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Cronin Theory of Comics – Treat Comic Creators Respectfully

It’s kind of weird, as this sure seems to be self-evident, but apparently it needs to be stated – not liking someone’s comic book is not a reason to be disrespectful to them.

I am aghast at some of the terribly disrespectful things that are being said towards Joe Quesada for his crime of messing around with Spider-Man continuity.

I do not know Joe Quesada personally. Odds are the commenters saying awful, mean things about him do not, either. So while I do not think actually knowing the man would make personal insults appropriate, at least I could understand it a bit. “I met Joe Quesada once, and he punched my mom in the face – that asshole!” That I would understand. “Ooops Another Day thing is yet another cake made of turds delivered on a Fuck You platter by Joey the Q” by the tastefully named commenter “Quesada, Quesadilla, Same Shit Different Name”? That is bad.

The tons of posts I know my pal Sean Whitmore has to delete on the Comic Book Resources Spider-Man forum where people insult Quesada personally?

That is also bad.

Rail against the work all you like, folks – but keep it to the work. Treat the creators themselves respectfully.

Unless they punched your mom in the face, I suppose.

34 Comments

Well, Peter David did once personally insult my mom. No joke. (Well, it was on a forum, but still.) It took about a decade, and that Madrox mini, for me to finally agree to read him again.

That aside, I do totally agree with what you’re saying here.

He punched Spider-Man fans in the face with this story, does that count? J/K. I do hate this steaming pile of story though. If I thought this was going to go somewhere and he had some kind of resolution planned other than just hitting the reset button I might have more of a wait and see attitude but we already saw how far he plans things in advance. Just look at the follow up to House of M for a prime example.
I won’t hate on him personally though.

It IS kind of insulting to be told that all this crap is my fault. I demanded nothing!

Seriously, though, personally insulting the creators over the story just makes you seem way too overattached to the book in question. It makes you look like one of those crazy people who refer to celebrities by their first names.

You know, losers.

Well, Joe Quesada *did* punch my mom in the face, but I’m totally more pissed about One More Day.

I read a story on a forum a while ago where a guy was pissed at Mike Grell for shoving his handicapped wife’s wheelchair out of his way at a convention or something like that. Then Mike Grell came on the forum to say something like, No, I moved around her! And the guy was all, Are you calling my wife a liar?

I wish I could find that again.

The people that make these kinds of personal comments make the rest of us look bad. Even though I hated One More Day, I find any kind of personal attack to be detrimental to the discussion.

Let’s say you take a beloved photo or poster to a framing shop to have a professional job done so you can hang it over your fireplace mantle. A week later you plop cash on the counter as the framer brings your item out of the back room. Surprise! The poster has not only been aligned at a 15 degree angle, but he shaved off the corners to make it fit.

Would you feel justified in calling the guy a name? You did, after all, pay the man for his creative efforts. Or would you be upset at the product but still respectful of the person who screwed it up?

Yes, I know it’s not a perfect parallel. The line can be easily shifted all over the place to provide a lot of examples, some better than others. But that’s my point, really — you can’t reasonably declare limits on other people’s emotional investments and how they react when their expectations go horribly awry.

you can’t reasonably declare limits on other people’s emotional investments and how they react when their expectations go horribly awry.

Of course you can. That’s what society is for. Should I be allowed to treat the movie theater manager like total shit because I didn’t like Juno as much as I expected to?

Of course not. And that’s the best analogy to what the majority of these people are doing. They’re saying petty and vulgar things about someone they don’t know to a bunch of other people who are not connected to the target of the tantrum.

Your analogy’s also off because in this situation, people are complaining about something that they can decide about BEFORE paying. The entire internet has know what this story would be about from the beginning, and they still payed for it. That’s their fault. Also, comic book continuity can be undone at any time. The story, itself, is perfect evidence of that. As opposed to your poster analogy, where it’s irreparable.

We declare limits on the behavior of these people because they seem to be unable to do it themselves.

The bottom line is, you should never post something about a creator you wouldn’t say to them personally.

