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JMS: Visionary or Prima-Donna?

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  • JMS: Visionary or Prima-Donna?

    Interesting article at Comics AM reviews some of JMS's projects and controversies about them.

    It's an interesting article. I'll post my thoughts later but thought y'all might like to chime in here on this.

    Jan
    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

  • #2
    I don't think that an artist sticking to his vision can be considered egomania.

    No-one would accuse a novelist of egomania if he or she defended their book against an overzealous editor or publisher.
    Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

    Comment


    • #3
      Okay, home from work. I hate it when something thought-provoking comes up when I can't address it immediately!

      First off, the writer lost some major points with me when he wrote:

      J. Michael Straczynski, better known as JMS to most fans, is a prolific writer that has worked
      Now, I'm not usually a grammar nazi but that one really needed to read "...WHO has worked..."

      On the other hand, for a change somebody wrote something that took some thought rather than regurgitating bits and pieces of interviews like so many sites do. I can forgive much just for that.

      Now, as to the overall question I have to say that no, I don't think he is a prima-donna. For good or ill, and I'm sure he's regretted it more than once, JMS has chosen to be very open and honest about the career of writing. Chances are, when you ask him a question, you'll get a full answer while still maintaining professionalism. I don't imagine that's easy sometimes. Does he sometimes say too much? Yeah, maybe. Other times it seems like he's stayed quiet beyond reason. Each instance is a choice he needs to make on his own.

      Let's look at each sample addressed in the article:

      Rising Stars: I believe the article has the facts incorrect. JMS wasn't promised rights by Top Cow, he *had* them and TC breached that agreement. I guess the choices he had were A) keep writing and let the lawyers argue it out or B) stop work and force TC to honor their agreement. Given that the issue was a matter of honor rather than money, I think he made the right decision.

      JMS admitted at the Hawthorne Con that, while it ended where he intended, he recognized that he'd been away from it too long. I suppose he *might* have gone ahead and written the issues even if he didn't turn them in except...JMS is a professional and that's not what they do. It's his business and his living and that would have been writing on spec.

      Supreme Power/Squadron Supreme: First of all, though there were similarities, I don't think that SP/SS was all that much like Rising Stars. What JMS has said was that once the title switched to SS, he felt that he started to suck. I know that I liked it much better when the focus was on Hyperion and it was a Max title but I don't think that the SS stories were at all bad. JMS said that the suggestion to move it from being a mature title to a general one was his but I've always wondered about that. He originally seemed excited about not having to worry about softening content so I've always wondered it it was a suggestion that came up in a "How can we increase sales" meeting rather than a suggestion that he arrived at and broached independently.

      There may be some merit to the idea that he could have finished the present arc but I gather that he thought that Marvel was going to assign somebody to the title. That they didn't is hardly his fault and we don't know how many issues he wrote after telling them that he felt he needed to drop the title.

      Amazing Spider-Man: Okay, I'll admit the whole ending to that run did make me drop the title and I was glad to learn that ending the marriage *that* way was something that JMS fought against. In this case I think that JMS may have been a little too open. While I don't see any problem with his (almost) taking his name off of the last few issues and letting people know about that, I did feel that he went a little further than he should have when he quoted Joe Quesada as saying that (paraphrasing) 'magic didn't need to make sense.' Except...remember the controversy over Gwen Stacy? It turned out that Norman Osborn being the father of Gwen's twins was Joe Q's idea and he *really* let JMS take some major heat over that one. I can see where JMS might have resolved not to let that happen again.

      The Twelve: This one can't be laid completely as JMS' feet as Chris Weston has also had scheduling issues. JMS has promised that it will be finished, though.

      Thor: I'm not sure I understand what the beef is on this one but there's little to go on. Having seen what JMS did with "Jeremiah" when he knew he was going to be leaving the show, though, I have to say that I'm surprised that so many people thought that he'd tie everything up in a nice bow on his way out. First, we don't know yet how much of recent events are going to be wrapped up by the new writer and which might have been mandated as set-up for the Big Event. As for his leaving because of the Event, I gather that it's no surprise that he did. JMS told editorial that he didn't want to be involved in writing Events. Editorial said, okay, we'll promise you X long at least. When it came time for them to mandate an Event, JMS said sayonara. Doesn't seem out of line to me.

      The one thing I haven't addressed is delays because in many cases, I simply don't notice them because I don't get to the comic shop (convniently located about 17 miles away) all that often.

      Do any of the issues raised dissuade me from starting a new title by JMS? Not by a long shot! I've said this before in various other places online, knowing that JMS is all about the story and the characters is why I'm willing to give anything he turns his hand to a try. And I like that he's so open about the business of writing and yet remains an artist. He's worked long and hard to get to a place where he doesn't have to stick with a project that's not working for him and I'm glad that he sticks to his guns.

      My...long-winded tonight, aren't I?

      Jan
      "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

      Comment


      • #4
        Midnight Nation barely gets a passing mention in the article, but it was both on-time and a complete story. The article postulates "For a writer that prides himself on the finite story telling process, why do none of his comics ever see true endings?" However, I don't think Joe has ever said he'd write every single comic with completion in mind, only that certain ones (The Twelve, Rising Stars) were intended as such. Does the article's author wish that Joe would come up with a quick ending to all the threads introduced in Thor after Joe Q. throws the "since we've given you freedom for awhile, now every crap idea we give you from this point you have to incorporate" mandate out there? Better to leave it hanging and let another writer come in and take over on such a project IMO.
        Last edited by JoeD80; 12-03-2009, 05:33 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Gosh, where to begin? While I find it a bit difficult to take somebody seriously when they can't even do a basic spell check on their work, the more important issue here is that the writer has created a flawed, or false, premise. Having postulated that JMS is a prima donna, he then puts together a list of examples, many of which actually refute his premise. As if that wasn't bad enough, he includes a paragraph of other examples that actually refute his premise and includes them at the end of the piece almost as an afterthought.

