Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sacred Cows: Time makes Gods of Men

Recently I was talking with folks on Twitter about the works of a very famous creator, and how some of his works get more praise than they deserve.  Regardless of how you feel about that, it got me thinking that there are sacred cows; creators that can’t be discussed because the mythos of their work has grown beyond the reality of it. Beyond that, time itself turns people into myth, myth into legend and legend into religion. I can see this starting to happen with comic book creators of the past. I'm guilty myself of placing reverence on deceased creators that I had no connection to because they are no long accessible, the memory of them is becoming a tale to be told rather than a reality to be explored.

I find that debating revered creator's works fails even before the discussion begins because people aren't talking about the same thing. While I may be talking about a book by someone through the eyes of a reader that doesn't know the original creator, someone else is talking about it with the full history of the work in their mind. It’s not the same debate. It’s so hard to establish the ground rules for discussion that what ends up happening is that works are considered untouchable simply because they no longer can be talked about. The weight of their work and roots in the industry are so deep they have become foundational and no longer living or vibrant.

Are there creators out there, works that are so revered that to talk ill of them will only serve to get you scorn? How do you, or do you even dare bring these up for debate and discussion? I find myself more often than not just letting the establishment have its idols and keeping my opinions to myself.

Till next time true believers...


  1. I have tried to read Gaiman's Sandman twice and HATED it both times. And I've tried reading Transmet twice with the same results. Hatred.
    As usual, I'll say I enjoy other Gaiman works. Same with Ellis. These particular revered series just never clicked with me.
    And I hate the Godfather movies.
    And Donner's 1977 Superman movie, too.
    I'm not proud, it's just the way I feel.

    1. Hah! Thanks for the confessional. I feel that way about a lot of works that are considered masterpieces. But beyond that its hard to discuss the why and how these things either have merit or dont.

  2. Discussing the work of legends (living or no) is a tricky thing. And since we all know who you're talking about here I think there are two issues at work in that case, one that you bring up and one that you don't.

    The one you don't bring up is the notion of "should a creator's personality have an effect on the way we view their work?" Honestly, I don't have an answer for that. I really don't. I wish I could tell you that I was consistent with my stance on this but honestly, I'm not. Sometimes I'll avoid a creator's work because something they said in an interview and sometimes I won't. I think if most people were being honest, they'd probably admit the same thing.

    As for what you were talking about (what, me? Tangent? Never), evaluating a work on its merit as an historical work vs a good work... it's hard to do! I think we all have to make up our own minds, but I guarantee you that there will always be people who disagree. In my mind something might only have value in a historical setting, but there is undoubtedly many other people who will see it the other way.

    And I'm not going to lie, in my eyes Watchmen is as much a masterpiece now as it ever was. And that's coming from someone who read it for the first time in 2003.

  3. I just realized I gave the bullshitiest non-answer ever.
    "You know, folks think different things from each other and that's just the way it is."

    Thanks, Owen. Great.

  4. now for my serious reply.

    Alan Moore is a cranky old man now but that doesn't take away from his work. Frank Miller went insane, but his work I enjoyed, I still enjoy. I don't think a creators' personality should skew their work BUT it will to some.

    1. Moore is very hard for me to discuss, there is the personal, the professional and the historical. It really depends on how we are talking about him that the discussion has to take place. But you know, i kept vague because I feel the same way about say someone like Jack Kirby. from a historical view his work is mind blowing, his importance to comics is undeniable. Should a new reader be given his stuff w/o context? no. does his story writing style hold up to modern comics? no.

    2. Breaking it down -

      Should a new reader be given Jack Kirby's stuff?

      No. The pricks won't be able to appreciate it. That's really snarky sounding, but seriously, people get up in arms about so much today, maybe it's a generational thing, maybe it's the ability to be off the cuff worldwide because of the Internet...BUT I still don't think new readers know their head from their asshole and with many older readers giving them, what they think, are perfect things for new readers - I'm exhausted and probably just confusing by now thinking about it lol
      (I'll reread what I wrote to see if it makes some it doesn't but I'm sticking with it)

      Does his story writing style hold up to modern comics? Not just Kirby, but the MAN Stan Lee - his writing was very 60s and written for young people in that it doesn't old up. That doesn't make it bad, it just different. I still don't think new readers can properly 'get it' and I'm not trying to sound elitist but some, not all would fail to grasp the hokey nature of older comics but see past that to the real meat of those classics.

      Back to Alan Moore - honestly I don't like the man. I don't like Rob Liefeld either, he comes off as an egomanic...BUT that's all context. Liefelds' and Moore's close friends would not think that enough not to be their friends.
      Some would look at me based on stuff I've said and like, or dislike me.
      Yet I still like Watchmen, V and the League. They are frozen in time and I can like them forever. No movie adaption, or personality thing can change that.
      Some things don't hold up so well...that's just the way it went.