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October 5, 2015
Wait, What? Ep. 186: Patience Runs Out
00:00-6:19: Greetings from Jeff “Cute Bree” Lester and Graeme “or could it be Bree Cute?” McMillan, who are here to tell you about the Patreon security breach in the most indirect way possible! Also, if you listen closely (okay, not that closely—you pretty much just have to listen), you can hear Graeme read the names from the Wait, What? Hall of Thank Yous, wherein the names of our contributing patrons have been inscribed. Thank you, patrons!
6:19-7:29: Are we having internet troubles, or is Jeff just an idiot? Hmm, tough call, tough call (no pun intended). So we spend a minute or two trying to figure out if we’ll need to skype one another back or not. (Spoilers: we do, though not quite yet.)
7:29-17:05: “Hey, Jeff!” sez Graeme. “Have you read new comics this week or, like me, have you just been reading old comics?” Jeff has run down the list of books that he’s read, most of which are new or newish, Thanks to the way Jeff presented it (as “that $30 issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up”), Graeme wants a few more details about that book, about which you might already know (and Graeme did too). SPOILERS for the super-special guest stars of this issue. This in turn leads to a quick discussion of the launch of DC Superhero Girls, and the first webisode which doesn’t look especially easy to embed otherwise we’d be doing it here. Also mentioned more or less in passing: APE was happening just a few days after we recorded (and has wrapped by the time I write this) and New York Comic-Con is right around the corner. Jeff has a slightly muddled history of the Alternative Press Expo for you, we discuss why it’s so damn difficult to have a comic book convention in San Francisco, and then…
17:05-17:34: We decide to jump off the line and try again since one of us is cutting out a bit on the other (although we’re happy to say you can’t hear it in the recording at all) so that bring us to…
17:34-24:03: Greetings, part two! We’re back almost as soon as we left to talk discuss, well, how gullible is Jeff really? And this leads into a discussion of made-up technology and apps that clearly don’t exist in the real world but are just spoofs designed to satirize today’s culture, such as Qoopy, or Peeple or Snapchat or Ello.
24:03-48:02: “Graeme!” sez Jeff. “You’d asked me about comics I’d read. Do you want to tell me what comics you’ve read, and should we talk about, like, the comics?” And you think that would lead us into talking about exactly that—in no small part because Jeff wants to—but because Jeff hadn’t heard about the story by Janelle Asselin that broke over at Graphic Policy about Scott Allie’s history of alleged assault at comic conventions, Graeme recaps the story. So we talk about this situation, some of the other stories that have recently come to light in the comics industry, and about the struggle to find nuance without using that as a way to freeze out, ignore, or invalidate those who step forward. Also discussed: owning up to stuff, having to own up to stuff, apologizing to Ridley Scott, and more.
48:02-55:04: “Let’s see,” sez Graeme. “You asked what comics I’d read, didn’t you?” Graeme talks briefly about Sandman Overture #6 by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III; we bemoan the change-up of Skull The Slayer by Steve Englehart and the wrap-up by Bill Mantlo; and we mention more or less in passing the Steve Englehart issues of JLA.
55:04-1:26:05: All of which leads Graeme to read (thanks to his magical library system) Time Runs Out, Jonathan Hickman’s closing arc to Avengers and New Avengers, which Graeme spends a certain amount of time dissecting and trying to wrap his brain around. Discussed: crazy dialogue, Mark Millar worship, Hickman’s concept of characterization, and how it pertains to his versions of Captain America and Iron Man; the appeal of ambition and the long game; a loosey-goosey comparison of Fraction’s Fear Itself and Hickman’s Secret Wars, as well as the Marvel work of Fraction and Hickman; the presence of irony; why it might not be the best idea to tie your event into a story that happened thirty years ago; and more.
