SORRY I’M LATE: Gail Simone Talks DC in Her New ComicsAlliance Column
“Sorry I’m Late” is a new, irregular column featuring the possibly deranged rantings of Gail Simone, noted authoress of some genuinely odd stuff, and habitual Twitter abuser. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of ComicsAlliance, or anyone else who is smart or whatever.
Hello everyone, welcome to the first of an irregular series of articles about whatever pathetic excuse for rational thought is going through my mind at that particular moment. If you prefer not to read the ravings of a befuddled redhead, at least skip ahead to the end, as I am introducing JUST FIVE MORE, where each column, I pick five things I love in geek culture to share with you, whether you want it or not.Crazy week to be a DC fan, huh?
Reaction to the revelations this week regarding DC Comics and the vaguely terrifying and cryptic press releases we’ve seen so far seem to range from orgasmically positive to ferociously vengeful. Some of the slightly condescending comments from the first group to the second probably aren’t helping matters.
I don’t think, “calm down, it’s just comics,” or, “your old comics are still in boxes, you can read them whenever you want,” are really the answers the second group wants to hear. These aren’t the enemy, these are, many of them, long-term, loyal supporters, who have stuck with us through crazy times. Remember Superman with a mullet? That might be a bad example, because I actually like Superman with a mullet. Hmm. Remember when the bat-cowl had a mullet? Shut up, I’m making a point here.
These people are concerned that the stories they care about no longer “matter,” or aren’t in continuity. Or that their favorite characters might disappear completely. Those are understandable, reasonable concerns. Wow. Now I can’t stop thinking of the bat-cowl with a mullet. Is there a El Bat Mulleto in Batman, Inc? There should be.
Let me point out why I’m excited about this movement at DC. I also need to say that I am not an apologist, nor is DC even aware I am writing this. These are just my thoughts as both a writer for the company and as someone who dearly loves the DC Universe above all things including dogs and self-respect. You may completely disagree, but I think this is going to be one of the most exciting times in history to be reading comics. Yes, really.
First… I don’t believe it’s a good thing when the readers know everything about a character. That is asking the writer to play poker with all his cards showing and his pants unzipped. You might win the game, but what FUN is it (except the zipper part)? Fiction is about surprise…it’s about twists and turns and sudden reveals. And yes, you can still have those things in a great comic in current continuity. But how much more fun is it to be an explorer?
Remember when you first got hooked on comics, and you found that soulmate character you loved and just HAD to find out more about? How fun was that? How much joy did that bring you? Did you ever have a better, more wonderful time as a comics reader?
That’s what excites me, here. We’re going off-roading. We don’t have to go the speed limit.
Right now, telling even the best stories in current continuity is negotiating a great many roadblocks and closed roads, set up by people who don’t even work in the industry anymore, for reasons that no longer make much sense. It can be done, the detours are amazing. But September is giving us a hot car to drive and a huge endless horizon in every direction. No pre-built fences, no roadblocks erected decades ago for a different set of drivers entirely.
It’s a little bit thrilling.
A DCU that looks less like the cast of the Andy Griffith show and more like the wide, vast group of people that attend NYCC and SDCC… that’s exciting. And long past due.
Many of us in the industry are also seeing some of the other new projects announced for the first time (security was FIERCE!), and my inbox and twitter feed are full of pros, even some who don’t work for DC, cackling like freshly-minted fanboys and fangirls. “Did you see Philip Tan’s Hawkman?” “Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang on WONDER WOMAN?”
I mean, this is just the first salvo and I am looking at a big stack of books I have to have already. Mr. Terrific getting his own book? Geoff and Jim on Justice League?
The morning when it was announced, Firestorm, the book I am doing with Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar, was actually a worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Firestorm. Who could have predicted that six months ago?
Over the next few days, there’s going to be a lot more news, a lot of unexpected stuff, new books, new writers, new artists, and some plans to bring a visibility to comics we haven’t seen since the first Batman film. Hollywood has caught up with comics, guys. That means we have to jump ahead of them again.
Lest you think this is just an ad for the company that pays me, I assure you, it isn’t. There were some painful decisions made, some I disagree with. Some YOU will probably disagree with. Every book is someone’s favorite. Every character is someone’s heart. And that is going to be hard in some cases…almost everyone is going to lose something they really loved. In some cases, this was every bit as hard for the creators as it might be for the readers.
But the good news is, this isn’t the end. Like every DCU that has ever existed, it is a canvas that has a lot of blank space in it. These launch titles are not the end. There’s more room to be filled in. There will be some growing pains. But we, all of us, get to see the kingdom from a new angle, with new territories. And some of your favorite characters are coming back with a vengeance and a focus that they have never before had.
I was at a writing seminar as a guest recently, up at the wonderful Stumptown convention in Portland, to hear Brian Michael Bendis give a speech on comics. He said something that I found a real key to his success…that when something went wrong or contrary to his wishes, instead of falling to pieces, he saw that as an opportunity. It’s not specifically DC that I’m so behind on with this plan, it’s big ideas, giving creators room to try new, wide-open concepts. That excites me.
At some point in the early sixties, some very creative people realized that if they were going to bring back the Flash, it probably wouldn’t work if he was still the guy with a lightning bolt t-shirt and a soup pot on his head.
I understand the concern, I sympathize. But at the same time, I really, really don’t want you to miss the stuff that’s coming. Yesterday was just the first salvo. No one’s a bigger DCU fan than I am. I am a serious skeptic about stunts and events. But nothing DC has ever done compares in scope to this. It’s a big idea, scary and exciting. It makes us explorers again, writer and reader both.
And that is what comics are all about.
No mullets were harmed during the writing of this column.
Here are five things. Look at them, shan’t we? And then go to your friendly local comic book store and support the HELL out of that place by ordering these books!
One of the greatest surreal comedy comics of all time, collected in a huge, handsome hardback editions. Reid Fleming is a chain-smoking, rye-drinking, television-loving whirlwind of a man. Rivals Flaming Carrot for brilliant raging insanity. You’ll read this book dozens of times over.
An astounding personal journal/graphic novel by Miriam Libicki, a Jewish American woman during her time when she was enlisted in the Israeli Army during the Al Aqsa Uprising. As much a personal story about loneliness and feelings of helplessness as a journal of the time. Achingly lovely, I read this in one gulp and suspect you will, too.
I found the original Atlas Comics years after they had stopped publishing, but eventually collected the whole set…designed as competition to DC and Marvel, this ambitious company published some of the top creators of the day, and now the characters are finally back, at least Grim Ghost, Phoenix and Wulf are, with talentented writers like Tony Isabella, Jim Krueger, and Steve Niles helming their adventures. Lots of fun.
Can’t say enough about these folks. Prism Comics is an organization that promotes great comics featuring lgbtq creators and characters. Regardless of your sexuality, they are producing and promoting some of the most human and humane reading out there, everything from adventure to humor to saucy romance. Their very informative website is here, and if you see them at a con, stop and try one or more of their books!
My all-time favorite manga. I don’t think anyone is currently publishing American editions, but a couple different publishers, including DC, have published it in the past, so copies are often available at comic shops and conventions. It’s the wordless story of a tough little dinosaur who fights like Popeye when riled. Beautifully researched and drawn, my brief synopsis here is not doing this justice. A book a child can love, and an adult can treasure. Buy every copy you see.
[Editor's Note: There's a new edition coming from Kodansha in August!]
“Sorry I’m Late” logo designed by Dylan Todd.