eyeballs pop out of his skull? I can’t wait to see what JMS is going to do with that in a later issue of Superman!

-Related: if you’re gonna do a superhero comic about the Holocaust… don’t. If you do it anyway… that comic better be better than the Second Coming.

-I think it’s easy to expand Cooke’s comments into being “All comics should be for kids!” That’s not what he’s saying, though, is it? There’s a difference between “for kids” and “appropriate for kids.” There’s nothing in, say, Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto or like, Jeff Parker’s Atlas that makes it for kids, but I’d argue that those books are appropriate for kids. I think that’s what Cooke is talking about–toning down the gross stuff that no one likes anyway except as a sign of superhero decadence and getting back to telling straight up stories. Agree/disagree?

-I think there’s a place for sex and violence in cape comix. Zodiac was a great read and it was super sleazy. I thought that story in Amazing Spider-Man where the Lizard ate a kid was great. But, isn’t that a little creepy? Maybe Spider-Man is a bad example, since he was a hit with college kids and all, but something like Superman or Batman, something that has a tremendous number of children who count themselves as fans… should the main stuff be the kid appropriate books? The ones that are just a little edgy, just adult enough to be interesting, but not so adult that they get all the roving rape gangs and severed heads? Should the side books, the miniseries and all, be the grown up stuff?

More thoughts later, maybe. I honestly have a lot of contradictory feelings about where comics should go (more war comics! more crime comics! stop making new versions of old characters! more black characters! stop making crap black characters!) and I’m sure some of what I think doesn’t even make sense.

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100 comments to “Darwyn Cooke on Cape Comix”

  1. To be fair, it’s not all that hard to be better than Second Coming.
    (I’m sorry.)


  2. I think everybody deserve to have comics for is age, like the old french magazine Tintin said on the cover: for 7 to 77 years old!

    I’m 46 and I love comics, but I can’t read some titles because they are to “naif” (just for kids), and I would like to see really adult comics on the market! I’m not talking about sex, I’ talking about ideas and stories! Ok… if they have some nudes in the storie, they must not be “cheap”… I don’t know if you understand what I’ tryng to say…

    Best regards


  3. I think that you are kidding yourself about Spider-Man being different from Superman and Batman. Spidey has four decades of cartoons plus Marvel Adventures books and video games behind him. Lizard eating a kid is exactly what Cooke is talking about.


  4. That’s the thing… we all have this feeling that the overall character of the big two is unacceptable, yet we all have these stories that we like that seemingly fall on the “wrong” side of things (and I don’t just mean this usual line that Moore and Miller are the only ones “allowed” to do this stuff). And the joke of it all is that teens probably would be MORE likely to read comics if they knew how “extreme” they were, but then they’re too busy sexting each other in the first place (shudder).


  5. The thing is that if there’s a real audience anywhere for Lizard Eats a Baby comics it’s kids, or at least middle schoolers.

    It’s a shame that we’ve warped our definition of “adult” to include juvenile shit like that because of overgrown babies who variously can’t handle the thought of it or can’t get enough of it.


  6. I disagree with the holocaust comment. Comic books are just another way to tell a story or an idea. See Dave Sim’s Judenhauss as the most recent example I can think of.


  7. @Clobbertron: I said “superhero comic,” not “comic book.”


  8. Hi David

    I see this little sound bite is making the rounds and there seems to be some confusion regarding some of what I said.

    My comment about making a character a lesbian has outraged some so I thought the following clarification might help-

    Consider this- After sixty years of being a lesbian, a beloved character is made straight for sales or creative purposes- wouldn’t that be wrong as well?

    I think gay characters are an important and welcome part of any contemporary expression. What I want is to see creators and publishers creating new characters that are gay and lesbian, and spend the decades needed creating and supporting stories about these characters. It strikes me as opportunistic and somewhat wrongheaded to take someone else’s creation and after decades of established character action make that drastic a change.
    I’ve always believed that if another creator’s character can’t bear the spectrum of expression I need to reach, then I don’t use that character. Find another or create a new one.

    If you tie my comment into the context of the other things I’m saying, I’m also not sure what the corporate motivation is for such changes. If we look at the reading demographics for superhero comics, this becomes an intriguing
    topic.

    Hope this helps add some understanding to my point. Feel free to post this around to other sites that may find this of interest.

    Best,
    Darwyn


  9. I’m sure Darwyn Cooke doesn’t give a shit about what I think, but people come out of the closet in real life all the time, and Batwoman was essentially a new character, just in an old role. I don’t see how a new, gay Batwoman is any different from the new, hispanic Blue Beetle, who definitely isn’t Dan Garrett.

    In 1956, they introduced a new Flash who was a cop rather than a scientist in university. Where’s the hate for that? What separates that from a new, gay Batwoman? I’d seriously love to know.


