BG Roundtable: Cult of Personality

by Liana

Recently, your Friendly Neighborhood Editor came across some comments by a comic book writer that really rubbed her the wrong way. Basically, he indicated that being nominated for an Eisner Award in a particular category wasn’t a great distinction because everything in that category was crap. This lack of respect really cheesed off your FNE and if she wasn’t already turned off his work, she certainly was now. This in turn sparked a discussion amongst the BG about creators’ personalities in general, which inevitably lead to your FNE asking the questions: Does a creator’s personality affect your ability to enjoy his or her book? Has a creator’s personality ever lead to you picking up, dropping or completely avoiding his or her work?

Rory - For me, it depends on the type of book. For an independent, creator-owned book, I think it is only natural that the creator's personality affects my feelings of the book. These types of books usually feature more of the creator's viewpoints and personality anyway, so if the writer/artist is personable, nice, funny etc., I'll probably end up enjoying the book more than one I would potentially buy from an asshole. With Big 2 books, it doesn't affect it so much. Amazing Spider-Man is, for the most part, still Amazing Spider-Man. Plus, there are enough chefs in the kitchen to make sure that the end product is palatable to most people, so one bad personality doesn't ruin the whole book.

The distinction between creator-owned work and big company work is significant, because it's a lot easier to look past the creators when the characters they're working on belong as much, if not more, to the fans than to the creators of the moment.

Doug - If the politics don't bleed into the work, I don't care. Chuck Dixon working on Robin or Batman? Fine. Chuck Dixon doing a creator-owned "kill the liberals" book? That I wouldn't buy.

Yassir - Chuck Dixon has said some pretty ignorant comments about Islam that make me not particularly keen to try his stuff out. It helps that I've never really been a fan.

Doug - If I know a particular work is going to be used to advance a viewpoint I don't agree with, I'll probably avoid the work.

Mister - Then on the other end of the spectrum you have really nice creators, and because they are "nice", decent people I will pick up their work, even if I'm not overly interested in what they are doing, just to help support them. Kurt Busiek is a prime example of this: a great writer, but on top of that he is a lovely person, and if I see something with his name on it, I'll pick it up in a heartbeat.

Dan - Back in the heyday of Newsarama I got a couple PM’s from creators that got me not only to pick up their work at the time, but to continue getting their stuff. The first was from Kaare Andrews when I made a comment about being completely unimpressed with the solicitations for Spider-Man: Legend of the Spider-Clan. I remember the solicit and talk-up being excessively ‘kewl’ and that was a big turn off, which was a bummer cause I liked Skottie Young's art and Andrews' cover work on Incredible Hulk. Kaare basically said to give the first issue a try and if I didn't like it let him know why. Turns out I loved it. The second was from Todd Nauck when I praised his very first issue of WildGuard in a review on Newsarama. He was very grateful for the positive feedback and just incredibly kind and gracious. The little bit of time both these creators put in to contact me directly was very cool and an incredibly effective way of making me a fan. Of course, my direct interactions with Bendis weren't quite the same.

Mark -I thought it was great talking to Bendis. When Ultimate Spider-Man was still in its first year, he was at an Atlanta Con next to David Mack and Mark Bagley. He was super friendly and excited about his work at Marvel and on Powers. I've always thought of him as a nice guy since then. What happened when you talked to him?

Dan - Well, mine was more of a back and forth via e-mail and message board after I lambasted his Daredevil month after month on Comicon. Nothing was rude or anything from him. Just that awkwardness of a back and forth with a creator who took a non-fan's negative comments about their work WAY too personally.

Matt - Same with Igor Kordey. After he lashed out at fans for not respecting and understanding his work, my respect for him as an artist fell and now I go out of my way to avoid his work. (BUT, if he drew a Banshee miniseries….)

If there’s one thing your FNE hates more than a sensitive creator who gets totally bent out of shape just because the occasional, random person with a blogger account doesn’t like his work, it’s overzealous fans who derive a false sense of importance by defending their favorite creators against said criticism.

Dan - The overzealous fans become a bigger turn-off than a creator with an online personality I don't care for. "Look what I did for you, Mr. Creator!" or "Look what I did to help promote the book!" become an obsessive fan’s awkward way to make themselves feel like part of the creative process.