1:26:05-1:37:19: “So what’s really interesting is comparing all of that to Remender in Rage of Ultron,” sez Graeme, and then vents a bit more about Avengers: Rage of Ultron by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, Pepe Larraz, and Mark Morales. We discuss the characterization of Hank Pym, comics and wrestling with a great point from Graeme about wrestling; Sense and Sensible Rebooting starring The Vision; the new Daredevil series being written by Charles Soule; and more.
1:37:19-2:02:04: All this talk of continuity in comics and how long readers should be expected to remember things or creators should be expected to keep consistent with previous characterizations leads to a more personal revelation from Jeff: after years and years of reading comics series in print, it’s probably become time for him to make the transition to digital, thanks to experiences he’s had reading The Fade Out, Nameless, and The Walking Dead in digital as opposed to print. Why digital over floppies? Why digital over trades? Irresponsible reader? Irresponsible customer? Or just an old fart? YOU DECIDE.
2:02:04-end: Closing comments! Or it would be if we didn’t revisit the Scott Allie situation as his first statement had been released since the time we talked about the situation ninety minutes earlier! Stitcher!Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! Matt! Tumblr! And, of course, on Patreon where, as of this count, 109 patrons make this whole thing possible! We will be back next week!
Next week: A new Baxter Building! Read up on issues #82-87 and Annual #6 of the Fantastic Four and join us for a monthly dose of semi-historical comic analyses!
And, since the player is once again being overembeddy, check out the first comment in the thread if you need a direct link to the episode for your cutting and pasting purposes!
And the link, for those in need:
Currently grappling with going all-digital, as Jeff is.
I seem to have gotten into this notion of resenting having a big physical collection of comics and trades. Whether that’s out of a desire to simplify or just because I don’t wanna move a massive lot of boxes again I couldn’t tell you.
I think it continues to be interesting how Graeme frames attacks on creators that go too far as “hurting feelings” or “joke/taking it personal”
It’s a common idea among critics that the line between criticism and attack is based on these ides–the critic worries about “being mean” or “can they tell it’s a joke”?
Whereas creators don’t care about “mean” or jokes–they usually care about true or false. You can say “This story is the biggest steamingest most worthless (etc etc) pile of shit ever to be squeezed out of…” that might hurt an artist’s feelings, but it’s not a big deal.
But if you say “…and the person who wrote it has never heard of active vs passive voice” or “and so the author is a sociopath”…
…then you’re moving not into “hurting feelings” but into actually exaggerating an opinion so far you’ve stated it, in public, as if t were a fact. Ina way that a lot of newspaper back in the day might’ve fact-checked. And, when stated as a fact, that means the internet is gonna pick it up and run with it far futher than if it’s stated as just an exaggerated opinion. This isn’t about hurt feelings it’s about damaging a person’s livelihood.
Maybe because I was a fact-checker for a long time this line is super-clear to me, but I’d expect as someone who talks to editors and creators a lot I’d expect Graeme to get it to. Yet over and over, the consequence is expressed as “hurt feelings” not, like, trying not to accidentally libel someone and so make the critical conversation suck for everyone involved.
That said: I still love this podcast.
Wow there were a lot of typos in that. Sorry.
You guys, snapchat is a thing, for better or worse, and a pretty successful one too.
And happy birthday, Graeme!
I’m a huge Sandman fan and I found the Overture series to be extremely oblique. It holds together very well as a collection – I sat down and read all six issues together after reading the last one on its own. But you also have to have read the original series to really understand what’s going on. There are a LOT of callbacks throughout the whole story.
I read it mostly as Gaiman taking the opportunity to reveal as many of the hinted-at stories that he could in one fell swoop. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t. I do think he stuck the landing, though.
My main reason for commenting was to thank Graeme for pronouncing my name right :)
Loving your hard work and keep it up :)
Great episode. I agree with you guys on basically everything, and you do a great job of backing up your opinions.
