LNH/META: Villains!

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Wed Nov 2 23:07:20 PDT 2011

On Nov 3, 12:35 am, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at yahoo.com> wrote:

>  And
> let's not forget that Tom upset a lot of people when he first came on

I did indeed.  I've gotten better, both as a writer and a person,
specifically because of the people on RACC.  In many important ways,
RACC is where I grew up, and where I learned to act like a decent
human being, and to respect other people's toys.

That's why I weighed so strongly recently with Dave & Rob on the issue
of characters who are in that fuzzy gray area; I think unless a
character has been specifically given to the public domain,
specifically entrusted to another creator (like Limp-Asparagus Lad was
to Saxon), or unless permission has been specifically obtained from
their creator, should they still be on the internet-- I believe that
we should let them go, both in any reboot/threeboot/ultimatization and
(I know this is radical) in the mainstream LNH continuity.

I understand the point of view of writing someone else's characters is
a show of respect for that creator and their creation.  I even agree
with it, and have been touched by the way, for example, people have
latched onto WikiBoy.  But here's the thing: I was there when it
happened, and I put him in the public domain for people to use.
Whereas when I came back to RACC and found out that such-and-such had
happened to some of my old Teenfactor characters at the hands of Mr.
Wiley, I was a bit miffed.  What he did to them, against my explicit
permission, while I was on RACC is a whole 'nother story.

Now, it could be, there's a lot of creators, who were there in '92,
created their character as a .sig and never came back, never bothered
to dream that a character with a backstory had evolved from that.  And
there's creators who wrote stories, and left, and probably couldn't
care less about their LNH characters because, Jesus, it's been 15+
years, that's a whole 'nother lifetime.  I think, though, it's time to
let those characters go, or to make a concerted, but not at all
creepy, effort to locate a valid e-mail address for those creators and
ask them to let the character go into the public domain.  I'm more and
more convinced that that is just plain the right thing to do.

The LNH is going to be twenty years old.  I think we should start the
next twenty years the right way: by getting explicit permission for
each character, or letting that character fade away.  I mean, it's not
like the LNH is suffering from a dearth of explicitly public domain
characters, or characters created by active authors.

The "not reserved" category basically amounts to, "go ahead and use
the character, but don't maim them", which is I think how we should
treat public domain characters anyway.  I don't think there's a need
for it in 2011.  I think public domain and reserved are all the
categories we need; I think when we write a story with someone else's
character that's not public domain, we *should* send it to them first,
and if it takes them a week to read it and get back to us, it takes
them a week.

That's my two cents, anyway.  I know it might not be the most popular
sentiment in the world.  I don't think however that I'm overthinking
it, or taking it too seriously-- I mean, c'mon, the LNH has been
around for two decades.  It's something that can and should and will
last, and it's worth taking our custodianship-- and really, that's
what the various writers who preface their posts with [LNH] or LNH:
(psst, the later shows up better on Google Groups!) are, custodians of
this big, crazy, wonderful universe that someday is going to be
written by people who weren't even alive in 1992-- seriously.

I think it's time to let the old ways go.  Again, just my two cents.
At least, as I prepare for a return in the near future to RACC and the
universe that drew me to it, that is how I will be going forward.

> And yet I never had any
> problem with him, not until much later when he was reviewing
> everybody's stories except mine and I asked him why by e-mail and he
> admitted he was angry with me and then when he did start reviewing my
> stories they were harsh critiques and not the sort of reviews you
> would write if you still wanted to be friends with someone.  That
> hurt.

Well, here's the thing about that: I didn't write reviews to make
friends, nor to unmake them.  They were my honest opinion.  I liked
some of your stories; others I didn't like, as they weren't to my
taste.  I tried to articulate what my taste was, especially with
regards to the police procedural genre.  You have a very different set
of values, and several reviews resulted in unpleasantness between us.

At a certain point, I said something to the effect that I was no
longer going to review your stories, specifically to avoid those sort
of arguments.  And that caused an even bigger argument, the one that
put that final wedge between us.  And I wish that hadn't happened.

Because we were friends, Martin.  I remember asking you for advice in
my ninth or tenth grade science class.  That was over ten years ago.
I remember the very Phippsian story you wrote as an addition to my
NHOP Chatillon storyline.  I remember working on the Pigs in Time
miniseries with you-- or, rather, I remember discussing it, working on
one issue, and discovering that in that time you had written the
remainder. :-)

I'm not saying that my reviews were wrong-- they were, and remain, my
honest opinion.  I felt somewhat trapped-- you were upset if I didn't
write a review, and upset if I did.  Now, I'm not laying the implosion
of our friendship solely at your footsteps; I had a nasty temper with
a short fuse for a long time.  I wouldn't, and couldn't, give a good
review when I felt a bad one was merited, but I perhaps could have
chosen my negative words more diplomatically.  I wish I had, and I'm
sorry about that.

Our disagreements in aesthetic values, personal philosophy, and many
other things were legion, and I do not remember those 30-plus article
threads of circular arguments with much fondness at all.  But I do,
from time to time, remember with fondness the good times, and I do
miss our friendship.


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