Saturday, June 30, 2012

Week of 27 June 2012

LSH Comics this week:

Legion of Super Heroes: Hostile World TPB: Graphic novel collecting issues 1-7 of the "New 52" Legion comic. Includes 3 pages of sketches by Jim Lee, Francis Portela, and Walter Simonson.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Week of 20 June 2012

LSH Content this week:

  • Legion of Super-Heroes #10 (2012/08)
Particularly nice: Cosmic Boy in a different outfit at the beginning of the story. Apparently this is his inconspicuous, secret agent look. It only assures that he'll attract notice, because he looks so hot that anyone who sees him, even Dominators, will want to do their best to talk him out of that outfit. Woof!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Week of 13 June 2012

LSH Comics this week:

LEGION LOST #10 (2012/08)

For your convenience, here's a capsule review of every issue of the new Legion Lost series (including this one):

The lost Legionnaires blunder around for a while. They argue with each other. Timber Wolf smells something unusual, and is separated from the group. It is revealed that some of them are carrying secrets, but those secrets are not shared with anyone, including the reader. We are given hints of their mysterious real mission or missions.At least one Legionnaire does something totally out-of-character.

Someone else is chasing them, for reasons that aren't exactly clear. One or more Legionnaires are apprehended. A rescue attempt goes awry.

By the end of the story, the Legionnaires despair that they are stuck in the past.


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Week of 6 June 2012

I did not see any LSH content in DC comics this week.

Also of interest:

World's Finest #2, written by Paul Levitz, is out, for those who are fans of good storytelling.

DC has announced that September will be Zero Month, with all issues numbered 0 (again). Apparently, the goal is to tell some of the backstory of the relaunched New 52, since readers have "questions...about how these characters came to be, especially when we started in the middle of their story." There's a lot of talk about "revealing new things about these characters" and "keeping the storylines fresh and exciting."

 Storylines and characters aren't kept "fresh and exciting" because of gimmicks like reboots, alternate Earths, and "revealing new things." Storyline and characters are kept fresh and exciting by good writing. If you constantly feel that you have to revert to an endless series of one-off gimmicks, then you need better writers.

I don't know precisely why DC doesn't have better writers. I have some guesses, based on anecdotes and my own feelings as a writer (although I write science fiction, not comics).
  1. Good writers want as much autonomy as they can get. This means a minimum of editorial control and adherence to arbitrary mandates (reboots, Zero Months, I'm lookin' at you). Note that Paul Levitz was able to resist a complete reboot for the Legion this time around.
  2. Good writers want to work on something they care about. Again, Paul Levitz with the Legion is a great example. I don't know exactly why he's writing World's Finest, but I'm betting that he cares about it.
  3. Good writers want respect for themselves, their creations, and their artistic judgment. If Alan Moore thinks a Watchmen prequel is a bad idea, listen to him. Give creators credit and a share of the profits before a court orders it (and without fighting endless lawsuits). Consult with creative teams before ordering wholesale changes in their creations.
  4. Good writers want to be make a living. I have no idea what DC's pay structure is like, or how it compares to other publishers. Perhaps it's fine. Probably there is some room for improvement.
If DC gives writers these things, they will attract good writers.

Let me digress and tell you about a story I just sold to a new anthology. I sold the story for a pittance; I'm fine with that. The editor is a friend, she asked for a story, I figured the exposure would be good, and I plan to use the story as part of a longer work in the future.

However, I had problems with the publisher's contract. (It's important to know that the editor had no control over the contract terms or timing.) For one thing, contracts weren't actually signed until after the book was in print, which is at least a major annoyance and at most copyright infringement. One strike against the publisher.

Then, there was a clause in the contract stating that, in perpetuity, authors could not allow their stories to be reprinted in any format without notifying the publisher months in advance.

Think about the implications. If my story were chosen for a Best of the Year anthology, I would have to notify the publisher before allowing it to appear. Now, I've had other stories in Best of the Year anthologies, and the quick turnaround would make it impossible to comply with this advance notice clause.

Beyond that, if I wanted to issue an ebook version of the story (I do), or include the story in a longer work (I do), or sell audio or video rights (I wouldn't say no)...I couldn't do it without notifying the publisher months in advance. And this would be true even 10, 20, or 50 years from now.

I protested against this clause. I asked that, at very least, it be given a time limit: say 6 months after publication. My requests were ignored. So when I signed the contract, I simply struck out that clause.

But...and here's the point of this whole dreary story...I also swore a mighty vow that I would never again write for that publisher.

This is what good writers do when they feel they've gotten a bad deal: they don't write for you again.

I note that this publisher seldom has anything from big name writers. (In this particular anthology, the two biggest names are Rosemary Edghill and me. All due respect to Rosemary, but neither of us is what you'd call "a big name writer.") Seeing their standard terms, I understand why.

And DC has to resort to gimmicks rather than writing to keep their stories "fresh and exciting." This tells me that they can't get enough good writers...which tells me they haven't been giving their writers a good deal.

Just my two cents worth....