I should frontload my criticism of Sandman Overture by saying that, overall, yes, I felt the purchase was worth it. I got $4-$5 of value from every issue. But still it was incredibly disappointing because there’s this sense that it could/should have been so much more. In the end it was as unnecessary and pointless as the detractors said it would be when it was first announced. It wasn’t just the INDULGENCE of it all, but the sense that talent was simply being wasted. I love JH Williams’ art, but everytime I saw a jaw-droppingly beautiful double-page spread from him in Sandman Overture, the experience is totally ruined by the upshot realization that the art was in service to a bloated storyline AND that JH’s own artistic innovations here were, basically, overwrought. Gaiman has been a parody of himself for the better part of 20 years now. That said, yes, yes, yes, I have to keep reminding myself that the production here was still better and more interesting than 90% of other comics on the stands. It gets harder and harder for that realization to stick in my mind when the project in question has smacked of so much self-importance. I have a feeling that if it just came out as an OGN without any announcement other than a simple notice in Previews three months before, then I would have felt fine just “liking it okay for what it was”…
..which, funnily enough, is how I viewed Avengers: Rage of Ultron. I get Graeme’s criticisms, but for whatever reason I didn’t really care about the continuity stuff while reading it. I thought it was a fun way to spend 45 minutes reading comics. Maybe I just don’t have the connection to Pym or Ultron or how they’re being used for the story. Obviously it was put/rushed out to coincide with the second Avengers movie, but sometimes I think that we as fans can be too caught up in measuring things in relation to “Q2 earnings” or whatever, in direct relation to seeing that the companies themselves are driven by such factors. If that makes sense.
Re: Avengers: Time Runs Out: You two have no idea how much fun it is for me to hear you tear down Hickman’s ridiculous Avengers run. I’m not sure there has ever been a more bloated run in comics history. And I say that as someone who read all of it and still liked it “okay” overall (probably because I read it at $2 an issue and then sold the codes to a friend besides). But its excesses were still more excessive than pretty much anything I can think of. I don’t think that Time Runs Out was “slapdash”, though: I think it was overthought and overwrought to the point of absurdity. I imagine Hickman does all these complicated flowcharts… but in the end what he’s actually putting to paper just doesn’t DO much. The threads get lost, and when a reader works hard to untangle them and make sense of everything, tracing different elements and ideas, at the end there’s this anticlimactic feeling of “That’s it? What was the point of all that?” None of his super-complicated plot-points are worth the amount of obliqueness and preciousness that he handles them with. Pick any element–the second Bruce Banner, the “story” of what happened to Dr. Strange, the umpteenth argument in which everyone blames Tony Stark for…something–none of those things felt necessary. Can anyone tell me why we needed all the incredibly overcomplicated parsing between “Builders” and “Mapmakers” or why it should be interesting that some convergences were blue rather than red? Whatever ideas there are behind these distinctions, they are overwrought, nowhere near as profound as Hickman makes them out to be, and, lastly, they are explained to the reader in oblique ways that do not resonate on any palpable level of “Oh that’s interesting, tell me more”. Instead the reader is constantly in a rushed state of trying to make sense of things that are supposedly super-profound, but time and again, after much frustration, they reveal themselves to be borderline pointless. And let’s not forget that the entire storyline has to start out “9 Months Later” or whatever, for the simple fact that Hickman basically cannot tell stories in which a series of things actually HAPPENS. So we need the time jump because even if he had another 100 issues of $4-$5 Marvel comics, he could not detail all of the changes to the Marvel Universe that needed to be made in order for the material of “Time Runs Out” to actually start taking place. And the icing on the cake is that–All those big changes to the MU that set the stage for “Time Runs Out”? None of those changes matter. None of them were necessary for Secret Wars to happen, because everything is just predicated on the 616 colliding with the Ultimate Universe, which would have happened anyway. And none of those changes will stick around since the Marvel universe is now resetting itself for the third time in a year and a half anyway.
Finally, I have to say that you guys handled the comics industry controversy stuff very well. Such nuanced and thoughtful discussions of these matters are rare. Jeff, the fact that you second-guess yourself and worry about the less-than-perfect impressions you made on people years ago, that just proves that you’re a good person. Only good people second-guess themselves that way, and only good people give others the benefit of the doubt when they happen to come off poorly when we happen to encounter them in our lives.
