Whoo-eee! Have I mentioned great reads? I picked up the Night of the Owls books on a whim and ended up in love with Batman. The books, not the guy. Bruce Wayne, he of the chiseled jaw, is still too broody and intense for a flibbertigibbit such as myself. But these books are great reads, and I’m thinking he deserves all the attention he gets. Rather, his writers and artists do.
And really, that’s the point of this ramble. These folks are amazing. Comic books get a crap rap among some snobby people such as my pre-Batmom self, who wouldn’t deign to read such low-brow pop culture until I started to read such low-brow pop culture and discovered that it’s lovingly crafted brilliance created by incredibly clever, blow-your-mind artistic people.
Clever, creative, blow-your-mind AND often underpaid and sometimes even stiffed.
Remember comic book artist Jack Kirby? His incredible resume includes rejuvenating Hulk, co-creating Captain America (with Joe Simon), and launching the Avengers (first issue to the right). His estate doesn’t receive a dime from the recent blockbuster, which as of Monday had taken in more than $500 million.
Currently, the comic book world is a-twitter over “Before Watchmen,” the new prequel series out from DC. “Watchmen,” the best-selling graphic novel of all time, marks a pivotal moment in comic book history, one in which the world beyond the comic book store realized comic books and graphic novels were art and literature at the same time; a cultural double-hit. Here’s Lev Grossman talking about the book for Time Magazine's "All-Time 100 Novels" (Oct. 16, 2005):
“Told with ruthless psychological realism, in fugal, overlapping plotlines and gorgeous, cinematic panels rich with repeating motifs, Watchmen is a heart-pounding, heartbreaking read and a watershed in the evolution of a young medium.”
The guys that created “Watchmen,” Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore, signed a deal with DC whereby the rights over “Watchmen” reverted to them once the book was out of print. The book has never gone out of print, which is awesome but also upsets Alan Moore, who has effectively lost ownership of his creations by the very dint of their popularity.
Moore objects to DC’s creation of “Before Watchmen.” Partly in solidarity and also as a protest in general over the big guys’ treatment of their talent (big guys = DC and Marvel), several comic book artists have stopped working with the big guys.
Writer/artist Roger Langridge, who worked on the “Muppet Show” books, “John Carter,” and “Thor: The Mighty Avenger,” among other titles, announced a few weeks back he was done with Marvel, uncomfortable with what he told the WaPo's Comic Riffs was “shabby treatment of founding creators” such as Kirby. (On the plus side, in the same interview he also noted that, in general, creator renumeration has trended positively in recently years.)
I’m not here to make an argument in favor of Moore. His “Watchmen” partner Gibbons is fine with the new versions of his beloved creations. Original “Watchmen” editor Len Wein is editing “Before Watchment.” Brian Azzarello, writer of my beloved “Wonder Woman,” is participating in the new project, and I’m interested in reading anything he’s writing. Plus, comic books are like jazz; where would either be without the riffing on beloved standards?
I’m also not here to make an argument against the big guys. I love my DC Comics. Having said that, I know that it’s not the head honchos at DC who are creating my great reads. It’s the writers and artists. They should be fairly treated and robustly compensated for sharing their art with the rest of us.
I’m going to end with a list of everyone receiving cover credits for the Night of the Owls books I’m writing about this week. Because they are the golden geese. (Goose, rather. One goose. Many ganders.) And they rightfully deserve a golden egg or 10.
Rafael Albuquerque: Artist, Batman #9
Eddy Barrows: Penciller, Nightwing #8 & #9
Greg Capullo: Penciller, Batman #8 & #9
Keith Champagne: Inker, Batman and Robin #9
Vicente Cifuentes: Inker, Batgirl #9
Andy Clarke: Artist, Batman and Robin #9
Tony Daniel: Writer, Penciller, Detective Comics #9
Jason Fabok: Artist, Batman Annual #1
Eber Ferreira: Inker, Nightwing #8
David Finch: Penciller, Dark Knight #9
Sandu Florea: Inker, Detective Comics #9
Travel Foreman: Penciller, Birds of Prey #9
Richard Friend: Inker, Dark Knight #9
Lee Garbett: Penciller, Batman and Robin #9
Jonathan Glapion: Inker, Batman #8 & #9
Andres Guinaldo: Penciller, Nightwing #9
Justin Gray: Writer, All Star Western #9
Kyle Higgins: Writer, Nightwing #8 & #9
Jeff Huet: Inker, Birds of Prey #9
Ruy José: Inker, Nightwing #8
Szymon Kudranski: Artist, Detective Comics #9
Scott Lobdell: Writer, Red Hood and the Outlaws #9
Guillem March: Artist, Catwoman #9
Ray McCarthy: Inker, Batman and Robin #9
Moritat: Artist, All Star Western #9
Jimmy Palmiotti: Writer, All Star Western #9
Kenneth Rocafort: Artist, Red Hood and the Outlaws, #9
Gail Simone: Writer, Batgirl #9
Scott Snyder: Writer, Batman #8 & #9, Batman Annual #1
Duane Swierczynski: Writer, Birds of Prey #9
Ardian Syaf: Penciller, Batgirl #9
Marcus To: Penciller, Batwing #9
Peter J. Tomasi: Writer, Batman and Robin #9
James Tynion IV: Writer, Batman Annual #1
Judd Winick: Writer, Batwing #9, Dark Knight #9, Catwoman #9
Ryan Winn: Inker, Batwing #9
Box Office Mojo: http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=avengers11.htm
Time Magazine: http://entertainment.time.com/2005/10/16/all-time-100-novels/slide/watchmen-1986-by-alan-moore-dave-gibbons/#watchmen-1986-by-alan-moore-dave-gibbons
USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/life/comics/story/2012-06-05/Before-Watchmen-prequel-series/55386328/1
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/comic-riffs/post/creators-rights-how-the-jack-kirby-case-caused-acclaimed-roger-langridge-to-quit-dc-and-marvel/2012/05/19/gIQAvKA0ZU_blog.html