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Author Topic: Gaiman on Superman  (Read 7806 times)
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TELLE
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« on: May 24, 2006, 04:09:46 PM »

Neil Gaiman has his name on an article in the newest WIRED magazine:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.06/myth.html

In the article, An Unlikely Prophet by 1940s Superman scribe Alvin Schwartz is mentioned.  Intriguing stuff.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2006, 05:22:21 PM »

Is it my imagination, or has Gaiman just not been as good as he used to be?

AMERICAN GODS was a good read, but it was the only time Gaiman was ever...well, predictable: the moment they mention Wednesday's aspect as a god of death, you got the feeling they were setting you up for something. I actually "called" the plot of a Gaiman book the way one would a formula romantic comedy.

I have not yet read ANANSI BOYS, as I have yet to get on an airplane since that book came out.

And here we have more of Gaiman:

First, the title, "The Myth of Superman" is so infuriatingly pretentious it makes me want to throat punch whoever came up with it. Can this really be the same guy that years ago, said "I hate it now that comic books are serious and called 'Graphic Novels' and there was something slightly disreputable about the job" ?

Quote from: "Neil Gaiman"
Schwartz quit writing Superman because his bosses were telling him to put in things that he thought were out of character. That was admirable, but really, the specific stories we tell about Superman – the what-happened and what-he-did – don’t matter that much.


Did Gaiman just ask Grant Morrison to ghost-write this article for him?

Wrong, Neil. The specific stories DO matter. Because Superman is nothing like a folktale character; he is three dimensional in the sense that he can remember his past, and the past can be used to influence his characterization. Thus, his characterization is entirely dependent on his past and what happened to him, his "previous" and "specific" stories.

And speaking as someone that read the Karl Kesel and Byrne stories that followed Schwartz's departure...Julie had a pretty darn good reason for thinking they were doing out of character things contrary to the spirit of the character.
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2006, 05:39:46 PM »

Yes, we'd like what Gaiman (or whoever really wrote the article) says to be true, but specific examples keep pulling us back from the folk tale trope (although the argument could be made that for children who have never read or seen a Superman adventure, Superman is a folk hero).

Tom Spurgeon had an interesting comment:
Quote

The Feiffer cartoon is one of a handful of affecting Superman comics in my mind, like the Goodman Beaver comic pictured and the well-liked, mournful dream sequences of Alan Moore's hypnotic plant Superman annual, all of which make greater use than usual of the psychological mirror provided by the man who can do anything. I alway thought that on some level it must be pure death to write Superman comic books, on the same level but worse that it's hard to read them. Every element that's been refined about the modern superhero comic book works against what seem interesting about the character and his set-up. The art is no longer colorful blobs in motion that suggest the obscenity of a man leaping and throwing things out of our frame of reference; modern superhero soap opera demands that classic and age-old questions move forward rather than repeat and eventually be rectified in some manner (if only to be reset); the 14-year-old mindset demands rational explanations and limits for a character that works better in extremes (even absurdist extremes) and without restraint. Or maybe that's just me, I don't know.
 

http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/go_read_neil_gaiman_on_superman/
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2006, 10:46:40 PM »

"Folk tale" complaints aside, I enjoyed the article. Gaiman himself had one of the best quotes on Lex Luthor a while back, too.

"It's a pity Lex Luthor has become a multinationalist [following 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths]; I liked him better as a bald scientist.  He was in prison, but they couldn't put his mind in prison.  Now he's just a skinny Kingpin."

Now that's a signature worthy quote.  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2006, 12:07:04 AM »

Let's not be too hard on Mr. Gaiman, I think you misunderstood what he was trying to say.

Quote
(although the argument could be made that for children who have never read or seen a Superman adventure, Superman is a folk hero).


Or all those people who know who Superman and is his origin and have never read a comic book in their lives, that is what he was referring to. So in that way, it really didn't matter what happen in the comics, in the grand scheme of things. Superman is beyond that, more than just another comic book character.
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2006, 12:46:48 AM »

Quote from: "Super Monkey"
Or all those people who know who Superman and is his origin and have never read a comic book in their lives, that is what he was referring to. So in that way, it really didn't matter what happen in the comics, in the grand scheme of things. Superman is beyond that, more than just another comic book character.

It's a good point, too. Superman has appeared in many different mediums in many different forms. There are certain elements that are a part of the collective minds of people--elements that might not have been introduced in the comics. The crystalline Fortress of Solitude is one example. Smallville being in Kansas is another. I think that Jonathan Kent dying (with Martha surviving) will soon become one as well.

Superman, much more than any other super-hero, does kind of have a traditional mythic aspect to his character. I'd compare it to Heracles, who has many different variations of his origin and sometimes even his personality. But there are still constants with him and with Superman.
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Many people want others to accept their opinions as fact. If enough people accept them as fact then it gives the initial person or persons a feeling of power. This is why people will constantly talk about something they hate—they want others to feel the same way. It matters to them that others perceive things the same way that they do.
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2006, 01:06:36 AM »

Honestly, I care about that kid who has never read a Superman comic's opinion more these days...

Of course, it didn't matter to me that Superman doped out how to defeat Zha-Vam and at the same time wrote a song for Lois Lane and Pat Boone 8 years earlier either... Cool
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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2006, 03:13:01 AM »

Quote from: "Super Monkey"
Let's not be too hard on Mr. Gaiman, I think you misunderstood what he was trying to say.

Quote
(although the argument could be made that for children who have never read or seen a Superman adventure, Superman is a folk hero).


No, I just want it to be true without exception.  That, and I can't accept the fact that there may be some adults out there who do not know Supermanica back to front.  Cheesy

Or were you talking to Julian?
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