Wait, What?, Ep. 347: Pros and Cons

August 14, 2022

00:00-10:27:  Greetings!  Remember us? We do…we think? Jeff had some travels; Graeme’s new job is taking him to three convention in six weeks—SDCC and C2E2 already and ECCC next weekend—and it’s taken a lot out of us, to be honest. However! Graeme has come back from two cons and managed to stay healthy, which is genuinely impressive.
10:27-22:38: In the course of recounting C2E2, Graeme talks about what might’ve been its “highlight:” the Chris Claremont panel that *blew up* and its aftermath.

22:38-55:20: The idea that the Claremont story blew up in a way that Graeme rightly calls “inexplicable,” leads Jeff to talk about a possible connection in a completely different context—the findings of microaggressions waged by cartoonist Phoebe Gloeckner against students in her Graphic Narratives class at University of Michigan. Perhaps there’s a connection between the two and for better, healthier reasons than might be imagined?
55:20-1:04:54: Back to the cons! Graeme found how a lot of the differences between C2E2 and SDCC can be summed up in their talkback panels. He went to both (one of which Chloe livetweeted), and found the people running the conventions had very different ways or responding to feedback.
1:04:54-1:06:58: Another highlight of the Cons? The Todd McFarlane Spawn panel at SDCC! Hoo boy.
1:06:58-1:23:17: The Sandman! Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman! Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, now on Netflix! Graeme’s watched two-thirds of it; Jeff has watched zero-thirds…what’s it like? What’s going on with it?
1:23:17-1:34:05: Speaking of media companies in which investor interest trumps the release of product: hey, Warner Bros./Discovery! S’up? But also: Oni/Lion Forge! Valiant! Tapas!
1:34:05-1:39:44: Oh hey, let’s talk about comics we’ve been reading, while there’s still some time left in the episode. To start we wax rhapsodic about Kate Beaton’s Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands which is extraordinary. Apologies if we are vague in our effusiveness, but we both think there’s so much to be gained from just walking in to it cold. Do pick it up, however: it really is tremendous.
1:39:44-1:44:29: Props to podcast listeners Bruce Baugh and Skye who both recommended Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou by Hitoshi Ashinano. Jeff bought the first volume of the new deluxe editions coming out from Seven Seas, and he loves it like crazy.
1:44:29-1:54:10: Also an object of passion for Jeff—though apparently not one especially well-centered in his memory—these webcomics by Abhay using the power of Midjourney to generate the images. Among the things I did not remember about it, however, was talking to Graeme about it already during one of the skip weeks, as well as the upcoming adaptation of The Abolition of Man by Carson Grubaugh (also using Midjourney); and the John Wagner/Cam Kennedy Judge Dredd story “Beyond Our Kenny” which, with many hijinks and shenanigans, was actually uncomfortably prescient about all this way back in….1990!?
1:54:10-2:05:53: As for Graeme, he very much wants to talk about how he was “floored” by book five of Brink by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard (due out at the end of November 2022). After four volumes focusing Bridget Kurtis and her battle in the space Habitats of the future against future cults, the fifth volume focuses on a journalist investigating a story that threatens to turn everything the inhabitants of Brink think they know—and the readers of Brink thought they knew—on its head.
2:05:53-:end Closing comments? Next week is a skip week and then….? We are back with Drokk, yes. Read Volume 38 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files and join us here in two weeks, that we can say for certain. (Don’t get me wrong, we have more to say, we’re just much less certaion.)
And oh yes:  Graeme’s newsletter (https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ComicsFYI!) and new gig! Plus:   Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! (and Chloe, but also check out the excellent writing available through her Patreon!) Tumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:  Skip week!  Then join us in a fortnight for Drokk!, featuring Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files Vol. 38 and join us here next week!!

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17 comments on “Wait, What?, Ep. 347: Pros and Cons

  1. Jeff Lester Aug 14, 2022

    If you want some of what the French call: “le cut & le paste,” here you go:


  2. Zachary Q Adams Aug 14, 2022

    As someone who’s been going since the aughts, I gotta dispute Jeff’s characterizarion of Dragon Con as mostly focused on gaming. It’s probably the most UN-focused con I’ve ever seen, which is why I love it–there’s no other show where you’re going to get to meet Larry Niven, Barry Bostwick and Kevin Maguire and then go see Jefferson Starship put on a midnight show.

  3. On the Gloeckner stuff and the Crumb discussion that grew out of it, I (mis?)understood you to be saying (or characterizing the students/new wave of readers as feeling) that Crumb is not a meaningful part of the comics canon because he is problematic and not really known to them. I’ve never been into Crumb either, but I can’t thus say he’s not significant. It seemed to me that the discussion was conflating “relevant to me individually”with “relevant to the history of the art form” which isn’t based on individual comfort. We should call out the problems of Ebony White, but we don’t get to say that The Spirit wasn’t vitally important.

