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Terrible Writing Options
outcast
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 9:43:34 AM
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Thundercron wrote:
I don't think the Doom reference was a personal vendetta against Claremont. Enemies? Maybe I missed something.

On a related note, I believe that it was Walter Simonson who wrote in FF #350 that every Dr. Doom that appeared anywhere since FF #40 was actually a Doombot, because that was the issue where the "original" finally showed up again. Or something.
I recall that Byrne was interviewed in The Comics Journal ca. 1981, soon after he had quit X-Men, and about the time he was starting Fantastic Four. He was already airing grievances against Chris Claremont at that point. The information about Byrne retroactively making Claremont's Doom a robot was disclosed by Jim Shooter in a 2000 interview at the Comic Book Resources web site (the interview also corroborates Byrne's grudge against Claremont). Since we're not supposed to post URLs here, you can find the interview by searching at the CBR site on "shooter interview" (exclude quotation marks from your search). The Byrne story is in part 1, and it appears next to a cover shot of one of the X-Men issues in the Doom storyline.

Even though I think I read FF #350, I had forgotten Simonson's turn on the Doom robot thing. I wonder if he was trying to "top" Byrne with that story point. Thanks for pointing that out.
comicuniversity
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 10:37:21 AM
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My take on Byrne is that he is a victim of his own success.

When he buckles down and spends a good deal of time on a title, it is usually good. (Uncanny, FF, Superman, Alpha Flight, Next Men).

However, he has become kind of a "celebrity guest writer". usually only doing an arc on a title. And, I have found those to be poor.
comicuniversity
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 11:01:11 AM
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As far as terrible writing.

Well, Secret Wars II has already been mentioned.


I will throw in Micronauts the New Voyages.


The original Micronauts were a fun adventure. When the second series began, it became just a preachy mess, where each character was kinda interchangeable. No fun at all. Some of the worse writing I can think of. The Kelley Jones art was alright though.

I will also submit the obvious (but not mentioned yet) first volume of Youngblood by Liefeld. Just totally incomprehensible, cliched interchangeable character crap. I mean, just bad.
Later iterations of Youngblood were at least somewhat better, but that first volume. Man. My stomach is starting to cramp up a little just thinking about it.
Dementia5
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 4:37:45 PM

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I dare say that 25 years is a long time to have missed out of Byrne's material to date. But it is good to take in an intelligent response, which I'll address in similar format. None of this is meant to be derogatory or combative, let's get that up front. At its best it may even enlighten:

outcast wrote:
"Most versatile comic-book talent of the 20th century" covers a helluva lot of territory. More versatile than Will Eisner? Than Jack Kirby (taking into account his entire career, not just the tin-eared writing in his post-1970 work)? Than Walt Kelly * (who did outstanding comic-book work before settling into a newspaper comics career)? Than Harvey Kurtzman? Than Carl Barks? Than Walter Simonson?


First, to address your closing point: it is not my intention to degrade the efforts of some of the fine stalwarts in the business today. I can name drop a few you missed: Robert Kirkman, Mark Millar, Jamie Delano, Terry Moore, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis... but not Brian Bendis... these are all superstars in their own fiefdoms and deserve all the credit they have earned. But I do stand by my point. As far as unified talent (meaning the chores of writing and artwork and in great volume/consistency), to me the only one that comes close to Byrne is Walt Simonson. Other than him (and Kirby which I gave an affectionate nod), no I think Byrne runs rings around Barks and Kurtzman for the simple reason that Byrne's work is so accessible by so many. I would go so far as to guess that roughly 10 people in this forum, and less than 5% of the customers in my LCS have even read Uncle Scrooge.

you wrote:
No argument regarding Byrne's X-Men run (assuming you are referring to the Claremont-Byrne run, and not any later re-visitations (YES)); if those were the only comics he ever drew, Byrne would have to be acknowledged as a great comic-book artist. As for Fantastic Four, as a fan of an earlier version of the series, I had to stop reading FF when I realized that JB's handling of particular Lee-Kirby elements (e.g., Aunt Petunia) was ruining those elements for me when I went back to re-read the earlier classics. And I just can't see that his work on Superman was much of an achievement (in artistic terms, not commercial). As we now see on a regular basis, creators given free rein to wipe out what went before and start over can always goose fan interest for a few months.