  10. And before people ask: YES, Kate Kane is separate from Kathy Kane. Kathy’s appearing coming up in Batman Inc. as a separate character with a separate, non-lesbian history.


  11. I got the distinct impression he was referring to Rene Montoya not Batwoman. He said a character who has been around for ten years. Batwoman has been around far longer than that. But has been on the shelf the last ten years except lately. Rene was created in the 90′s.


  12. I could have *sworn* he said sixty years. If so, I rescind my statement, but considering I’ve never seen Paul Dini and Bruce Timm swearing up and down online about how Greg Rucka gayed up their character, I don’t think there’s any twisting the creator’s intentions going on. I’m also always very wary of arguments based on “the original creator’s intention”, since it usually leads to dumb, stagnant storytelling (see: John Byrne’s Doom Patrol).


  13. I think he’s referring to Kathy Kane, who first appeared something like 60 years ago. Beloved character, though? Really? And I consider Kate Kane to be a total reboot of Kathy Kane at the least. Finally, I wonder if Mr. Cooke ever gave Rucka and Williams’ work a chance; it’s hard to believe he has, judging by his comments.


  14. @John Morgan ‘Bat’ Neal: Whoops. I see that I was mistaken. My apologies. I thought I heard ten and then re-read the 60 above and then listened again. So it does seem clear he is likely talking about the new Batwoman. Mea culpa.


  15. On the off-chance that Mr. Cooke (whose work I’m a HUGE fan of, btw) was referring to Batwoman – It’s not like this character in any way but the most obvious (in her super-hero identity she’s called “Batwoman”) resembles the original atwoman of the Golden Age Batman comics.

    I agree whole-heartedly with David Uzumeri – This is a completely new character, with her own backstory (very well developed so far, I might add) and nothing to do with Kathy Kane. She’s even more separated from the original Batwoman than, say, Ted Kord is separated from the original Blue Beetle, or Barry Allen is separated from the original Flash.

    Best,
    J.


  16. I think that he just talking about making a character a lesbian to titillate “45 year old men” which is what the whole statement is about. Whether or not that’s whats happening with that character, that’s Darwyn’s take on it and I don’t think it’s an unfair one, or a hateful one at all.
    I don’t understand how one part of a statement that’s less than a minute is taken out of the context of the rest of the statement by so many people. And it seems to mostly just be lesbian readers who are so upset. Selective hearing dcwomenkicknass.


  17. Man that is everything I want from superhero comics! Nobody likes excessive creepiness and rape and gore. Screw realism. There’s a reason that the DCAU is so popular – censorship is not always a bad thing. The DCAU provides fun, interesting and even thought-provoking stories that adults can enjoy, and at the same time it’s not actively trying to exclude young people like the comics are. There needs to be a BALANCE between Tiny Titans and Rise of Arsenal.


  18. @Darwyn: Which character are you specifically talking about? Because if it’s Batwoman, Kate Kane is a legacy character – Kathy Kane has been retconned back into Batman’s timeline by Grant Morrison, she was the first Batwoman, Kate is the second. They’re separate characters, one straight, one gay.


  19. @Ben: “And it seems to mostly just be lesbian readers who are so upset. Selective hearing dcwomenkicknass.”

    Seriously, dude? 4thletter! is only for my vendettas, so leave it out next time. Work your beef out elsewhere.


  20. It read to me more like “Stop obsessing and dicking around with old characters, create new content and stop fucking around with the past.” Why bother making any old characters anything? If you want to do a lesbian character, make one. If you want to make a serial killer/baby rapist, make one. I get that occasionally it’s cool to dip back and reboot and rehash someone else’s idea, but when the plots have all been done before, the characters and locations have all been around for decades and the publication format hasn’t changed in all that time, how much of the creative work going in WON’T be figuring out how to tiptoe around the rules and standards and canon already in place without pissing off obsessive fans? Sherlock Holmes had one author and others branched off unofficially. Same for Arsene Lupin, same for Fantomas (okay there were two authors shutup), same for Dupin and whatever other non-comic book characters with mass followings you want to bring up. The biggest problem I have with comics is derivatives and fan works make up the vast majority of the industry, which leads to problems like the ones Darwyn Cooke brings up. I mean Batman is 71 fucking years old, in anything other than comics being told that we have to take the derivative work of other authors for 70+ years as absolute canon any sane person would immediately call bullshit. (Although Aliens vs. Predator and its sequel argue otherwise)

    I’m ranting, but seriously, creators get back to creating and stop remixing.


  21. I love Darwyne Cooke. New Frontier is still one of my favorite series of all time, but this statement shocked me a little. And its not just his sudden love for a character that hadn’t really been used in over twenty years. But by tying this statement with the rest of his statement (about comics not being family friendly) he is at least implying (if not outright stating) that gay characters can’t be in a comic unless it’s for adults. It’s the same reasons the Family Research Council and Jerry Falwell and all those other douchebags give for the protesting of gays on television. Maybe he’s not saying that. When he’s saying a list of things that cater to the “perverted” adults who read the book and he mentions characters getting “raped in the a–” and characters being gay as if those two are related, what else are we supposed to think?

