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Grown-ups of the Galactic Republic
An edition about "adult content", comic rights and a fanboy moment
WELCOME TO A NEW EDITION OF MY NEWSLETTER
This is the last edition of the “regular newsletter” before the end of the year (although you will have a new chapter of Ginger Revenges, and maybe some very short edition announcing a new issue of Until my Knuckles bleed series).
So this is an edition with my ravings, surely full of my usual grammar mistakes but with a couple of interesting things, I hope.
I TAUGHT A CLASS ON COMIC RIGHTS
More developed: Two weeks ago I taught an online class on comic rights and what is a work-for-hire, what is creator-owned, what means ownership, how it works a movie deal, an option… These are important things in this world of streaming platforms, adaptations and the content from comics and graphic novels as the new gold mine for the Hollywood creatively dried “jar of ideas".
I could say this was a timely class due to the recent controversy about Hawkeye TV show and artist David Aja but honestly, this is something that's happening every day. The question is: Newcomers need to know this world and know the different ways to work and the different options they have, and what things they need to check when they sign a contract. This is kind of a personal crusade and I have learned one thing or two during my career, focused on creator-owned projects (and some franchise work-for-hire stuff too, because this is not a bad option if you know the rules).
This masterclass, titled “The artistic property in the international market”, was a very exciting chance I want to thank to Escola Joso (for the no-Spanish readers, Joso school is the most important comic school in Spain, a reference for decades). Four hours of class! I have done a lot of talks and panels but this was really hard to prepare! Luckyly the students and pros who attended were really collaborative and made smart questions. I think the Joso organizers felt satisfied with the results and I hope to repeat next year.
GROWN-UP LITTLE BOYS
I had an interesting chat with a good friend of mine (and later I translated my thoughts to some fellow authors) about the second part of the Masters of the Universe: Revelation series. First of all, I must say:
1- I love what they have done with the series. I say “They” because sometimes you read articles or the social media and it looks like Kevin Smith has written, drawn and animated all the show alone and I missed the presence of the crew (directors, animators) in the Netflix making-of documentary. For example: One of the main writers of the show is Eric Carrasco, I worked with him doing a 4-issues miniseries of the show Sleepy Hollow and he's a talented storyteller and a nice guy. He (and others) deserve more credit, IMHO.
2- I love what they have done with Teela character (even I am not a big fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar and her voice, sorry) and I love how the creators have twisted some of the rules of the old show (the Castle, the sword,the role of the Sorceress, etc).
I was (and I am) fan of MOTU and this new show is a wonderful tribute to the mythology of the franchise.
The point is: Even do I enjoyed the show, maybe I was waiting for something a little more adult. This was the version for the grown-up MOTU fans and the other series (He-man and the MOTU) was the version for kids (with these absolutely fabulous 3D designs). But honestly I don’t think the contents differ, the difference looks more a continuity thing. MOTU Revelation looks more like a regular series for kids, just like the original was (and it's fine!). In fact, I found more adult content in the She-ra and the Princesses of Power show with the complex relationship between Catra and Adora. And this difference between marketing and the final product could be a problem: It makes me consider if maybe the target of MOTU Revelation show would be a kind of viewer, a childish grown-up man in his forties who is really hard to please.
Of course, I could be one of these fans in his forties because my expectations were different from the final result (and I enjoyed the final result). Really all this waffle about MOTU was only a pretext for this thought: I think there is a part of the audience who is demanding adult content in their fiction content and icons… But actually they don’t want it because adult content is unpleasant, and it is politics and it is sex and it is a view to a nasty and disturbing world which we call “adult life”. It’s not only a question of increasing the level of violence in Batman or a glimpse or the batpenis quickly removed by the publisher… Maybe it’s a story developing the background of Gotham and the twisted mind of a rich man who thinks that solving the social problems of his city is beating people.
And I am OK with escapist fantasies! I absolutely love them. And there are good examples of adult approaches to the superhero/vigilante myth like Watchmen or The Dark Knight returns (and surely other books I have not read it yet). And I am not demanding a Ken Loach’s approach to the Batman Universe! I don't want a MOTU version full of existential anxiety, addiction issues and dirty sex. My point is: If you are not going to do it properly, don't do it. Or don’t sell that you have done it.
Another example: A hardcore part of Star Wars fandom wanted an adult approach (“no more Ewoks! Teddy bears are for kids!”) but when you speak them about political blockades in The Phantom Menace (“Booring!!!!”), and introduce female roles trying to reflect a new social situation (“Booo! Women doing things, Feminism!!!!”) or the economical and social consequences of a military rebellion (“Stay out of politics!”) in The last Jedi… Well, you know the reactions and the consequences: The Rise of the Skywalker (“Hey, look it, bright swords doing that funny sound, and the Emperor is back for no reason! Be calm and happy and buy our new Funkos!”).
My conclusion: This is why I think a creator NEVER has to listen to the audience. Because sometimes they don’t know exactly what they want (and as reader and part of the audience I can recognise the feeling of uncertainty when I’m waiting for some series).
Note: I used Star Wars as an example, I have not a particular love or hate for the saga. And if you think that The Last Jedi sucks, it’s ok. In fact, I should admit that I prefer the SW exploitations like the Cannon’s Masters of the Universe movie or Flash Gordon. I know they are objectively worse movies but we don’t choose who we fall in love with.
And after this uncalled tantrum against fanboys…
MY FANBOY MOMENT OF THE MONTH!:
Yeah, I’m ultra-fan of The Question series of the 80s written by Dennis O’Neil and wonderfully drawn and narrated by Denys Cowan. This is my favourite of all the DC comics series from the 80s-90s (with the exception of The Dark Knight returns, but I consider it a miniseries of “prestige books” and I was talking about regular series). In my personal ranking The Question is above other series (that I love too) like The Sandman, Animal Man, Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow or the Doom Patrol. I am sure you have enough reasons to refute it, but The Question has something about self-knowledge and personal evolution which connects with my tastes… So this is not a question of ranking with stars and numbers, it’s more emotional. The series arrived at the right time in my life and connected with the right part for me.
But I will tell you more about my favourite series in a next newsletter. Right now, I need to return to the Cintiq and keep inking with my usual joy.
Take care and see you in a couple of weeks with the second episode of Ginger Revenges!
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