June 24, 2008

Editorial Drama

It must really stink being Dan DiDio right now.

Various sources are hinting that he may soon be unemployed, especially in light of Final Crisis # 1's relative "failure to perform". Various factors, including the success of the Iron Man movie, the Secret Invasion crossover, are all pointing to DC's folding as a company, justifying Mr. DiDio's depature, and of course, leading to catastrophes of Biblical proportions in the comic book world of course, (as Shakespeare - or was it Mike Sterling - once said) is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I have come neither to bury nor praise Mr. DiDio - mostly, I'm here to stick in my two cents and talk about how both companies have been failing. I'm talking, of course, about failing creatively.

Everyone knows that I have made a general overall case - that DC tends to cater for the more hardcore, continuity obsessed, slightly older fan (like, er, myself, quite sadly); and that Marvel sees itself as a much "hipper" company, catering to the Maxim magazine young male demographic. (And no, I will not link to Maxim - even I have standards). There's nothing wrong with catering to that demographic...but both companies have seen unpopular editorial decisions openly (yet tactfully) criticized by writers which were then jumped upon by the blogosphere. (Yes, I'm willing to compare "One More Day" to "Countdown/Death of the New Gods."

Ultimately, however, both companies have been gradually painting themselves into a corner, focusing on the past without a really strong sense of building upon it to the future. Dan DiDio has been open about his tendency to focus on past successes, and as a result, has brought back one of the cornerstones of DC mythology. (Of course, whether it needed to be brought back is another argument). Marvel's current Secret Invasion series is another kettle of fish - although it had some potential as a great story of paranoia and distrust in a post-Civil War universe, really seems to be an excuse to introduce (or reintroduce) 1970's Marvel characters back into a contemporary Marvel Universe.

(Yes, I initiall gave Secret Invasion a negative review. I've kept an open mind, and although I enjoy some touches - most notably the Agents of Atlas story in Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? - all I see is a continuity nightmare that Marvel will probably need to paint itself out of...it's a crisis of infinite proportions. Although some previous plot threads come together well, others...there may be a reboot switch in there somewhere).

Amongst many blogs and message boards, there is the issue of "fan entitlement" - of fans wanting what they want, regardless of the creative consequences or even making a character more accessible. Both Marvel & DC have engaged in a kind of "editorial entitlement" - writing stories that they enjoyed, based on their own nostalgia, but missing that the reason the past is remembered so well isn't the concepts, but the imagination and creativity behind it.

After all, as a wise man once said, the first story you tell as a fan is the last one you do as a writer.

I believe that was a man by the name of Dan DiDio, speaking at the 2008 New York Comic Con.

And in that, a kernel of truth for both companies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It can't be THAT bad to be Dan Didio. He just signed a new contract with DC. :)