    This new statement clears things up for me. But I understand how someone would reach the wrong conclusion from the video alone.


  22. Primarily I would think that you’re supposed to think more about the concept than the content of his argument.


  23. @Darwyn: When was the last time that Batwoman had been used before they designed a new character to carry on the name?


  24. @Prodigal: When was the last time Batwoman was a new character?


  25. The only thing I disagree with Cooke on is the comment about turning characters gay. But other then that he’s right comics are to focus on what 45 year olds want, they should focus on what 30 year olds want :)

    Comics today seem to have gone to far with the sex and gore but the truth is that’s always been a part of comics. The lizard eating kids might be right up the alley for what preteens (remember Spidey is up there with Batman and Superman among comic book characters kids know and he’s been there for a long time) want to see but we shouldn’t have comics filled with rape or go over the top with the violence all the time.

    “The ones that are just a little edgy, just adult enough to be interesting, but not so adult that they get all the roving rape gangs and severed heads? ”

    Makes since until you realize that when someone does something edgy people tend to copy it until it becomes the norm so people tend to keep pushing things further and further tell we get roving gangs raping severed heads or something.


  26. @Jack: Since the original Batwoman was removed from the Bat-books in the 60s, and Crisis On Infinite Earths erased her from ever having existed in the DCU, the answer to your question would be Issue 7 of the miniseries 52.


  27. @Prodigal: If she’s still Batwoman she’s still Batwoman.


  28. @Jack: Jaime Reyes is not Ted Kord, and Ted Kord is not Dan Garrett, and yet each of them is Blue Beetle.


  29. :-/ Darwyn Cooke is a wonderful artist, but not a very precise thinker.


  30. I think part of the reason they make for the 45yo market is that they’re the ones putting the $ down. Batman, supes, spiderman etc been around for 50+years! Do kids wanna read stuff their parents are into? I don’t know another industry where the audience pays so much attention to the same ongoing series. I’m not an expert, haven’t looked at sales figures or anything, but it looks like manga stuff is way more popular with the younger generations. Even looking at a lot of newer series and TV shows now focus more on a good story and then finish.
    And I think what Darwyn is saying is that he isn’t against gay characters or whatever, but just that he hates seeing good characters messed around with for some quick marketing fix.


  31. @Prodigal: Exactly, they’re both the Blue Beetle.


  32. Even if this was the same Batwoman, which she isn’t – what, nothing about characters should shift or be reinvented? Damn, it’s a good thing Bruce Wayne hasn’t changed since the Silver Age.


  33. As I have thought on it more. He could have meant The Rawhide Kid. I do agree however that the overall point he made is getting lost in focus on this one bit.


  34. John, if so, I definitely missed the series where they turned Rawhide Kid into a lesbian.


  35. @Ash: Nothing about Gone With The Wind has changed since 1939, people still enjoy it and movies get made despite people not continuing to add on to/remake it. Batwoman is still Batwoman, Batman is still Batman, neither have been new or original content since their conception. Why keep rehashing and remaking something instead of progressing?


  36. @David Uzumeri: This just isn’t my day. Going radio silent. Carry on everyone. :rolleyes: :raise: :wink:


  37. @Ash Yes I think we all eagerly await the first gay Batman. (It’s Damian)


  38. There’s a problem with Darwyn’s “pro-kid-friendly” argument. Darwyn himself made the very kid-friendly New Frontier. And the median age of New Frontier readers was, like, 34 or so. So going the kid-friendly route doesn’t get you kid readers. It gets you older readers who are nostalgic about the characters they liked when they were kids. NOSTALGIA is as much of a “problem” as uber-violence and “realism” are in getting a younger readership. Darwyn’s own comics are dripping with the kinda heavy-handed nostalgia that doesn’t attract 12-year-olds but rather 30-year-olds and up. That’s not to say that nostalgia’s bad or that Darwyn is a hypocrite. He’s not. And he makes great comics. But there’s a blind spot in his argument, because among the so-called “persions” that 45-year-old readers are interested in is something called “nostalgia”. Nostalgia may LOOK “kid-friendly”, but it’s really not. It’s the equivalent of a 70-year-old man handing his grandkid a Lone Ranger picture-book. It doesn’t translate. It isn’t hip to anyone young who hasn’t ALREADY been won over. Most readers who like New Frontier (myself included) weren’t won over by the newness of it; we ALREADY liked the characters and we wanted to feel like kids again. But kids coming in for the first time? Yeah, that nostalgia looks real puzzling and unhip to them.

