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September 27, 2007

Savage Jeff Lester on sports fans, comic books, religious impulses and Architecture & Mortality

The Savage Critic(s): Jeff Also Briefly Mentions Doctor 13, then Proceeds to Babble Even More Melodramatically.

This is probably the single best thing I have read at the Savage Critics. It's difficult to excerpt, so please just read it.

Years and years ago, I read a Joseph Campbell book describing how a group of seventeenth century monks explained how, precisely, Christ's sacrifice redeemed mankind. As I recall, it was a charming theory that suggested Christ on the cross was like bait on a hook, and his sacrifice lured Satan/Leviathan to try to ingest him, at which point God the Fisherman yanked Leviathan out of the "water," freeing all of us from evil being able to gobble us up in the future. What struck me most about this theory is how much it sounded like the stuff of Marvel letter pages from the '70s, where people tried for no-prizes for pointing out mistakes and then suggesting ideas that explained the mistakes: which is to say, that's the point I realized reading superhero comic books stemmed essentially from a religious impulse. Sports fandom, comics fandom--hell, probably all fandom since the word "fan" is likely short for the word "fanatic," deriving from a Latin word meaning "insane but divinely inspired"--stems from this impulse: the desire to belong to something bigger than oneself, and to participate in a ritual that is given power by the nature of one's belief. Weirdly, I don't believe sports stem from a religious impulse, but sports fandom does.

This brings us to one of the central paradoxes of religion, if you ask me--religion draws its power from the religious impulse, but it must contain the religious impulse in order to survive. There must be something that distinguishes the priests from the masses to which they administer, a closeness to something chosen as the vestment of spiritual power and, for the religion to survive, it must be the religion that defines what that thing is, not the masses. Moses and Jehovah raged against the building of the golden calf; The Catholic church burned any number of monks for heresy; the Pope decides what's a mortal sin, not the masses. Similarly, although the sports and comics industries need their fans to survive, a contentiousness exists between the owners and fans: the DeBartolos decide where the 49ers call home, not the fans; Joe Quesada decides whether Spider-Man stays married, not the fans. (And yes, I just compared the Pope to the DeBartolo family and Joe Quesada .) Although there are other factors in the struggle--sports teams, religions, and comic companies have all proven all susceptible to the lure of short-term profits--you cannot underestimate the not-quite-conscious battle for control that occurs between the insane and divinely inspired ones and the keepers of what they covet. For desire to remain desire, it must promise satisfaction and yet must also always go, in some crucial way, unsatisfied.

September 26, 2007

Reminder: Get Your War On is awesome

www.mnftiu.cc | get your war on | page 67

September 24, 2007

On DC's webcomic portal, Zuda

comics212 - never safe for work. � Blog Archive � I really don’t know what to do about this Zuda thing.

I don’t particularly want to get into the middle of another ‘thing’ about this, but… yeah. I don’t understand why someone who is smart and talented enough to create an idea from whole cloth, an idea that will be decreed as ‘good’ by both a large publisher AND the public at large, and not have the faith in it to see it through, wait for the ‘big money’ that could be down the line. It’s nice to be paid a page-rate for your work and all, but that $14,000 salary cap ($1000 purchase price plus 52 weeks @ $250/strip) seems to be pretty limiting, in terms of the potential revenue that could be generated off of a successful webcomic. It’s not bad money I guess, but here’s the thing… It’s less than the money you would make doing a half-page of comics art at DC or Veritgo even, and it also involves selling off the intellectual property for your work for an unlimited amount of time (seriously, at $500 a year, Time Warner could quite easily afford to pay you that fuck-off money forever). The idea that you should fully own what you fully create? It’s a good one, and one that I feel should be taken seriously. I also personally feel that every time someone takes a very bad deal like this, it makes it that much easier for publishers to OFFER very bad deals. The one thing that everyone agrees with, even Zuda, is get a lawyer to look at the contract before you sign it. Hell, before you submit anything. The deal–to me–has a very “Siegel and Shuster 2.0″ kind of a vibe, where those fellas sold the idea for Superman for a weekly paycheck and a pat-on-the-back. Except this time I don’t see the industry rallying around you to be properly credited for the work, whether you “own the Copyright” (but not the Trademark or have any real power) or not.

Would you sell off Superman for $14,000?

Berlatsky on PKD vs. Sim in the no-holds-barred artistic crank deathmatch

The Hooded Utilitiarian | Noah Berlatsky | Blake, Dick, Darger,...

September 22, 2007

So you wanna open a comic-book store?

Learning, reading... Didn't know about ComicsPro: ComicsPRO is the only...