Ring Out the Old: The 2012 Year-End Wrap, Episode One

We begin nearly at the end; with New York Comic Con and with Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast. And with the coming through slaughter of both those. Has it been a good year for comics? PopMatters Comics Editor Shathley Q and Associate Editor Michael D. Stewart get into philosophical questions around the medium of comics, and none-too-soon fall into talking about Batman and Arrow–but not before talking about Hemingway…

@uu3y324rdry: Here’s an opening salvo: Has it been a Good Year for comics?

@MichaelDStewart: That’s a really tough question. Like asking “has it been a good year for democracy.” Sure their are many democratic countries still here, but have the rights of the many improved any?


@uu3y324rdry: [:

See now…I like your framing of the idea…


It repositions comics as a kind of public good, as a shared wealth, something that everyone can participate in. I think my question does conflate the idea of comics as an abstract notion, with the manifestation of comics as products issued by the industry.


@MichaelDStewart: Comics, to get all universal, are a fostering of imagination and necessary part of the telling of the human story. But if looked at from that industrial-product view, it’s been another transition year.

@uu3y324rdry: You wrestled with that firsthand this year didn’t you? With the idea of comics as universal-imagination versus comics-as-industrial-product…you kinda stared down the barrel of that at New York Comic Con, didn’t you?

@MichaelDStewart: Yes. Hoping the bullet wouldn’t pop in chamber.


@uu3y324rdry: [:

Inside NYCC 2012, via Brooklyn Vegan


@MichaelDStewart: It’s something every creative business goes through. Art vs. product.

@uu3y324rdry: So what was the experience of NYCC on the days, versus later when you wrote up the piece?

I should probably note, that between the time you visited NYCC and the time we ran your piece Sandy hit.

@MichaelDStewart: I think Sandy and the aftermath greatly influenced what I was writing. Many of the ideas I had about NYCC, the way to frame it, were lost to the winds and flooding, as it were.

There was, at NYCC, this tremendous sense of community, no matter what level of the economic circle you were at.

Comic fans can be viciously critical, but when you get them to a con, all of sudden most of that viciousness disappears.


@uu3y324rdry: Yes!

You mentioned that sense of camaraderie of… can I call it “veteran-ness”… that you experienced at the watering hole where the barkeep made some poignant observations.

That seems to be a very crucial moment to me. It’s almost at a point where fans are re-inscribing themselves into a narrative that has once again gotten incredibly corporate.

@MichaelDStewart: It’s the human experience. Art and writing are great things, of themselves, but the social aspect, the sharing and discussing, is what really moves them to greater heights. There’s this whole legal debate about corporations being people. They’re not, they are made of people, and in the over-analytic nature of business, where everything is measured to see how much more money you can squeeze out of something, part of that is lost.

@uu3y324rdry: Yes! That’s really been one of the ongoing themes throughout Planet Money’s coverage of the Presidential Election. And it’s also a key theme in Steve Greenhouse’s book the Big Squeeze


@MichaelDStewart: Comics are a business, and would never deny someone the right to make money/wealth off of it. But there are ways to do it that reaps reward for everyone.

@MichaelDStewart: Money can move the needle, as people say. Money can be the make or break. Mostly because most of us, 95% of us haven’t figured out how to survive without it.

@uu3y324rdry: [: It’s the idea of creative destruction as a panacea against conspicuous consumption. The unholy lovechild of Schumpeter and Adam Smith


@MichaelDStewart: That says it better 🙂

@uu3y324rdry: Ha! $10 words as Hemingway would say, and they’re not even good for $10 after you use them in this economy.

Any stand-out moments for you this year?

@MichaelDStewart: Before we get to that, let me ask you this: This money vs. art talk, in more immediate terms, would you look at the big news of the year, DC’s New 52 and Marvel NOW!, as money grabs or creative revolutions?

From Arrow #1, published by DC

@uu3y324rdry: Interesting

I’m in that neither-neither place, I guess…


@MichaelDStewart: Ah, good call. I did set that up as some sort of fallacy. False choice.

@uu3y324rdry: Yes, precisely! That is very much an 80s-era pre-Image pre-Miller’s Sin City formulation.

Here’s how I get there–pure unbidden creativity…it’s gotta be Hawkeye


So for me, hands down Hawkeye’s got to be the most innovative book of the year…and yet… it happens without Marvel NOW!.


@MichaelDStewart: Considering it was something no one suspected could be good.


@uu3y324rdry: Right? That makes it even more of a smash…the fact that no one suspected it would be. [:


@MichaelDStewart: But it took DC a whole relaunch to produce say, Snyder’s Batman, arguably their best book. Which of course, Snyder’s Batman didn’t need the New 52. The New 52 needed him.

@uu3y324rdry: Yes!…BATMAN’s definitely benefitted the New 52 more than it’s benefitted from the New 52.


My opposite-ender-the-spectrum point to Hawkeye is both Superman and Green Arrow. Both books (with Superman, I’m talking about prior to Lobdell taking the creative reigns)both books have kinda just floundered, failed to find their groove as it were.

@MichaelDStewart: It would seem that non-comic media involving them outside of the New 52, are what will rejuvenate them. I’m talking the upcoming Man of Steel movie and the CW TV show Arrow.