    I wish he would have said which lesbian character he was referring to. Kate Kane was a new character. Montoya had been around for a decade before “coming out”, but there was nothing in that decade to suggest that she was straight. If he’s referring to Batwoman, I DO think the “shock value” aspect of “SHE’S A LESBIAN!!” was overplayed. Years after the character’s creation, when Rucka FINALLY got around to telling us the character’s defining origin moment, SIX issues into the Detective Comics run, THEN I think the hype was justified. (Not to say that there needs to be “justification” for a new character to be gay; I’m saying that the HYPE wasn’t justified until then, because until the “GO!” storyarc I don’t think the character had much personality or substance. That said, overall Kate Kane has turned out to be a pretty good character in some really damn good comics. And so has Renee Montoya. So I don’t see what Darwyn is complaining about, unless it’s about the HYPE, which is a complain I can KINDA see, maybe. But why complain about that NOW, long after the hype has been justified (everyone pretty much agrees that Batwoman in Detective Comics was a good run)?


  39. @Jack: Yes, but when Ted Kord debuted he was the NEW Blue Beetle, and the same thing applied to when Jaime did.


  40. Interesting interview. He forgot: “I don’t want to see one of the most famous women comic icons turned into a prostitute”. Oh wait. Tony the Toucan. I did that.

    Cry me a river, Darwyn.


  41. @the luna one: Any proof that young people coming in don’t like “nostalgic” comics? Because I read Green Lantern: Rebirth when I was 15 and loved it. I barely knew anything about Hal Jordan, I hadn’t grown up with him, but a good story is a good story.


  42. I agree with the spirit of Cooke’s argument, though I don’t think I have issue with the content of superhero comics so much as I do with how neither of the companies is trying particularly hard to get these comics in the hands of the youth they should be pursuing. The nasty stuff is just incidental.


  43. @Maria: I have no idea what your post means, except that Tony the Tiger got a species change into a toucan and became a hooker? Is that right?

    In all seriousness, maybe I’m spacing, what’s the guy from Selina’s Big Score have to do with anything?


  44. Friend/foe of 4l! Was Taters clued me in, since I haven’t read SBC in ages–Selina was with hooking when Stark met her with Tony the Toucan. Except Selina as prostitute is something Frank Miller established, not Cooke, so your ire is misplaced a bit, I think.


  45. Cooke is also responsible for protecting Selina’s strong character when he and Brubaker disagreed as to the end of their Catwoman story. Worth looking up, that.


  46. @David, I know it’s Miller. Cooke & Brubaker reinforced it. Now she’s stuck with that origin which has nothing to do with being a thief and is a millstone around her neck. I just find the words coming out of his mouth surprising in light of this.

    @Was, I’ve heard that rumor too although nothing specific. Care to enlighten?


  47. [...] I felt compelled to put it up here. Along with this, I also linked David Brothers post over at the 4th Letter, (About 4th Letter: It’s a great site that’s funny, smart, intimate, and mature, and I [...]


  48. @Prodigal: And I get that, but the Big Mac isn’t a new sandwich just because you’ve put a new cow in the patty, get what I’m saying? It’s not the same Big Mac you ate before, but it’s not a new thing.


  49. @Jack: But it is if I replace that beef patty with pork or chicken or even an entirely different kind of beef. And then still call it a Big Mac. Blue Beetle is just a name. Dan Garrett, Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes are all entirely different characters…


  50. @Jack: But the new characters in old costumes are not new cows in the patty. It’s making the all-new, all-different Big Mac out of Tofu and slathering it in BBQ sauce. That is not the same sandwich as the current Big Mac, even though they share a name.


  51. @skoce: Then why call it a Big Mac, instead of something new? That’s what Jack is getting at, I think.


  52. I disagree fundamentally with the notion that Batwoman’s sexual identity was designed to titillate 45-year-old-men.

    I disagree vehemently with the notion that a character being gay is not family-friendly. Let’s face reality in which gays are normal people like everyone else, not monsters. We shouldn’t be desperately shielding “the children’s” eyes from “the gays.”


  53. I think the saying goes “A rose is a rose by any other name” not “Whatever I call a rose will become a rose.” :raise:


  54. @david brothers I have to say I’m a bit surprised at you first eliding, then implicitly defending Cooke’s stance on rebooting old characters (that no one cared about before) as lesbians. It doesn’t seem consistent with your worldview.

    @the luna one I cosign this, 110% as the NFL players say. What it comes down to is that nostalgic readers (and I am sometimes one) do not want to see gross-out extremism (and apparently, sometimes, gay characters… I am not one here) in comics, and then we come up with “think of the children” arguments to justify it. Too often it’s just someone taking one side of a inter-fandom argument and dressing it up as a “future of comics” righteous stance. The truth of it is probably that these characters cannot be successfully prolonged for a wide audience (in comic form) no matter WHAT approach is taken with them. Let’s be real.


  55. Also want to cosign @Ernesto. This is what we’ve all been avoiding the whole time, and it’s actually the central issue here.