True, but he kicked off this trend, for better or worse. I, too am a big fan of the legacy FF works but I think Byrne did a greater justice by restoring that magazine to its former glory. The cosmic stories alone justify his entrance to the book (e.g. I've always considered Trial of Galactus to be his Magnum Opus)

you continue and wrote:
On the few occasions I have recently looked at JB's new art, I have been surprised and dismayed at how little resemblance it bears to his outstanding work on X-Men. The current work seems scant in detail, and lacking in the vivid depictions of action and emotion that characterized his X-Men work.


If I had to flake away a crack in the wall, I would say his inking has gone downhill, and I'm sure you know he was color blind so we can't fault him for any of that. But again, 25 years is a long time to not follow his catalog of work, so your judging his detail/depictions begins to look a little arbitrary.

you pontificate and wrote:
Not having read a JB-written story in over 25 years, I probably ought to let this one pass, but.... "best writer in the business"? In a business that has had Steve Englehart, Alan Moore, Will Eisner, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Carl Barks, Archie Goodwin, Harvey Kurtzman, John Broome, Jules Feiffer *, and John Stanley? I'm afraid my mileage varies.


Certainly nothing wrong with this bullpen, and pound for pound Stan Lee and Alan Moore will always be remembered for their deeds as writers/creators, but they were omnipotent at different stages during separate generations of readership. And frankly, and we all know this is about taste, I always feel "better" after reading a fine Byrne story than say, Neil Gaiman. God bless him, but comics should also be fun.

out of left field you wrote:
And then there is the matter of his personal pettiness, and his tendency to settle personal scores in the very public forum of the pages of his comic-book stories. Remember the issues of Uncanny X-Men, shortly after JB left the title, in which the X-Men encountered Dr. Doom? A character (Arcade, IIRC) struck a match on Doom's armor. Byrne, a few months later, wrote a story in which Doom was examining Doom robots, and noticed a scratch that appeared to have been caused by the striking of a match. The implication was that "Doom" in the X-Men story wasn't the actual Doom, but a robot, thereby unilaterally undoing a significant story point by his ex-collaborator (and by then, his enemy) Chris Claremont. I believe JB also portrayed an unflattering version of Jim Shooter in Legends (DC 1980s mini-series). I think there are other examples, but I can't bring the details to mind right now.


Not really fair to bring personalities into this, I reckon. Although anyone who is willing to smear the helmet of a writer as self-absorbed as Claremont (who was ultimately fired from the X-Men books because of comments overhead at a bar by a Marvel editor) is OK with me. Not to say I would want my children following in his manner and approach, but like John MacEnroe and Joe Theismann... sometimes you just want to support the winner, in spite of their egos.

you closed and wrote:
I'm happy that you enjoy reading JB's work; just as I am almost always happy when I know that anyone is enjoying any comic anywhere. But it seems to me that the level of praise offered here is more extreme than the man's actual achievements warrant, and that it (perhaps unintentionally) denigrates work of other creators no less deserving of praise.


No, that wasn't my intent. And there's nothing wrong in agreeing to disagree either; I do stand by my statements but it's good to address these urgent, world-pressing matters light-heartedly in this forum Angel . At the very least, what can come out of this is your pursuit of his later works (Next Men is a good choice) and I'll hunt and peck material from some of the vintage authors you've listed * as a comparison.

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outcast
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 6:00:04 PM
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Dementia5 wrote:
.
.
.
First, to address your closing point: it is not my intention to degrade the efforts of some of the fine stalwarts in the business today. I can name drop a few you missed: Robert Kirkman, Mark Millar, Jamie Delano, Terry Moore, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis... but not Brian Bendis... these are all superstars in their own fiefdoms and deserve all the credit they have earned. But I do stand by my point. As far as unified talent (meaning the chores of writing and artwork and in great volume/consistency), to me the only one that comes close to Byrne is Walt Simonson. Other than him (and Kirby which I gave an affectionate nod), no I think Byrne runs rings around Barks and Kurtzman for the simple reason that Byrne's work is so accessible by so many. I would go so far as to guess that roughly 10 people in this forum, and less than 5% of the customers in my LCS have even read Uncle Scrooge.
Their loss, I'd say.

