by Chaim Mattis Keller
Well, it seems the "Best of Fanzing" issue has brought our readership out of hiding...and the headliner, as it so often has been, is How To Save the Comic Industry.
From: Joe Palmer
Subject: How to Save the Comics Industry!
I read your article and liked it. I started reading comics in 1979, and dropped them (rather, they dropped me) after the Crisis, when (it seemed) all the stories became serialized. I was going to college and could not float a loan for college AND be a dedicated monthly or weekly comics consumer.
The only thing that disturbs me about your article is the comments by Mike Carlin. Does he not see the problem? I assume that (however briefly) you spoke to him. The reason that I ask is that I have worked out a way for the problems that the Crisis was supposed to fix, to actually be fixed. It would enable DC to have whatever line it wanted, keep the adult readers, gain younger readers, and even get back readers who reminisce about the "old days" of the Multiverse. I sent a letter to Ms. Kahn herself to test the waters (just about why I stopped buying DC) - I am now permanently deaf from the level of silence I received. Mind you, I figured that I was just sending my letter on a longer more expensive route to the trash, but I still figured a computer printed post card would be sent back.
I really hope that your article is taken to heart by The Powers That Be, and that a revival of common sense takes place in the industry.
Thanks for trying, though you have to understand: DC Comics gets more mail than they know what to do with. They don't even send out form replies...it's nothing specifically about your ideas that they rejected or ignored.
From: Harlan Messinger
Subject: Getting kids to read comics again
I just came across your article about whether kids would like comics if they were accessible. I'll tell you what you already know, which is yeah, of course. When I was 10-13 and in camp during the summers of 1969 through 1972, some of the kids brought scores of comic books with them, and I read every one several times. DC, Archie, the occasional Marvel.
The thing about Marvel is that the characters had more dimensions than the DC ones. They were full of dark, human emotions, pain, angst, self-doubt. I didn't like them.
In 1972 or 1973, after my last summer at camp, I was thinking about the DC comics that I enjoyed so much and thought, gee, I *could* buy my own. So I walked to the local stationery store and bought a current Superman issue.
Now, at about this time, the Daily Planet had been purchased by a TV broadcasting company and Clark Kent was now a TV on-the-scene reporter. His boss was a villain named Morgan Edge who had a connection to a force of evil known as Darkseid. The feel of the strip had become very grim, no longer purely cartoonish as it had been in the past. Superman had become wracked by pain, angst, self-doubt. Oh, man, I *hated* it. It was, emotionally, way over my head. And you know what? I was 13. It *certainly* wouldn't have been appealing to eight-year-olds.
So what is the state of these comics today? The only time I've read any since is when Superman was supposed to have been killed, and for the hell of it I bought the compilation of that series to read on a train trip. It was harsh and terrifying. No way would that collection have been suitable for young children.
So, if kids are going to be brought back into the fold, it won't just be a matter of selling the books out of the supermarkets bookstores. It'll require that they once again be written for kids, packed with fun and adventure and imagination, but without the psychological baggage that the writers of 30 years ago decided were just the thing their publications needed.
Fortunately, DC seems to understand this, and began publishing the "Adventures" line for just that audience. Hopefully, long-term comics fans will bloom from those seeds!
And, of course, the big news of our impending doom brought quite a touching reaction as well... this prize comes from Fanzing's first graduate to a creative gig at DC...
From: Scott McCullar
Subject: Good-bye, good luck and thanks for the memories
Have you ever been at a loss of words where you wanted to say something but just didn't know where to start?
I feel that way after reading that this is the end of Fanzing.
I've been both a participant and a reader of Fanzing.com and had the fortunate opportunity to make friends with both editors Marc Campbell and Michael Hutchison where we've come face-to-face at the various Wizard World Conventions in Chicago over the last five years.
I think my favorite thing about Fanzing is the community of friendships that it fostered.
As you bring the online magazine to a close, I wanted to say that I'm sorry to see you go but I wanted to thank you for the memories and the entertainment. I also wanted to wish those individuals who are undertaking the FANZING PRESENTS: JOB WANTED Project the best of luck.
I'll be one of your first readers for your self-published independent comic. I think it is great that you're doing this book and I look forward to what tales you'll tell.
Hutch asked in his latest departing column if readers would consider writing in and telling you about some of our favorite pieces for Fanzing over the years. Where to start?
Off the top of my head (and not in necessary in order) is a list of some of my favorite pieces:
Good job Fanzingers. Thanks for entertaining and your hard work.
ALSO. Having (finally) had a chance to also read the DIXONVERSE ANNUAL that was put together by the Fanzing crew this past summer, I also wanted to add belated thanks for your hard work. I really enjoyed it. With all the juggling that I have to do in my own life (I too have the house, kids, and job to worry about now with more pressure than I had when I started my Unofficial Green Arrow Compendium website years ago.), I just recently read the book and apologize for the tardy mini-review.