I’m just not sure why the “But he’s progressive!” stuff surprises you guys, though. I mean, at this point clearly there are plenty of examples of liberal/progressive types doing mean things to people, and plenty of lefty men have famously sexually harassed people. Is it a case of them being loudly progressive in the first place in order to mitigate their own jerkiness? Obviously that’s arm-chair psychoanalyzing, and every individual case is different. But think about how there’s been that trend of anti-gay conservative “pro-family” politicians and religious leaders who get caught in scandals for having secret gay lovers and harassing/hitting on dudes in public bathrooms. And yet in their public life they’re the opposite of how they behave privately when few people are looking. Sometimes when someone yells loudly about certain causes in public, it can be a case of “Methinks he doth protest too much”.
Hey guys, excellent podcast as usual from probably my favourite two podcasters. I think Graeme read out my name in your list of Patreons, but the surname was…strange? Perhaps it was another Terence? Nevermind.
So, Jeff’s talk of going digital…
Chalk me up as a digital convert, with some issues. I started with the purchase of a kindle fire a few years ago; the reading experience though the Amazon comic reader was OK, but once I downloaded the comixology app then the reading experience improved 100%. However, I found that I splurged a lot on stuff that I never continued with, and apart from my initial reasoning for going digital was that I wanted/needed to cut down on the amount of paper I’m storing (seriously, I have a cellar full of 40 years worth of comics buying that I am very likely never going to read again) I also wanted to cut my comic spending.
So this year I just decided I’d pick the titles I absolutely wanted to read, and wait until they drop in price (I don’t feel the need any more to be current), which works great for DC and some of the other publishers, but Marvel, not so much.
So, I finally signed up for Marvel Unlimited, and, ugh. In theory, a fantastic service, in practice, a headache inducing piece of shit. First up, the website is crap, and trying to read any of the comics on my laptop is incredibly frustrating. So, no problem, download the app to the ‘phone, and everything will be alright……..nooooooooo. Apart from my general unease with continually tilting the ‘phone to read in guided view, I’ve found that many of the older issues I wanted to read have been formatted so badly as to be almost unreadable. Try reading the Kathryn Immonen Hellcat mini on a ‘phone in guided view. I dare you. I gave up three pages into the first issue. I quickly checked all the other issues I’d downloaded, and they all had the same problems. That was the worst example so far, but reading the Englehart Vision and Scarlet Witch 12 issue mini wasn’t an entirely enjoyable experience either.
I know Graeme has mentioned sideloading the MU app onto his kindle, and I’ve Googled info on just how that can be done, but it sounds like a lot of faffing. I could probably do it, but I have this nagging worry in the back of my head that I may just end up screwing up the kindle in the process.
So, now I’m thinking I am just going to buy a cheap ass tablet just for reading MU on. Going digital was supposed to simplify everything; not bloody likely it seems..
Talking of Kathryn Immonen, the reason I tried reading the Hellcat mini was because I’d read her Heralds mini earlier (not so many issues with the formatting), and wanted to see if I had the same problems with her writing as I did in Heralds – namely, her take on characters and Marvel continuity just did not jibe with anything I remember. I found it incredibly jarring and it only served to throw me out of any immersive reading experience (such as it was on my ‘phone). Which is pretty much what I got from your chat on the podcast about Marvel writers and continuity/characterisation. Not to mention inconsistency in the art – the artists change between issues 1 and 2 of the mini, and so does She-Hulk’s hair. It goes from the normal long length to a severe short-back-and-sides – without any mention in the script – which only leads me to believe that Marvel no longer uses model sheets for their artists to work from, and that their editors do shit. Seriously, that should have been an easy pick-up for the editor if they were paying attention, and an easy fix. That was just an obvious example I picked up on from a recent read, but it’s something that’s bothered me for awhile with Marvel (and sometimes DC). If you’re going to have inconsistent art teams, would it really hurt just to make sure that at least the characters are consistently on-model? Otherwise, it’s just another thing that works against a good reading experience. If I’m obsessing on She-Hulk’s new ‘do, I’m not really paying attention. And that isn’t how it should be.
