Mitchell Hundred: The above article was written a while ago about fantasy novels, but a similar trend could also be identified in many forms of contemporary art (increasing gritty realism, morally ambiguous narrative, graphic description of unpleasant events, etc.). What do you make of the accusation made in the above article (that these pieces demean the genre and art as a whole)?
It’s wank, pure and simple. (I know, wank at Big Hollywood? Goodness gracious me!) Just for the sake of argument, let’s rattle off the bestselling fantasy authors of the past decade: Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Christopher Paolini, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin… are we seeing a trend here? The overwhelming trend in fantasy isn’t what the writer describes; it’s a push towards moral clarity to appeal to a young-adult audience. (And, in the case of Jordan, braid-tugging.) Even Martin, who’s probably the closest to what the author complains about, has very strongly moral characters in his books: Jon Snow, most of the Starks, many of the Night’s Watch, Davos, Daenerys… you can even make a case for Jaime Lannister.
What the author is complaining about is that the sort of sword-and-sorcery fantasy he likes (which he tokens to become all fantasy writing period) is getting gritty and unpleasant now, to which I respond “where were you when Stephen R. Donaldson started writing books in the late Seventies?” Hell, has he read any old Conan stories? Conan is not a nice person!
Nicodemus: Have you ever read the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher?
No. It’s one of my “get around to it” things. That list just keeps getting longer.
FistFullofFists: On a scale of sad to depressed, how sad are you to see stargate universe canceled?
Not at all. I mean, I’m sorry people who liked Stargate: Whatever lost out on a show, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like The Bachelor where the existence of the show is actively offensive. But I watched the movie and then I watched a few episodes of the first season of SG-1 and then I said, “well, that’s enough for me.”
Skemono: I think everyone would benefit from an essay on why Hawkman is a dick and everybody hates him.
Some people think Hawkman sucks because all he does is fly. This is erroneous. There are plenty of superheroes who “just fly,” and many of them are quite nifty, because flying is honestly pretty cool all by itself, and because it’s a natural progression for flying heroes who just fly to be more skillful fliers (Angel of the X-Men, for example, or Dawnstar in the LSH – yes, I know she has tracking powers too, but big deal) which gives them an additional niche. Hawkman, however, does not do this. What Hawkman does instead is be a dickhead: he’s the Token Conservative to Green Arrow’s Token Liberal (and Green Arrow is just as annoying as fucking Hawkman is) and it’s become his character thing to be a pompous, annoying douche.
On top of that, there are the melee weapons. In a setting where people can blow you up with eye lasers, melee weapons are stupid. More importantly, though, is that because they are stupid, writers have come up with justifications as to why they are not stupid which make them even stupider. I believe this reached its apex in Cry for Justice, wherein it was explained that Hawkman was “unpredictable” and a “berserker” and therefore Prometheus was worried about him for some reason, as if for some reason Prometheus could not just, like, shoot him.
And then there’s his origin story. Hawkman’s origin story has been so mangled that it is beyond belief, mostly because people wanted to “reconcile” Egyptian Hawkman and Space Hawkman into one character, which is stupid because it’s not like there’s some special ability you need to let you put on a flying belt and wings.
So basically everything about Hawkman sucks.
drasnianfrank: What are the best Dr. Strange issues to read (or issues that have Dr. Strange in them)?
Anything from the original Lee/Ditko run is good, but my soft spot is Roy Thomas’s run on the line; just gorgeous cosmic stuff, as you would expect from Thomas. “The Montesi Formula” story is truly excellent writing with mediocre art (and available in trade). Warren Ellis’ brief run on the character towards the end of Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme is well worth reading, as is Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s The Oath.
Just go with the Essentials, really: the B&W art actually, I think, improves the comics, since the lack of “hey look we’re otherworldly” colouring makes the book far more readable.
scarecrowprophet: I realised the original text for the first 30 ISWTLegion posts isn’t up, just the pictures and later commentary. Could you post the original text?
The original text largely isn’t worth reproducing. Remember, ISWTL started out as a series of joke posts; only towards the end did I start doing what I did with them later, exploring plot hooks and the like.
Cookie McCool: But then, I had a huge crush on Aquaman back then, too, so what the fuck did I know?
Hey, Aquaman is pretty cool when he’s done right. Which isn’t often (WHERE IS HIS BEARD, DAMMIT? HE LOOKS TEN THOUSAND TIMES MORE AWESOME WITH A BEARD), but hey.
JL: What’s the status of that Novella? I really liked what I read and the hook was golden.
Novel, not novella; it’s on hold while I try to get a lot of other things done. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the year, but then again I said that last year. (I have a lot of sympathy for George R.R. Martin.)