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CSBG Archive

Comics Should Be Good Mailbag for 12/17

Here is the latest installment of a weekly reader interactive segment on the blog, where I answer reader-submitted e-mails to bcronin@comicbookresources.com (and also post other e-mails that I receive).

Enjoy!

Matt D. opens up the mailbag with a question about DC’s editorial structure, or more specifically, what exactly is it that “Creative Executive” Ivan Cohen does?

Well, Matt, I can’t say that I know.

Anyone out there know exactly what Ivan Cohens’ job description would be?
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Reader joshschr thought it would be a good idea if I posted the quick guide to putting html code into your comments, and he’s probably right, so here it is!

Okay, obviously you do < > and then < / > with these letters and words for the effect.

b for bold
i for italics
del for strikethrough
blockquote for quotes

Josh also wanted to know the code to make “pipe” links – you know, like having the word “link” be a clickable link rather than posting the full address in the comment.

I’ll gladly tell you folks, but I don’t believe it is something you will be able to remember offhand. But if you can, it is:

< a href="http://(whatever the address is)" > The word you want to be the link < a > – with the second < > having a / at the beginning (and no spaces, of course).

Josh followed with some complimentary words about the site – thanks for that, Josh!
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John Seavey has another new non-comic book related Storytelling Engine piece up at his blog fraggmented.blogspot.com, which you can find here. This week, the Storytelling Engine is Soap, the classic late 70s TV series.
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J to the AAP wrote in with a fun link to British politicians making superhero references in Parliament.

Check it out here.
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David S. wrote in to talk about some recent praise that NBM (which had quite a good year for comic product in 2008 – They did Little Nothings, which was on my Top 10 Comics of 2008 list, and I would probably have The Lindbergh Child as an Honorable Mention, and perhaps more NBM products – I’d have to think) has received in the mainstream media:

• The Wall Street Journal is running a feature on David B., creator of NBM Publishing’s new NOCTURNAL CONSPIRACIES: NINETEEN DREAMS. The WSJ piece, which quotes the artist on the 35-year process that went into making the book, is part of a wave of mainstream-media news on
NBM’s publications.

• New York magazine has named Veronique Tanaka’s love story METRONOME to its list of 2008′s Top 10 graphic novels.

• The New York Times recommends Dirk Schwieger’s MORESUKINE: UPLOADED WEEKLY FROM TOKYO in its annual guide to the best gift books for the holidays.

• School Library Journal has placed Marc-Antoine Mathieu’s THE MUSEUM VAULTS on its list of 2008′s Best Adult Books for High-School Students.

• Publishers Weekly lists Rick Geary’s A TREASURY OF 20TH CENTURY MURDER: THE LINDBERGH CHILD among its Best Books of the Year.

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Reader Jonathan wants to know:

What was the first retcon in a comic book?

Boy, fine question, Jonathan, and man, there are a LOT of possible answers, because back in the Golden Age, stories were retconned often.

For instance, Action Comics #1 has a totally different origin for Superman’s powers than was later established.

But the FIRST one?

That’s tough.

I’m sure there are earlier ones, but for now, I’m going with Batman…I believe it is #4, but in either event, sometime around then (which would be 1940), where there is an editor’s note saying “The Batman never carries nor kills with a gun!” while Batman used AND killed with a gun just three issues earlier.

Beat late 1940 people for an earlier retcon, people!!
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My old pal Eric asked me about good books about the history of comics in the 1970s and early 80s. It is an interesting point to note that yeah, most good comic book history books gloss over that time period.

So I am going with The Comic Book Heroes by Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs as the best book covering comic book history in the 70s and 80s. The most recent edition (originally it came out in 1986) was 1996, so it should do you fine.

It’s not too pricey, either (although I do believe it is currently out of print – the original can be had VERY cheap, and since that was 1986 – it works just as well as a 1996 book for the history of the 70s).


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Gary Butler wrote in to note my pal Michael’s article was published in the latest issue of Driven magazine. You can read it on Drivenmag.com – page 18.
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That’s it for this week!

Good e-mails, folks! Send more e-mails!

If you do, be sure to send me an e-mail to bcronin@comicbookresources.com with the subject heading “Mailbag” if you want to be included in next week’s mailbag!

25 Comments

Okay, so, Superman, Spider-Man, and . . . who? Lady Deadpool? Liefeld Lass?

I believe thats Zealot…

That would be Jim Lee’s Zealot.

isn’t that one of the youngblood characters. or maybe from wildcats?

Many thanks for responding, Brian!

I doubt most people will remember how to pipe correctly, but now they know they can do it, and hopefully they remember to check the Mailbag if they want to try it.

Thanks for the html tips!

And I love that Jones and Jacob book-very readable and it does cover in more detail a lot of things other comic book history books gloss over.

After the success of “Men of Tomorrow” and “The Ten Cent Plague”, I would love to read juicy general-audience tell-alls about what it was like behind the scenes in the comics business in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. One of those “get everybody to dish” books like “Live from New York” did for Saturday Night Live or “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” did for Hollywood.