    Then I read the M-U article and see that Gloeckner’s class is not about history, but about technique, and it seems that one could easily teach technique without tripling down on stuff that, to be most generous, hasn’t aged well. It sounds to me like she was choosing to teach with stuff she personally loved, and was unhappy and unwilling to bend when the students didn’t love it, too. Rather, she seems to really want them to understand why they should/must love it.

    (Oh, and a P.S. to a statement that was a little like a question: I for one make very little effort to pursue comics news beyond this show and Graeme’s newsletter, so I welcome the news talk, and am happy when you don’t assume that any given announcement/controversy is widely known.)

  4. Bengt Aug 15, 2022

    I’ve read vol 3-4 of Brink, I wasn’t reading 2000AD when they first volumes ran. And I had no idea that vol 5 that is currently running didn’t follow 4 chronologically! Sure there are dates here and there but do authors really expect us to memorize what made up year every little story is set in? Anyway, I’ve found the series entertaining even though I apparently doesn’t know what’s going on. :)

    Jeff: The Out is another SF series in 2000AD by Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison. It’s only two volumes so far (a third is coming at the end of the year I think) and they are great.

    I watched the first episode of Sandman and I was bored. Graeme is right, without the art Sandman is pretty bland.

  5. Mike Loughlin Aug 16, 2022

    I echo bpm’s comment about both Crumb and the fact that I don’t always have context for comics news. Your summaries and commentary are much appreciated.

    As for comics canon and the Great Man Theory of (Comics) History… I’m glad access to a wider variety of comics has increased exponentially in the past 20 years. I’m very happy kids are reading comics, even if they’re not ones I’m familiar with. It’s jarring that, say, Frank Miller is no longer held up as the grand comic book master (some people actually don’t think Dark Knight Returns is one of the three greatest comic stories of all-time, along with Watchmen and the Dark Phoenix Saga!!!!), but that’s probably for the best. I wonder which comics will be the standard bearers in years to come.

    Generational turnover is natural when it comes to art, and I have to deal with feeling old and out of touch without waving copies of X-Men: Asgardian Wars at people and raving about how young’uns don’t get the genius of Art Adams. That said, I hope the better older comics aren’t left behind. Still, I hope the better older comics aren’t left behind and continue to entertain new readers.

  6. Rick Vance Aug 16, 2022

    I think this episode heavily downplayed how the Marvel Miracleman stuff went from Moore’s name not being on (due to his request) to starting with the original stories and just peppering in those issues as it went and the new stories alongside from contemporary creators, they did everything in their power to not put out what people would have wanted.

    I also think the idea of people just having already went and found and read that stuff is not considered enough, it is easy to find comics on the internet even if people don’t like to talk about that out loud and even in the legality of it I would bet most people interested in reading those 16 issues of Miracleman would have already done it will before the Marvel deal was pennned.

    I also agree that the passage of time for old work is good but also that removing that work from the history and context and influence it did have is not a good place for any kind of comics history and a constantly forward looking view I don’t think is any better than one constantly looking to the old guard.

  7. CBrown Aug 16, 2022

    I think the cartoonist Jeff is thinking about who got into comics via “For Better Or For Worse” is Derek Ballard. In a recent TCJ interview, he goes on a bit about that strip.

    I don’t really follow the latest comics news anymore, so I knew nothing about that Chris Claremont thing. I also don’t get why it’s such a big deal that he’s talking about plots to comics that were never actually written or published. I do think it’s funny that Claremont followed “My plan was to have Gambit seduce Kitty Pryde and turn her evil, and then transform her into a black girl who would fight Storm, and Gambit would have to turn her back into a white, non-evil girl again,” with “Why don’t they make fun comics anymore?”

  8. Shadavid Aug 16, 2022

    “I am a podcast-listener who’s double O-L-D.” Ha! Glad you guys are back. Please salve your guilt, you gave me plenty of free content before you ran a Patreon. Also happy it was work and other life commitments keeping you away and not illness or worse.
    I’ve watched the first two episodes of Sandman, so there’s still a little tension in it for me: have they corrected the structural racism in the comic? Some of you will know. The thing is that Morpheus shifts his ethnicity when he with black and Asian folk, but doesn’t adopt ‘pinkie-face’ when he’s with folk of european descent. Maybe they’ll just drop that effect? I did write to the comic in the 90s about this, but they had better letters that month.
    I briefly met both Robert Crumb and Chris Claremont in Angouleme in 1993 (I think). They were both open about their kinks in a way that was very on-brand and left me a bit uncomfortable. I also got to feel petite meeting both Joe Kubert and Sergio Aragones. BIG guys in every way.
    Old comics will be fine. There will always be advocates for the most unlikely and deeply buried comics. Was it you guys who directed me to the joy that is Lucy and Sophie Say Goodbye? I’d been actively interested in comics for over 55 years when I was introduced to that gem from more than 100 years ago.