I met Brian Cronin once. He punched my mum in the face.

“Should I be allowed to treat the movie theater manager like total shit because I didn’t like Juno as much as I expected to? Of course not. And that’s the best analogy to what the majority of these people are doing.”

Not really, because the theatre manager didn’t make Juno, and you had no emotional investment in the characters before seeing the film. I agree that it’s crazy for people to be hurling personal insults at Quesada, though. Even without taking into account the great Spidey stories that have been published under his watch outside of ASM, it just seems like an extreme thing to do.

Personally, I love Quesada at the moment. He just saved me the cost of three comics a month.

Actually, I think there’s a bottomer line.

“Don’t take it so fucking personally. It’s fiction.”

Not really, because the theatre manager didn’t make Juno, and you had no emotional investment in the characters before seeing the film.

I think you missed that part where I note that people aren’t complaining TO Quesada, they’re complaining ABOUT him. Therefore, the analogy stands.

And, actually, I had an emotional investment in two of the actors in the movie, which is pretty similar, since the Spider-Man character is a template, with changing features that are appopriate to the story being told. Like an actor.

These people could use a little less emotional investment.

The whole point of a character that’s lasted 40 years is for the readers to have an emotional investment in them that keeps them coming back every month. To me, that’s not the problem. That’s a sign that somewhere along the way, a bunch of writers and artists did something right. The problem is when people overstep their emotional connections to fictional characters and start hurling personal insults at real people, right?

And the inverse problem is that a lot of people — hello — try to be so friggin’ considerate and understanding that they immediately belittle anyone who expresses passionate dissent.

There’s a difference between passionate dissent and being an asshat. And there’s also a difference between belittling an asshat and being considerate and understanding.

And just so we’re clear, in order to express “dissent,” your opinion has to be different from everyone else’s. You hated OMD? So did most people who are talking about it. That’s not dissent. That’s agreement…

You know, I couldn’t care any less about the way fans are treating Quesada.

Specially when I remember him making some very crass comments about DC and their properties. I also remember reading about how Bill Jemas and Joey Q loved to belittle the comic book reading population.

So… as far as I’m concerned, if he was able to dish the porn potty language, he should be able to handle some colorful and creative analogies from the fans. (You know, as long as nobody threatens him or his family with bodily harm.)

Next ComiCon, I am so gonna hire a prostitute to push Quesada over….

Nice points here.

On the one hand, it seems clear that personal insults are way out of line. A distinction must be made between the merits (or lack thereof) of the work of art and those of the person proper.

On the other, it is just not reasonable to expect no emotional investment from fans. Incidentally, there is often a pleasant side to the confusion between the person and the work; fanboys can be quite welcome by some writers.

I fear that in these days of overextended storylines and high cover prices one can’t help but be more vocal when a whole storyline turns out to be disappointing. Abstract respect for a creator is hard to come by when one has some evidence that the creator is interested in squeezing all the money he possibly can out of the readers.

My number one rule of life is: there is no excuse for acting like an asshole. “But OMD really sucked!” is not an excuse. “But he started it!” is not an excuse. “But I paid for this, and it wasn’t worth it!” is not an excuse. If the story is awful, criticise the story. Don’t shout insults at the creator. That’s acting like an asshole, and there is no excuse for that.

As for Jack D.’s example — what is the point of getting het up in that kind of situation? Demand your money back; demand compensation if the poster was valuable; but don’t make it personal. What’s the point? Chances are he didn’t do it on purpose to make your life miserable.

Which is the root of the issue, I think. People get emotionally invested, and that’s okay; but what’s not okay is the widespread assumption that being emotionally invested in the characters means the creators owe it to you to write the kind of story you want to read. They don’t. They really don’t.

I agree with Brian. And one should remember that no one sets out to write a bad story, and generally no one sets out to anger the fan-base. It’s okay for someone to get passionate, and it’s even okay to lay into some invective, without resorting to name-calling.

Example: “Quesada shows he has no real concept of who Peter Parker is. The idea is asinine and the execution shows a complete lack of storytelling ability.”

