Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Comics Journal Library 6 - The Writers

While hewing my way through a bunch of comics stuff (including Locas, which I should post on soon), I wound up reading a few of the interviews from the Comics Journal Library vol. 6 – The Writers. I was just trying to skim it at first, but I got caught up reading it, and now I’m reading a few pages before bed each night (It’s on the nightstand with perennial favorite Ice Haven, and the quirkily interesting, but hard to finish Nil – the R. Crumb handbooks on the back of the toilet for some reason). All three interviews I’ve finished have been pretty good, and interesting in their own ways.

The Alan Moore interview that closes the book is one of the books shortest, but still manages to be riveting. The main thing about it is that I’ve read so many Moore interviews, following his progression through to today, that going back to 1984 is a refreshing glimpse of the artist as a young man – pre DC hatred, Pre magik, pre superhero rejection. The self-deprecating humor is here full tilt (used today mostly when discussing his artistic collaborators), but is often used express I’m-not-worthy humbleness about dealing with DC properties. There is really nothing new in this interview for the Moore indoctrinated, but the differences in his attitude and point of view are the big draw here.

The big interview in the book is that of Harlan Ellison. I have the benefit, I think, of not having read a lot of Ellison dialogues over time (though I have heard many of the legendary stories) making his amusing but laser-like tirades seem fresher. He comes off here as a bit of a bitter, self righteous (and self serving) bully, but the sheer causticity of his attacks serve to strip away the defenses of the institutions, media, people, works, etc. that he is attacking. It always seems, though, that his favorite targets have all either rejected him at some point (TV being the biggest example), didn’t give him what he felt was due, or are small easy targets. That said, TV of the time (early 70’s – some of these interviews are quite old, in service to the 70’s and early 80’s saving comics theme of the book) was pretty bad, and it’s worth reading this simply to hear an entirely remorseless account of Ellison running across a boardroom table and breaking a TV executives pelvis for insulting writers (in general).

I also read the Steve Gerber interview. A good read, with some attention-grabbing tidbits, but I was mainly struck by how much this sounds like current dialogues with Joe Casey. I guess I never noted a connection between the two before, but they both have a similar rebel-in-the-woodwork approach. I respect his honesty of perspective, also, as he freely cops to stuff he’s done that just didn’t work. A lot of talk about markets and formats, too, and this was in the 70’s. Gerber was apparently more of a visionary than I thought.

I’m Currently reading the Wolfman stuff, but so far this is notable mostly for the interviewer accusing he of being a shitty writer half the time, and Wolfman essentially saying ‘I agree, but when you have to get an issue of each book you do out every month, if something doesn’t work it might take a while to get around to fixing it.’ Good book, strongly recommended so far.