Since you chose to define the scope of your comments as "the 20th century," I chose to follow your lead, and by those standards, Barks had orders of magnitude more readers than probably any comic-book writer today (today's sales typically around 30,000 per issue; sales in Barks's heyday around 1,000,000 per issue).

I wouldn't say that Barks's or Kurtzman's works are inaccessible to today's readers. The Gladstone (and later Gemstone) Disney reprints are still quite available as back issues, and I think Gladstone reprinted every single Barks story in a pamphlet comic at least once. Along with the other EC comics, Kurtzman's Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat were reprinted in pamphlet form during the 1990s, and most of his MAD was reprinted in affordable magazines, also in the 90s. All of this ought to still be affordable as back issues.

BTW, in this paragraph, I was citing works of writer-artists, in keeping with my understanding of your reference to JB's versatility. As capable as Millar, Delano, Ennis, and Ellis are, I am unaware that any of them has ever drawn a line for publication (Terry Moore has, and he wouldn't have been out of place in my list; I'm afraid Kirkman's appeal is lost on me).

Dementia5 wrote:
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.
.

If I had to flake away a crack in the wall, I would say his inking has gone downhill, and I'm sure you know he was color blind so we can't fault him for any of that. But again, 25 years is a long time to not follow his catalog of work, so your judging his detail/depictions begins to look a little arbitrary.
I didn't know he is color-blind, but then, I wasn't commenting on coloring (in fact, I always assumed someone else colored his work).

Dementia5 wrote:
you pontificate and wrote:
Not having read a JB-written story in over 25 years, I probably ought to let this one pass, but.... "best writer in the business"? In a business that has had Steve Englehart, Alan Moore, Will Eisner, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Carl Barks, Archie Goodwin, Harvey Kurtzman, John Broome, Jules Feiffer *, and John Stanley? I'm afraid my mileage varies.


Certainly nothing wrong with this bullpen, and pound for pound Stan Lee and Alan Moore will always be remembered for their deeds as writers/creators, but they were omnipotent at different stages during separate generations of readership. And frankly, and we all know this is about taste, I always feel "better" after reading a fine Byrne story than say, Neil Gaiman. God bless him, but comics should also be fun.
Bearing in mind that my scope was "the 20th century," I stand by my inclusion of Stan Lee and Alan Moore in the same breath. I was really hoping to see an explanation of why you struck out Archie Goodwin. For his seven issues of Detective Comics (437-443) alone, I will revere him till my last breath. His wonderful Vampirella, war, and Marvel super-hero stories are just icing on the cake.

Dementia5 wrote:
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.
.

Not really fair to bring personalities into this, I reckon. Although anyone who is willing to smear the helmet of a writer as self-absorbed as Claremont (who was ultimately fired from the X-Men books because of comments overhead at a bar by a Marvel editor) is OK with me. Not to say I would want my children following in his manner and approach, but like John MacEnroe and Joe Theismann... sometimes you just want to support the winner, in spite of their egos.
Your point that I departed from addressing your comments is fair and valid. I'm afraid that the character traits I referred to are an integral part of the way I think about JB, and I don't know how I could have left those facts and feelings out of the discussion. Maybe I ought to have started my own thread.

The factoid about CC being fired due to a comment overheard in a bar is news to me. I would love to hear the whole story sometime.

Dementia5 wrote:
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.
.

No, that wasn't my intent. And there's nothing wrong in agreeing to disagree either; I do stand by my statements but it's good to address these urgent, world-pressing matters light-heartedly in this forum Angel . At the very least, what can come out of this is your pursuit of his later works (Next Men is a good choice) and I'll hunt and peck material from some of the vintage authors you've listed * as a comparison.
And I quite enjoyed the tone and substance of your response.

A quick note regarding Feiffer: Like Walt Kelly, Feiffer was seen more in newspapers than in comic books. The writing in his newspaper cartoons was splendid, but you were talking about comic books. To save you the effort of hunting Feiffer's too-few comic-book works, let me point out that most of it appeared in The Spirit, under Will Eisner's signature. The story I had most in mind when I included Feiffer was "Ten Minutes." Perhaps the most available reprint of it would be in The Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics.
LordMikel
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 6:21:50 PM
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I've been enjoying the debate on John Byrne, it has been quite the debate.