  9. Justin Harman Aug 18, 2022

    Glad to hear someone not be effusive with praise for Sandman, which seems to me to be merely okay and not the triumph some are touting it as

  10. So great to have the two of you back! I for one didn’t mind the news-heavy episode, even when it led to tangents, like the Chris Claremont talk. I guess I’ll start with that. Your conversation about this topic of relevancy and “the canon” reminds me of one surrounding the literature canon that’s been going on for most of this century. Sure, “Hamlet” is important, and so is Mark Twain. But I can totally understand students saying, “Huck Finn? Nope! Don’t care much for a white man’s interpretation of slavery.” Maybe keep a few of Twain’s short stories on the reading list, but replace “Huck Finn” with something from Colson Whitehead instead. If you’re gonna teach a class on modern poetry, try not excluding hip-hop lyrics. Of course, that would require re-training professors and overhauling the curriculum, something there’s no financial incentive to do. I took a class on British literature in college covering about 1700-1900ish.(I forget the proper course name.) The professor made us read a lot of crap that wasn’t interesting or engaging for, well, anyone (Thomas Hardy, for example), but we didn’t read ANY George Bernard Shaw or Oscar Wilde, which was just a crying shame. But maybe in a post-#MeToo world, Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” might find more resonance with students that some of Wilde’s work, which might come off as frivolous and dated by comparison. I think back to the best teachers I had. and they were able to take classic works and make them relevant to us, and even get us excited about them. In terms of rediscovering work, from what I understand, “Moby-Dick” falls in that category. It was a work that didn’t find an audience upon release, but really became a thing in the early 20th century, and now is considered part of the canon of American literature. Jane Austin seems to be “rediscovered” by every generation, and could arguably be a perennial classic author.

    To bring it back to comics, Dave Sim might be a very good example of someone who did have an outsized influence on the industry as publisher, but maybe not so much with his work. You could argue we would have never gotten Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had he not existed, but I feel when the gigantic history of comics is written, he might be more of a footnote, whereas Laird and Eastman might get their own chapter. Todd McFarlane might be in a similar situation. He might be known down the line for showing successive Spider-Man artists it’s OK to move away from John Romita Sr. and bring back the Steve Ditko-ness of it all. And, of course, he’ll definitely be remembered as a founder of Image and all that entailed for the industry, but will anyone be saying “If you wanna know how to make comics, you gotta read ‘Spawn #1′” in 30 years. Very doubtful. Graeme is probably right, however, that you’ll never really be able to talk about X-Men without including Claremont in the conversation. Although, maybe a summary of what he did with the X-Men would suffice without forcing people to, you know, actually read his work. Because then you’d also have to read a whole mess of other superhero comics from the ’70s and ’80s for comparison.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying Abhay’s AI-assisted comics experiments, but the limitation of the AI, which he’s very upfront about, makes them feel more like illustrated short stories. I think they would still be as affective (and effective!) if they were just prose or prose-like poetry accompanied by a single illustration. I felt Graeme was dodging the discussion by stressing he’s not first to make AI-assisted comics, And, so? How does him not being the first preclude a critical discussion of his work? I think this unfairly cut off an avenue for discussion I was very eager to hear. Perhaps you’ll come back to them when he’s done.

    And speaking of things you didn’t discuss: I looked up Kate Beaton’s book “Ducks,” and it seems it’s only available for pre-order. Did you two get advance reading copies per chance?

    Finally, circling back to “The Sandman,” as someone for whom that was an important book in my maturation as a comics reader (I think my first issue was #42, maybe just when Jeff jumped off!), I feel like this is something I should be interested in, especially since Gaiman is involved, and I’ve always considered the involvement of the original creators important to any adapted work. Aside from not having the time to watch, I think I’ve reached the point where I don’t need or even want adaptations anymore. For me the source material is the acme of what that thing is. That’s not to say an adapted work can’t be good or enjoyable (the film “Jaws” is superior to the book in almost every possible way), but for certain comics I’ve enjoyed, having them be only great comics is more than enough for me.