And why is Spider-Man wearing clown shoes? Wait a minute, that’s not Spider-Man… …That’s Sideshow Bob!

Wow, the graphic for that book really brings back the artistic nightmare that was mainstream comics in the late 80′s and early 90′s. Bad anatomy, plenty of “fuss lines” and women who all have the same body and face with only hair colour and style to differentiate them. Although the sad artwork was nothing compared to the so-called writing at the time. Whatever problems the industry has today is nothing compared to this all-time low period of the industry.

I have that book but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I’ll have to move it closer to the top of my To Read pile.

All those lines on his face and neck, Superman really is 70 years old.

The Jones/Jacobs book is an excellent text, yes. Highly recommended!

Sorry if this comes off a little harsh, but misuse of the term “retcon” is one of my bigger pet peeves. Revealing something previously unknown does not retroactively affect continuity. Saying Batman does not and will not use guns, does not negate or otherwise change what has previously been revealed. Retroactive continuity would be e.g. Roy Thomas writing a flashback to the earlier scene revealing that no gun existed and the villain instead died from heart failure. Each time something is revealed like, again e.g., Storm’s mother was the last in a long line of hereditary African mystics, many fans talk about how this retcon is wrong. But, nothing has been changed; it’s just that something we never knew before has been added. “Retcon” requires that something be negated or otherwise changed.

I feel like you should have mentioned that there are retcons that predate comics. For example there’s the fairly famous Sherlock Homes retcon (the Empty House retcons the ending of the Final Problem.)

To Eric, I would also add he could check out BACK ISSUE magazine that is published by TwoMorrows and edited by Michael Eury. It’s whole focus is on the comics of the 70′s and 80′s. They just did a fantastic tribute issue to Steve Gerber. Highly recommended.

““Retcon” requires that something be negated or otherwised change.”

I don’t believe that’s true, actually. The term stands for ‘retroactive continuity’, meaning any bit of continuity inserted into the history of a story at a later date. Sometimes that’s a change, and sometimes it’s an elabloration.

I’ll second Matt’s call for a behind-the-scenes history of that 70s/80s period, but in the meantime I’d like to track down a copy of the Jones/Jacobs book– looks great!

Tony Isabella has occasionally written short behind-the-scenes bits about Marvel during his time there in the ’70s in Comics Buyer’s Guide.

And thanks for the plug, Brian.

Wow, people are slating Travis Charest as supposedly epitomising the worst of the nineties now? Sheesh.

David- “Retcon” requires that something be negated or otherwise changed.

…stating that Batman never uses a gun when he has been previously (heck, recently) depicted doing exactly that is negating that previous depiction and changing the continuity. So by your own definition it’s a retcon.

The Jones/ Jacobs book is great, but I do remember reading that it contained minor factual errors. I like the tone of the book, however; the authors love comics but pull no punches when talking about the dire periods. I would love to read their take on the last 12 years.

The Comic Book Heroes has one sidenote that I always wanted to submit as a potential Comic Book Legends entry. According to the book, a British comic book writer happened to have the same name as a famous American author: Henry James. So when he began working with American publishers, he chose to use a pen name instead of his real one. His pen name? Jamie Delano.

As far as I can tell, Jamie Delano is his real name, and he’s been published under that name for many years before he became known in the US. So why did Jones and Jacobs put it in the book? Were they fooled by someone else, or did they put it in the book as some kind of a joke?

There is a real case of two artists with similar names working either side of the pond…

Flint Henry and Henry Flint…

…stating that Batman never uses a gun when he has been previously (heck, recently) depicted doing exactly that is negating that previous depiction and changing the continuity. So by your own definition it’s a retcon.

Just what I was going to say

Not saying that I agree with his definition (as I don’t in this particular instance), but I believe David’s position is that a retcon is telling a story specifically to explain away a previous story.

Like David’s example, a retcon would be having a story saying “that guy who died wasn’t really killed by Batman, it was heart failure!” or “that gun Batman used had blanks” or something like that. Not simply saying Batman never uses a gun even though he just did a few issues earlier.

I disagree, of course, but I DO agree with David that the term retcon probably is misused a lot to refer to new information that is NOT contradictory of past information (like Batman and Zatanna being childhood friends – no one ever said they WEREN’T, so it wouldn’t be a retcon, but I’m sure it is referred to as a retcon often).

Not saying that I agree with his definition (as I don’t in this particular instance), but I believe David’s position is that a retcon is telling a story specifically to explain away a previous story.

You might be right, but that’s completely not what David actually said.

I disagree, of course, but I DO agree with David that the term retcon probably is misused a lot to refer to new information that is NOT contradictory of past information (like Batman and Zatanna being childhood friends – no one ever said they WEREN’T, so it wouldn’t be a retcon, but I’m sure it is referred to as a retcon often)

I could go wither way on this. As I understand it (and I read this on the internet so it must be true) the original time the term was used was to describe Alan Moore’s revelations about Swamp Things true nature in The Anatomy Lesson. This of course didn’t actually contradict anything that had previously been shown (though it did contradict what was previously believed)

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