I think it all depends on when you started reading John Byrne. If you started reading him at the beginning, FF and X-Men, then some of his later work you can "let it slide" for not being great. I started reading him, well or not reading him I should say, when he was writing Avengers West Coast and She-Hulk.

I was in high school, and couldn't buy everything. But I was watching Avengers West Coast, Magneto was in it, he was the bad guy, Scarlet Witch had turned evil. I was watching the book, waiting for the "action" to start. Instead we got, "Sersi throws a party and invites weird people" issue. QuickSilver betrays Magneto. Magneto realized Scarlet Witch isn't really his ally and leaves. Turns out Immortus was behind it all which we discover in issue 50.

So Magneto was in the book for 6(?) issues, never fought the Avengers, nor met them, never did anything with them, doesn't even fight Immortus, the "true" villain. That was my exposure to John Byrne, a truly disappointing storyline. Now people might say, "but look at all of the character development" but, I didn't buy the book ever and I should have for the what storyline promised.

My second was She-Hulk. I could never get into the John Byrne humor with writing She-Hulk. It simply didn't work for me. When the next series came out with her as the lawyer, I bought everyone. I enjoyed that series.
LordMikel
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 6:28:23 PM
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Oh, and I will give credit, "Many Deaths of Batman" by John Byrne I did enjoy.
Dementia5
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 6:49:25 PM

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LordMikel wrote:


So Magneto was in the book for 6(?) issues, never fought the Avengers, nor met them, never did anything with them, doesn't even fight Immortus, the "true" villain. That was my exposure to John Byrne, a truly disappointing storyline. Now people might say, "but look at all of the character development" but, I didn't buy the book ever and I should have for the what storyline promised.


Being a "less is more" kind of guy, I truly enjoy the battles that are never fought as much as, if not more so than, the conventional Marvel/DC battles that have been put to print. I remember this storyline fondly, and the fact that there was never any physical conflict between the two spoke volumes on just how important the chemistry between adversaries can lead to some of the best entertainment in the media. So another kudos for Johnny B from me.

LordMikel wrote:
My second was She-Hulk. I could never get into the John Byrne humor with writing She-Hulk. It simply didn't work for me. When the next series came out with her as the lawyer, I bought everyone. I enjoyed that series.


Gads, how could I neglect to mention his work on Jennifer Walters? Again, being a matter of taste, I thought these were brilliant episodes on the order of Douglas Adams or even Terry Gilliam. Like Canada's rendition of British humor. Of course, British humor is not everybody's ball of wax. Being funny isn't easy... just ask the talented Steve Gerber, who struggled with the title after Byrne left the book.

Curious, though... I wouldn't put Many Deaths of Batman high on my list. Too much postering for me.

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Dementia5
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 7:02:35 PM

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outcast wrote:
(in reference to the entire article... quicker format prevails.)


@outcast

Your numbers are accurate, and I don't want to take away from Barks' success, but it really is a different camp for me to compare Disney to today's superhero market. May as well include Archie comics then, with Dan Parent at the helm.

"Accessible" should perhaps be defined then as "approachable" by today's readers. You will hear no argument from me regarding the wealth of talent from the E.C. publishing house: Frank Frazetta, Jack Kamen, Joe Orlando, Bernard Krigstein, John Severin, Al Williamson, Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, and particularly Wally Wood. But as sad as it is to hear, there aren't too many of today's readers rushing to these reprints; much to my surprise given the success of horror in TV and film today.

Archie Goodwin: I simply would not put him on the same pedestal as the stalwarts we've been hammering a discourse. Entertaining, yes, the likes of Len Wein, but underneath Gerry Conway. A country mile from Roy Thomas... a poor man's Marv Wolfman, perhaps.

Regarding starting another thread, it is too late for that I fear: this thread has been wholly hijacked. May as well say it proudly.



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BurningDoom
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 7:18:29 PM

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comicuniversity wrote:
My take on Byrne is that he is a victim of his own success.

When he buckles down and spends a good deal of time on a title, it is usually good. (Uncanny, FF, Superman, Alpha Flight, Next Men).

However, he has become kind of a "celebrity guest writer". usually only doing an arc on a title. And, I have found those to be poor.


I'd say this about sums it up.

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chu082011
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outcast
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 11:55:20 PM
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Dementia5 wrote:
.
.
.