          So how is Joe a prima donna? With Rising Stars, the company goes back on the terms of their original agreement. Squadron Supreme? I'm not sure anybody but the parties involved know the facts, but I wonder how much of that situation has to do with the move from a Max title to a mainstream, less adult book. Spider-Man? An incredible amount of editorial interference, plus an insufferable number of company-wide crossovers that made it all but impossible to keep going. Just compare the first year of Joe's work on the book to his last to see how those factors affected the story. Thor? Sounds like the same thing was starting to happen, with Marvel starting up a 'Siege of Asgard' story that would have made Joe's story redundant at best. I can't blame him for leaving. And incidentally, I really enjoy Quesada's 'defense,' by saying that they left Joe alone for a WHOLE YEAR! It's a bit like your cable company offering a low price for a year and then jacking up their prices and fees after the year is up.

          But I think the main reason I find this piece so frustrating is that it creates the premise that JMS is a prima donna while supporting that premise with examples that actually refute it. In fact, if one was to dig a bit deeper, I suspect the premise would be even more flawed. How many books were actually delayed by Joe's failure to hand in a script on time, and how many times were they delayed by the artist, or for that matter, any number of other reasons? Having seen JMS write an entire one-hour script over a weekend, I find it difficult to believe that he would hold up a book by not meeting a deadline. Frankly, he's too much of a professional to let that happen; or at least that's what his track record in television (a much more demanding medium) would suggest.

          If one really wanted to create a more realistic premise for the piece, I would suggest that JMS and comics are an uneasy mix. He's done some great work at Marvel for example, but how long can a writer create a long, unbroken storyline when he's got to put on the breaks every four or five months for yet another gratuitious crossover?

          While it would be great to think that Joe can continue writing comics, I think the present editorial structure of the big two make that difficult at best. While we're all looking forward to seeing what Joe can do with Superman, how long can any reasonable person expect the powers-that-be to keep their hands off a flagship character?

          Ironically, while the writer in question begins his article by talking about Joe's finite-driven story mentality, the examples he brings to bear suggest precisely the opposite. In fact, it is only the finite story that JMS can probably write successfully and be assured of editorial non-interference. Only time will tell.

          Comment


          • #6
            Big-mega-crossovers were neat when I was a kid. After a while, they got rather tiresome. But crossovers and editors are inevitable regarding comic book characters from the big 2 that have been around for several decades.
            RIP Coach Larry Finch
            Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
            Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Joe Nazzaro View Post
              Gosh, where to begin? While I find it a bit difficult to take somebody seriously when they can't even do a basic spell check on their work, the more important issue here is that the writer has created a flawed, or false, premise. Having postulated that JMS is a prima donna, he then puts together a list of examples, many of which actually refute his premise. As if that wasn't bad enough, he includes a paragraph of other examples that actually refute his premise and includes them at the end of the piece almost as an afterthought.

              So how is Joe a prima donna? With Rising Stars, the company goes back on the terms of their original agreement. Squadron Supreme? I'm not sure anybody but the parties involved know the facts, but I wonder how much of that situation has to do with the move from a Max title to a mainstream, less adult book. Spider-Man? An incredible amount of editorial interference, plus an insufferable number of company-wide crossovers that made it all but impossible to keep going. Just compare the first year of Joe's work on the book to his last to see how those factors affected the story. Thor? Sounds like the same thing was starting to happen, with Marvel starting up a 'Siege of Asgard' story that would have made Joe's story redundant at best. I can't blame him for leaving. And incidentally, I really enjoy Quesada's 'defense,' by saying that they left Joe alone for a WHOLE YEAR! It's a bit like your cable company offering a low price for a year and then jacking up their prices and fees after the year is up.

              But I think the main reason I find this piece so frustrating is that it creates the premise that JMS is a prima donna while supporting that premise with examples that actually refute it. In fact, if one was to dig a bit deeper, I suspect the premise would be even more flawed. How many books were actually delayed by Joe's failure to hand in a script on time, and how many times were they delayed by the artist, or for that matter, any number of other reasons? Having seen JMS write an entire one-hour script over a weekend, I find it difficult to believe that he would hold up a book by not meeting a deadline. Frankly, he's too much of a professional to let that happen; or at least that's what his track record in television (a much more demanding medium) would suggest.

              If one really wanted to create a more realistic premise for the piece, I would suggest that JMS and comics are an uneasy mix. He's done some great work at Marvel for example, but how long can a writer create a long, unbroken storyline when he's got to put on the breaks every four or five months for yet another gratuitious crossover?

              While it would be great to think that Joe can continue writing comics, I think the present editorial structure of the big two make that difficult at best. While we're all looking forward to seeing what Joe can do with Superman, how long can any reasonable person expect the powers-that-be to keep their hands off a flagship character?

              Ironically, while the writer in question begins his article by talking about Joe's finite-driven story mentality, the examples he brings to bear suggest precisely the opposite. In fact, it is only the finite story that JMS can probably write successfully and be assured of editorial non-interference. Only time will tell.
              Well-said.
              Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

              Comment

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