REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #33 - S...2006 [spoilers]

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Mon Oct 16 11:03:01 PDT 2006

Martin Phipps wrote:

> Tom Russell wrote:

> > I think this is something that's key to Martin's character, especially
> > at this point in the series: how much of Ray's methods, of the
> > four-colour approach, to keep and how much of his more "realistic"
> > street approach.  Both have their benefits, but people who know me know
> > that I certainly weigh in more heavily towards the gaudy/optimistic
> > aspects of the genre.
> One problem is that you are aware that your characters are being overly
> optimistic and the result is a bit perverse.  I mean, both Fleetfoot


> and Martin are noble to a fault: Fleetfoot wouldn't lie to protect his
> identity (which is ridicuolous: what if somebody had asked him point
> blank "Are you Fleetfeet?"  Wouldn't he have lied then?) whereas Martin
> wouldn't lie even to a career criminal (which as I pointed out already
> is not how law enforcement works in real life: people working
> undercover are lying _all the time_, pretending to be somebody they
> aren't).  I would have preferred if instead of people being honest and
> facing the consequences, we saw more of people being dishonest and
> facing the consequences so that the moral in the end is that it is
> better to tell the truth.

That's a good point, and it reminds me a bit of the end of the Pickwick
Papers, where (if I remember correctly) Mr. Pickwick gives a sizable
sum of money to Mr. Jingle.  Now, he knows Mr. Jingle isn't reformed
and he knows he's been swindled again, but he _hopes_ that he's not.
He'd rather be taken advantage of than be cynical.

And you might find this silly, but I think it's more heroic.  Another
example: it might be more "intelligent" to invade another country
because they MIGHT attack America, and to do so BEFORE they attack.  It
certainly keeps us safe.  And while I certainly don't want anyone,
American or otherwise, to lose their lives, it's morally wrong to
attack preemptively.  By attacking first, we might be safer, but we
lose the moral highground.

While I certainly would perfer that a person be neither victim nor
victimizer, if you have to make a choice, it's better to be the former
than the latter.

Some, especially in these times, will feel free to disagree with me and
I eagerly await their arguments.

> > want, most of all, to write the kind of superhero stories I'd like to
> > read,
> Which is all very well and good but when you write stories only for
> yourself then you might be less inclined to accept the criticism of
> others.

I understand what you mean, but I think, on a whole, I'm pretty
accepting of criticism (certainly better than I was back in '97).
Sometimes, it will take me a while-- the massive NHOP rewrites were
largely catalyzed by the reviews and comments written by Michael
Friedman, Mike McCullan, Earl Burbridge, and yourself, as well as
changes in my own aesthetic (which were, in turn, catalyzed by all the
reviews I've been lucky enough to recieve on RACC).

It was my wife's criticism of the Green Knight that led me to jettison
nearly 20k of text.

>  I know that sounds a bit hypocritical from me given that I
> wasn't willing to spend months negotiating my Superfreaks stories but

Months?  :-P

> if you're just writing for yourself then I don't see why you would want
> to go back and make major changes to any of your stories just because
> somebody else thought you should.

Because sometimes I agree with that person, and sometimes I come to
agree with that person.  Sometimes I don't, and I never will, and
that's fine.  Sometimes it's just a matter of taste, and some people
just don't get it.

<plug> My film MILOS is an example of this.  It's a slow movie, and
it's supposed to be; I don't know when "slow" became a bad thing.  Some
people love it, others are bored by it.  They crave explosions and sex
and hip dialogue.  I know I can safely ignore that person's opinion.

But if someone's bored by it who craves character interaction,
subtlety, and loves slow movies-- then something's wrong with the
movie.  That movie being MILOS, LIFE AND TIMES OF A DREAMER, available
for sale directly from the filmmaker and yes, Martin, your copy is
coming soon. :) </plug>

It's the same case here.  Most people tend to "get" me, and if they
don't like a story, chances are something's wrong with it.  Some people
don't "get" me at all-- and chances are, I don't "get" them either.
And so, perhaps, their criticism of my stories is as invalid as my
criticism of theirs.

And I'm not naming names, and, no, Martin, I do not consider you to be
one of the people who doesn't "get" me.  I do value your opinion, even
if I sometimes disagree with it.  I won't implement everything you
suggest, and I might chalk some of it up to differences of taste, but I
do want to hear what you (and everyone else) thinks, because your
opinions do matter to me.

At the same time, I am writing stories so that, when I need something
to read, I can read them.  I think my tastes, however, are popular
enough that it doesn't alienate the majority of readers, and that it
doesn't come across as self-indulgent and mastubatory.

Well, y'know-- except for the stuff with Pam. :-)

> > which is why I try to structure my issues with a beginning,
> > middle, and an end: something that seems passe these days.
> <shrug>  I think the resultant trades are designed that way.  I know
> that I do have the beginning, middle and end structure in mind when I
> write issues in so far as I try to re-introduce characters every time
> and then have either a satisfying conclusion or a cliffhanger (which is
> how your #3 ended).  If every issue has a beginning middle and end then

Thank you.  I'm not big on cliffhangers myself; I prefer satisfying
conclusions.  But I hope I managed to pull off both with # 3, even if
the cliffhanger seems to come out of left-field and seems somewhat

At the same time, the appearance of the gunman comes out of the theme
of the story-- complications arising in Martin's life after he's thrust
into the spotlight.

> I do think pacing is a problem for you.  If one issue is 40 lines long
> and the next is 100 lines long then maybe issue two should have been
> divided into two parts.

Point taken.

>  I'm a bit more anal that way: I actually
> measure the lengths of my stories, calculate an average and try to
> stick to that. :)

Which is why decompression is so in vogue in the first place-- if every
story is twenty-two pages, it starts to get monotonous.  Other than
with Haiku Gorilla, I'm not mindful of an average or set length for the
story; that's what I did with Teenfactor, where I'd write so many pages
and end the issue, no matter where in the story I was.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just saying this is a point of
aesthetic difference between you and I; I'd much rather have a
self-contained story or a chapter that's internally satisfying rather
than getting a part of a story at a time.

> >
> > At the same time, I think it does in a large part cater to the
> > secretive/grim'n'gritty quality that defines many 90's comics.  Whether
> > this is because he is working in the crime genre or not is debatable.
> >
> > > characters are a balanced mix of the humane, self-sacrificing, arrogant,
> > > driven, and simply damaged.  Whether this is realistic or not in a
> >
> > I'm not sure if I entirely agree with this assertion, at least as far
> > as the super-characters go; it seems to me that it's tipped more
> > towards the damaged/arrogant side of the equation.
> It's a question of point of view.  I'm sure the police in Jolt City
> dream about punching out the Green Knight.  They probably wonder if
> he's more of a help or a hindrance.  He probably comes across as a real
> asshole to them at times.

Good point; I hadn't thought of that when looking at Superfreaks.  That
just goes to show how successful you were in protraying events from the
cops' point of view.


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