Archie Goodwin: I simply would not put him on the same pedestal as the stalwarts we've been hammering a discourse. Entertaining, yes, the likes of Len Wein, but underneath Gerry Conway. A country mile from Roy Thomas... a poor man's Marv Wolfman, perhaps.
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After I slagged one of your favorites so thoroughly, I suppose I have to take this like a man, but I just want to ask: Have you read the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter (in the aforementioned Detective Comics 437-443)? I suspect not. May I recommend the 1984 reprint one-shot? I've seen it for sale recently for less than a buck, and almost always under $5. I'm not the only one who noticed that something special was happening in that series, and (based on the substance of your running comments here) I think you would enjoy it.
Dementia5
Posted: Friday, October 05, 2012 12:29:21 AM

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outcast wrote:
Dementia5 wrote:
.
.
.

Archie Goodwin: I simply would not put him on the same pedestal as the stalwarts we've been hammering a discourse. Entertaining, yes, the likes of Len Wein, but underneath Gerry Conway. A country mile from Roy Thomas... a poor man's Marv Wolfman, perhaps.
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After I slagged one of your favorites so thoroughly, I suppose I have to take this like a man, but I just want to ask: Have you read the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter (in the aforementioned Detective Comics 437-443)? I suspect not. May I recommend the 1984 reprint one-shot? I've seen it for sale recently for less than a buck, and almost always under $5. I'm not the only one who noticed that something special was happening in that series, and (based on the substance of your running comments here) I think you would enjoy it.


I confess, I have not. But the fact they are 100 page Super Spectacular (and I appreciate Aparo's work) is a big plus therefore I will hunt these down at my LCS. The period is also enduring to me, IIRC this series falls after the gifted Neal Adams run for the title; right about when DC was taking the craft seriously. I'll return with a quick review, and thanks for the tip.

Edit - On your recommendation, I just purchased the original Detective Comic issues off of eBay: issues 439 - 445 for $35 in VF+ condition. Seems like a good deal since they were going for about $20 a pop individually in lesser condition. And Alex Toth? SOLD.

You best be right! Happy At the very least, they will serve as a memento of the fine palaver between the two of us, eh?

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outcast
Posted: Friday, October 05, 2012 7:34:08 AM
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@Dementia5:

At the very least, yes. But I am confident that most of those issues (through #443) will come to mean more to you than merely that.

Thank you for this wide-ranging, and always enjoyable, exchange.
BurningDoom
Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 4:58:04 PM

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Got another one to add to this thread that I just read:

Contest of Champions II


An absolute turd. I should have known with how bad the first Contest of Champions was, but I thought with Chris Claremont writing this might have a chance. But I was sorely wrong. Cheesy as hell dialogue. People completely saying all their thoughts out loud, even if there was nobody else there like bad Golden Age dialogue.

Even the outcome of the battles were bogus. Wonder Man vs. Black Widow and they have Black Widow win it...against a guy that could take on Superman if wanted. Quicksilver vs. Gambit, and they have Gambit win. How in the hell could Gambit even land one of his cards on Quicksilver?! And they were boring, only a few panels long and some even being a single panel.

This was pathetic and I can't believe Claremont agreed to put his name on it. Stay far, far away from this one.

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SwiftMann
Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:01:20 PM

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BurningDoom wrote:
I thought with Chris Claremont writing this might have a chance.

How's that. Because every thing you describe, "Cheesy as hell dialogue. People completely saying all their thoughts out loud, even if there was nobody else there like bad Golden Age dialogue." sounds exactly like everything Claremont's written in the last 20 years.


And a complete aside, but why would you go to the marveldatabase for an image instead of just linking the one here?

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BurningDoom
Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:26:41 PM

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SwiftMann wrote:
BurningDoom wrote:
I thought with Chris Claremont writing this might have a chance.

How's that. Because every thing you describe, "Cheesy as hell dialogue. People completely saying all their thoughts out loud, even if there was nobody else there like bad Golden Age dialogue." sounds exactly like everything Claremont's written in the last 20 years.


And a complete aside, but why would you go to the marveldatabase for an image instead of just linking the one here?


I don't think I've read anything from Claremont since the 80s. So that was pure ignorance on my part.

And I just did a Google image search and grabbed the first cover I saw.

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