Anyway, I think I’ve ranted enough. I’m almost always stirred to respond to at least something on the podcast (and the Baxter Building), but never get around to it. It just happens I’m on work leave this week, so hitting the keyboard hundreds of times was no big deal. Hope it wasn’t a pain for you reading the result of all that keyboard slapping.
I think I can clear up one bit of confusion: Daredevil is not going to be the “attorney general of New York City.” For one thing, such a position doesn’t exist — at any rate, it doesn’t exist in our world: it may in the ALL-NEW MARVEL UNIVERSE OF DIFFERENTNESS, who knows! Either way, I’m guessing that Mr. McMillan meant to say “district attorney.”
But he’s not going to be that either. He’ll be an Assistant District Attorney, of which there are dozens at any given time in NYC. Now, the point still stands that it might be tricky for somebody to get a job in the DA’s office after being disbarred, but it strains credibility a bit less than what was suggest on the podcast.
Hope this was helpful (rather than annoying) and thanks for all that you do!
Dammit, Graeme, you missed your chance to say Vision’s progeny were retcondomed out…
Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important! Valor pleases you, Crom… so grant me one request.
Have Graeme get through ONE discussion about Marvel without his “If you like this Marvel thing, you can’t say you dislike this DC thing!”
And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!
I do continue to make a small negligible amount from digital sales comixology’s affiliate program, on good months enough to cover what I spend too use their pullist service. I thought it might increase when comixology/Amazon yanked their in-app purchases from iOS devices. But it didn’t. And it’s not something I promote very heavily since I don’t think it’s something that appeals to my customer base very much. But if you want to help support a LCS with your digital sales…
This is great to know, Leef! I’ll make it more of a priority to buy through your affiliate site as I continue to get an idea of what my 2016 purchasing habits will look like. Thanks!
I realize I’m a little late to the party, but Jeff I really appreciated your frank discussion of maybe switching to digital and dropping monthly floppies. I’ve been debating doing something similar for the last year and I’ve gradually moved closer to making it happen. I’m down to three books on my pull list, two of which are ending in the coming few months, or maybe three? Is Nameless ending soon? Is it a limited series? I can’t seem to find any info on this. Anyway, I’m down to three books and once those series dwindle out I think I’ll cancel my pull list. However, lack of impulse control might continue to thwart my efforts.
At least every other time I visit my LCS I find some great buys – heavily discounted trades or quarter bin or dollar bin discoveries. So when it comes to working at bringing fewer comics into the house – and I mean both trades and single issues – I’m not doing so hot. We’re living in the golden age of trade collections so there are constantly new, discounted collections out there to tempt me. And I love buying quarter bin or dollar comics. It’s just plain fun. And I know the hunting is part of that fun. So, while I’m cutting down on the new comics I’m buying, I’m still bringing in some back issues and new and old trades. Argh.
And with digital, I’ve really loaded up my iPad with a bunch of comics in the last several months, but I’ve only gotten around to reading a few of them! I have so many saved that I can’t wait to dig into – that Red Sonja sale Jeff informed us about, for example! – but between reading the few floppies I’m still buying, the trades I have stacked all over the house waiting for me to start reading them, and binge-reading big runs on Marvel Unlimited – I just finished the Brubaker-Fraction Iron Fist, so it was cool to hear you guys discuss that one here – I can’t find the time to read much stuff from Comixology that I keep purchasing! Their sales are very tempting, damn them. And I’m curious, Jeff, do you find you’re running out of room on your tablet (is it an iPad, I forget?) as you buy more and more digital comics? I’m already worried that if I keep up this pace I’ll need a tablet with more gigs (wasn’t thinking of this when I bought mine). Again, I’d be curious how you and others handle this bit of storage maintenance. You can’t delete books from your Comixology account, right? At least I haven’t found out how.
