Like Sands Through The Hourglass, These Are The Days Of Our Lives

April 28th, 2009 by |

Like most groups, comics professionals have their own animosities, scandals, and fights.  Although I do enjoy gossip and I do scan for the occasional juicy interview, I try to steer clear of most of it, at least in comics.

Often a story is entirely made up by a fan on a message board.  When it isn’t, reading about who hates who and why rarely leaves me feeling good.   The old saying goes, ‘If you love a book, never meet the author.’

There are several reasons for that.  One is, more often than not, you look like a big dork.  (Not that I would know anything about that.  I definitely didn’t approach Gail Simone once at a Con and forget all words over one syllable.  Seriously.  “I was . . .  glad . . . that you said . . . that . . . that time . . . to that guy . . . ’cause he made me feel . . . . . . . . . . bad.”  Oh, kill me now, comics gods, kill me now.)

More permanently scarring (If that’s possible.) are the things that you can find out about creators you love.  This can lead to you spending hours in the store thinking things like, “I like this book, but I disagree with the writer’s views on the war in Iraq, and he was kind of snarky about that artist I like.  Also, I heard the penciller bought a humvee, and that’s bad for the planet.  Should I support this?”

Yes, I am exaggerating.  For instance, what comics artist can afford a humvee?  (Okay, maybe Loeb.)  But it’s so much easier just to enjoy the story on the shelf, and remain blissfully ignorant about the sometimes problematic stories that go on behind the scenes.

Do you read gossip?  Trade it?  If so, has any particular piece (You don’t have to mention what.) turned you off a creator (Or who.  You don’t have to mention who.)?

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6 comments to “Like Sands Through The Hourglass, These Are The Days Of Our Lives”

  1. When I found out Bill Willingham is somewhat of a grumpy social conservative during Black History month here it made me raise an eyebrow, but all I had read of his was that Day of Vengeance story which I enjoyed. Then more recently I found out he’s taking over JSA and I found myself worried. About what I’m not exactly sure but I know I’d be really upset if he was going to be taking over say, Detective comics, which will be starring Batwoman and have Question backup stories come this summer. As a gay woman I find myself very protective of the good ones in comics and man who says he’s been called a homophobe for his views on gay marriage is someone I’d be wary of.

  2. Millar could buy a humvee.

  3. Not comics people really, but Orson Scott Card and Will Shetterly. Which is a pity because I really like Ender’s Game and Dogland

  4. I wish artists would separate their personal beliefs from online fan discussions more, but really, letting gossip decide on what someone buys is just unneeded baggage. One of the worst reasons I’ve ever heard in someone stop buying a comic run was a She-Hulk fan who stopped buying the comics due to the writer’s opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The comic didn’t even touch the conflict. So that might illustrate my view on what authors do and choose to believe in after-hours. It’s no business of mine, and for people like Orson Scott Card, I’m even more impressed, because he’s written such progressive, humanistic sci-fi/fantasy tales without shoehorning his conservative background. Maybe that’s changed recently, but his recent comic work didn’t show it. If people want to support Card’s politics, read his political column. If people want to support his art, buy his literature.

    I just cannot relate to people who don’t want to separate the work from the creator’s external views. Alan Moore has bashed the hell out of American culture in his recent interviews, but that doesn’t change how I feel about Swamp Thing or V for Vendetta. It doesn’t change how I’m looking forward to the next League book. I’m not saying it’s impossible for creators’ views to filter over to their work, and people will always write what they know, but I’d rather give them the benefit of the doubt and judge them on their craft first, especially since that Superman topic probably won’t be handling the topic of abortion this month.

  5. I think that’s it’s fine to give up someone’s books as a result of their beliefs. That’s part of the choice we have as consumers. Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum, as much as people would like to pretend otherwise, and outside factors can influence your enjoyment of things.

    I’d be lying if I said that PAD pulling the “They get to say it, why can’t we???” card made me at all inclined to pick up his work in the future, or that Bill Willingham’s antics mentioned above by Graq made me want to try Fables again. I don’t buy R Kelly records and generally avoid his work. I don’t watch Woody Allen movies.

    If someone does something that offends me, or makes me raise an eyebrow, or whatever whatever, then I should probably stop and evaluate what I get out of their work before I continue to buy it. Do I really want to support a guy who’s a jerk? In some cases, yes. In others, no.

    I’d like it if I could remain blissfully ignorant of the foibles of the guys who write and draw and edit and publish my funnybooks. At the same time, pandora’s box is open for me. I’ve backed down from reading so many interviews, and rarely even read Newsarama or CBR now, unless it’s Robot6. Kind of re-insulating myself, maybe?

  6. I don’t really let gossip and rumors about writers influence my reading habits. If I choose not to read something, I do so on the basis of my expectations of the work’s quality.

    Look at it this way: there are rumors that James Joyce slept with his daughter (quite definitely not true, as far as I know), that T. S. Eliot was an anti-Semite (probably true, but not in an extreme way), and that H. P. Lovecraft was a racist (quite definitely true, although he also married a Jewish woman). If you were to select your reading on the basis of what is rumored about a writer, then, well, you just threw out three of the greatest authors of the 20th Century (or even, and certainly in Joyce’s case, all time).

    But that’s just on the subject of gossip and rumor. What about a substantiated story or even something literally said in an interview? If it’s particularly bad, I suppose I might be inclined to go “fuck that guy/gal, I’m not buying their work anymore.” However, if the work is good enough, I don’t let it affect me. Let’s go back to Lovecraft again, who was definitely racist. I know of his views, I disagree with them, but I’m still a huge Lovecraft fan. In fact, I think his racism adds a fascinating layer to his fiction.