Now, that certainly _is_ an insult of sorts, and it is directed towards Quesada, but it’s not name-calling or threats of violence. I believe that this sort of insult or invective is acceptable in most forms of discourse, because it’s an insult based on those points that are salient– i.e., the story itself.

I should add that I haven’t read One More Day, and so my example is not my personal opinion but rather simply an example.

Personally, i feel that PERSONALLY attacking/insulting a creator is uncalled for.

A long time ago, i was one of those guys who gets riled up whenever a creator did something that i did not like with a character. I loose sleep and vow never to read anything by the creator again. That was 8 years ago when i was a teen.

Nowadays i treat comicbooks as it was meant to be, a piece of entertainment, not gospel. I read them and they make me laugh, cry or think for the duration of the read, After a breather in this fictional world, reality checks in and life goes on.

But i also understand that this fictional characters are owned by the company that created them. They have a dedicated team of profesionals producing stories for our amusement, and also like any other business entity, to make money.That’s no secret.

Most of this dedicated profesionals could very well leave the industry and work in movies, games, advertising or what-not which provide a higher income and exposure. But they still stick around for the single reason that they love the industry.

It’s understandle when the reader is emotional over what happened to their favourite character in a story. It’s part of the entertainment. But personally attacking/insulting a real person over what they did to a fictional character? That’s uncalled for.

Just my ‘personal’ feelings about the topic.

Keeping criticism to the story when the story is not only bad, but represents a bad judgement about audiences as well as the overall creative integrity of an entire company’s product line strikes me as an odd expectation.

First, because it acts as if a given story is an Immaculate Conception, that it falls from some Platonic overworld intact and complete. I can talk about structural flaws in a story where I treat those as a feature of the story itself. (Say, in the screenplay of The Golden Compass). But at some point, if I think there is a huge miscalculation in the entirety of a creative work, I’m going to want to talk about the author of that work, about the reasons why that miscalculation happened. When I’m talking about an author with a long track record, I can do that without a huge amount of psychologizing, because the author’s creative psychology is visible in the work itself, independent of what he or she might be like as an individual.

If the decision is more mysterious to me, or not an evident extension of previous work, then the impulse to ask questions about the psychological calculation that went into the decision isn’t just irresistable, but perfectly normal.

I think Brian Cronin is confusing “don’t talk like an immature douchebag” with “don’t talk about an individual creator’s mistakes in such a way that assigns individual responsiblity to that creator”. I completely agree with the former, but it’s an unremarkable thing to argue for. E.g., it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about stories or individuals, it would be best to not scrawl subliterate abuse all over the internets. But I think this is a story where it’s perfectly legitimate to ask, “What was this individual creator thinking when he did this? Why write this, why demand this?”, in the same way that an observer of Enron was perfectly entitled to ask what its executives were thinking when they took the steps that destroyed their own company.

Joe Quesada is so mean, he once shot a man just for snoring. No, wait, that was John Byrne. Or maybe it was Dan Didio? I can’t recall.

I’ve always thought it was kind of ridiculous to review stories primarily in light of the people who worked on them. That leads to mindless yes-man-ism, where you can’t grasp the concept of a bad Grant Morrison comic (they exist) or that Creator Pinata of the Day– say, Jeph Loeb– producing something pretty decent.

Look at the story itself first, and only bring in wider issues surrounding it– comparing it to the creator’s past works, looking for known pet themes or writing tics– once you’ve got a solid grasp of the narrative as it stands now. People were decrying Quesada’s hand in OMD #4 when all they had to go on was a poorly-typed synopsis, and that’s just ridiculous. They didn’t actually have a story to criticize yet.

you can’t grasp the concept of a bad Grant Morrison comic (they exist) or that Creator Pinata of the Day – say, Jeph Loeb – producing something pretty decent.

Lynxara, you’re my new favorite. I don’t know new favorite “what,” but rest assured, you’re it. Because I really feel this way, but haven’t been able to articulate it well. Thanks for being another voice in the wilderness.