Doug - I know there are a few creators out there that have such vocal online fans, that if you express a negative opinion of their work, you have them trying to engage you in an argument and prove you "wrong" or tell you that you “don’t get it". Look, maybe I just don't like Writer X's work, OK? I don't want to engage in a 17-page message board thread about why I don't like it.

Peter David’s fans turned your FNE off to his work LONG before Peter David came and finished the job himself.

The General - Honestly, I usually think Peter David’s comics are at least solid. But, at the same time, he's usually wrapped up in some little bit of online melodrama that just makes me think he’s acting infantile, and that distracts from my ability to not only get behind his comics, but also talk positively about them online.

Doug - There are definitely some creators who have online personas I don't care for, but I won't refuse to buy their work for JUST that reason.

Dan - Erik Larsen is a particularly rough around the edges and in your face personality online, but that doesn't keep me from reading Savage Dragon.

The General - Which is doubly odd because the one time I met him in person, he was all smiles, politeness and handshakes. Which helps go to show that some people just don't translate well to an online environment.

Mark - I'm more likely to pick up work by creators that I've had the chance to meet at a convention, as most of them come off pretty well in real life. I've picked up more books by guys like David Mack, Kyle Baker, Paul Jenkins and Arvid Nelson than I would have if I hadn't enjoyed talking to them so much. In David Mack's case, it didn't hurt that he kept giving me free books while I was at his table either.

Rory - David Mack is like the Tom Hanks of comic conventions. I haven't heard one bad story about the guy.

Dan - No kidding. In Philly I was at his table for a half hour talking it up and going on about being on joequesada.com and I ended up leaving with all six Kabuki trades, four Kabuki Reflections and a bunch of posters. All for the ridiculously low price of $60. Now I always give stuff he's working on a second look.

Doug - David Mack stole my signed copy of NFL Superpro #1.


Doug - Well, I can’t prove it.


Joe - Luckily, many of the asshole creators out there I don't find to be very talented. I know after reading some of what Orson Scott Card's had to say online, it reduced my enjoyment of his Ultimate Iron Man stuff & I have zero intention of reading the Ender's Game comics coming out. On the other hand, Ethan Van Sciver's politics make me want to stab my head, but I am very excited about Flash: Rebirth, though I would be even if he wasn't involved. I probably won't pick up anything new by John Byrne, but that doesn't stop me from feeling that his work on Iron Fist in the ‘70s was ahead of its time.

Matt - Rarely do creators say or do something that offends me enough that I would ban reading their books, but there have been a few creators that I am hesitant in supporting for various reasons. Take Micah Wright for instance. After he was exposed as lying about his military experience, I didn't want to pick up anything he wrote. There would be no way I would pick up his stuff if it was creator-owned, but if he was in more of a controlled environment and was on a project that interested me (like a Banshee miniseries) then I would probably pick it up.

Mark - Micah Wright is the only creator I think I would never buy anything from. I'm just not very patient with someone who makes up lies to give their political diatribes more weight, regardless of what their point of view happens to be. So, I guess I can be pushed away from buying work of some creators based on their behavior, but not usually.

Doug - Sometimes, I think a negative perception of a creator may have a subconscious effect on my enjoyment of his (or her) work, but I'll keep buying it if I'm enjoying it. I'm much more likely to buy something if I LIKE a creator. Mister mentioned Kurt Busiek, that's a great example. Pros I've met at cons who were really nice include Phil Hester, Adam Hughes, David Mack, Jim Krueger, and that's something I always remember when deciding whether or not to try out another one of their books. Sean McKeever is another one, online or in person, he has a way of getting fans to rally behind him. So, when it comes to personality, I choose to focus on the positive.

Patrick - Back in the ‘80s, I was at the Chicago Comic-Con (before it became Wizard World), talking to Paul Kuppenburg. Doom Patrol #1 had just come out that week. People were bringing him stacks of books as we were talking and I commented something along the lines of "I'm going to be the only person in Chicago without an autographed copy.” He told me to go get one and he would sign it. Well, it was Sunday and this high school kid had already spent his wad. So Paul reached into his pocket, grabbed a buck, and told me to go buy a copy. From that day on I bought every book he bought.

We’ll close with that story and these words of wisdom to all creators, be they cuddly or prickly: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

1 comment:

KACH! said...

Frank Miller has said some stuff that got to me, you know? But what're you gonna do? It's Frank F-ing Miller!