  56. @skoce: @LurkerWithout: You’re making my point for me. If you’re changing everything, what’s the point of calling it something it isn’t and sticking it in the same packaging?

    @david brothers: Yeah man, exactly.


  57. @Jack: Ted Kord was a different character – a New Blue Beetle. Jaime Reyes is a different character – a New Blue Beetle. And Kate Kane is a different character – a New Batwoman.

    But as long as we’re on the subject of “Why are they calling this new Y the same name as the old X”, why did they have to call this Hal Jordan guy Green Lantern? Why did they have to call this Barry Allen guy Flash? Why did they have to call this Ray Palmer guy the Atom? Why did they have to call Katar and Shayera Hol Hawkman and Hawkgirl?

    After sixty years of being alive, The Losers and Hourman were made dead for sales or creative purposes- isn’t that wrong as well?


  58. Hi. My name is J.Bone and I am a Homo. I’m also a guy who has worked with Darwyn for the past TEN years and I can assure you he is not homophobic.

    The fact that I feel compelled to open with that statement seems ludicrous to me. And this is not a “some of my best friends are gay” defense.

    Having known Cooke for TEN years I know when he’s firing “off the cuff” and that’s what you’re seeing in this video. He and I have had many, many discussions just like this where we talk about what’s ticking us off this week and next week it’s something else entirely. We can cite examples of good and bad comics all day but in the end what we both want is a comic book we can confidently give to anyone of any age. Lately that seems a rarity…and that’s a shame.

    There is nothing “not kid friendly” about gays except when a writer makes it “not kid friendly”. By that I mean they focus on sexuality as character rather than just writing a GOOD character. Tim Fish wrote and drew a delightful story about Northstar trying to meet up with his boyfriend that I would happily share with anyone of any age.

    Finally, let me address the Batwoman business: Darwyn is NOT referring to the Batwoman. He’s read the book and thinks it’s “first rate”. If not the Batwoman then to whom is he referring? That’s the real Question, isn’t it. *wink wink*

    Sincerely,
    J.Bone
    p.s. I would absolutely give the New Frontier to any kid, adult or grandparent knowing that each are going to enjoy the hell out of that story.


  59. @darrylayo: Who said characters being gay is non-family friendly? I think you’re reading too deep into Cooke’s comments.

    @Carl Walker: I’m not sure what seems inconsistent? I’m going to spin the specific point out into a larger post, but I do think that putting a new dude (that’s different, guys, really!!!) in an old costume, rather than creating and pushing an all-new character, is ultimately a losing game. I’m not trying to speak for him, but I don’t see Cooke’s point as being about lesbians or nostalgia. It’s about shaking something up in an attempt to revive a dying industry/franchise/whatever, it’s early.

    I don’t see the Focus on the Family, No Gays In MY Capes! stuff at all. I think the confusion arises from him rattling off things cape comics are doing wrong (explicit superhero sex, sexualized violence, stunt casting, I think in that order) and also “not appealing to kids.” It’s not “Get rid of all of this and make comics for kids!” it’s “Get rid of this creepy stuff and also make some books for kids,” which is really nothing any of us haven’t said before.

    There may also be a language barrier (?) at work-when he said “something decent,” I heard “something that’s at least passably good,” not “Something that has no gays.” It’s like if I say a book is “straight” in a review–I’m not saying “This book is not-gay,” I’m saying “This book is aight at best.” After I realized that, I could see how some people took his comments the way they did.

    @Prodigal: What do Hal Jordan and them have to do with Jack’s point, which is basically “Tell new stories instead of reaching back to the past?”


  60. In that case, I rescind all my mucho bitchy comments about Batwoman. Apologies to Mr. Cooke. I thought Half a Life was an excellent story, but I’ll agree that it DID change the character, so it’s a very fair point.

    Thanks for clearing that up, J. Bone. And if Darwyn’s still reading, I can’t wait for the Outfit.


  61. @david brothers: What Hal, Barry, Ray, Katar and Shayera have to do with Jack’s point is that they are all examples of Silver-Age writers doing the exact same thing (creating new characters using the names of existing characters) that Jack is complaining about modern age writers doing to Batwoman in his Big Mac analogy.

    To borrow from that analogy for one more post, aside from their decades of historical inertia, what makes calling them Big Macs more acceptable than calling Kate Kane one?


  62. I still don’t understand how Renee being gay changed the character, except to make her more interesting and widen her storytelling possibilities. I mean, was her sexuality ever referred to before? I remember Rucka saying in his introduction to ‘Half A Life’ that when he was asked about why he “turned Montoya gay”, he replied, “She always was.” (Or something similar, don’t have the book in front of me.)


