May 9, 2015

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Weekend Pattering for May 9th, 2015-- The Geeks Have Inherited the Earth



** Happy Mother's Day, a day early!  Call your mom and tell her you love her.  And include one of the following additions:

  • "Thank you for never throwing my comic collection away."
  • "I don't care that you threw my collection away.  You taught me an important and valuable life lesson."
Do it now.

** Please allow us to direct your attention to Marc Bernardin's piece at Playboy.com "SURPRISE, THE MARVEL UNIVERSE IS REALLY ONE BIG TV SHOW" from last year.  This is the bit on Playboy that you can really read for the article and it's fairly Safe For Work.  

Bernardin's article is one of the scintillion think pieces on the triumphs and failures of how Marvel is managing its movie properties and still seems relevant after last week's release of Avengers II.
Whose vision is being executed in Marvel’s films? Not the directors’. Joss Whedon has spoken often of the fact that when he signed on to do The Avengers, they had certain elements set in stone: Loki was the Big Bad; Cap, Thor and Iron Man would have a big battle in the woods; there would be a big Helicarrier fight; and the Battle of New York. These were immutable. When Anthony and Joe Russo boarded Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it was made clear to them that SHIELD would be disbanded by film’s end. Traditionally, directors don’t get dictated to in such a manner. Because once a director is hired to make a movie, everyone involved realizes it becomes the director’s movie.
It's easy to look at the current pop culture climate and declare "the geeks have won!"  It used to be "the geek shall inherit the Earth," and guess what?  We did!!!!!  And what did we do?  We reshaped the world into what we knew.  Is it any wonder that Marvel Studios looks and sounds a lot like Marvel Comics?

Who is creating Convergence or Secret Wars?  Looking at the mega event that is Marvel's Secret Wars, Jonathan Hickman is sitting in the Joss Whedon seat right now.  Hickman appears to be driving the Mighty Marvel Machine but how much is he really doing?  He's doing the main series, the spine of Marvel's summer season but look at all of the Secret Wars books that are going to be coming out.  Do you really think that was all Hickman's ideas?  There's not as much financially riding on Secret Wars as there is on Avengers II but is Marvel's control over its movies really any different than its control over its comics?  That's why all of the Marvel movies look and sound alike-- it's not the work of a director.  Those movies are the work of a committee.

And even as we look at the internal machinations of Marvel, it's almost funny to watch all of the commentary about those movies and see how much the cinematic conversation around those films are echoing discussions we've had in the comic circles for decades now.
  • At Criticwire, Sam Adams writes about the great anticipation cycles that Marvel is managing more than their movies.
  • The Dissolve's Kate Erbland looks at how much Avengers II is a reaction to the movies of Warner Brothers/DC.  
  • The Washington Post Alyssa Rosenberg tackles the merits of The Avengers feminism.  
We've won so much that all of the writing around movies right now almost looks like the writing of comics.  It's not enough that we've taken over the movie house, now we've got to take over the cinephiles and their thoughts as well.  

I honestly believe this is only a cycle but it's one that we may be in for the next few years still.  We're stuck in it until at least 2020 or so but so much of the pop culture world now looks like what the comic industry has for the past 20 years that it's kind of hard not to be simultaneously amazed and frightened by that. For as much as we can look at comics and see some of the old ways falling to the wayside as comics seems to be in a great point of diversification of creators, subjects and distribution,  we can look at television and the movies as just the opposite.  In those grand mediums, the superhero has taken over like a virus and is transforming and limiting what is capable of being done there.



** 2015 has been a turbulent year so far for publishers and Drawn & Quarterly is no different.  Congrats to Peggy Burns on becoming the new publisher for D&Q, to Tom Devlin on being its new Executive Editor and to Chris Oliveros for all of the great work that he has done as be steps aside to become Contributing Editor.  D&Q has been one of the great alternative comics publishers of the past 25 years and this move should ensure that they remain that. Tom Spurgeon's piece at Comics Reporter offers a great overview of this move and has some feedback from other critics and creators about this move.

** Lianne Sentar at Sparkler asks Why do we need “comics for women”? Why not “comics for everyone”?
This is what I want–a comics industry where anyone, from any background, can find a comic that speaks to them. I want comics to cover such a broad spectrum of perspective and genre that people treat them like bigger fiction mediums (like novels, TV, and movies): just one more channel through which we consume stories in our culture.

But we’re not there yet.
This is actually a nice counter-balance to all of the superhero movie think pieces this week.  I don't know if that article says anything really new or revolutionary but it's saying ideas that are worth repeating.  But I think it's so much more than what comics has for sale on the comic racks but maybe that's where it starts.  It's odd but I work in a predominantly female company and industry.  When I look at the ways that we as fandom treat women, I try to imagine treating my co-workers and customers in those ways and just cringe.  And it's not even just about the ways that we treat women but it's about the ways that we just treat anyone who isn't us or like us.  At best, it's just embarrassing and at worst, it's abysmal.

**  So, what did we do at Panel Patter this week?  Glad you asked.