If I was to choose a favorite story in the book was the Nightwing and Robin story, "A Quiet Night Amongst Friend" while the back cover with the Robin "Froot Pie" parody ad had me laughing in stitches. Bravo. If you'll allow me to indulge here a little bit with one strong reaction, I definitely hope to see more comic book artwork from Chris Franklin and Mitch Ballard in the years to come.
It was also great to see Hutch take a stab at writing his favorite character, Elongated Man. I hope that one day Michael gets to write Ralph and Sue in an official capacity for DC Comics.
Great work, gang!
While we're on the topic of professional aspirations, I also wanted to say one last thank you to Michael and the rest of the Fanzing Family for the grass roots support that you've given me in my own pursuits when I finally saw my dream come true at writing Green Arrow in the recent SECRET FILES.
It has meant the world to me that the folks from Fanzing.com were in my corner for the support. I hope it was just the beginning of many other comic projects to come.
Best to you in all of your own pursuits with making comics and the paths you'll each take. It is my turn to be in YOUR corner.
Tipping my feathered cap your way,
And thanks to you, Scott. All the best with your professional comics career!
From: Bill Griesmer
Subject: Fond farewell
I just wanted to say that I will be very sorry to see your web site leave cyberspace. I've read it faithfully each month for several years now.
For what its worth, I can relate to your lack of time with age. I have a family myself now, including a young son (19 mos) and I have less time and money to do things I like to do than I ever had. Ironically, reading your web site was one of the main ways I kept involved in comics.
But I wish you the best of luck for the future and thank you for all your hard work the last several years. As you noted, you should be proud of your accomplishments.
Subject: Enjoyed Fanzing
Mr. Michael Hutchison:
With the gratitude (for the good moments) and the sadness (for knowing that this is going to finish soon) of a long time reader of Fanzing, I wish for you and the rest of Fanzing contributors the best.
Luis Miguel Caballero
Did I say "a touching reaction"? This fan goes a bit further...
From: Nathan Genovese
Subject: Death threats
Dear Mr. Hutchison,
I understand that you are shutting down Fanzing! I think this is a mistake. Fanzing is one of the most enjoyable things that I look forward to each month. If you take that away from me, I will have no choice but to work very hard and evenually become a writer for DC Comics. When I do the first thing I will do is kill of the Elongated Man. Don't take down Fanzing or your favorite comic book charcter will get it.
Sorry, Nathan, but you know we can't give in to terrorism. We'll just have to have faith that a career super-hero like Ralph can look after himself.
And this reader voices a different concern over our departure...
From: Brian Daugherty
Subject: Choices by Marilee Stephens
I am saddened that Fanzing is going to cease publication and hope that the content of the site remains available to the public, but that is not the purpose of this email. It was on this website that I have come across perhaps the greatest piece of fan fiction ever written: Marilee Stephens's Choices.
I love her take on Nightwing and all of the pre-Crisis heroes, plus the new characters she's developed for the series (especially the kids). In fact, when I'm reading about them it is as if they are real, live, human beings, people I had grown to care about--and isn't that one of the marks of a great writer? To make the reader care about the characters?
While Marilee's developed a good storyline, the strength of the series is the characterization. I want to know what happens to all of these people (and I want to see happy endings, please!)--even if I have to finish writing the darned thing myself!!! :)
From what I've read here at Fanzing and at another fanfiction site on the Net, I understand she's working toward a degree and can surmise that her degree work probably equals at least an 80-hour week for her (or at least feels like it). So it's understandable that she has no time for something that is not only a labor of love, but something she's not getting paid for.
Still, if you or a comrade knows how to get ahold of Marilee, please tell her two things: a) at least one person loves Choices and sees it as being the equal of anything DC or Marvel has put out and b):
"I want my CHOICES!!!!!"
It's like Fox's 24 stopping at episode 18. You want to see the rest of the episodes.
Marilee, I hope you are doing well and want to commend you for your writing, you have a very good talent in this field and I hope you continue to work with it.
And as for Fanzing, thank you for your selfless work in giving folks like Marilee Stephens a way to write their stories where one and all could see them.
Marilee has assured us that the concluding chapter(s) will be available for the big finale issue. Don't give up hope!
Our "Best of" issue contained a little error...
From: D Kilmer
Subject: Fanzing's top 100 graphic novels
At the start of "Fanzing's Top 100 Graphic Novels," you say, "Back in May, Wizard magazine published their list of the top 100 graphic novels and trade paperbacks."
I've been looking for this issue or list without success. The May 2002 Wizard contents, at http://news.wizardworld.com/Wizard/WZ128.asp doesn't mention anything, although the previous issue, at http://news.wizardworld.com/Wizard/WZ127-Contents.asp has a list of the top 100 covers as well as the top ten titles of the previous ten years.
Did Wizard really publish a list in the May 2002 issue of the top 100 graphic novels?
Good spotting. Does anyone have the correct issue to direct David to?
Our articles in issues 47 and 48 about Genius Jones brought back fond memories to this reader...