  63. I’m always happy about there being more quality female superheroes, but I think there’s probably a discussion to be had about whether or not DC would be just as happy to introduce a prominent gay male superhero, or have an existing male superhero come out of the closet. Lesbians probably sit easier with 45-year-old dudes, because even if they’re homophobic and/or misogynist, chances are they’re still being catered to visually as an audience by the art. (I mean, JHW3′s art deserves all the praise its received, but what the heck is with the weird nipple-y cone bra Batwoman’s sporting?) So there is likely an exploitive element about it…

    That said, I don’t see why a character created one way by one set of creators, and worked on by many other writers and artists over time, can’t one day have a creator who looks at the character’s story and say “you know, I think it would make sense if this character were gay” and then write them that way. It should be treated the same as when someone decides to implement any kind of new direction/development for a character. If it makes sense and it’s in a good story, then what’s the big deal?

    Granted, since almost any change gets flack from readers, there’s always going to be some people upset, whether it’s for dumb reasons or not. At any rate, mainstream comics don’t have a lot of LGBTQ characters to begin with, and having good stories about the few that do exist, is never a bad thing.

    I enjoyed the Batwoman stories in Detective Comics, but I actually liked the Question second feature a lot more. It kinda bugs me that Batwoman is the first character people think of when they hear “lesbian superhero” and never Renee Montoya.


  64. @Prodigal: YES, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I’M SAYING. I’m not specifically talking about Blue Beetle, I’m talking about SUPER HERO COMICS IN GENERAL. I didn’t bring Blue Beetle up. The conversation we’ve been having is to be taken as applying to essentially EVERY character. It’s not more acceptable, with the exception of maybe Green Lantern it’s AS if not MORE unacceptable, and Green Lantern still should have stopped showing up decades ago. There is no other medium in which trading multiple people into the same character costume is not only acceptable, but the norm, with the possible exception of Sentai and Monster Trucks, and nobody’s getting raped in Sentai. I don’t want things to stay the same, I want things that are happening now to stop and new things to happen, then for those new things to stop and for new things to happen, rinse, repeat, you know, the way things happen everywhere but comics.


  65. @Jack: I brought up Blue Beetle because they were examples of people doing the exact thing you’re saying they should do, but using characters who had the same name as an existing character to do it.

    Just like DC has also done with Kate Kane.


  66. @ J. Bone I appreciate your defense. I do want to clarify that I never believed that Mr. Cooke was a homophobe. I’ve read his depiction of gay characters in The Spirit (which you collaborated upon with him) and found it to be not particularly objectionable. I just found his comment… puzzling. I agree that “decent” probably didn’t mean what it sounded like.

    As for the larger question of replacement characters, much denigrated here by david brothers and Jack, I personally like ‘em and, although I guess it’s seen as shitting on Ditko’s creation to replace Vic Sage with Renee Montoya, I have trouble getting worked up about it (and Rucka’s work here is no more exploitative, and perhaps slightly less so, than it was with Kate Kane, but I digress). I really do think this is just a matter of taste, and am happy to leave it at that. To the extent that I mistook my side of this question for a “big statement,” I apologize.


  67. @david brothers: @Maria: @Maria You are certainly correct that Cooke was a major participant in the defilement of classic heroes. You are correct just because Miller started it doesn’t mean those who followed don’t get the bill for the part they played. I’m not sure that means they are hypocrites if years later they see the light. I voted for George Bush the first time. Does that mean I am a hypocrite if I realized he was a disaster and voted against him in ’04?

    As for whether Batwoman was to titillate middle aged men, Mr. Cooke is in a much better position to know the thinking of DC editors than anyone here. The picture he paints is consistent with the contempt they have shown for readers. That so many of those readers are oblivious to that contempt is always amusing.


  68. I’m a little confused. He was asked what he would like to see change. He said doesn’t like the dark and gritty stuff. I heartily agree with that. It’s good for one and it’s been going on for 30 years. Enough already.

    He also says he doesn’t like an abrupt and stupid stunt like taking an established character’s sexual preference and changing it to be RELEVANT. That is exactly what was done with Renee Montoya, he doesn’t like it.

    He wants to see family friendly comics. He didn’t say gay characters don’t belong there. He just listed stunt character redefinition among other things he’d like to see change. It’s annoying when little girls do it in fan fiction, it’s annoying when grown up comic writers do it. Little girls don’t know any better. Greg Rucka certainly should. It’s one man’s opinion, he said so. What’s with all the hysterics?


  69. @Stacy: I didn’t see Darwyn Cooke’s remarks as showing contempt for the readers, but rather for All-Star Batman And Robin (since everything except a character now being gay that he complained about in that clip that I could place was from that book).


  70. @Prodigal: Oh I didn’t mean Cooke’s contempt. I meant the picture he paints of DC management and certainly rucka and the batman crowd. The idea that they made Batwoman a lesbian to titillate 45 year old men, that’s viewing readers with contempt if we believe Cooke’s version that that was their thinking. I said that picture of DC as a whole is consistent with what they’ve been doing for 10 years at least, treating readers as idiots who will lap up anything.


