Friday, March 9, 2012


Ive been trying to write about Jason Aarons Punisher MAX run for a couple of weeks now, I've gone through four or five drafts at this point. I chucked a thousand word essay that devolved into a sermon over the nature of the definitive run, I followed that up with a rehashed Chad Nevett idea. Twenty minutes into that digression I became disgusted with myself and scrapped the thing. This mild plagiarisms made me think about comics and the internet communities obsession with exclusives.

Comics is plagued with theft and dishonesty; I don't want to add to that continuum. Even if it comes from a retrofitted academic critique with MLA formatted sources and quotations.Comics requires more than that, and I require more than that. The Internet is so obsessed with "exclusives" they fail to realize that every original idea uttered by an author is a "exclusive", a Comics Alliance interview that can be quoted whole heatedly at iFanboy is not so much a exclusive, as the tired terminology of a PR and editorial department desperate to justify there paycheck. An exclusive is merely an original idea, a fully formed thought never uttered before. Not a leg in one of the Big Two's propaganda tours.

Chad Nevett's talking about Marvel Boy is an exclusive. Sean Witzke's take on Elecktra Assassin is an exclusive. Matt Seneca's essay on Acme Novelty #20 is an exclusive. Tucker Stone, Tim Callahan, and Joe McCulloch produce exclusive's every time they put word to paper*.

Exclusives emanate from their authors, not the subjects of their column.

The only writer who's interviews I can even stand at this point are those 40 page long carrear retrospectives Gary Groth pumps out, and Tom Spurgeon's equally long interviews, because there's nothing being pitched in them. It is simply a conversation conducted by someone who loves talking about comics, and more so wants them to be better.

Much like Kirby, Ditko, and Moore comics operate as exclusives. A definitive run isn't so much about the character being "defined" as a creator defining there idea of what that character represents.Which is why so many "definitive" runs stand alone. Writers are too focused on repeating and rehashing the idea's of there intellectual betters than coming up with something new.

The most topical example of this is Scott Snyders Swamp Thing. Spending 6 issues, all he tells us is how amazing Alan Moore's run was, rehashing plot point after plot point, in a fetishistic manner. For the $18 you spent on those 6 issues you could have bought one of those nice 12 issue Moore Swamp Thing hardcovers and realized that fact for yourself. Snyder isn't the only offender though, he may even be one of the lesser, if you've read any Daredevil comic in the past 20 years congratulations you just read a lesser version of Frank Millers run.

Before Watchmen isn't so much a exercise in fucking creators as it is the mining of ones predecessors. Watchmen was a cohesive whole, but DC decided to bleed it dry. Like so many ideas before it Watchmen was dived up in the chop shop that is Intellectual Property and sold off for parts. But that's what happens to "Exclusives" in the modern era.

I cant look at Hickman's FF run and not see 40 year old recycled ideas, just like I cant read any "fan" site without seeing a PR man standing behind them, rubbing there shoulders and promising more exclusives as long as there next event gets a 5 Star "Totally Rad" review.

Even this blog, this measly blog that I am the sole author of is guilty of this crime. I try my hardest not to be, but i constantly find my idea's derivative. I don't want to become the "House Style" of comic criticism.I look at serious comic critic in awe of the exclusivity of their idea's. I want every one of my posts to become a exclusive like theirs and not a "Exclusive" like everyone else. Just like i want every comic i read to be a exclusive and not another boring retread of decade old tropes.

Here's a couple things i define as Exclusives:

Tucker Stones Comics Reporter Interview:

Matt Sceneca's essay on Guido Crepax

Gary Groth x2

Sean Witzke and Matt Sceneca on Elektra Assassin

Footnotes/Citations/What Not

*There's several authors i didn't mention because that would become excessive, but if your an intelligent reviewer / commentator then I mean you.


  1. I constantly fall to this worry when I go to write something. I constantly wonder about what I'm actually adding to the larger discussion. So far, nothing. So far, I feel I've only provided derivative bullshit completely absent of anything unique or personally mine, yet, for some reason, I've kept producing the shit I produce. And you know why? The derivative shit is easy. Writing reviews, industry editorials and issue commentary is easy.

    The unique work takes an effort and focus I've been too lazy to put forth, and honestly I haven't had the confidence to do it. More importantly though, writing something unique, or owning a certain gallery of information, takes intelligence and a strong recollection or expertise. I don't have that yet. You write what you know, and I know what most others do.

    But, you gotta just push on, right? You'll get to your good work eventually, right? Maybe, but maybe you have to push yourself rather than wait?

    Idk. I liked this post a lot because I relate, and the thought you express here is one I currently share. I've been wondering for a year and change what it is I can do to stand out. I still don't know. All I do know is to push away from the random, everyday comics writing (reviews, opinion pieces) and do more "sweet spot" pieces - check Splash Page 51 for more on that - while doing the heavy research before I write. If anything, a strong information base can give your piece something to work with.

    But information or facts can't substitute attitude, style and voice, and that's something so few writes can master. I doubt I'll ever hold an authority like Witzke, Seneca or Callahan in my writing, but, fuck, I'm gonna try.

    At the end of the day though, I think well-considered, patiently crafted pieces evoke influence and last, and the majority of the comics internet has forgotten that because it got caught up in "being first" like the rest of "journalism." You may not find money in patient work, but I say it's better for everybody.

    And now it's 6 am, and I doubt any of this shit made sense. I should stop. Fuck. I need to start writing again. School and college parties have taken all of my focus and attention. I feel frustrated as fuck even though I'm liking life ... I just feel like I'm slacking when I should be pushing my writing and expanding my knowledge.

    Some fucked up shit to feel when we're talking about comic books, right?

  2. If you've got something to say, fuck what anyone else wrote. Reference it and just say your piece.