So, long story short, I’m making some changes to my comics buying and reading habits, for sure. But I feel like my desire to make more changes is stymied by the over abundance of options available to me. And my lack of impulse control, of course. Jeff, and fellow commenters, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you manage all of this as well.
Thanks for another interesting and thought-provoking episode.
I meant to also add, but forgot, that I think a big reason I’m whittling down reading monthly floppies is that, like Graeme, I am gravitating towards wanting to jump off the monthly train. Every month I buy some new books and they tend to sit on my nightstand in a pile for days or weeks before I get to them. Instead I’m reading something on Marvel Unlimited or from a trade collection. This has glaringly made apparent to me that while I do love the single issue format – it’s what comics were and in some way always will be to me and so many of us over the age of, say, 30? – I don’t really love keeping up with the stories on a monthly basis in that format at this time. I much prefer having a collection of issues to read either in one sitting or stretched out for a matter of days. I find that reading experience to be more enjoyable now.
That said, I think a big reason I still enjoy reading older back issues is because I can have a stack of them (procured from a quarter bin, let’s say) and then just plow through an entire run in the same way I would a collection. So, again, this leads me to believe I’m not as jazzed by the month-to-month reads anymore. I loved reading Mark Waid’s Daredevil all these years, month-to-month, along with a select few other titles, like the Fraction FF and She-Hulk by Soule, because these titles brought me the same sort of joy I experienced when I was younger and reading a bunch of books monthly. But overall, with most series now, I don’t get that same feeling and in more cases than not they feel a bit more tedious when read month-to-month. To me, that is.
So while I am reading more digital, I’m reading digital like I read collections or batches of old runs. Reading digital month-to-month like Jeff has been doing is probably not something I’ll do. I can see why you’re doing it, Jeff, but I think I’m leaning more towards trades – of the physical and digital varieties.
Thanks for the comments, Michael. I’m glad if my musings helped you at all, even though as you point out in your other post you’re definitely moving toward more of a “digital trade” approach (although make no mistake I do love digital binge-reading *a lot*).
But I write specifically to answer a few of your questions. First, with Comixology, you can delete books from your tablet and still have them on your Comixology account for later download. If you don’t want those books cluttering your collection, you can do a thing they call archiving, which basically just takes the books out of your list of available downloads until you decide to unarchive them. (See: https://www.comixology.com/my-books/archive/_/btitleASC/1)
Second, yes, I do have an iPad, and yes I was fortunate enough to get enough money saved up that when I bought it I went for the largest amount of storage they have. It’s not cheap, but it allows me to keep a ton of books at my fingertips. My wife had given me a first gen iPad way back when and I adored it, but I did find myself bumping up against storage limits….although once I more or less stopped playing video games, that opened up a lot of space as most games eat up much more space.
And finally, I do find that keeping a google doc spreadsheet of what I buy actually means I read more of it than when I didn’t. The shelfless aspect of buying digital is great, but it can reinforce the worst of my hoarder tendencies. As it is, I still have a lot of purchases to read.
But, yeah, based on what you’re digging, it sounds like Marvel Unlimited is a really good solution for you: huge library, lots of opportunities for binge-reading, and it doesn’t eat up a lot of space. I do wish they at least had a higher tier where you could double the amount of comics you could store for offline readiing, though: they really have done a lot to make the app a better experience (on the iPad, anyway) but it’s rare I can read more than two issues on the fly without it getting caught mid-download.
Hope that helps!
Jeff, I meant to reply much sooner, but I just wanted to say thanks. Your help with Comixology was much appreciated! I hadn’t been able to figure out the archiving before, so I’m thrilled to know how to do it now!
I like your spreadsheet idea and would like to start doing something to keep track of what I’m reading or not reading.