  71. @Stacy: Thank you for clearing that up for me, and I apologise for my confusion.


  72. @Jack: Many other mediums have multiple versions of the same character. Is each actor that plays James Bond playing the exact same character? I would say no. What about the new Karate Kid movie? The new Star Trek? Link from the Legend of Zelda video games is clearly a different character putting on the “Link” costume in most of the games. The only difference with comics is the illusion that it is all one continuing narrative, but I always thought that was a good thing.


  73. I wholly disagree with your statement, “if you’re gonna do a superhero comic about the Holocaust… don’t”. It reminds me of a recent NYTimes headline, “Race: Still Too Hot to Handle?” Of course race is hot & that’s why we gotta talk about it, not avoid it. And comics should be part of the conversation.

    Great comics must tackling real-world subjects (even if it’s filtered thru metaphor). Claremont’s X-Men holds up partly because it dealt with racism in America & the world–with how humans deal with the Other in not-so-cool ways. And the X-Men brought a bit of enlightenment to teens in four-color superhero form.

    We all love these goofy guys & gals in their colorful costumes. But mere escapism only enforces the sorry-assed status quo & the memory-hole of history. We should demand *more* big subjects in our comics, not fewer. And if a comic book hides its head in the sand, we should say “That’s lame” & not buy it.


  74. @Maddy: I agree with your point. Characters do evolve with new writers. We have characters who evolve from a hero to a villain, most recently in “Rise of Arsenal”, or from villain to anti-hero like Bane, so why not have a character evolve (or in this case reveal) their sexuality as was done with Renee Montoya in the extremely well written “Half a Life”?

    The chances of DC or Marvel introducing a new gay character are, let’s face it, small (unless the reference to DC includes Archie) If good writers working with existing characters such as Renee, Batwoman/Bat-woman or Obsidian is what has to be done to see gays in comics, so be it. I’m so glad to hear Cooke say he thinks creators should create new gay characters. The man is brilliant, I would love to see his take on an organic, new gay character.


  75. @Prodigal: No no you don’t get it. I want to never read another Blue Beetle Bat Woman Green Lantern Superman Batman whatever else comic ever again. I want NEW characters. Not new people playing old roles.

    @skoce: I did say “the norm” I never said it never happens, and if you look at the times where it does happen it’s for the same 45 year old manchild audience that Darwyn Cooke is complaining about. The James Bond movies are based on the James Bond books, and even that series was lacking after Connery left (though many of the following actors were pretty damn good), and the non-book movies are garbage and don’t work alongside the rest of the series. Star Trek raises MY point rather well, as each new series exists in the same fictional universe, but with an entirely new cast of characters. Is that exactly what I’d like to see? Not really, but it’s better than if they continued making new episodes with Spock and Kirk for decades and decades. And Legend of Zelda is a video game, it’s a toy, comics are struggling to be recognized by the rest of the art world into which film and illustration have already been accepted, not be aligned with video games, which is fighting its own fight as an art form.

    As for the continuing narrative, that’s bullshit. With all the time travel and retconning in cape comics the narrative hardly even exists any more.


  76. @Jack: If you honestly believe that Ted Kord, Jaime Reyes, or Kate Kane having the superheroic names of previous characters precludes their being new characters then it is indeed true that one of us doesn’t get it – you would however be wrong about exactly whom the guilty party happened to be.

    The role that Ted Kord played was not the same role that Dan Garrett played. The role that Jaime Reyes plays is not the same role that Ted Kord played. And the role that Kate Kane plays is not the same role that Kathy Kane played.


  77. @Jack: I was just saying that its a far more prevalent occurrence outside of comics than you seemed to imply. But your dismissal of video games as not a credible artistic medium tells me that this is a pointless debate.


  78. [...] like talking about comics, and hopefully you like reading us talking about comics. « Darwyn Cooke on Cape Comix The Cipher 09/01/10 September 1st, 2010 by david [...]


  79. [...] for sure whom Young was referring to, but I imagine that it’s at least indirectly inspired by Darwyn Cooke’s comments at Fan Expo. At the time Young wrote that, Twitter was all a… well, atwitter with folks’ responding to [...]


  80. @David Uzumeri: I think your comparison to the changing of Blue Beetle’s character is exactly what Darwyn is talking about -just replace lesbian with hispanic.

    The point is if you can’t create new characters for NEW times AND make them interesting… what’s the point in changing old characters?


  81. Hey heroes! I don’t have time to read all the comments right now, but I will later.

    I did the interview with Mr. Cooke, and I am ecstatic that someone is standing up against the disastrous editorial policy at DC and Marvel that values cheap shocks over good stories.

    -Mike-EL
    Comic Book Syndicate


  82. The level of self-reflective, projecting, silly and obtuse “argument” (to give it too much credit) in these comments is part of the same paradigm of the dying market for Disney and Warner comicbooks.