From: Tom Klekamp
Subject: Genius Jones
Genius Jones was one of my earliest memories. I was stricken with polio (non-paralytic) in 1945 and was in Children's Hospital in Cincinnati for quite a few weeks. My comic book collection was destroyed (autoclave, burned or some sort of total destruction due to polio viruses). The character of Genius Jones was indelibly etched on my memory. Over the years I have made several attempts to find one particular comic book featuring Genius Jones. All I can remember is it had something to do with him being locked inside a roll-top desk and placed on railroad tracks.
Does any of this make any sense?
At age 62 I would like to resolve this impact on my life before "departure time." Is there some repository or collection where I could research these early comics of Genius Jones?
Unfortunately, I can't tell merely from that brief description. Perhaps your best bet is to do an "Advanced Search" on the Grand Comics Database and search on stories in which the Feature Character is Genius Jones. It will give you a list of titles, maybe seeing the exact title of the story will jog your memory.
Our issue on "Affirmative Action Heroes" was a while back, but this reader maintains an interest in the subject...
From: John Harrison
Subject: Black Superheroes
I'm a final year student at Birmingham University in England studying Illustration. I'm currently researching my dissertation on ethnic superheroes. I'm looking at racism, equality and stereotypes in superhero comics.
I recently a read an article of yours about blaxploitation, (Black power or blaxploitation, Fanzing #32) by Rupert Griffen. I would be very interested in his views. I would be extremely grateful if you foward my e-mail onto him.
Do you think comics still stereotype ethnic superheroes?
When a multicultural perspective is ignored does an ethnic superhero lose its identity?
Do you think America's attitude about ethnicity has changed recently as a result of comics/the media?
I would also be interested on your opinion of other black superheroes.
Thank you for your time.
Comics definietly do still stereotype ethnic heroes to a great degree...try to find a Native American character who is not some sort of tribal shaman or otherwise involved in Native American tribal symbolism to some degree, for example, or an Arabic one who does not hearken to "Arabian Nights" legends. Most individuals, in my opinion, think of themselves as individuals, and do not primarily identify with a specific ethnic group. So if a super-hero of a certain ethnic group but doesn't conform to that stereotype, that could very well be how a normal person belonging to that ethnic group would act. Multiculturalism could be low-key as well as in-your-face. Finally, I'd be inclined to say that on the issue of race, the comics medium has been a follower rather than a leader. Society didn't change because of comics. Comics changed because society did.
I can only hope that this letter, commenting on ,a href="http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing39/dctvpumpkin.shtml">this fiction story is meant tongue-in-cheek...
Here I was, simply looking for a way to use all the pumpkins from my garden (really!) and I saw the name Martha Stewart in the listings. I thought I would quickly click on the info. and receive some information that would help me.
Your information did not do that, and it wasted my time, which I resent.
That's my comment.
Now for some general comics comments and questions...
From: jeremy martin
Subject: Superman - psychic?
Do you know anything about Superman's psychic powers? In an issue of Superman (forgot which one) it stated that all Kryptonians were good in the psychic plane and could create any weapon they want. Do you know exactly what happend?
All I remember about psychic powers and Superman is that his strength and flight powers are supposedly partially telekinetic. Does anyone else have information to offer Jeremy here?
Subject: Michelle and Marv Wolfman
Ever wonder if colorist Michelle Wolfman is related to writer/editor Marv Wolfman? Anybody know if they're husband and wife? Father and daughter? No relation at all?
(Michelle Wolfman did a lot of work for DC in the 1980's, coloring Blue Devil, Wild Dog, and early issues of Flash (volume three). She also did Tomb of Dracula and John Carter, Warlord of Mars for Marvel in the 1970's.)
They were in fact married, I went to school with their daughter.
Cool...thanks for sharing!
And this question was on the minds of two of our readers...
From: Rob Yingling
What is a metahuman?
From: David B. Levenstam
I don't know if you can answer this, but until I saw Birds of Prey I'd never heard of metahumans in the DC universe. I haven't followed the comics since I was a kid back in the 1960s, but I've watched various TV incarnations both live and animated, including Batman Beyond, and I don't recall any mention of metahumans. I see in your Fanzing 39 that someone discusses the possibility that Green Arrow is (or was?) a metahuman. I was wondering if you could tell me when DC introduced the concept of metahumans.
David B. Levenstam
Our editor, Michael Hutchison, replies:
I can't say for certain when "metahuman" entered the vocabulary of the DCU. It's really just a more formal name for "person with superpowers". I remember seeing it in an issue of "Firestorm" around 1987. Later it was popularized by "Invasion" which introduced the concept of the metagene, a gene occurring in about 15% of the population which, when stimulated by stressful phenomena, gives them powers.
But please, don't go by "Birds of Prey" as being indicative of the DCU. In the DC Universe, Catwoman is not a metahuman. And anyone with powers is a metahuman, so there really isn't such a thing as "half-metahuman".
It comes down to this: Birds of Prey is a mediocre show.
And so ends the penultimate Fanzing letters column. If you've ever wanted to see your letter appear in Fanzing, this will be your final chance! Hope to hear from you soon!
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This piece is © 2002 by .
Fanzing is not associated with DC Comics.
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DC characters are used here in fan art and fiction in accordance with their generous "fair use" policies.
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