I think Brian Cronin is confusing “don’t talk like an immature douchebag” with “don’t talk about an individual creator’s mistakes in such a way that assigns individual responsiblity to that creator”.

I don’t think he is. I went back up to re-read the original post to make sure, but he’s specifically talking about the *disrespectful* comments. There’s a difference between 1) critiquing work and assigning blame to the creators who do it, and 2) calling those creators names.

I don’t think Grant Morrison’s Batman is very good. Following on the heels of Seven Soldiers, it seems to be written way below his usual level, and unless DC has recently decided to hire some editors who will actually crack the whip on Morrison, that level of quality is entirely his fault.

He is not, however, a douche, a fuckwad, a shitstain, the worst thing to happen to comics, the worst thing to happen to *Batman*, a talentless anal blister or any other ridiculous thing I could call him. He’s just a guy who wrote a story that isn’t good enough. I’m talking about bad Batman being clearly Morrison’s fault, but I’m not talking about *him*, you know?

I don’t think he is. I went back up to re-read the original post to make sure, but he’s specifically talking about the *disrespectful* comments. There’s a difference between 1) critiquing work and assigning blame to the creators who do it, and 2) calling those creators names.

Yeppers!

Sounds to me like people are veering off into dangerous Kathy Bates-in-Misery territory over the whole OMD fiasco. Relax the hell out.

I think Brian Cronin is confusing “don’t talk like an immature douchebag” with “don’t talk about an individual creator’s mistakes in such a way that assigns individual responsiblity to that creator”.

Well, one of you is, anyway.

Then there’s no need for making this be about what you say about creators, and in some sense, no need for the post. It’s a simpler rule: don’t talk like an immature douchebag. Even if you’re just talking about stories rather than individuals.

I’m not obligated to respect Quesada as a creator nor respect his stories. That doesn’t mean I should talk like a fifth grader about either subject.

Joe Quesada deserves everything that gets heaped on him because he killed Santa Claus.

yo go gre – I completely agree. As a worshiper of Morrison (and Moore, Whedon, and Bendis), I immediately subscribe to anything he writes but I don’t give him unadulterated praise. His Doom Patrol is jumbled to the point of being a patchwork and his Batman is underwhelming. For the most part though his ability to weave the absurd and astounding into a compelling story is a skill I adore watching him use.

Even if he is crazy as a loon and off his rocker – and I say that with love in my heart.

While I agree that people don’t have a right to attack a creator for a work, they do have a right to attack him/her for comments and statements that are not work related (I hold up OSC’s homo statements as an example). Making any such comments in a public forum is a privilege, not a right, afforded to celebrities – a point I watched played out time and again by my grandfather who to his dying day expressed often and loudly his hated of Jane Fonda because of what she said and did during Vietnam. I understood why he felt the way he did but I also stood up to him when he tried to tell me that The China Syndrome or Agnes of God sucked just because she was in them (two movies I happen to like).

Everyone has the right to free speech regardless of whether they are a celebrity or not. And we have the right to disagree with them and hate them or love them for their views regardless of whether they are a celebrity or not. I just think that people think they have the right to be douchebags when that’s just moronic. Just because you didn’t like something doesn’t mean that you are the end all be all of the universe. Yeah, we pay our hard earned money to the comics companies but you could preview the comic in the shop before buying them if bad stories piss you off so much.

Fans’ emotional investment in characters is what Marvel and DC make a living out of. Stories like ‘One More Day’ and virtually every ‘event’ are fansploitation: they know the fans will want to read them to find out what happens to the characters. Their business model is built around the fact that people read these comics for the characters, not the quality of the stories.

Mychael Darklighter

July 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm

i’m insanely emotionally invested, but i’ve never once had any trouble separating the writer/artists from the writing/art.
i don’t *hate* chuck austen or michael turner. i’ve not met them, + i always heard turner was a *really* nice guy, and it was very sad when he got sick again, no matter how much i loathe his artwork(‘s popularity).

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