  11. Voord 99 Aug 21, 2022

    Personally, I *adored* Sandman while it was coming out, being the right age. But also living at the right time. It’s a work that’s the epitome of the late “Comics can be for grown-ups!” period. It depends on that lingering element of anxiety, that you should be too old for reading comics, that you need reassurance that you’re reading something serious and arty. Gaiman was perfect for that, being a quintessential autodidact who loves to show off how much he’s read about different things. It absolutely was not primarily about the art at all for me — it was that sense of “What the hell is Sandman going to be about this month?”, with the only certain thing being that it would be comfortingly allusive to something “important” outside itself.

    Which is why I have little interest in the TV series (certainly not enough to bother resubscribing to Netflix). Graeme McMillan is 100% right that Dream himself is a boring protagonist, because he’s barely a protagonist at all. Sandman worked as an anthology series. I’d guess that that there aren’t that many people who, if asked to name a story they remember fondly, would name the overarching plot, such as it was. It’d be things like the Midsummer’s Night’s Dream story, or the cats story, or the one about weird funerary customs, etc.

    This seems to me to be poorly suited for a streaming show in 2022 — if you were adapting it for TV, it’d be better back in the episodic era, supposing that TV shows back then were capable of it, budget- and ambition-wise. I hear our hosts talk about how they combined different issues into one episode, and I’m thinking, “That’s a $##%ing terrible idea that misses the point of why those stories worked.” I have a general impression from coverage, possibly inaccurate, that they’ve made the Corinthian more important to provide a throughline, and again, terrible idea.

  12. Daniel Aug 22, 2022

    Claremont did some race-mixing in classic X-Men. That aspect hasn’t aged great but it didn’t come from out of nowhere in the instance of the unused X-Men Forever. Claremont is Claremont, I’ve heard him say all of this stuff before. He’s a bit of a grump and his stories get weird but I dig him and dig it most of the time. The ‘Mont is a vibe.

  13. Daniel Aug 22, 2022

    But like seriously, Claremont’s X-Men era is probably one of the 3 most significant bodies of work in superhero comics.

  14. If you teach an AI how to produce art that looks like an Ivan Reis imitation you basically can have it do 80% of DC’s comics without anyone noticing

  15. Matthew Murray Aug 25, 2022

    I’ve talked to some other library people about comics by Crumb (and Dave Sim) and my opinion was basically that yes, they’re historically important, but you don’t need to have them in your collection or read them. Read about them? Sure. It’s the same with the Image founders. Is Image Comics important to the history of comics? Yes. Do you need to read Youngblood or Cyberforce or Shadowhawk? No.

    Also, this conversation reminded me of the keynote we had with Jeff Smith at Libraries & Education Day at TCAF a few years ago in which Jeff talked about Brian Pulido and Billy Tucci and I realized that basically nobody in the audience knew who he was talking about. He knew them because of when and how he was (self) publishing Bone, but people who see Bone now are coming at it from a completely different viewpoint.

    (And speaking of TCAF, what makes a comics show “major”?)

    Brink’s already in the “top 20” 2000 AD series of all time in terms of episodes in the anthology, which is kind of wild considering how long the comic’s been around for. Shows just how many new ideas they have and how few stick around.

    I saw someone’s comment on Twitter that the Sandman adaption is Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, but not any of the artist’s version of Sandman, and really have to agree with that. Plus, nobody’s hair is big enough.

    I haven’t reread Sandman in years, but as a teenager I gave up reading superhero comics and almost gave up comics entirely, but then I read volume one of Sandman and spent the next year saving up and buying one volume of Sandman a month. I read and reread those things many times and they’re one of the major reasons I still read comics. But I don’t think it’s possible to recapture that sort of reading experience anymore because I have access to so many comics through libraries, digital comics, and just having more money. I probably read 400+ graphic novels a year and like…doing that means I’m never going to have the same amount of time to think about and consider most of them. Very different from only reading (and thinking about) like one graphic novel a month.

    Also, if anyone’s going to use AI to make comics, I feel a company like Archie might have the best results.

  16. Shadavid Aug 29, 2022

    There are no comics anyone ‘needs to read,’ unless they are a historian. I can’t conceive that a group of comics could be presented as a canon in the global comics world we now live in. I mean by anyone who had the slightest notion of how vast that is.
    I’ve also had the experience of someone who’s read no Cerebus trying to shame me because I still think ‘High Society’ is good. In a context where I haven’t read all of Cerebus because I stopped enjoying it. There’s no equivalence between a peer being dickish to me and a person with authority failing to consider their responsibilities, but that sort of assumed moral superiority niggles. Circumstances have diminished the significance of Sim’s stentorian promotion of self-publishing. The internet created a world few would have predicted in the early 80s. I’m just a bit younger than Sim, so I may not get to read his obituary, but I’m willing to bet it’ll tell us as much about our culture as about Mr Sim.