    Corporatism is fascism, and fascism is never going to make good comics. Mind control can be cool in a comicbook but when media forces use it in real life to engineer consent, it cannot end well.

    The end.


  83. Hey David! Thanks for the write-up on the tidbit that we captured with Darwyn Cooke… for all readers and ease of reading I’ve reposted the clip, links to your article, and copy/pasted the responses of both Mr. Cooke and J. Bone here: http://comicbooksyndicate.com/?page=462

    We will be posted the rest of the interview soon but felt that this comment was EXTREMELY relevant and needed to be out as soon as we got home from the convention. Thanks again.

    Comic Book Syndicate … ASSEMBLE!!!
    -Syndicate Jolie


  84. @David Uzumeri: Well – a complaint about the Question becoming a lesbian might not be a complaint about Montoya coming out. It seems to be more along the lines of “why get rid of a perfectly good character in Vic Sage in favor of some sensationalistic bullcrap?”


  85. @Jack: RE: Total newness or Not at all:

    Why the hell would you even be reading DC super-hero comics if you feel that way? Thats just bizarre given the wide and vast numbers of other titles in the genre from other companies that would fill your needs…


  86. @Mark: @stacy, talk is cheap. i’d much rather he try to fix what he broke.


  87. @Prodigal:

    He’s actually referring to the Question.


  88. @Inherited Tiger:

    “The End”? Meaning…your not open minded enough to have a discussion?

    While I have no love for corporations, lets all remember that faceless conglomerates published Watchmen by Alan Moore, Animal Man by Grant Morrison and New Frontier by Cooke himself. They also distribute subversive music and confrontational films.

    There’s always hope.


  89. @J.Bone: Is Darwyn’s math really that bad? The Question was only about 40 years old when he was killed off and replaced by (not “turned into”) a lesbian. And replacing him with a dyke was a smaller change to the franchise than replacing Ditko’s Randian Question with O’Neil’s version. I’m not accusing Darwyn of being homophobic… just picking a really weak example, whether it was Batwoman or the Question. :)


  90. Comics created out of whole cloth by Greg Rucka and Devin Grayson, co-creators of Kate Kate/Batwoman:

    Matador
    Queen and Country
    Stumptown
    User
    Whiteout
    Felon

    Comics created out of whole cloth by Darwyn Cooke:


  91. @LurkerWithout: Because I’m a comic artist and the way the majority of the industry works is important to me because I’d rather not have to exist on the fringes of an artform that isn’t being taken seriously because of masturbatory fanboyism and a refusal to evolve and move on after 70 years of doing the same old shit. The industry needs to grow up.

    @skoce: I said that video games are fighting their own fight to be acknowledged in the art world as a valid medium, as are comics. If you don’t believe this to be the case you’re an ignorant fuckwit who needs to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t play video games or read comics. Note the “if”, since your reading seems selective at best.

    @Prodigal: You’re an idiot.


  92. @Jason: Yeah, Renee actually had a male boyfriend back in the ’90s named Johnny; I think he died in the “Contagion” storyline. So one could argue that Darwyn’s right, but at the same time, Renee never demonstrated any sexual preference in the Batman Animated Series, where she was created. So one could also argue Renee was always meant to be gay, but that they initially tried to make her straight when they brought her into the comics. Or that Paul Dini and Bruce Timm never really set Renee’s sexuality in stone in the first place.


  93. @David Uzumeri: fuck off. secondly, we all know that Darwyn Cooke is right. even if he said batman was actually a hispanic woman, it’d be true.


  94. @edc u mad


  95. [...] biggest takeaway from Darwyn Cooke’s interview the other day is about ideas and originality. His point about changing characters to pander to the audience is a [...]


  96. [...] Item: Some discussion about Darwyn Cooke’s comments at FanExpo about (sigh) Batwoman and how the intro of a lesbian superhero may or may not be a part of the current spate of rated-R adult-oriented superhero comics. J.Bone for the defense. [...]


  97. [...] specifically about making a character gay — and Darwyn has since responded via comment on 4thletter.net and clarified exactly what he meant meant concerning a character’s sexuality. My comment [...]


  98. [...] Darwyn Cooke vs. Today’s Superhero Comics & Perverted 45 Year Old Men [...]


  99. [...] won’t pretend that anyone on this blog hasn’t read David’s post on Darwyn Cooke’s remarks about what it would take for him to jump back into mainstream comics.  The first sentence out of [...]


  100. [...] But seriously, the primary reason I reserved judgment is because I got the impression from the video that was he was on a roll and was commenting off the cuff before thinking things through. I also got the impression there was a legit point he was getting to but failed to communicate it properly, if at all. It happens. We all fuck up. We misphrase things and hurt folks in the process. And in lieu of the other excellent points he made, I wanted to allow him to clarify his position before delivering the final verdict. Which he does here: [...]